On June 1, hit podcast True Crime Obsessed will become the first podcast performed live on Broadway. Co-hosts Patrick Hinds, previously host of Theater People podcast and a creator of the podcast Broadway Backstory, and Gillian Pensavalle, host and creator of The Hamilcast: A Hamilton Podcast, will take the stage at the Helen Hayes Theatre.
True Crime Obsessed sits at the intersection of true crime and comedy, recapping true crime documentaries “with humor, heart, and a little sass,” says Hinds.
“It’s important to us that we make clear that we find humor in these dark stories without ever victim-blaming or shaming and without ever making fun of the actual crime, but, you know, each one of these documentaries has an idiot prosecutor or just a corrupt cop who is also bad at their job. And they are just ripe for the jokes!” Hinds tells Playbill.
“We approach the cases with some levity and try to soften the horror of it all with some humor (in the right places),” Pensavalle adds. “So many people are interested in true crime but sometimes a case can be a little too much for people to take but they still want to know what happened. And that’s where we come in. ”
The live recording on Broadway will recap Frank Serpico, a 2017 doc about NYPD officer Serpico and his one-man crusade for police reform in the 1970s—as told in his own words. To help Hinds and Pensavalle tell their story, Broadway performers Justin Guarini (American Idol, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), Olivier Award winner Lesli Margherita (Matilda, Dames at Sea), and Ellyn Marie Marsh (Kinky Boots, Pretty Woman) will appear as guest stars.
Here, Playbill asked Hinds and Pensavalle about what to expect from the podcast-meets-Broadway episode, the future of podcasts on Broadway, and more about their guests:
Why present the podcast as a live show?
Patrick Hinds: We’ve been touring for a few years now and we’ve found that there’s just something about doing our show in front of a live audience that really brings it to life. We both are theatre kids at heart, so there’s a performance element to it for us as well. Our show can be very over the top, a little campy, and, believe it or not, very musical theatre. Doing it in front of a live audience just works.
Gillian Pensavalle: Our podcast makes people feel like they’re hanging out with their friends, which is a huge compliment. So the live shows are giving them that in person! Plus, we make sure it’s the most fun thing you’ll do that weekend. We know how to throw a party.
Why does this particular story about Frank Serpico lend itself to a live storytelling experience?
Hinds: When we knew we were bringing our show to Broadway, we knew we had to find a story that took place here. Serpico is great because it’s a New York cop story that takes place right here! And Serpico is such a character—he’s loud, he’s brash, he wears a pink ascot…he’s basically me. The whole film is over the top and larger than life, so there’s lots to make people laugh about.
Pensavalle: There’s not a true crime/Broadway documentary (yet…?!) so we needed to find something that had all the elements we were looking for.
You’re hosting live performances from Broadway stars. How will these be woven into the evening?
Hinds: We are over the moon about our special Broadway guests Justin Guarini, Lesli Margherita, and Ellyn Marie Marsh. We’re not going to give too much away in terms of how they’re involved other than to say that they will be singing in the show and that they have come to show us the ropes of how to be stars on Broadway.
Do you think this will open the door for more podcasts to have live shows on Broadway?
Pensavalle: I remember exactly where we were when we first started talking about playing Broadway. The vibe was very much, “This is crazy right? But also kind of perfect? This makes so much sense, right?!” It’s an honor and a dream to be able to do this and we both just love podcasting and podcasters so much, so if this is opening any kind of door we are all for it.
What’s the value (both for podcasts and for Broadway theatre) to present live podcasts on the Main Stem?
Hinds: The value to podcasts is the opportunity to take your live show and make it truly theatrical. For Gillian and me, as podcasters, the value is more personal. We come from the Broadway world—we met because we were both making Broadway podcasts (Gillian was and still is making The Hamilcast and I was making Theater People and Broadway Backstory). It also feels like a true full circle since Broadway is the thing that brought us together.
Pensavalle: I’m a born and raised New Yorker and grew up going to Broadway shows. I dreamt for a long time of performing on a Broadway stage. While I’m in complete awe of singers, dancers, triple threats, and everyone in between, I didn’t have the passion or drive to make myself a Broadway star. But that dream always lived in the back of my mind and would get pop back up whenever I’m lucky enough to be backstage at a Broadway show. And now that we get to do this podcast that we love doing so much, on an actual Broadway stage… there are just no words to describe it. I’ll end on this: make the thing. You never know where it’ll take you!
For tickets and more information to True Crime Obsessed on Broadway, click here.