PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With David West Read, Playwright of Broadway's The Performers

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20 Oct 2012

David West Read
David West Read
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

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.

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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?
David West Read: I think I was afraid that people would be turned off by the surface subject matter. The world [of adult entertainment] is scary to some people. But what I've been really happy about is that people have been recognizing that this is a big, broad comedy. It's got a lot of heart, and it's about real people and real situations. I've been really happy that it is getting produced. [Laughs.] I wasn't always sure it would be.

Cheyenne Jackson and Ari Graynor
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN



Can you describe the show in a nutshell?
DWR: The Performers is about these two couples — high school friends — who reunite at the Adult Film Awards in Vegas, and their relationships are put to the test on this crazy night. It's really about love.

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?
DWR: Well, [The Performers] is kind of about the backstage life. It's like a backstage comedy that is set at this awards show. A lot of stuff is referenced. It's not explicit on stage. A lot of the humor comes from [the fact that] this is just their normal lives. It sounds kind of shocking, and it seems incredible to us, but to them it's just business, so I think that's where the world [of adult entertainment] comes in. It's really just the setting as opposed to the content. It's about two couples, and it happens to be set there.

So we're not going to see any Full Monty-type, choreographed striptease acts?
DWR: [Laughs.] I mean, maybe the curtain call! You'll see some skin. There's some great, amazing costumes that we've been working on, which show off our beautiful cast, but it won't be a Full Monty kind of show!

Continued...

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