If It Was Easy..., which opened at the Douglas Fairbanks in mid-February as producer Stewart F. Lane’s self-described “valentine to theatre,” will soon require him to make a trip to Actors’ Equity to see about an entirely different kind of card.
On March 28, Lane tells Playbill On-Line, the producer and co-author of the comedy If It Was Easy... will step into the role of Joey Fingers for the duration of the run.
When the fellow who was playing Joey got ill and “had to bow out,” Lane explained, the understudy went on. After a few weeks, however, the understudy felt he was wrong for the part. Now, says the playwright and producer of the show, he will step into the role himself beginning March 28.
Asked how long he expected to be in the run, Lane said, “It’s open ended, we’ll see how the sales go.” A trained actor, Lane said that assuming the part meant he would have to update his Equity card. “The one thing about Equity,” Lane said, “is that you can take honorary withdrawal, but you’re always a member.”
The new comedy began previews Feb. 15 and opened March 7. *
As reported, Lane collaborated with former columnist Ward Morehouse III on the piece. "I wanted to get back to the creative end," Lane said. The producer said that the development of If It Was Easy... echoes the days of David Belasco, when the producer and playwright used to collaborate, "before the late '50s and '60s when theatre development became more singular and insular."
Working on Easy offered Lane the chance to explore "two distinct points of view," meaning the theatrical (Lane's bailiwick) and the journalistic (Morehouse's). The Easy story is about the development of a stage show. Despite nine revisions, Lane said the play is still about a Sinatra musical which "becomes a runaway hit when the mob gets involved."
As reported, Lane also directs the James M. Nederlander/Stellar Productions Off-Broadway New York premiere of Easy. The backstage comedy runs at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre.
The two-time Tony Award®-winning producer Lane and former New York Post theatre columnist Morehouse saw the play staged at Atlanta's 7 Stages Theatre last July. Staged readings of the play have taken place at the Berkshire Theatre Festival (directed by Lane) and the Actors Theatre of Nantucket in the summer of 1999.
If It Was Easy stars John Jellison (On the Town, Titanic, Crazy for You, Sunday in the Park with George), Bonnie Comley (Fortune's Fools) with Brad Bellamy, Gustave Johnson, Christian Kauffmann, Martin LaPlatney and Vicki Van Tassel.
The creative team comprises set designer Michael Anania, costume designer Steven Epstein and lighting designer Phil Monat.
Tickets range from $55-$60. The Douglas Fairbanks Theatre is located at 432 W. 42nd St. For tickets call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or visit www.IfItWasEasy.com.
—By Murdoch McBride