The play’s the thing this spring on Broadway.
To the competitive roster of non-musicals I spoke about last week — all-star revivals of “King Lear” and “All My Sons” among them — add Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me.” It’s moving from off-Broadway to the Helen Hayes in March, sources tell me, replacing Harvey Fierstein’s critically acclaimed but short-lived “Torch Song.”
Schreck wrote and stars in “Constitution,” which is more of a performance piece (a terrible phrase, but it will have to do in a pinch) than a traditional play. She plays herself now and as she was at 15, when she was a star debater at competitions sponsored by the American Legion.
I’m not sure how commercial ruminations on the 14th Amendment will turn out to be, but the show is a critic’s darling. Writing for The Post, Joe Dziemianowicz put it on his list of best theater in 2018, calling it a “whip-smart . . . wake-up call.”
The New York Theatre Workshop’s “Slave Play” got a lot of attention, too, though critics called Jeremy O. Harris’ play “provocative” more often than they called it “successful.” They also called it “repetitive” and indulgent.
Set in the antebellum South, it contains a lot of steamy and sometimes violent (simulated) sex between mixed-race couples, gay and straight. It divided producers who checked it out for a possible move to Broadway. One thought it was “brilliant.” Another said: “I hated every minute of it. It’s showy nonsense.”
Theater owners, I’m told, are not impressed. “Slave Play” will have a tough time finding a house, unless something falls through and it can fill a slot.
Another play people are talking about is “Hillary and Clinton,” opening in April at the John Golden, where playwright Lucas Hnath’s 2017 hit “A Doll’s House, Part 2” ran. Starring Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow, it takes place during the 2008 presidential primaries, when Hillary Clinton is trying to salvage her floundering campaign against Barack Obama. It’s a meaty, fun political play along the lines of Gore Vidal’s superb “The Best Man.”
“Hillary and Clinton” came up at a private party last week for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in Washington, DC. Some Broadway bigwigs were on hand to celebrate the Democrats’ takeover of the US House of Representatives. One of them chatted up a former Clinton operative, now an elected official.
“I hope it will be a hit,” the official said. “We need the good press.”
Well, let’s hope it sells more tickets than “An Evening With President Bill Clinton and Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodman Clinton,” which is hardly packing them in the way Michelle Obama’s book tour is.
As I mentioned last week, the two plays to get tickets to now are “Ink” and “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus.”
I read James Graham’s “Ink” the other day and it’s terrific. It’s about the young Rupert Murdoch (who owns this newspaper) when he buys London’s struggling Sun newspaper and turns it into a powerhouse that helps move Britain away from socialism and into Margaret Thatcher’s free-market reign. Not only does the play capture an important moment in history, but it’s full of rich, juicy, hilarious characters.
As for “Gary” — about two servants cleaning up the carnage after Shakespeare’s bloodiest play — I hear Nathan Lane, who stars in it with Andrea Martin, laughed out loud when he read it.
There aren’t many comedies this season, so if you want to laugh, “Gary” is the ticket.
You can hear Michael Riedel weekdays on “Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” on WOR radio 710.