The Backdrop

Apr 06 2020 2 26 mins

So the show’s a smash. But why? And why now? THE BACKDROP puts theater's biggest hits and most compelling productions in context — featuring interviews with the creators and cast, punctuated by a punchy, deeply researched dive into the reasons why this particular production is relevant at this particular moment. Join host Emmy and Writers Guild Award winner Kevin Bleyer (The Daily Show) and producer Nella Vera for this thoughtful mix of historical scene-setting and related current events — the full backdrop. Oh, and it’s also funny.



Episode 8: Quick drop with an update
Apr 06 2020 • 6 min
A quick drop with an update about the next two episodes, featuring the backdrop on Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and the musical Come From Away — two acclaimed productions now on hold because of the coronavirus. And why that’s a shame, considering what each has to say about why there’s no need to panic. Credits The Backdrop is hosted by Kevin Bleyer and produced by Nella Vera. The Backdrop artwork is by Philip Romano. Follow Kevin Bleyer and Nella Vera on Twitter: @kevinbleyer / @spinstripes The Backdrop is a proud member of the Broadway Podcast Network.


Episode 7: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG, PART II
Feb 11 2020 • 24 min
The Play That Goes Wrong is a great play about bad theater. Kevin says it’s also one of the best plays, comedy or drama, to hit Broadway in the past decade. In part one, he interviewed creator and original cast member Henry Lewis (of Mischief Theatre), and actors Matt Harrington and Matt Walker, to figure out just how it packed so many laughs in a simple premise. Here in part two, Kevin gets the full backdrop from New York Times comedy critic Jason Zinoman (author of a bestselling book on David Letterman, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night) on what the success of this play says about the current state of Broadway. Resources The Play That Goes Wrong opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre in April 2017. It moved to New World Stages in February 2019 where it is currently playing. For tickets and information, visit https://www.broadwaygoeswrong.com/index.php. Visit Mischief Theatre: https://mischiefcomedy.com/ Follow Jason Zinoman on Twitter: @zinoman Order Jason’s book, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night Credits The Backdrop is hosted by Kevin Bleyer and produced by Nella Vera. The Backdrop artwork is by Philip Romano. Follow Kevin Bleyer and Nella Vera on Twitter: @kevinbleyer / @spinstripes The Backdrop is a proud member of the Broadway Podcast Network.


Episode 6: WILL ARBERY
Jan 14 2020 • 33 min
"The war is coming, dude.” So says a central character in one of the most talked about plays of the year. Is she right? Could be, who knows. But if a civil war returns, Will Arbery is undoubtedly the right playwright to spin our basest impulses into high art. In this “backdrop eavesdrop,” Kevin and Will speak one-on-one only days after Will’s play Heroes of the Fourth Turning landed on a heap of ’top 10’ lists in 2019. They talk empathy, writing anxiety, and the obstacles in offering a political play in hyper-political times. A highly acclaimed production of Heroes of the Fourth Turning directed by Danya Taymor was presented at Playwrights Horizons in the Fall of 2019. It was chosen as a New York Times Critics Pick and was named to its Top Ten of 2019 list. Read the New York Times review by Jesse Green: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/theater/heroes-of-the-fourth-turning-review.html Read the five star review by Helen Shaw in Time Out New York: https://www.timeout.com/newyork/theater/heroes-of-the-fourth-turning Follow Will Arbery on Twitter at @willarbery and on Instagram at @warbery. Connect with us Follow Kevin Bleyer and Nella Vera on Twitter: @kevinbleyer / @spinstripes The Backdrop on Twitter and Instagram: @backdroppodcast https://www.facebook.com/TheBackdropPodcast Email us with story ideas or feedback: [email protected] Credits The Backdrop is hosted by Kevin Bleyer and produced by Nella Vera. The Backdrop artwork is by Philip Romano. Special thanks to Eva Dickerman.



Episode 5: SAMUEL D. HUNTER
Dec 25 2019 • 37 min
Samuel D. Hunter is the MacArthur genius award-winning playwright who may have started small — as a teenager growing up in Idaho — but has since assembled a deep roster of plays set there. And that’s the point: small towns, all the better to explore big ideas. A Bright New Boise, Lewiston/Clarkston, Pocatello. For his latest, Greater Clements, he mines new territory, and he says it's both his most personal and his most ambitious attempt yet. This is the first of our one-on-one, writer-to-writer conversations about not just a play, but the full backdrop on what it takes to create theater, and a full body of work. We’re calling them our “backdrop eavesdrops." Greater Clements is currently playing at Lincoln Center Theater through January 19, 2020. For tickets and information, visit www.lct.org See a montage from the show at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGU_RfSApvE Learn more about the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cEKBVZyj2A Visit Lincoln Center Theater on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Connect with us Follow Kevin Bleyer and Nella Vera on Twitter: @kevinbleyer / @spinstripes The Backdrop on Twitter and Instagram: @backdroppodcast https://www.facebook.com/TheBackdropPodcast Email us with story ideas or feedback: [email protected] Credits The Backdrop is hosted by Kevin Bleyer and produced by Nella Vera. The Backdrop artwork is by Philip Romano. Special thanks to Lincoln Center Theater and Nick Buchholz.


