You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Betty’s’ rubbles

No Off B'way run in '99 for Durang's play

Christopher Durang’s “Betty’s Summer Vacation,” one of the best reviewed new plays of 1999, will not transfer to an Off-Broadway commercial theater — at least, not this year, as originally planned.

David Stone has withdrawn as producer of the dark comedy about a vacation in which rape and dismemberment are as commonplace as chardonnay and charcoal. After the play had its world premiere in March at the not-for-profit Playwrights Horizon, Stone raised the $550,000 necessary to mount the Nicholas Martin-directed production at the Minetta Lane Theater this month or last.

When “Thwak,” the venue’s current occupant, continued its run well into the autumn months, however, the producer of “Full Gallop” and “The Diary of Anne Frank” on Broadway decided against going forward with his intended “Betty” production.

‘Thwak’ stays put

According to Stone, “Thwak” would have had to give notice at least three weeks ago “for us to get into the theater before Thanksgiving. Unless it is an immediate transfer (from a not-for-profit theater) you don’t want to open a show between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he reasoned. Stone’s production of “Anne Frank” did open in December 1997. “But it was Broadway and a high profile production,” he said.

Due to its moving set and a cast of nine, the “Betty” production required a large Off Broadway theater. The Minetta Lane seats 399. “No other theaters of that size are available,” Stone said. “It’s what this theater crunch means; sometimes you have to wait. Sometimes if you wait too long, it just doesn’t happen. I feel terrible.”

“We’ve never had this happen here before,” said Tim Sanford, artistic director of Playwrights Horizon, “and yet David is the only producer who was really serious from the beginning. Talk is cheap. But he stepped forward and got the financing.”

Stone could have moved the play immediately from Playwrights Horizon to the Minetta Lane in May before the “Thwak” producers signed to open there.

Obstacles loomed

“We would have had great momentum in May, but we also would have been competing with too many other things,” admitted Stone. “At the time, Broadway was filled with plays.”

And as for an early 2000 opening, the producer said he could not hold together the Playwrights Horizon cast. Momentum from the spring’s very upbeat reviews may also dissipate, he feared. “Too much time would have passed. Unfortunately, we didn’t land in my window.”

Durang said Stone always insisted upon a fall opening for his play. “David was upfront about that, and I never debated it because I just thought we’d find a theater,” he said.

According to Durang, he and his agent, Patrick Herold at Helen Merrill Ltd., have just begun shopping the play elsewhere. “We had a meeting the other day to decide if we should release it (to regional theaters) or try one more time to find a producer for a New York production. We’re ringing on doorbells,” said the writer. “A lot of people are assuming its still happening (with Stone).”

Herold confirmed, “We are actively pursuing another New York producer.”

More Legit

  • Kiss Me Kate review

    Broadway Review: 'Kiss Me, Kate'

    No, Kate doesn’t get spanked. And for those wondering how the dicey ending of “Kiss Me, Kate” — that musical mashup of “The Taming of the Shrew” and backstage battling exes — would come across in these more sensitive times, well, that’s also been reconsidered for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of the Cole [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    West End Review: Tom Hiddleston in 'Betrayal'

    It takes three to tango, and Jamie Lloyd’s “Betrayal” completely grasps that. Having made it his mission to modernize the way we stage Harold Pinter’s plays, his chic, stripped-down staging starring Tom Hiddleston as a cuckolded husband might be his best attempt yet. Pared back and played out on an empty stage, this masterful play [...]

  • Johnny Thompson

    Magician Johnny 'The Great Tomsoni' Thompson Dies at 84

    Johnny Thompson, also known as “The Great Tomsoni,” died in Las Vegas on March 9. He was 84. The showman was a versatile performer of music, magic, comedy, and drama throughout his decades long career. Thompson was born to Polish ancestry in Chicago in 1934. He began his career as a musician and musical arranger. [...]

  • The Devil Wears Prada

    'The Devil Wears Prada' Musical Taps Anna D. Shapiro to Direct

    Miranda Priestly can’t call all the shots. The upcoming musical adaptation of “The Devil Wears Prada” has tapped Anna D. Shapiro to direct the show, which is eyeing an eventual Broadway run. The story of an aspiring writer who works for the magazine editor from hell has previously been a best-selling book and a hit [...]

  • Hugh JackmanBrit Awards 2019 Arrivals, London,

    Hugh Jackman Starring in 'The Music Man' Revival on Broadway

    Hugh Jackman will return to Broadway in an upcoming revival of Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man.” It marks Jackman’s first musical role in more than a decade, which should make it a hot ticket. His last one, “The Boy From Oz,” resulted in a Tony Award for best actor. Jackman will play con man Harold [...]

  • Gareth Owen sound design

    Listen: The Secrets of Broadway Sound Design

    Sound design might be the most thankless job on Broadway — because when you get it right, nobody notices. Besides, a lot of theatergoers — and more than a few Tony voters — don’t quite know what it is. Listen to this week’s podcast below: Broadway and West End sound designer Gareth Owen (“Come From [...]

  • britney Spears Las Vegas Residency Planet

    Britney Spears-Themed Musical Coming to Broadway

    The songs of Britney Spears will be featured in “Once Upon a One More Time,” a musical comedy featuring 23 titles from the singer’s catalog, theater owner James L. Nederlander announced today. The show will have its premiere in fall at Broadway In Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre before heading to Broadway. Previews begin  October 29, with an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content