Broadway's One Man, Two Guvnors Slams the Door on Broadway Sept. 2

By Kenneth Jones
September 2, 2012

The acclaimed Broadway production of the British farce One Man, Two Guvnors, which won star James Corden the 2012 Best Actor Tony Award, end its limited engagement at the Music Box Sept. 2 after recouping its $3.25 million capitalization. The raucous British comedy by Richard Bean shocked audiences into spasms of laughter with its willful breaking of the fourth wall, which included audience participation and an onstage band.



The 1960s-set One Man, Two Guvnors, an English rewrite of the Italian classic The Servant of Two Masters, was directed by Nicholas Hytner, whose production is infused with new pre-Beatles-style rock tunes by Grant Olding; the score was nominated for the 2012 Tony Award. By close, the production will have played 173 performances on Broadway (a number that includes 13 previews plus an Actors Fund performance).

One Man, Two Guvnors began Broadway previews on April 6 and opened officially on April 18. Audiences have been wowed by Corden and company in the loose-limbed show about a butler serving two bosses — and satisfying his own appetite for wine, food and women. (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT HERE — DO NOT READ MORE IF YOU PLAN TO SEE AN INTERNATIONAL STAGING OF THE PLAY. It can now be told that the show includes two actors placed as "plants" within the audience, though many fans left the show thinking otherwise.)

The cast features Oliver Chris as Stanley Stubbers, Jemima Rooper as Rachel Crabbe, 2012 Tony nominee Tom Edden as Alfie, Martyn Ellis as Harry Dangle, Trevor Laird as Lloyd Boateng, Claire Lams as Pauline Clench, Fred Ridgeway as Charlie Clench, Daniel Rigby as Alan Dangle, Suzie Toase as Dolly. The company also includes Brian Gonzales, Eli James, Ben Livingston as Gareth, Sarah Manton, Stephen Pilkington, David Ryan Smith, Natalie Smith.

Ten members of the original National cast appear in this American premiere, which includes pratfalls, spit-takes, flying food, mistaken identity, audience interaction, original pop songs performed live (eventually, by everyone!) and one nimble, ancient waiter (played by thirtysomething Tom Edden) that would make the late film director Blake Edwards proud.

The production's on stage band, The Craze, includes Jacob Colin Cohen on drums and percussion, Austin Moorhead on lead guitar, Jason Rabinowitz on lead vocals and Charlie Rosen on bass, Matt Cusack and Zach Jones.

The production began at National Theatre of Great Britain and jumped to London's West End and spawned the American run. The London production continues.

"I suggested that we re-set it in Brighton in the '60s and refer to all the great English low-comic traditions, which I thought were interchangeable with the great Italian traditions," Hytner, artistic director of London's National, told Playbill.com. "It's really the same play, adapted very freely. Richard's dialogue is phenomenal, but what you're getting is The Servant of Two Masters, with two scenes transposed just because we put the intermission in a different place. All the shtick, the business, the slapstick, the musical interludes of commedia — they are there in their British manifestations — music hall, variety, farce, whatever."

Read more about how Hytner and Bean approached the 18th-century Italian comedy and reinvented it for today's audiences

Visit onemantwoguvnorsbroadway.com.

Playbill Video meets The Craze, the music-makers of One Man, Two Guvnors.