Episode 4: HARRY TOWNSEND'S LAST STAND
Dec 12 2019 • 40 min
Harry Townsend’s Last Stand is a comedy about what could be tragedy — the decline of a man beyond his prime, and the struggle of a son to connect with his fading father. Written by playwright George Eastman, it hits close to home for Kevin, who interviews — and laughs along with — Broadway legend and Tony winner Len Cariou and his co-star, Tony nominee Craig Bierko, and gets vital and timely advice about caretaking from AARP’s caregiving expert, Amy Goyer. Resources Harry Townsend's Last Stand performs at City Center Stage II. Visit https://www.harrytownsendslaststand.com/ for tickets and information. For information and resources about eldercare and aging, visit https://www.aarp.org/ Walk down memory lane with Len Cariou and Craig Bierko in their signature roles: Len at Feinstein's/54 Below for a Sondheim show: https://youtu.be/qbTzzRFqT8o Craig at the 2000 Tony Awards: https://youtu.be/uh7KiFmzlic Credits The Backdrop is hosted by Kevin Bleyer and produced by Nella Vera. The Backdrop artwork is by Philip Romano. Follow Kevin Bleyer and Nella Vera on Twitter: @kevinbleyer / @spinstripes A proud member of the Broadway Podcast Network


Episode 3: THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
Nov 26 2019 • 28 min
The Play That Goes Wrong is a comedy about a mystery. It was also a huge hit — during its run, it became the longest-running play on Broadway. Kevin has a mystery he needs solved: the mystery of why he has seen it seven times. To solve that whodunnit, Kevin interrogates creator and original cast member Henry Lewis, actors Matt Harrington and Matt Walker, even the comedy critic for the New York Times (Jason Zinoman) — who, it must be said, has only seen it twice. Resources The Play That Goes Wrong opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre in April 2017. It moved to New World Stages in February 2019 where it is currently playing. For tickets and information, visit https://www.broadwaygoeswrong.com/index.php. Visit Mischief Theatre: https://mischiefcomedy.com/ Follow Jason Zinoman on Twitter: @zinoman Order Jason’s book, Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night Credits The Backdrop is hosted by Kevin Bleyer and produced by Nella Vera. The Backdrop artwork is by Philip Romano. Follow Kevin Bleyer and Nella Vera on Twitter: @kevinbleyer / @spinstripes The Backdrop is a proud member of the Broadway Podcast Network.


Episode 2: Waterwell's THE COURTROOM
Nov 17 2019 • 38 min
Waterwell Theater Company’s latest play, The Courtroom, has no playwright. Or even a theater. But as Waterwell founder (from HBO’s “Succession” and Tony nominee) Arian Moayed and Artistic Director Lee Sunday Evans tell Kevin, that’s the point. They found their inspiration — and their script — in the actual language of a deportation trial. And as immigrant rights advocate/attorney Elora Mukherjee reveals, they also found themselves pulled to ground zero of today’s drama: all the way to the border. Resources The Courtroom returns for monthly performances at civic venues in NYC through November 2020. For information and tickets visit http://waterwell.org/. View The Flores Exhibits at https://flores-exhibits.org/. For other resources and to get involved, visit https://www.newsanctuarynyc.org/. Jeffrey S. Chase, a former immigration judge, was the legal advisor for The Courtroom. Read his article "The Immigration Court: Issues and Solutions" here. Follow guest Arian Moayed on Twitter at @arianmoayed. Credits The Backdrop is hosted by Kevin Bleyer and produced by Nella Vera. The Backdrop artwork is by Philip Romano. Follow Kevin Bleyer and Nella Vera on Twitter: @kevinbleyer / @spinstripes The Backdrop is a proud member of the Broadway Podcast Network.


Episode 1: August Wilson's JITNEY
Nov 04 2019 • 27 min
The big open, on all things August Wilson. In a deep dive on August Wilson’s JITNEY, Kevin drills down with Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson and actor Francois Battiste, and visits with Constanza Romero Wilson about her legendary husband's life, legacy, and the future of the Pulitzer Prize-winner's “Century Cycle.” Plus, a cameo by Tony Kushner. (As if a Tony Kushner cameo could ever be just a cameo.) August Wilson's JITNEY was produced on Broadway by Manhattan Theatre Club in association with Eric Falkenstein, Ron Simons, John Legend/Mike Jackson and Ken Wirth, with direction by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. A national tour launched at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 13, 2019 with upcoming stops in Detroit (Nov. 12 -16), Los Angeles (Nov. 22 - Dec. 29), San Diego (Jan 18 - Feb. 23), and Seattle (Feb. 28 - Mar 29.) Ticket information can be found at http://www.playbill.com/production/jitney. Credits The Backdrop is hosted by Kevin Bleyer and produced by Nella Vera. Special thanks to Samantha Schneider, Erin Salvi, Arena Stage and Theatre Communications Group/TCG Books. The Backdrop artwork is by Philip Romano. The August Wilson Century Cycle can be purchased on the TCG website. Follow Kevin Bleyer and Nella Vera on Twitter: @kevinbleyer / @spinstripes


Podcast Trailer
Oct 29 2019 • 2 min
So the show’s a smash. But why? And why now? THE BACKDROP puts theater's biggest hits and most compelling productions in context — featuring interviews with the creators and cast, punctuated by a punchy, deeply researched dive into the reasons why this particular production is relevant at this particular moment. Join host Emmy and Writers Guild Award winner Kevin Bleyer (The Daily Show) and producer Nella Vera for this thoughtful mix of historical scene-setting and related current events — the full backdrop. Oh, and it’s also funny.


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