Broadway star and Mad Men alum Bryan Batt is in his hometown of New Orleans working on a book about his family’s amusement park, which drew crowds from the Golf Coast area from 1928 until is went out of business in 1983.
Tentatively titled Pontchartrain Beach: A Family Affair, the Pelican Press book will tell the story of the park’s founding by Batt’s grandfather, Harry J. Batt Sr. and its eventual management and ownership by his sons, Harry J. Batt Jr. and John A. Batt.
Batt told Playbill, “Every time I come down here people mention Ponchartrain Beach. It was the sort of entertainment everyone remembers from their childhood. Elvis performed there. Everybody who grew up along the Gulf Coast has some sort of memory of going there. I found boxes of memorabilia in her [his mother’s] garage. I thought I was going to find the Lindbergh baby in there. It was a magical, interesting family business.”
While in The Big Easy, Batt will take part in Tennessee Williams and the Eternal City, a March 23 New Orleans reading of excerpts from Williams' writings about his visits to Rome.
The sold-out 6:30 PM event is part of the March 22-26 New Orleans Literary Festival, which celebrates the arts in the city where Williams set his A Streetcar Name Desire. However, the play was written partly in the Italian capital, where Williams also worked on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Rose Tattoo. Williams wrote, “As soon as I crossed the Italian border my health and life seemed to be magically restored. There was the sun and there were the smiling Italians.”
Also taking part in the Williams readings will be two-time Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris, TV interviewer Dick Cavett, biographer and memoirist Patricia Bosworth, and performers Amy Dickinson, Jill St. John, and Robert Wagner.
Batt has numerous Broadway credits, including Saturday Night Fever, Beauty and the Beast, and Starlight Express. His screen credits include 12 Years a Slave and Mad Men, on which he played art director Salvatore Romano. Batt also appeared last summer in the Los Angeles production of Grey Gardens opposite Betty Buckley and Rachel York. He recently completed a stint as King George III in the Off-Broadway Hamilton parody, Spamilton. Batt is the author of two previous books, Big, Easy Style and the memoir, She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Mother. A release date has not been set for the new book.
As for the future, Batt said he’d like to the see the award-winning L.A. production of Grey Gardens recreated in New York. "People have got to see Betty and Rachel’s performances. They were brilliant. It would be a shame if they weren’t seen” in New York City. He added, “I can’t wait to get back on the boards, but it has to be the right thing at the right time.’’
Batt has been a special guest performer on two of Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas cruises. Playbill’s inaugural river cruise along the Rhône River in May 2017 is sold out, but cabins are available for the Rhine River cruise in August 2017, featuring Seth Rudetsky, Andréa Burns, Faith Prince, Terrence Mann, Charlotte d’Amboise, Santino Fontana and more exciting talent. Playbill Travel is now also booking Broadway on the Danube River for November 2017, with celebrity guests to be announced. Visit PlaybillTravel.com for booking and information.