Hollywood has been dabbling in the New York theatre scene since the early days of movie making, although in the beginning it was Broadway shows that ended up being adapted to the screen rather than the current trend of rushing blockbuster films to the stage. As the past few seasons on Broadway can attest, Hollywood’s A-list actors have been “slumming” it in theatre productions, helping boost ticket sales for otherwise underperforming productions.
Yet, a recent transition from Hollywood to the New York theatre scene came by way of a television producer, Jack Lechner, who helped get the Off-Broadway musical “The Kid” from the written pages of Dan Savage’s book to the stage. Instead of opting for stunt casting or big names above the title, “The Kid” went for talent, both in its lead actor, Christopher Sieber, and the creative team, including Lechner, composer Andy Monroe and book writer Michael Zam.
Where there was plenty of opportunity to go over the top with “The Kid” — the story chronicles the adoption process through the eyes of a sex columnist and his gay partner — there was an overall sweetness to the show that left audiences feeling open to the idea of this whacky couple brining a child home.
While theatre can often have a slightly more accepting audience — save for the occasional Newsweek critic — when it comes to homosexuality, the mere thought of a Savage written work coming to New York had the potential stigma of an “in your face” show, much like the style the real-life columnist writes in.
“The Kid” took a different path, thanks in large part to Lechner’s graceful lyrics, director Scott Elliott’s caring touch and Zam’s careful book-to-stage adaptation, a process that took years to successfully complete.
“It was also thrilling to create a show around a person who is not your standard role-model character, who is insightful about his foibles and admits to them and who has all these powerful emotions that we knew — somehow — could be turned into powerful songs,” Zam told the New York Times.
Despite the story focusing on such polarizing characters, including a drug-addicted homeless mother willing to give up her soon-to-be-born child, everything about “The Kid” welcomed audiences in, allowing the touching story to be grasped by all.
“The Kid” proved that talent can successfully come to New York City by way of Hollywood. And lyricist Lechner, who helped produce the pilot of AMC’s “Mad Men” and executive produced the Oscar-winning film “The Fog of War,” has a bright future ahead of himself in the theatre world.
Update: The New York Times reports that “The Kid” might get a Broadway transfer, according to Dodger Theatricals.