Tony and Emmy Award winner Jason Alexander is set to make his directorial debut this season with “The Cottage.”
In this week’s episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” the cast of “The Cottage” discussed working with comedy master Alexander and mastering the humor of the script, as they prepare for the upcoming play. The show is set to begin previews on July 7 at the Hayes Theatre.
Playwright Sandy Rustin penned a high-brow comedy that requires a director who matches the wittiness unfolding on the pages. Alexander, known for television’s “Seinfeld” and his Tony-winning turn in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway,” seemed like the perfect fit.
“It is a comedy in the heightened style of Noël Coward comedies and films,” Alexander said. “It is very British, very mannered.”
The play takes place in the English countryside circa 1923. What’s meant to be a charming getaway goes awry when one woman decides to divuge her latest affair to both her husband — and to her lover’s wife.
“I read it and fell in love with it,” said star Lilli Cooper. “When you read a play and laugh out loud by yourself, then that is something very special.”
The cast also expressed their trust in Alexander to handle the complexities of the comedy. Alex Moffat, a regular on “Saturday Night Live” who is making his Broadway debut as Beau, said, “He’s one of the greats, so it’s pretty cool to be in the room with somebody who you know can do comedy.”
“I mean this in the best possible way: It feels like rehearsing a new episode of ‘Will and Grace’ used to feel,” said Eric McCormack, who starred in the hit series and returns to Broadway with Rustin’s play. “One set. Lots of shenanigans to figure out. Lots of surprises to come up with for the audience. A very witty script that involves all of our heads together.”
The story, however, is not all wacky jokes and crazy hijinks. There is a message under the surface, and the cast is eager to dive into it. At the center of the play is Sylvia, a wife trying to decide if she should reveal the truth about her own adulterous actions. Laura Bell Bundy, who plays the role, described her character as, “lost in the illusion that her life will be better with the love of a man.” Through the play, Sylvia transforms. As Alexander said, “Underneath all that is a real story about a woman being given the opportunity to determine her own fate unentangled from a man.”
The depth of the story has Alexander excited to return to the Broadway stage. Theater has been his goal since childhood, and his love for the community has endured in his time away. “I got here when I was 20 years old, and I have not stopped being blown away by that,” he said, “I’m 63. It still bedazzles me that I have managed to get here and I’m part of this community. It means the world to me.”
This episode of “The Broadway Show” also showcases the opening night of “Once Upon a One More Time.” Alex Edelman talks about his solo show “Just For Us.” Tamsen Fadal sits down with “A Beautiful Noise” star Will Swenson to discuss singing with Neil Diamond. Paul Wontorek walks to work with “Parade” star Micaela Diamond, and Perry Sook takes to Ellen’s Stardust Diner to interview the famous singing waitstaff.