The JJ Abrams Broadway Show “The Play That Goes Wrong” Begins Previews at the Lyceum Theatre after successful West End residency
Mischief Theatre Company’s London Production Comes to Broadway
On March 9, 2017, The Play That Goes Wrong began previews at the Lyceum Theatre, ahead of its opening night scheduled for April 2, 2017. This play is co-written by three individuals: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. They are among the members of the Mischief Theatre Company, based in London. The play, directed by Mark Bell, had its world premiere at the Old Red Lion Theatre in London in 2012, then moving to the comparatively small West End venue Trafalgar Studios in 2013. Following that, it transferred to the larger West End Duchess Theatre in September 2014, where it is still running to this day. Last year, it took home the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. Meanwhile, a tour launched in the United Kingdom in January 2017, starting at the Theatre Royal Bath, and an Australian tour began in February 2017 in Melbourne, with stops planned for Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, and Perth. With all of this excitement in the English-speaking world, it makes sense that the show would make its way to Broadway. The Mischief Theatre Company has previously mounted several productions including The Comedy About a Bank Robbery and Peter Pan Goes Wrong, which played at London’s Apollo Theatre in the West End in 2015, starring the same cast as The Play That Goes Wrong.
Powerhouse Film Producer-Director J.J. Abrams on Producing Team
J.J. Abrams has had a prolific film career. Among his producing credits are Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and Star Trek Beyond, and in addition, he has written and/or directed such titles as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mission: Impossible III, and Star Trek Into Darkness. Until now, however, he has not ventured into the Broadway domain. The lead producer of The Play That Goes Wrong is Kevin McCollum, whose credits include Hand to God, Something Rotten!, Rent, and Avenue Q, and the second listed producer is J.J. Abrams. When Abrams saw the London production of The Play That Goes Wrong, he fell in love with it, and he and McCollum connected regarding bringing it to Broadway. The third listed producer is Kenny Wax, who is a producer of the London production. Wax is thrilled with the success of the London show, as it has been running at 100% capacity since December 2015, and the advance before the transfer to the Duchess Theatre was over a million pounds, which is very high for West End standards. Nevertheless, it is a daring move to bring the show to Broadway, as it is the Broadway debut of literally every single actor, the three writers, and the director. This does not speak to inexperience, as they are very experienced on the London scene, but nevertheless these individuals are all unknown entities to the Broadway theatre ticket buying audience.
An Open-Ended Run
Unlike many straight plays, The Play That Goes Wrong is arriving on Broadway with no closing date specified. In the past, comedies originating in London have done very well on Broadway. For example, One Man, Two Guvnors ran for 5 months in 2012, making the American career of James Corden who now hosts The Late Late Show on CBS. It is possible than one of the actors making his/her Broadway debut in The Play That Goes Wrong will also become an overnight star in the U.S. due to this production. The cast includes Rob Falconer as Trevor, Dave Hearn as Max, Henry Lewis (who is one of the writers) as Robert, Charlie Russell as Sandra, Jonathan Sayer (another writer) as Dennis, Henry Shields (the third writer) as Chris, Greg Tannahill as Jonathan, and Nancy Zamit as Annie.