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Perhaps another Hamilton effect? Hollywood is heading to Broadway as producers: In this season alone, Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions got behind the musical A Bronx Tale, John Legend’s Get Lifted joined the debut of August Wilson’s play Jitney, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker’s Nine Stories took on Sunday in the Park With George, the musical in which Gyllenhaal stars.
Most surprisingly, J.J. Abrams is a producer of The Play That Goes Wrong, the hit West End farce from the Mischief Theatre Company that opened on Broadway last week. “I had a free night while shooting Star Wars: The Force Awakens in London, and I needed a comedy,” he tells THR of seeing the slapstick comedy in 2015. “It was just such an unabashed commitment to physical comedy, and God, people need to laugh in this pure and joyous way. And that was a few years ago. I certainly think, if anything, it’s more the case now.”
Though he admits “my involvement in Broadway feels like cheating because I wasn’t involved in the creating of this from the ground up in any way,” the experience has sparked his interest in building new stage shows — with the Mischief Theatre Company and otherwise — and also producing more comedy-centric projects for the screen through Bad Robot.
“It’s intimidating to be involved in a Broadway show — there’s a lot of stress, a lot of expectations, a lot of egos at work, a lot of investors, a lot. I’d like to think that there’s room for anyone who has a passion for something that they really care about,” says Abrams.
Is he nervous about a new crop of Hollywood crossovers infringing on the Broadway territory of Scott Rudin, with whom he worked on the 1991 film Regarding Henry? “Having worked with Scott Rudin and having [had] a great experience with him, I think he would be very supportive of what is happening. The likes of Scott Rudin are hard to come by — he’s a force of nature on film and stage. I have a vague feeling that Scott is not the least bit intimidated by the fact that an old friend of his happens to be producing a little comedy.”
Abrams also has no aspirations to join the EGOT club, he says. “What’s that? I didn’t even know what that was, so I feel like an idiot. I think to have a plan or desire in that realm means you have a lot bigger problems than what awards you do or do not have. I have literally no strategy about my career at all, let alone what awards I will undoubtedly not win.”
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