The “do not touch” list – plays I will probably never direct and why

Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller

Death of a Salesman - original Broadway cast
Death of a Salesman – original Broadway cast

This play is amazing. It’s a classic not by accident. That being said, I’m not worthy to direct it. Its original run was so iconic that any other attempt has, and with good reason, fallen short. Even the versions regarded as very good or excellent have fallen short. Willy Loman is the toughest male character in all of American theater, and I feel confident saying that.

In the most recent production, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman – while I didn’t see it (so my credibility here is slim) – the creative team basically tried to recreate the original set, with the original lighting and music. The NY Times gave it a generally favorable review, but said it fell short to the 1999 revival, and that Hoffman – who is an exceptionally talented actor – was not convincing as a 62 year old (being 44 at the time). If these monsters of theater can’t make it work, what chance do I have? The team of Lee J. Cobb, Arthur Miller, and Elia Kazan (the original Willy Loman, the author, and the original director, respectively) is pretty much untouchable. I intend on keeping it that way. I’m ambitious – not stupid.

 

Hamlet

by William Shakespeare

Hamlet - played by Sir Laurence Olivier
Hamlet – played by Sir Laurence Olivier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olivier, Gielgud, Barrymore, Welles. At least 8 feature films. Sixty six productions on Broadway alone. It’s the play by which all other plays are judged.

I ain’t touchin’ it.

I’ll take one of the other 36, please.

 

A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

Good luck, actor-who-isn't-Marlon-Brando
Good luck, actor-who-isn’t-Marlon-Brando

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Stanley being played by Marlon Brando tonight? No? Well then, I’ll compare this performance to his anyway. Forever.

 

Grease

by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Grease was the word. It shouldn't be anymore.
Grease was the word. It shouldn’t be anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unless someone gives me a nice sum of money, this isn’t happening.

The most over-produced high school musical about a high school that behaves like its in a musical is a surrealistic, paradoxical time warp of ’50s morality and ’70s polyester that regularly parodies itself just by existing, and with every production becomes less and less relevant until it eventually reaches its apex and starts to reverse itself back into relevancy. By my estimation, that will be in the year 2107. Until then, when this musical becomes the next-next-former-current-next-next-next big thing, we should just leave it alone and let it die.

Disagree? That’s fine. Send me a note and tell me why.

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Of course, to be fair, one of these may very well happen one day. And if it does, I will direct the hell out of it.