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The Play’s The Thing

April 30th, 2021 · 2 Comments · New York City, Real-life Adventure Tales

The Play’s The Thing

113 different Playbills that survived.

An approximate history of my life in theater audiences . . .

Some of the highlights . . . which you can see the Playbills of in chronological order starting at the top . . .

Mousetrap — London — 1972 — the longest running play in the history of the planet, opened in 1952, never closed until the pandemic of 2020 — 68 years.

Sleuth — London — 1972 — sat in the Queen’s private box (with its own bathroom) because our seats had been sold twice and the other people arrived first.

Hair — London — 1972, in the Shaftesbury Theater where it first premiered with Tim Curry in 1972

Harvey with James Stewart — London, 1975 — the first time I experienced a standing ovation.

The Elephant Man with David Bowie in the title role — Broadway, Dec. 3rd, 1980 – five nights before John Lennon was shot dead. (!)

Napoleon — Radio City Music Hall, Jan. 1981 – the restored 3-screen 1927 movie with a full orchestra playing a score composed by Carmine Coppola, Francis’s father.

Amadeus — Broadway, Feb. 1981 — long before there was a movie of it, with Tim Curry in the title role, plus Ian McKellen & Jane Seymour.

Private Lives — Broadway, June 1983 — Noel Coward’s comedy about a divorced couple, featuring divorced couple Liz Taylor & Richard Burton.

Glengarry Glen Ross — Broadway, March 1984 — David Mamet’s masterpiece, with Joe Mantegna & J.T. Walsh.

Death of a Salesman — Broadway, June 1984 — Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, with Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich & Kate Reid.

Balm In Gilead — Off-Broadway, 1984 — Steppenwolf production of Lanford Wilson’s play about the Greenwich Village underworld, John Malkovich directing, Laurie Metcalf’s mesmerizing 20-minute monologue in second act. It played at the Minetta Lane Theatre, five minutes from where I lived on Washington Square North and I second-acted it probably a half-dozen times just to see her monologue. Also saw it at Circle In The Square at Sheridan Square with Malkovich filling in for one of the roles.

Hurlyburly — Broadway, 1984 — saw it’s first production directed by Mike Nichols, with William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Harvey Keitel, Ron Silver, Jerry Stiller, Judith Ivy, and Cynthia Nixon, who was also in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing two blocks away, also directed by Nichols. Her character in Hurlyburly appears at the beginning and end of the play, and she only had one scene in middle of The Real Thing, and she’d literally run between the two theaters and was appearing in two Broadway plays at the same time!

Back Bog Beast Bait, Suicide in B Flat, and Angel City all by Sam Shepard — Off-Off-Broadway in repertory at La Mama in the East Village, Dec. 1984, with Max Roach playing the music.

Strange Interlude by Eugene O’Neill — Broadway, 1985 — with Glenda Jackson.

Fool For Love — Off-Broadway, 1985 — written & directed by Sam Shepard.

Orphans — Off-Broadway, 1985 — Steppenwolf production, Gary Sinise directing, starring Gary Cole (!), music by Pat Metheny.

Arms & The Man — Broadway, 1985 — George Bernard Shaw’s play, directed by and starring John Malkovich, with Raul Julia & Glenne Headly.

Curse of The Starving Class — Off-Broadway, 1985 — by Sam Shepard, starring Bradley Whitford.

The Caretaker — Broadway, 1985 — Steppenwolf production of Harold Pinter’s play, directed by John Malkovich, starring Gary Sinise and Jeff Perry.

Drinking In America — Off-Broadway, 1986 — Eric Bogosian’s one-man play.

A Lie of The Mind — Off-Broadway, 1986 — Sam Shepard’s play, with Harvey Keitel, Aiden Quinn, Amanda Plummer, Will Patton & James Gammon.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night — Broadway, 1986 — Eugene O’Neill’s play, staring Jack Lemmon, with Kevin Spacey & Peter Gallagher as the sons.

Cuba & His Teddy Bear — Broadway, 1986 — Robert De Niro, Ralph Macchio & Burt Young; had long talk with Joseph Papp while waiting to buy tickets.

I’m Not Rappaport — Broadway, 1986 — Hal Linden, Ossie Davis, Mercedes Ruehl.

The House of Blue Leaves — Broadway, 1986 — John Guare’s play, with Danny Aiello, Christine Baranski, Swoosie Kurtz & Patricia Clarkson.

My Gene — Off-Broadway, Public Theatre, 1987 – Colleen Dewhurst’s powerful one-woman show as Eugene O’Neill’s last wife who is going mad.

Mort Sahl On Broadway — 1987 — great one-man standup show with newspaper under his arm.

