After 20 years, Garry Marshall is returning to New York Theater to direct the New York debut of the comedy play, “Billy & Ray”.
Writer, director and producer, Marshall was the creative force behind some of television’s biggest series including “Happy Days”, “Laverne and Shirley”, “Mork & Mindy” and the TV version of “The Odd Couple”. He’s also been in the director’s chair for hit movies like “Nothing In Common”, “Pretty Woman”, “Frankie and Johnny”, “Runaway Bride” and “Beaches”.
“Billy & Ray” is the story of the combative relationship between Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler as they work to collaborate on the 1944 film “Double Indemnity”. Despite clashing with each other on the project, the end result is what became known as Film Noir. The comedy stars Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men) and Broadway veteran Larry Pine and co-stars Sophie von Haselberg and Drew Gehling.
Besides discussing the dynamic between Wilder and Chandler and the creation of the Film Noir style, Garry Marshall also talked about the differences between directing for the stage and directing for film.
Well it’s a different thing. I was discussing, which I noticed in this play since there’s only 4 people and one set, there’s a lot of phone calls to get to a lot of things. In the stage, part of what I was saying was don’t hold the phone there. Hold it out there. We want to see your face. Vincent Kartheiser has one of the great faces. He does everything. In movies, we do the opposite. We put a phone over their mouth, And say – ‘Put it over your mouth. We see your eyes.’ I always say – “You’re doing it with your eyes. You don’t need the mouth.’ Because what I really need is, I need them to cover their mouth so later when the picture’s done, I can put in other words in their mouth and change the other end of the phone. So there’s a lot of differences.
Marshall also joked about climate control being different.
But I guess the truth of the matter, the biggest difference is the weather. It’s nice inside a theater. Hello! You sit down. It’s warm. I’ve shot in storms and snow. That is fun in some ways. Some people like that. I, actually in film, like two people in a room. They kiss. They don’t kiss. That’s story. That’s what I like to do.
Bennington pointed out the lack of complete control a theater director has once the play starts. Marshall agreed.
Yes, there’s no running up on the stage. ‘Hello, folks. You didn’t get that? Why didn’t you laugh?’ You’re not allowed to do that. Some day somebody will. But you always notice what’s cockeyed and you can’t do anything about it. But then you say – ‘Listen’. But in editing you can do anything. But that’s why I think the theater is so exciting.
Previews begin for “Billy & Ray” on Wednesday, October 1st at the Vineyard Theater in New York City. The play officially opens Monday, October 20th. For tickets and more information, go to VineyardTheatre.org.
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