On April 17, Billy Crystal appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to discuss his musical Mr. Saturday Night, currently in previews at Broadway's Nederlander Theatre. Featuring a score by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown and Tony nominee Amanda Green, the project is a Main Stem return for Crystal.
Crystal first played the stand-up comedian Buddy Young Jr. in the 1992 film of the same name. Originally aging up from his 40s to play the 73 year old comedian on screen, Crystal reflected on the experience of now playing the role at 74 with correspondent Tracy Smith.
"It's every comedian's worst nightmare to wake up one day and not be funny, not be relevant, and not be needed or thought about... how do you stay funny, how do you stay with it? How do you stay on the surfboard?"
The original film was not a financial success, which Crystal describes as "a punch in the face", as he considers it to have been his best work. To revisit the role, this time in a musical (his first, in fact) is a challenge Crystal clearly relishes.
"It's the ultimate challenge, but right now I feel really strong, and ready to do it. There's an electric feeling."
Crystal co-wrote, directed, and stars in the comedy about a Borscht Belt comedian whose abrasive ego eclipses his success and alienates his family.
The musical also stars Tony winner Randy Graff (City of Angels, Les Misérables) as Buddy’s wife, Elaine Young; Oscar nominee David Paymer returning to his film role of Stan Yankelman, Buddy’s brother; Chasten Harmon as his agent, Annie Wells; and Shoshana Bean as Buddy's daughter, Susan. Rounding out the ensemble are Jordan Gelber, Brian Gonzales, and Mylinda Hull.
The project reunites Crystal with the film’s original co-authors, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who have adapted their original screenplay. Tony winner John Rando (Urinetown, On the Town) directs, with music direction by David O and choreography by Ellenore Scott.
The production features scenic design by Scott Pask, costume design by Paul Tazewell and Sky Switser, lighting design by Kenneth Posner, video and projection design by Jeff Sugg, sound design by Kai Harada, and hair and wig design by Charles LaPointe. The production stage manager is Tripp Phillips. Orchestrations and arrangements are by Brown.