Extended New York run for Plymouth writer's play
TAKE a bow, Plymouth writer Chris Savery whose play about Marilyn Monroe looks set for a long run in New York.
A producer in the US city is planning to give Marilyn a run of up to six months.
Chris premiered the piece there in a stage festival.
An Englishman putting on a play about one US icon and featuring three more (playwright Arthur Miller, baseball star Joe DiMaggio and late president John Kennedy) looked like the theatre equivalent of selling sand to the Saudi Arabians.
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But the gamble paid off, big time in the Big Apple.
"A producer now wants to put the play on for three to six months off-off-Broadway," he says.
That is New York showbiz speak for two rungs down from featuring on the most famous theatre district in the world.
Venues seating 100-200 are regarded as off-Broadway, those that hold fewer than 100 are tagged off-off-Broadway.
One day it could be Broadway, here he comes. "That's how it works," says Chris. "If a play is successful, it moves on to the next level."
The play began life at the Barbican Theatre several years ago.
Chris extensively re-wrote the work, and entered the new piece in competitions. He was invited to premiere Marilyn as part of the annual Midtown International Festival in New York earlier this summer, through key contact Richmond Shepard. The writer, director and producer who has been in showbiz 50 years gave the play a second run after the festival in his own theatre.
Chris experimented with a longer title, Mirror, Mirror: The Other Side of Marilyn, but has now settled on simply using the film star's first name.
He produced and directed the show and was involved in the auditions, which attracted 224 professionals for the Marilyn role.
Katy-May Hudson, whose credits include Aussie soap Home And Away, got the lead.
"The cast work for nothing on a play like Marilyn because it gets their name out," explains Chris.
"They are incredibly committed and very hard-working."
He also did stage "speed-dating" through his membership of the Theatre Resource Union.
"They put writers and producers together and you have two minutes to pitch your work, then move on to the next one.
"It was amazing."
Chris found himself "selling" his work to David Garfinkle, the original producer of Spider-Man, the biggest musical ever on Broadway.
Two producers from the comedy musical Lend Me A Tenor – which was built in Plymouth and premiered here before a West End run – were also at the session.
"Martin Platt and David Elliott spent months in Plymouth and loved the place," says Chris. "They are interested in following the play's development."
Another producer, Angie Kristic, plans to give Marilyn the long run "pretty soon" says Chris, 53, a sales boss for Radio Plymouth.
"The play was really, really well received. I think they liked it because it was so different, written in verse. People hadn't seen Marilyn's story from her point of view before, and 80 per cent of the words are her own.
"Perhaps being an Englishman helped. It's too close to home for a lot of American playwrights, with too many famous characters.
"Radio Plymouth were brilliant letting me have the six weeks off in New York. And Marjon were fantastic sponsoring the production.
"The cast are really keen to come to Plymouth to do the show here. We are looking at various options."