PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With David West Read, Playwright of Broadway's The Performers
By Michael Gioia
New York-based playwright and screenwriter David West Read makes his Broadway debut with The Performers, a new romantic comedy that sets lovers and friends in the world of the adult entertainment industry.
Last season, David West Read made his Off-Broadway debut with The Dream of the Burning Boy at Roundabout Theatre Company's Black Box Theatre as part of the Roundabout Underground series. The play, directed by Evan Cabnet, centered on the sudden death of a high school overachiever and garnered Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Award nominations. This season, Read makes his Broadway debut with The Performers, a play on the opposite end of the theatrical spectrum.
Read's new work — again directed by Cabnet, who also makes his Broadway debut with the production — is set at the Adult Film Awards in Las Vegas, NV, and stars Henry Winkler, who rose to fame as The Fonz on television's "Happy Days," as "the hardest-working man" in the biz. Read, who began work on The Performers during his time in the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program at Juilliard, admitted that he never thought a play about performers — adult performers — would get produced. However, with the encouragement from Tony-winning playwright and Juilliard professor Marsha Norman as well as the green light from producer Robyn Goodman, The Performers will begin life on Broadway Oct. 23.
At the beginning of this press event for The Performers, you said that you never thought this play would be produced. Why so?
Can you describe the show in a nutshell?
Magic Mike: The Musical, based on the Channing Tatum film about the lifestyle of male strippers, is aiming for a Broadway bow in 2013. That film lived in the world of a strip club. What kind of world does The Performers live in?
So we're not going to see any Full Monty-type, choreographed striptease acts?
Can you talk about assembling this cast — Cheyenne Jackson. Alicia Silverstone. Henry Winkler…!
This seems very different from the work you premiered last year, The Dream of the Burning Boy, about a high school tragedy, with Roundabout Underground. Can you tell me the differences in style between both works? Do you go through the same writing process?
And, you get to reunite with director Evan Cabnet, who helmed Burning Boy.
It must be exciting to make your Broadway debut alongside your friend and a cast of Broadway, film and television stars. Are you anxious? Are you nervous?
(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)
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