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Evan Cabnet, an equally young Turk (34) who helmed that play as well as The Performers, had praise for the producer, also. "Robyn is the most generous and nurturing producer I've ever worked with," he said. "It's a testament to her that this didn't feel risky — not in the process. I know there are all sorts of production elements you need to be thinking about, but Robyn really protected us all from that and just let us do our work. I have to tell you it was wild being at the Longacre in the middle of previews, getting out new pages and pencils and highlighters like we would be doing with any play anywhere, but there we were on a Broadway stage in the afternoon a week or two from opening night and working on new material."
He's particularly proud of the way Read transitioned into the big league. "He's 29 years old. This is his second play that has gone into production, and what a playwright is up against going from the friendly confines of a 60-seat basement theatre to Broadway where there is no brighter light — he has handled it elegantly, with good humor, and always stayed true to his idea of what the play should be."
Both are making their Broadway debuts the hard way (no pun intended — really). "Something we thought about very early on was that the pornographic angle is the scenario, not the plot — it's the setting rather than the subject matter — so very quickly you get accustomed to the language. You learn what the rules of that world are, and then you're more interested in the characters. What we did in the rehearsal room was focus almost exclusively on that — character trajectory, relationship questions, and really thinking through what the hearts of all these characters were."
It was this longer-view, softer-side of the material that pulled Winkler into the play and back to Broadway. "It really is a play about the heart, and it's deeply touching to me," he opined. "All I did was read it out loud three times for investors with Ari and Cheyenne. I just listened to them, and my heart swelled."
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Jackson gave Goodman credit for getting him in on the ground floor. "She thought of me for it, and I just knew it was a part I had to do. I loved this character. He always looks on the bright side of everything, and I love his positivity. He's so defensive. He's always worried about everybody thinking he's stupid. The only thing he thinks he has to offer is his big dick, but there's much more to him. It was fun to find that. I worked with Larry Moss, my acting teacher, for a long time, and we found him!"
Graynor, playing his Peeps with a voice-cracking angst, runs away with her share of scenes. "I have to say she is my favorite character of the ones that I've played. She's so full of heart, and she's so vulnerable, and she's so open — and only acts on instinct. I just love that about her and applaud it and want to be more like that myself."
Much of the merriment of the show is centered around her coping with various adversities, small but nagging ones. What's her trick for winning the audience over?
"It's all about commitment. As an actor, you always have to commit to whatever you're doing, but I think — especially in this kind of comedy and with these kinds of characters — it's easy for them to become caricatures so we've all consciously worked hard to make them as grounded and soulful as possible. So when they say ridiculous things, you're on board with it rather than think, 'What are you saying?'"
Silverstone is happy to leave the silver screen again. "I love being on Broadway, doing theatre," professed the actress whose stage notches consist of The Graduate and Time Stands Still. "The director and the writer and I worked very closely here, and they were so generous in letting me create Sara. It was a really fun experience."
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