Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Come see my play... FINALLY

One of the reasons I got into playwriting was that I was frustrated that it took sometimes years for screenplays to actually become movies (assuming they get made at all). With a play, you write it, get some actors together, find a barn, and you can do it. And sell concessions. 

Well, I’m proud to announce that my play UPFRONTS & PERSONAL opens tomorrow night at the Gallery Players Theatre in Brooklyn and gets its world premiere.

After 18 years.

Okay, some backstory. I made a BIG rookie mistake. I had a cast of eight. When I finished the draft I sent it to Garry Marshall who had his own theatre in Burbank. He called me a week later and said, “Verrrry funny!” I said, “Great. Can we do something at the Falcon (his theatre) with this?” “TOO MANY PEOPLE!” he replied.

Apparently with costs, etc. it’s now pretty much understood that plays shouldn’t have more than four people in the cast, and fewer if possible.  (The ideal cast size is none.)

FACTOID: My next play did get produced at the Falcon Theatre. The cast size was two.

Again, I was a novice. Who knew? I was used to all plays having large casts – even ones you don’t think of. Look at the ODD COUPLE. Yes, it’s primarily Felix & Oscar but there are seven people in that cast. And as funny as that play is, it wouldn’t nearly be as good without the poker players and the Pigeon sisters.  Big casts are a good thing -- and give more actors work. 

UPFRONTS has eight roles and they can’t be combined. So I had a few all-star readings (that all went great), just kept rewriting and updating, and leaving the candle in the window. I’ve always felt it was a terrifically funny play and deserved a shot. My eternal thanks to the Gallery Players Theatre for finally giving it a production. Also thanks to my wonderful director, Scotty Watson and awesome cast: Timothy Paul Jobe, Mark Hudson, Rachael Schefrin, Michelle Conti, Mike Sause, Jared Wilder, and Logan Hurd.

I’m in New York for the performances and have been here a week for final rehearsals. It’s so exciting to finally see it come to life (although it was 0 degrees here in Gotham last Sunday night).

Here’s the synopsis: The process of getting a TV show on a network schedule is examined as one studio attempts to place two sitcoms on the Fall line-up. How far will everybody have to go, what compromises must they make, which ethics will they have to abandon? And yes, it's a comedy. Really. It is.  And loosely autobiographical.  "What doesn't kill you only makes for good story material."

If you’re in the area, the play is very funny, the theatre is heated, and for your money you get to see eight actors instead of two. And I’ll be there to apologize for anything that doesn’t work.  Here's where you go for tickets.  If you come Thursday night enter the promo code BOX10 and all seats are $10.

And by the way, 18 years is still faster than some of my screenplays.


Sheila said...

Best of luck on the play Ken.

You knew Garry Marshall? Have you worked with him on any thing?

TimWarp said...

And for those of us who can't get to New York (either because of distance or weather conditions), the play is available on

Craig Gustafson said...

I have a question about self-censorship... or dodging lawsuits.
In the script is an oblique reference to Bill Cosby. Now that he's been convicted, are you changing to line to explicitly name him?

Howard Hoffman said...

Based on far too many true stories. Get some much needed Levine laughter and go see it.

Eric Solomon said...

I'm coming on Sunday! Can't wait to see the play and hear your comments after.

Unknown said...

Mark Hudson? Of Hudson Brother's razzle Dazzle show?

Anonymous said...


Break a leg!

Michael said...

Ken, I wondered if you had any thoughts on Russell Baker, who I think was the best humorist ever to write in an American newspaper (better than Buchwald, with no offense to someone who was one of Baker's best friends).

Mike Bloodworth said...

To quote Eric Idle from a sketch on "Saturday Night Live," "What do you say to a centipede on opening night? Break four or five legs."

Don't freeze off any appendages.

Jen from Jersey said...

Let me know if you take it on the road to Philly.

DyHrdMET said...

I could hear Garry Marshal's voice as you quoted him.
Is the play coming to the other side of the Hudson River at all?
Good luck!

TimWarp said...

@Craig, Fat Albert is still funnier.

Johnny Hy said...

Best of luck with the play Ken!

Scottmc said...

Good luck tonight. If you are interested in seeing a movie tomorrow afternoon before heading to Brooklyn- the Film Forum,a theatre in the west village,has a double feature of Sleeper and Bananas.They showed Heartbreak Kid on Monday.

Anonymous said...

You make it known there are eight roles in the play, but I see only seven actors credited in the paragraph up there. Someone piss you off? Well it's late now, so I hope a leg was broken! -RMK

Scottmc said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Upfronts & Personal tonight. Originally I was planning to see the play on Sunday. I would see the actors with a few performances under their belt as well as see the Talk Back. At the last minute I decided that I wanted to be part of the premiere audience. I am glad that I did. The house opened shortly after 7pm and I was able to grab a good seat in the first row. Some cast members were nervous at the start. But in short order everyone came together.The audience was completely invested in the story. I loved the thought/image of Matt LeBlanc as Murray Burns. I was a little sad that not many in the audience were aware of A Thousand Clowns. But they seemed to enjoy a few of the references that escaped me. A few got the 'Mel Cooley'line. I had a wonderful time. I was in real need of a good time. You,the company and the staff of the Gallery Players are to be commended for providing such an enjoyable night at the theatre. By 9:30 it had gotten quite cold but I didn't mind the walk to the F train as much as I usually do.Plus,the train was there when I reached the platform. It was also a great pleasure to meet you at the intermission and have you sign my copy of 'It's Gone'. (While scanning the book prior to the start of the play I noticed something very unique. On one page there is a reference to a future president and a future hall of famer.A potential buyer of the Orioles is compared to Donald Trump.And a couple of paragraphs later you give the pitching line for Mike Mussina's home debut;five runs,eleven hits in four innings.

slgc said...

We really enjoyed Upfronts this afternoon and appreciated having the opportunity to see it. We're looking forward to having you bring more of your plays to the area!