"I'm a homebody now," happily confesses Jonathan Tolins, who is busying himself more with baby formulas than plot formulas these days. He is married to another playwright, Robert Cary, and their world revolves around raising their adopted Selina, 6, and Henry, 11 weeks old. “We really are married, too — in California, just under the wire,” Tolins declares with some relief.
Cary co-authored Inventing Avi, a comedy that played the Abingdon in New York last fall. He also co-wrote the book and songs of Palm Beach, a musical that world-premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse, and he is currently doing the same for Flashdance The Musical, which starts previewing Sept. 24 for an Oct. 14 opening at the West End's Shaftesbury Theatre.
Tolins has a play that starts previewing this month (July 27) for an Aug. 10 opening at Primary Stages. It’s called Secrets of the Trade, and it has been some time in the incubator. “I started it before The Last Sunday in June,” he grudgingly confesses. “It was originally a commission from South Coast Rep. I began it in 1996 and finished the first draft by the beginning of 1997, but these things are never finished, really. It has had many readings and workshops over the years, and it was never together as a production in New York till now, but things take their own time, and I feel I’m in good hands with Primary Stages. I couldn’t be any happier.”
Matt Shakman, artistic director of Los Angeles’ Black Dahlia Theatre where the play world-premiered in 2008, is reprising his direction for the East Coast. He is bringing three members of the original cast: John Glover, who plays a theatrical legend mentoring our young hero; Bill Brochtrup, who plays the legend’s assistant (a role written expressly for Brochtrup), and Amy Aquino, who plays our hero’s mother.
In the East Coast edition, Aquino is married to Mark Nelson, and their offspring (a 16-year-old facsimile of Tolins) is played by Noah Robbins, who passed — fleetingly (nine Broadway performances) — for the young Neil Simon in Brighton Beach Memoirs. “He’s coming up in the world,” cracks Tolins.
— Harry Haun