NEW YORK – Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, the dynamic comedy duo who helped make The Producers a giant hit and then reunited to mine more box-office gold in The Odd Couple, will be back on Broadway together next fall.
The Tony-winning actors will headline an update of Terrence McNally‘s inside-showbiz comedy It’s Only a Play, which will open in September at a theater to be announced.
McNally’s latest work, Mothers and Sons, earlier this week was nominated for two Tony Awards, including best play and lead actress in a play for Tyne Daly.
McNally has twice won best play Tonys, in 1995 for Love! Valour! Compassion! and again the following year for Master Class. He also won Tonys for best book of a musical in 1993 for Kiss of the Spider Woman and in 1998 for Ragtime.
It’s Only a Play has a long and complicated history. It was first seen in 1978 under the title Broadway, Broadway in a Philadelphia tryout. That production closed quickly, and a revised and retitled version was next seen in a small New York theater four years later. Further rewriting resulted in a 1986 Manhattan Theatre Club production that starred James Coco, Mark Blum, Christine Baranski and Joanna Gleason.
The comedy unfolds in a neophyte theater producer’s Manhattan townhouse during an opening-night party for a play called The Golden Egg. While the playwright of that work, the part taken by Broderick in the update, anxiously awaits the arrival of reviews, other backbiters at the gathering secretly pray for it to be eviscerated. One of those is a bitchy sitcom star with failed dreams of being a great stage actor, the role to be played by Lane.
The production will be staged by Jack O’Brien, who won Tonys for his direction of Hairspray (2003), Henry IV (2004) and The Coast of Utopia (2007). O’Brien also directed Lane in a Tony-nominated performance last season in The Nance.
Broderick and Lane took Broadway by storm in 2001 as Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock in the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, which became the hottest ticket of the season and ran for six years. The show won a record 12 Tony Awards, with Lane inching out his co-star for lead actor honors. Broderick had previously won that award for the 1995 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a year before Lane won his first for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
The two actors reteamed in 2005 for a revival of the Neil Simon comedy The Odd Couple, which drew mixed reviews but was nonetheless a smash hit at the box office.
It’s Only a Play will be produced by McNally’s husband, Tom Kirdahy, who is also lead producer on Mothers and Sons. Additional cast, creative team and dates are to be announced.
Following his Broadway return, Lane, who has a recurring role on The Good Wife, is scheduled to appear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater from Feb. 5 through March 15 next year in Eugene O’Neill‘s The Iceman Cometh. That production, which co-stars Brian Dennehy, was first seen to great acclaim at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2012.
A BAM spokesperson confirmed that the limited engagement of It’s Only a Play will not affect those plans.