Tony Award nominees Laura Linney and Jessica Hecht were preteens in 1976. Now, they’re returning to that year by way of the world-premiere production of David Auburn’s “Summer, 1976,” which opens on Broadway this spring.
In the latest episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” Hecht and Linney sit with Fadal to discuss how their lived experiences lent themselves to the creation of their characters. Linney plays Diana, a single mother and artist, while Hecht takes on the role of Alice, a free-spirited housewife. Set in Ohio, the play follows the two women as they navigate motherhood, intimacy and independence while striking up an unlikely friendship as bicentennial celebrations sweep the U.S.
Hecht said she went somewhere “intuitive and internal” before latching onto the language and setting of Auburn’s script to flesh out her character. “[Diana and Alice] start to talk in this way that seems very grounded in that moment in time,” Hecht said.
Linney agreed, adding that the time period and its specific culture hum in her mind as she continues to develop her Diana. She’s made lists of songs from the ’70s and recalled scents from the era — while noting what has changed culturally since then versus what is still the same.
While some aromas from 1976 are harder to find in 2023 — like Hecht’s favorite Love’s fresh lemon perfume and Linney’s beloved Faberge’ Organics wheat germ oil and honey shampoo — one thing that remains the same is friendship.
“Female friendships are extremely deep and can really transform you,” Linney said. “That’s the thing that stays the same.” She said the women in her life have witnessed her continuous growth, challenging trials and tribulations and significant milestones.
“That’s a really beautiful way to say it,” Hecht commented. “And that also reflects the idea that a great friend doesn’t look at you with judgment, that they actually understand.”
“Summer, 1976” begins previews on April 4 ahead of an April 25 opening night at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
This week’s episode of “The Broadway Show” features red carpet interviews from the opening nights of “Parade” and “Bob Fosse’s Dancin’.” Viewers can learn more about “Camelot” star Andrew Burnap, who plays the role of King Arthur in the new Broadway revival. The episode also contains a sneak peek of the new Hulu musical series “Up Here.” This week’s “Perry on the Town” segment includes an interview with Jimmy Russell (aka Stagedoor Jimmy), who has manned the stage door at the Richard Rodgers Theatre for 44 years. Beth Stevens chats with Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire and Tony winner Jeanine Tesori about their latest collaboration, “Kimberly Akimbo.”