With the March 26 opening of Broadway’s Lobby Hero, Second Stage Theatre is officially in the business of Broadway. The Off-Broadway staple christened the Hayes Theatre with the opening of Kenneth Lonergan’s play starring Chris Evans, Michael Cera, Brian Tyree Henry, and Bel Powley.
The full cast, Lonergan, and director Trip Cullman stopped to chat with Playbill LIVE on the opening night red carpet during the post-show celebration at Manhattan’s Bryant Park Grill.
Lobby Hero originally debuted Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 2001, and the issues embedded in Lonergan’s writing resonate with the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements of today. “I know his story. It’s also about allies. This play is so relevant to have been written 20 years ago,” said Henry, who makes his return to Broadway after debuting as the original General in The Book of Mormon in 2011. “It’s like when are we gonna have the conversation where we don’t have to feel that anymore? We need to find our allies and we need to tell these stories and we need to tell them to each other and that’s why I love that [this play] is about us being in a lobby, this small confinement where you have nowhere to run. So let’s just talk about it.”
Of course, his performance and that of his co-stars elevates the material—making even the most unlikable people (in Evans’ character’s case) sympathetic. “That's in the writing,” says Evans, making his Broadway debut in the play. “All of Kenny’s characters, there’s no hero there’s no villain. There a lot of indictment on institutions but a lot of sympathy towards the characters so even though I play a bad guy he has layers and I think he's relatable.”
“What I was so struck with Kenneth Lonergan’s writing,” adds Cullman, “you don’t think these are actors acting in roles that somebody has written, you literally think you are a fly on the wall and these are human beings who are having their lives broken and made in front of your eyes. So that was the brief that I set to myself getting to do Lobby Hero. I want these characters to feel, for an audience, that you're just observing these human beings rather than these actors playing these characters.”
Watch the full livestream above to hear the full interviews and to hear from Lonergan, Powley, and Cera about their thoughts on the work.