Stephen Karam’s knockout drama The Humans, which opened off-Broadway this week to star-making reviews, will move to Broadway in the spring with its ensemble cast intact. The transfer, negotiated by producer Scott Rudin before the reviews had come out, adds one more play to a season that has more than the usual smattering of non-musicals and is that rarity, a new American work that won’t have a movie star’s name on the marquee.
“I wanted someone who was both a fine producer and was willing to commit both financially and emotionally to moving the production before the reviews came out,” — Roundabout Theatre Company artistic director Todd Haimes
The play was commissioned by the nonprofit Roundabout Theatre Company, which produced Karam’s two earlier plays — Speech & Debate, which just wrapped filming and is in postproduction, and Sons Of The Prophet. The Humans initially was presented in November 2014 by Chicago’s American Theater Company (with the assent of the Roundabout), where it also earned great notices. The 90-minute play is set on Thanksgiving in a Chinatown basement duplex apartment, where a young couple is hosting the family dinner — a familiar theme full of unfamiliar twists from one of the most gifted playwrights working today. Expertly staged by Joe Mantello (Wicked, Other Desert Cities), its cast includes Sarah Steele (The Good Wife), Arian Moayed, Reed Birney, Jane Houdyshell, Lauren Klein and Cassie Beck.
The Roundabout is not producing the move, despite the fact that it operates three Broadway houses. None of those theaters — the American Airlines, Studio 54 and the Stephen Sondheim (which has a long-term booking with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) — is intimate enough for the one-act drama. The transfer is likely to end up at the smaller Helen Hayes, where a revival of Dames At Sea opened last week to middling reviews, the Booth or Circle in the Square (where Fun Home is having a healthy run), all of which operate on Broadway contracts and whose tenants are eligible for Tony nominations.
Asked why the he wasn’t producing the transfer, Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes told Deadline, “Roundabout is not in the business of producing commercial productions on Broadway, other than shows we produce on Broadway that happen to become huge successes like Anything Goes.
“There was a lot of commercial interest in moving The Humans even after the first week of previews,” Haimes added. “However, I wanted someone who was both a fine producer and was willing to commit both financially and emotionally to moving the production before the reviews came out. Scott did so a week before the opening, and I feel that not only will the transfer definitely happen, but that Stephen’s play is in the best of hands.”
Rudin has a very full plate this season with two Arthur Miller revivals (A View From The Bridge and The Crucible); the drama Blackbird; the musical Shuffle Along, directed by George C. Wolfe; and the soon-to-open King Charles III, starring Tim Pigott-Smith.
News of the transfer first was reported in The Hollywood Reporter.