“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”: TV hits the road

Sunnylive4

I enjoyed digging in to the trend of TV shows taking it to the stage for Sunday’s edition of weekly Variety. It was something I’d been thinking would be a good story for some time, and then last Monday when “Glee” announced plans for concerts in four cities, I knew this was the week to pull the trigger.(Click here to read the story.)

I especially enjoyed chatting with “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” co-creator/exec producer/star Rob McElhenney about his troupe’s experience with a six-city road swing last fall. (Pictured above, Danny DeVito, Kaitlin Olson, Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney)

“Sunny” seemed like an unusual choice for a show to mount a touring stage show. But after the “Sunny” crew did a performance of the episode “The Nightman Cometh,” which involves the gang performing a rock opera at a community theater, at L.A.’s Troubadour as a lark (at the invitation of a friend), they were approached by concert promoter behemoth Live Nation. It turned out to be a fabulous (if exhausting, given the travel) experience for the “Sunny” thesps, according to McElhenney (pictured below). They knew that “Sunny” fans were passionate about the show, but they didn’t know quite how passionate until the tour.Sunnylive3

“Coming from TV where you just cannot get a sense of how fans are reacting to your show — but when you go out there and perform it live, you can see it and literally feel it,” McElhenney says. “It’s certainly a level of passion that you just can’t get from one person coming up to you on the street saying they love the show. But when you have 4,000 people screaming it…”

The tour experience also paid off in allowing the “Sunny” crew to react quickly to pull together a show, with their pals at “Family Guy,” on Feb. 12 at L.A.’s Gibson Amphitheater to benefit Haitian relief org Partners in Health. The event raised $314,000 for Partners in Health. McElhenney calls it “the single most proud moment of our entertainment careers.”

— Cynthia Littleton

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