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It's Only a Play

It's Only a Play It's Only a Play It's Only a Play

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It's Only a Play Information

Show Quick Facts

  • It's Only a Play can be seen at the Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre only a few short blocks from Times Square.
  • The play is just over two and a half hours lonbg with one short intermission
  • Starting in January, popular Saturday Night Live alumnus Martin Short will take over the part currently played by Nathan Lane.

Show Info

Show Dates:

Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street
New York, New York 10036
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Comedy Show

It's Only a Play

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In the 1986 version of It’s Only a Play, director John Tillinger was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play.

Located in


Midtown West

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Features:  It’s Only a Play, which had runs in smaller, off-Broadway productions in 1982 and 1986, is a funny and lively production that will appeal to audiences who have a fascination with the theater. The play, which enjoyed prior runs in smaller venues, has been rewritten as a major Broadway production. 

The main theme involves the anxious anticipation that occurs when a new play opens and the cast members and producers wait for the initial reviews, which can determine the entire future of the production. Since most of It’s Only a Play is about the players waiting for reviews, there is not a great deal of action in this play. The fun is contained in the witty dialogue and the humorous characters. Although the play is a rather dark and satirical comedy, there is a certain amount of tension as everyone feels that his or her career is on the line. 

The playwright, Peter Austin (Broderick), is especially worried that this is his only chance at becoming a Broadway success. There is a funny yet tense relationship between the playwright and his old friend James (Nathan Lane), an actor struggling in his career who half hopes the play will flop because he turned down a part in it. Other notable stars include Channing as Virginia Noyes, a fading starlet, Rupert Grint as the oddball English director and Abraham as the vicious theater critic whose verdict could doom the play to obscurity. Micah Stock also has a very funny role as a coat check attendant who is desperate to break into show business.

Why We Go:  There are many choices for entertainment in New York City, even among playgoers. Yet It’s Only a Play has some qualities that set it apart from other shows. For one thing, it appeals to audiences that prefer comedies and dramas over musicals. Another thing that makes it interesting are the many references to celebrities and pop culture. Anyone who enjoys Hollywood and Broadway gossip and trivia will have fun with the many jokes and references to celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington, Faye Dunaway and Liza Minnelli, just to name a few. Just to be clear, these people are referenced in the play but don’t actually appear in it.

Inside Knowledge:  It’s Only a Play has a rather long history. It was first performed, though very briefly, back in 1978, when it was called Broadway, Broadway. Ironically, for a play about people worrying about their play failing, this production flopped. In 1982 it was rewritten and performed by an off-off Broadway production company called Manhattan Punch Line. It went through yet another incarnation in 1986 when it was performed by the Manhattan Theater Club in an off-Broadway production. 2014 is the first time the play is being shown as a mainstream Broadway venue, meaning many more people will be seeing it.

Do's and Dont's:

  • Do get tickets as early as possible to avoid missing the date you want.
  • Do review your recent celebrity trivia so you can understand all of the references.
  • Do plan to dine at one of the area’s many fine restaurants before the play.
  • Don’t arrive late, as seating at Broadway plays is fairly strict and formal.
  • Don’t photograph or record anything, even in the lobby. There are strict rules against this.
  • Don’t use your phone during the performance, even for text messages as this can be distracting to other audience members.
  • Don’t bring children under the age of four to the theater. This performance may not be suitable for children under twelve.

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