Everybody Rise! Fisher's Acclaimed Solo Show, Wishful Drinking, Aims for Broadway

News   Everybody Rise! Fisher's Acclaimed Solo Show, Wishful Drinking, Aims for Broadway Carrie Fisher knows the way to San Jose — and Santa Fe, Hartford, Boston and Washington, DC. Her well-reviewed biographical show, Wishful Drinking, will play engagements in all these cities on its way to a Broadway bow in spring 2009.

Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking.
Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking. Photo by Kevin Berne

Producer Jonathan Reinis, who produced the Tony Award-winning Dame Edna: The Royal Tour (2000) and Def Poetry Jam (2003), told Playbill.com April 23 that in addition to the announced cities for a mini-tour of the comic solo show by the actress-writer ("Star Wars," "Postcards From the Edge"), he's in discussions with additional not-for-profit theatres, and he's aiming the show toward a March 2009 launch in an intimate house on Broadway.

A Broadway deal (dates and a theatre) is not yet in place. The darkly comic and sardonic piece has serious crossover appeal: It plays to the addiction/recovery community, women, movie buffs and anyone who likes to view celebrity with a jaundiced eye.

Billed as a comic and sobering look at Fisher's incident-crowded life, Wishful Drinking, directed by Bridge & Tunnel's Tony Taccone, took in $1.3 million in nine-and-a- half weeks at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where Taccone is the artistic director. Setting a 40-year record for box-office gross at the Rep, audiences ate up Fisher's self-deprecating script and delivery, which is energized with audience participation. (It was even more raucous when mom Debbie Reynolds came to see it — more than once — in Berkeley.)

In addition to the recently announced run at San Jose Repertory Theatre in California (July 23-Aug. 2) and Arena Stage at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC (Sept. 5-28), Reinis confirmed the following bookings (the show is leap-frogging to resident not-for-profits): Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, NM (June 18-22); Hartford Stage in Connecticut (Aug. 6-17); and Huntington Theatre Company in Boston (Oct. 14-26).

Wishful Drinking is produced by Jonathan Reinis Productions in association with Berkeley Rep. "I was essentially raised in my mother's nightclub act, so it's very natural for me to do what most people find unnatural — get on stage and tell stories," Fisher said in production notes. "I always say, 'If my life weren't funny, it would just be true — and that's unacceptable.' So please come to see my show, otherwise I'll end up talking about myself alone in the dark. Again!"

In the solo show, "Carrie Fisher is the life of the party in Wishful Drinking. Onstage, she recounts a true and intoxicating story with the same strong, wry wit that she poured into bestsellers like 'Postcards from the Edge.' Born to celebrity parents, Fisher lands among the stars when she's picked to play a princess in a little movie called 'Star Wars.' But it isn't all sweetness and light sabers. As a single mom, she also battles addiction, depression, mental institutions, and that awful hyperspace hairdo. It's an incredible tale — from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to wedding (and shedding) Paul Simon, from having the father of her baby leave her for a man to waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed. Don't miss this outrageous chance to get Carried away."

Taccone said in a statement, "Carrie is an incisive writer, and she has a razor sharp wit. Having lived in the public eye for so long — and having survived so many unusual experiences — she's developed a unique capacity to make sense out of life's challenges through storytelling. With this show, she combines these talents with an ability to be completely authentic and truthful onstage."

Fisher made her feature film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 hit "Shampoo." The daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, she became a cultural icon when she played Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. Her films include "The Blues Brothers," "The Burbs," "Garbo Talks," "Hannah and Her Sisters," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," "The Man with One Red Shoe," "This is My Life," "When Harry Met Sally," "Austin Powers," "Scream 3," "Charlie's Angels" and "Wonderland." Her coming films are "White Lightnin'," "Fanboys" and the remake of "The Women." In 1987 Fisher's book, "Postcards from the Edge," was a New York Times bestseller and earned her the Los Angeles Pen Award for Best First Novel. Three more bestsellers followed: "Delusions of Grandma," "Surrender the Pink" and "The Best Awful." Fisher turned "Postcards" into a screenplay for the hit film starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep, and is currently adapting "The Best Awful" for HBO with producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks.

As an actress, she made recent appearances on TV's "30 Rock" and "Weeds."

Her experiences with addiction and bipolar disorder — and her willingness to speak honestly about them – have made her a sought-after speaker and respected advocate for these communities.

Producer Reinis' recent productions include Jerry Springer: The Opera at Carnegie Hall (2008), How The Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical (2006-7), Kiki and Herb: Alive On Broadway (Tony Nomination 2006), Dame Edna (Tony Award, 2000), Russell Simmons's Def Poetry Jam (Tony Award, 2003), Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home (Tony nomination, 2003) and It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues (Tony nomination, 1999).

Alexander V. Nichols created scenic design, lighting design and projections for Wishful Drinking. Christina Wright is the costume designer.

Berkeley, CA-based Reinis built and operated Theatre on the Square in downtown San Francisco for more than 20 years (1981-2002). The theatre opened with the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play Talley's Folly. Other San Francisco productions include Jeffrey; Irving Berlin in Revue; Bubbe Meises; The Piano Lesson (national tour); The Kathy and Mo Show; Shirley Valentine; Love Letters; Mass Appeal; Nehemiah Persoff as Sholem Aleichem; Biloxi Blues; I'm Not Rappaport; Curse of the Werewolf; and Phantom of the Opera by Ken Hill. He also presented Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project in Northern California, the premiere production of Smuin Ballets/SF Dances with Songs, the Kirov Ballet's original Nutcracker, Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez, Stomp, Riverdance—The Show, Guys and Dolls (national tour), Fame: The Musical, and Dirty Blonde (national tour). Reinis is a member of the Broadway League and ATPAM.

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Also on Reinis' plate is the commercial future of The Quality of Life by Jane Anderson starring Laurie Metcalf, JoBeth Williams and Dennis Boutsikaris (which launches Oct. 24-Nov. 23 at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco). The ACT production is in association with Jonathan Reinis and Geffen Playhouse.

In it, "Bill and Dinah (Williams), a religious Midwestern couple, visit free-spirited cousin Jeannette (Metcalf) and her husband, Neil, in Northern California, [as] both couples confront loss and survival in the face of an explosive circumstance."

Carrie Fisher in the <i>Wishful Drinking</i> run at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Carrie Fisher in the Wishful Drinking run at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Photo by Kevin Berne