Burn This — Broadway, 1987 — Lanford Wilson’s play with John Malkovich & Joan Allen.

Waiting For Godot — Off-Broadway, 1988 — Beckett’s classic with Robin Williams & Steve Martin, and Bill Irwin as Lucky. Directed by Mike Nichols.  Saw it twice in the tiny 300-seat Mitzi Newhouse theater at Lincoln Center.

Twelfth Night — Shakespeare in the Park, 1989 — with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum, Gregory Hines, John Amos, Fisher Stevens, Stephen Collins, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Saw twice.

States of Shock — Broadway, 1991 — by Sam Shepard, starring John Malkovich.

Man of La Mancha — Broadway, 1992 — Raul Julia & Sheena Easton.

A Streetcar Named Desire — Broadway, 1992 — Alec Baldwin (who was GREAT and funny (!) as Stanley), Jessica Lange, Amy Madigan, James Gandolfini, Aida Turturro.

Death and The Maiden — Broadway, 1992 — Glenn Close, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman — great drama.

Abe Lincoln in Illinois — Broadway, Lincoln Center, 1993 — Sam Waterston.

Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead — Off-Broadway, Minetta Lane Theater, 1994 — Eric Bogosian one-man show, absolutely hilarious.

SubUrbia — Off-Broadway, 300-seat Mitzi Newhouse at Lincoln Center, 1994 — original production with Steve Zahn, Martha Plimpton, Josh Hamilton.

The Tempest — Shakespeare in the Park, 1995 — Patrick Stewart, Bill Irwin.

Mrs. Klein — Off-Broadway, 1996 — Uta Hagen & Amy Wright (who both lived in my building at 27 Washington Square North).

Demonology — Off-Broadway, 1996 — play about temping when my book came out about temping, with Marisa Tomei.

Capeman — Broadway, 1998 — Paul Simon’s musical, with Ruben Blades & Marc Anthony.

Cabaret — Broadway, in the former Studio 54, 1999 — Alan Cumming in his Tony-winning role as the emcee, plus Mary McCormick & Blair Brown, and Jenna Elfman pulled out of the audience into some on-stage improv with Cumming.

James Joyce’s The Dead — Broadway, 2000 — Christopher Walken.

True West — Broadway, Circle In The Square, 2000 — Philip Seymour Hoffman & John C. Reilly alternating roles each night. I saw it twice, once each way. Both mind-blowing.

Eddie Izzard’s Circle — Broadway, Town Hall, 2000 — one-man standup, saw twice, very different and equally insanely funny.

Rocky Horror Picture Show — Broadway, Circle In the Square, 2000 — Joan Jett & Dick Cavett.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest — Broadway, 2001 — Ken Kesey’s novel staged as a play.  Gary Sinise as Randal Patrick McMurphy.

The Times They Are A-Changin’ — Broadway, 2006 — Twyla Tharp interprets the songs of Bob Dylan, went with Walter R.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night — London West End, summer of 2012 — David Suchet & Laurie Metcalf – power black-out mid-play, couldn’t get restored, given refund, then I went back and second-acted it for free. 🙂

The Taming of The Shrew — Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, summer 2012 — unbelievably great, took tour of theatre in afternoon, then drank with the whole cast on an outdoor terrace after the show.

The Secret Space of Dreams — Stable Studios, Spencer, Indiana — a Prankster production, written by Spirit and Marz, I played “Jack”.

The Secret Space of Is — Wonderland, Indiana, 2017 — I did the “Historian” introduction.

Red Roses, Green Gold — Off-Broadway, Minetta Lane Theatre, 2017 — once with Sky, George & Levi Asher, then again with Sky & Prankster Tricia; hung with music supervisor Jeff Chimenti and librettist Michael Mann both times. Plus danced in the aisles and became friendly with the cast.


For an even cooler list, check out this list of top 300 films — all sorted by categories, including by Auteur, and all linked to their imdb page.

Or here’s a tribute to the woman who first turned me onto theater and I attended more with than any other human.

Here’s a great Adventure Tale — including tons of photos — of going to Shakespeare’s Globe in London for a spectacular Taming of the Shrew.

Or here’s a vivid account of that very theatrical Prankster production when the clowns all put on a circus.

Or here’s an Adventure Review of the Grateful Dead-based musical Red Roses, Green Gold.


by Brian Hassett   —

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Rich Huarte // May 7, 2021 at 9:54 PM

    Great! I loved I’m Not Rappaport. Raul Julia is one of the best actors ever, in my opinion. I got to see him in Dracula and Threepenny Opera. Wish I’d seen him in La Mancha.

  • 2 G.L. Weatherford // May 8, 2021 at 11:52 AM


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