Now Hear This! The [title of show] Creators Reunite for Now. Here. This.

By Harry Haun
25 Mar 2012

Susan Blackwell
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Does it feel like toiling at The Vineyard?
Hunter: No. You know what's great, what I love about being here — especially when you're creating new stuff — is that they support your efforts. They're, like, "Go for it. Let's try it." When you're making something new, you need that time to figure it out, and you need that support from every room in the building — not just in the collaboration but from the artistic staff and from the production staff — and they do that here in spades. It makes you feel comfortable so you get to focus on the work and do what you need to do. I'm grateful for it.

Susan: There's a whole team of magical elves that are in the theatre working on light cues and sound cues. While I sleep, their work continues to support this work.

Jeff: The Vineyard has really been great. When we did the two separate runs of [title of show] here, it was like a camp. I feel kinda like I'm back in college.

Can you give me some specific things in the show? Like, are there any showbiz bulletins like Mary Stout getting hit by another hot-dog cart?
Jeff: There's not a lot of theatre-specific things in the show. We sorta ran that gamut with [title of show]. We refer to Thornton Wilder, but there are no Andrew Lloyd Webber jokes.

So you're not actors per se in this?
Susan: We're people.

And is that a progression, from actors to people?
Hunter: I think there's Carnies, Actors, People.

Susan: We're making a conscious effort, in the hopes of making it as universal as possible and still remaining specific, of focusing on our experiences as people and not just as performers.


Hunter Bell
photo by Carol Rosegg

What was your Broadway ride like? That only happens to Mickey and Judy — in movies.
Hunter: It was everything, so thrilling, so surreal. My metaphor joke is: "We felt like Cinderella at the ball, but Cinderella also worked her ass off a few years, scrubbing to get there." Nobody focused on that part of the story. We were extremely fortunate it all came together. The other side of that is you need bold and brave producers and a theatre owner who'll agree in this commercial climate to take a chance. It was a Mickey-and-Judy story. I have such great gratitude because it changed my life. There's nothing like it — the feel of pride in the completion of that journey, with the show making it to Broadway.

Heidi: I certainly have a new appreciation when I see something on Broadway. Even if I don't love it, I now know how hard it is to get there from the ground up. I've done a handful of Broadway shows, but [title of show] was the one I helped build. It was unbelievable that we made it there. Every day we were so thankful to be there, and that made the experience so satisfying. We never took a second of it for granted. My memories of that time are very clear, very crystallized because we were so grateful.

Jeff: It was such a lesson for all the times, before I was on Broadway, when I thought, "Wow! Those people are lucky." I realized, as we slogged through the mud field on our way to Broadway, everybody slogs through that mud field to get there.

Some even go back for seconds. How long are you at the Vineyard?
Hunter: We're scheduled to run through April 15, with — cross fingers — a possible extension through April, and then I'm sure we'll transfer immediately to Broadway.

(A version of this article appears in the April 2012 edition of Playbill magazine.)