Mr. Saturday Night co-writer and star—not to mention 2022 Tony nominee—Billy Crystal stopped by The View May 16 to talk starring in the musical based on his 1992 film, which follows a Borscht Belt comedian looking to revive his career and repair his familial relationships. Turns out, as Crystal reveals, the idea to turn the less-than-successful film into a stage musical came from another Broadway name with an illustrious background in turning his own comedic films into stage properties.
"When we were leaving Broadway with 700 Sundays, Mel Brooks called me and said ... 'Mr. Saturday Night as a musical. Just think about it.' And that was 2005, and then we kept thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it, and then it became a reality. It took us about six years to finally put it all together, and it is a thrill to play him live."
Brooks, of course, is no stranger to the Main Stem, having spent the early part of his career contributing to such shows as New Faces of 1952, Shinbone Alley, and All American, and ultimately making a triumphant return adapting his 1967 film The Producers for the stage in 2001, a musical that would go on to become the most Tony-winning production in history.
Mr. Saturday Night also stars Tony winner Randy Graff (City of Angels, Les Misérables) as Buddy’s wife, Elaine Young; Oscar nominee David Paymer returning to his film role of Stan Yankelman, Buddy’s brother; Chasten Harmon as his agent, Annie Wells; and 2022 Tony nominee Shoshana Bean as Buddy's daughter, Susan. Rounding out the ensemble are Jordan Gelber, Brian Gonzales, and Mylinda Hull.
The project reunites Crystal with the film’s original co-authors, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who have adapted their original screenplay, with a score by composer Jason Robert Brown and lyricist Amanda Green. Tony winner John Rando (Urinetown, On the Town) directs with music direction by David O and choreography by Ellenore Scott.
The production received five 2022 Tony nominations, including Best Musical, Book (Crystal, Ganz, and Mandel), Score (Brown and Green), Leading Actor in a Musical (Crystal), and Featured Actress in a Musical (Bean). See the full list of nominees here.
The production features scenic design by Scott Pask, costume design by Paul Tazewell and Sky Switser, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, video and projection design by Jeff Sugg, sound design by Kai Harada, and hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe. The production stage manager is Tripp Phillips. Orchestrations and arrangements are by Brown.