Industry watchers will notice that the production of “Speed-the-Plow” opening on Broadway this week isn’t the same one that was a hit in London earlier this year.
Kevin Spacey, who co-starred in the Blighty staging with Jeff Goldblum, had the rights to produce the show in London (where it was seen at the Old Vic, of which Spacey is a.d.), while Jeffrey Richards has them Stateside.
Richards saw the London production, and there were discussions about bringing it over. “A couple of people called and told me it was a slam dunk,” Richards says.
Instead Richards and his producing team decided to go with their own production — in part because he had already promised the gig to Neil Pepe, a.d. of the David Mamet-founded Atlantic Theater. Pepe makes his Rialto debut with “Plow.”
“I had made a commitment to Neil Pepe, and I believed in him,” Richards says.
He adds he was impressed by Pepe’s pitch for the play, which included speedy pacing, a high sexiness quotient and a nuanced take on relationships between the characters.
Pepe pursued the job, seeing up-to-minute resonance in Mamet’s 1988 play.
“It’s getting at some things in the larger scheme of things, issues of art vs. commerce or work vs. philosophy,” Pepe says. “I still find it remarkable how much it seems like it was written last week.”