×

Nathan Lane Wrestles Open Nighters to the Ground in ‘It’s Only a Play’

The Oct. 9 opening of starry comedy “It’s Only a Play” brought a little old-fashioned glamor back to Broadway: The event was black tie, just like in the golden age, and all the theater names that got dropped onstage in the legit-industry comedy were sitting in the crowd cheering on their friends. There were plenty more famous faces in the house too, including Louis CK, Zachary Quinto, Kristin Chenoweth, Angela Lansbury and Anna Wintour, as well as Sarah Jessica Parker and Nick Offerman, whose spouses Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally star in the show.

For all that, it was a tough crowd. “You played very hard to get,” said star Nathan Lane at the show’s afterparty at the Marriott Marquis. “It wasn’t easy. We had to wrestle you to the ground.”

The production’s instantly stellar sales have made it one of this season’s early hits, despite its seemingly insider-y subject matter.

Director Jack O’Brien insisted it wasn’t a play for Broadway insiders at all. It’s about a group of people who deal with a devastating setback — i.e., a terrible review in the New York Times — and summon the courage to go on. And they do it while tossing off the bon mots that characterize the way theater people speak.

“It’s not just bitchy,” O’Brien said. “It’s who we are. And there’s a lot of love in it.”

Of course, the critical mass of stars on the marquee — including Stockard Channing and F. Murray Abraham, joining Lane, Broderick and Mullally — doesn’t hurt at the box office either.

The cast was heavyweight enough that even Rupert Grint, who’s got a multibillion-dollar movie franchise under his belt, was a bit shy at first. “The first few weeks of rehearsal, I was absolutely terrified,” he said. “Really intimidated.”

The former “Harry Potter” star lands on the New York stage soon after a recent West End run in the play “Mojo.” Broadway, he opined, really knows how to make a to-do of itself. “Here it feels like a much bigger event,” he said.

 

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

  • A Very Expensive Poison review

    London Theater Review: 'A Very Expensive Poison'

    Vladimir Putin owes his power to the stage. The president’s closest advisor trained as a theatre director before applying his art to politics, and ran Russia like a staged reality, spinning so many fictions that truth itself began to blur. By scrambling the story and sowing confusion, Putin could exert absolute control. The long-awaited latest [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    Broadway Review: 'Betrayal' With Tom Hiddleston

    and Zawe Ashton as a long-married couple and Charlie Cox as the secret lover. Director Jamie Lloyd’s impeccable direction — now on Broadway, after a hot-ticket London run — strips Pinter’s 1978 play to its bare bones: the excruciating examination of the slow death of a marriage.  It’s a daring approach, leaving the characters nowhere [...]

  • Jayne Houdyshell arrives at the 71st

    'The Music Man' Revival Adds Four Tony Winners to Broadway Cast

    Tony Award-winners Jayne Houdyshell, Jefferson Mays, Marie Mullen and Shuler Hensley will join stars Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster in the upcoming Broadway revival of “The Music Man.” In “The Music Man,” Jackman will play con-man Harold Hill, who arrives in a small, fictional Iowa town called River City and urges the townsfolk to start [...]

  • Glen Basner Filmnation

    FilmNation's Glen Basner on Diversifying Beyond Movies by Focusing on Storytelling

    Glen Basner lives to make deals.  Be it Toronto or Cannes, Sundance or AFM, you’ll find the FilmNation founder in the throes of negotiations over pricing and marketing plans, schmoozing and working every angle to nail the best pact. Director Armando Iannucci, who worked with FilmNation on the upcoming “The Personal History of David Copperfield,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content