Comedy Star Makes Broadway Debut in Steve Martin Play
On November 1, 2017, Meteor Shower began previews at Broadway’s Booth Theatre, where it is scheduled to have its official opening night on November 29, 2017. This is a new play by Steve Martin, the versatile actor, writer, musician, comedian, and producer, whose most recent Broadway credit was as the writer and composer for the bluegrass musical Bright Star last season. In addition, Martin is very well known as a comedian and actor, from such films as Father of the Bride, Shopgirl (which he also wrote), Roxanne (which he co-wrote), and It’s Complicated. Martin also hosted the Academy Awards in 2001 and 2003, and again in 2010 along with Alec Baldwin. Meteor Shower is directed by Jerry Zaks, whose Broadway directorial career stems back all the way to 1986, and whose recent credits include the presently running revival of Hello, Dolly!, as well as A Bronx Tale the Musical, Sister Act, Losing Louie, and The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. As if the credentials of those two power players were not enough, Meteor Shower also boasts an exciting cast. Headlining the play is Amy Schumer making her Broadway debut. Schumer is a comedian who recently rose to stardom through her Comedy Central television sketch series Inside Amy Schumer, as well as films such as Trainwreck and Snatched. In Meteor Shower, she stars opposite Keegan-Michael Key, from the duo Key and Peele, also making his Broadway debut, as well as Laura Benanti (She Loves Me, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, In the Next Room, Gypsy) and Jeremy Shamos (Noises Off, The Assembled Parties, Glengarry Glen Ross).
Before the first week of performances is even through, the press is reporting on the healthy advance being earned by this highly anticipated production. When tickets went on sale in mid-August, the show brought in $1 million within 2 days. Then, as of the day before the first preview, on November 1, 2017, the producers announced that Meteor Shower had broken the record for the largest advance in the entire 104-year history of the BoothTheatre. Before the curtain rose for the first time, the box office had already raked in over $7,500,000. This traction at the box office clearly stems from the names involved, both offstage in the core creative team, and onstage. With two comedy superstars du moment – Emmy Award winners Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key – alongside two young Broadway veterans – Tony Award winner Laura Benanti and Tony Award nominee Jeremy Shamos – the cast is indeed powerhouse. Not to mention the credentials of Steve Martin, who is beloved far and wide, alongside four-time Tony Award winning director Jerry Zaks. Nevertheless, in the two out-of-town tryout productions of the play prior to Broadway, the reviews were not necessarily stellar. Meteor Shower had its world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, prior to coming out east to the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut. Following the Old Globe production, the critic from the San Diego Union-Tribune called the play “wacky” and “frequently hilarious,” but admitted it “loses its way” in the second act. After the Connecticut production, the critic from the Hartford Courant praised the writing but was less sure about the substance. The plot description is not too informative – it is a head-to-head with two couples in a dinner setting, where the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?-esque verbal warfare is comparable to the flood of a meteor shower, which must explain the title. Still, with these comedic brains behind the line delivery, the production is sure to win a steady stream of laughs.