You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Producers seek ‘Glory’ on Broadway

John O'Boyle, Ricky Stevens prep musical

Producers John O’Boyle and Ricky Stevens don’t choose obvious blockbusters, to say the least.

In the last year, the pair has backed four Broadway shows, all long shots. Last spring, they supported “Radio Golf,” the political final chapter in August Wilson’s 10-part cycle; this year they were on the team behind “Is He Dead?” an untested farce written a century ago by Mark Twain, and “A Catered Affair,” a somber musical based on a little-remembered 1950s teleplay and film.

But those gambles pale compared with “Glory Days,” O’Boyle and Stevens’ first lead-producing gig, which opens on Broadway May 6.

With no stars, novice writers and an 11th-hour arrival at the close of a crowded Rialto season, the quirky tuner about teenage friendships is a quintessential underdog. But O’Boyle and Stevens say it makes more sense to move the show — which had a successful run earlier this year at Virginia’s Signature Theater — directly to the commercial big leagues, rather than to explore less mainstream options.

“We looked at it as a regional vehicle, as a touring vehicle, and an Off Broadway vehicle, and we couldn’t make any of the business models work,” Stevens says. “But once I did the business model for Broadway, we said, ‘It could work here.'”

The plan was partially contingent on luck: Both producers felt the tuner, which follows four high school friends reuniting after their freshman year at college, was perfectly suited to the intimate digs at Circle in the Square. When “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” announced it would vacate the theater, O’Boyle and Stevens lobbied hard to get that space. (Gossip suggested either “Next to Normal” or “[title of show]” would nab the venue, though the latter musical will now open at the Lyceum in July, and talk of “Normal” transferring from Off Broadway has evaporated.)

“We ran our model on the assumption that we might be able to get that theater,” O’Boyle says. “It’s not just a question of being on Broadway. It’s a question of being in the right space.”

“Everything just lined up,” adds Stevens. “We had no guarantee that things would come together like this in the fall.”

Yet even in a cozy house, a Rialto gig is a massive undertaking. And while the $2.5 million budget for “Glory” is relatively modest, it’s a hefty pricetag for such unknown material.

This is the first experience writing a show for scribes James Gardiner and Nick Blaemire, both still in their early 20s. And while composer-performer Lin-Manuel Miranda is in a similar boat this season with “In the Heights,” that musical was workshopped in a college production and commercially tested Off Broadway before it headed to the Richard Rodgers Theater.

“But we’re not seeing very many Off Broadway hits,” O’Boyle says. “If you’ve got a $1 million budget Off Broadway or a $2.5 million budget on Broadway, you’re better off taking a chance on Broadway. It comes with a higher ticket price and the accessibility to a larger audience.”

The next question is where those audiences will come from. Arriving in Gotham with scant notice, “Glory Days” has had to build a brand identity almost simultaneously with the start of performances — with unknown actors and without a title people recognize from another medium.

If nothing else, the “Glory Days” poster, with Warhol-style renderings of four teenage faces, seems to be swallowing midtown Manhattan, though in its first week of previews, the show played to well under 50% capacity.

“Our advance is up in the range where ‘Passing Strange’ was when they opened, so I feel like we’re doing a good job,” Stevens says, referring to a show that has struggled to attract audiences, both in previews and since opening to glowing reviews. “Because even more than ‘Passing Strange,’ we came in overnight.” (He declined to reveal the total advance for “Glory Days.”)

No matter how it performs, the imprimatur of a Broadway run can boost the show’s chances for future productions. Given that it’s a one-set, four-actor, 90-minute piece about teenagers, the addition of Rialto credibility could make the musical catnip for companies seeking young auds. (And young men, the holiest of holy grails among theater demographics, may be more interested in a show that’s ostensibly about their lives.)

Stevens says preview auds have been a mix of twentysomethings and the more traditional Broadway base of older women. He credits the universality of the plot, which he says drew him to the project in the first place.

“We all go to school and have friends, and, at some point, we grow apart or lose touch,” he adds. “We’re lucky that this story is the kind of thing we all go through.”

More Legit

  • ZZ Top, Caesars Entertainment Team on

    ZZ Top, Caesars Team for Jukebox Musical 'Sharp Dressed Man' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees ZZ Top and Caesars Entertainment are developing “Sharp Dressed Man,” a jukebox musical set to open next year in Las Vegas featuring the band’s greatest hits. Members Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard are all serving as executive producers. “Sharp Dressed Man” is described as an “outrageous, [...]

  • Williamstown Theater Festival 2016 season

    Marisa Tomei Starring in Broadway Revival of 'The Rose Tattoo'

    Marisa Tomei will star in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo.” The Oscar-winning actress will play Serafina, a part previously performed by the likes of Maureen Stapleton and Anna Magnani. It’s also a role that Tomei is familiar with, having starred in a Williamstown Theatre Festival production in 2016. “The Rose Tattoo” [...]

  • White Pearl review

    London Theater Review: 'White Pearl'

    Playwright Anchuli Felicia King dismantles the Asian market in this misfiring satire at London’s Royal Court Theatre. “White Pearl” makes a case that those seeking to make inroads into the Far East, perceiving a new El Dorado, are no better that colonial conquistadors of an earlier age — and entirely unequipped to understand the specifics [...]

  • Signature Theatre Celebrates Millionth Subsidized Ticket

    Signature Theatre Offers $35 Subsidized Tickets, Celebrates Millionth Sold

    Just the other night, a Manhattan cab driver told Signature Theatre executive director Harold Wolpert that he couldn’t afford to take his girlfriend to a show. In response, Wolpert motioned to his theater, saying that they offer $35 subsidized tickets. The driver said he’d try it out. “It was a great moment,” Wolpert said. “We’re [...]

  • SOCRATES The Public Theater

    Tim Blake Nelson Waxes Philosophical on Writing a Play About Socrates

    Despite Tim Blake Nelson’s knack for playing folksy characters in films such as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” in his soul lurks the heart of a classicist. Nelson, who stars in HBO’s “Watchmen” series this fall, has also penned the play “Socrates,” now running at New York’s Public Theater through June 2. Doug Hughes directs, [...]

  • TodayTix - Brian Fenty

    TodayTix Banks $73 Million to Boost Theater and Arts Ticketing App

    TodayTix, a Broadway-born mobile ticketing start-up, is looking to expand into a bigger global media and transaction enterprise with a capital infusion of $73 million led by private-equity firm Great Hill Partners. The investment brings TodayTix’s total capital raised to over $100 million, according to CEO and co-founder Brian Fenty. Part of the new funding [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content