Patrick Stewart this weekend expressed his frustration with the promotion of the play in which he is appearing on Broadway, Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan, by taking the unusual step of denouncing the producers from the stage of the Ambassador Theatre.
As first reported in the New York Post, following the curtain call at the April 29 matinee and evening performances, Stewart, speaking for himself and Miller, read the following speech: "Can I beg your attention for one more minute or so. Please. I assure you I have nothing more to tell you about how I got onto the Mt. Morgan Road. In fact please believe me this is Patrick Stewart talking to you -- not Lyman Felt. Lyman has been left behind, in the wings. So...trust me.
"There are many elements that go into making a Broadway play a success. The casting, the direction, the design, the acting, the play. And in The Ride Down Mt. Morgan know we have an extraordinary, provocative and vastly entertaining play. What is also needed is promotion and publicity. People need to be told that a play is out there. Arthur Miller and I no longer have confidence in our producers commitment to this production (especially the Shubert organization) or their willingness to promote and publicize it.
"This I find deeply puzzling, if for no other reason than this is an important play by America's most distinguished living playwright. Arthur and I feel frustrated and helpless. So all we can do now is to ask you, our audience, for help -- and it is very simple. If you have enjoyed today's performance, tell your families and friends so that in the months ahead they too can have the chance to experience The Ride Down Mt. Morgan."
The Shuberts responded to the unexpected assault with a statement of their own, reading, "The producers' commitment to The Ride Down Mt. Morgan could not be stronger. To have Patrick Stewart star on Broadway in an Arthur Miller play is a producers' dream come true. All of us are looking forward to the continued success of this play." According to Variety, Stewart had complained about the lack of critics' quotes outside the theatre. The show opened on April 9 to generally positive reviews and has since played to good houses. July 23 is the announced closing date.
"Clearly the play has dropped through the memory hole," Miller told the New York Times. "Promises have been made repeatedly that were never kept. I told [Stewart] I agreed with the statement."
The play's publicist, meanwhile, told the Times that more money was being spent on promoting Morgan than had been on The Blue Room and Amy's View, two other limited run plays of last season. He also noted that Morgan was the only straight play on Broadway that had received television advertising.
Such spats between cast members and producers are not unusual. Last season, Lillias White openly feuded with the producers of Dinah Was, and Uta Hagen bitterly complained about the lack of promotional support for her play, Collected Stories.