Thanks to a post-holiday slump amplified by our nation’s current economic crisis, more than a dozen Broadway shows closed in January, darkening almost half the marquees on the Great White Way. Like Hairspray, long-running, big-budget, full-chorus spectaculars such as Grease, Gypsy, Young Frankenstein, Spamalot, and Spring Awakening proved that you could, in fact, stop the beat. But now, opening February 19 at the intimate Booth Theatre, the first official new Broadway musical of 2009 will be — wait for it — The Story of My Life, a 90-minute, single-set, two-person show about friendship, by life partners Neil Bartram and Brian Hill. So can a pair of relatively unknown, 40-something gay guys from Toronto revive American theater? They’re sure as heck going to try.
The Story of My Life, which was presented last year by Connecticut’s Goodspeed Musicals, is the story of a successful writer who returns to his hometown to deliver the eulogy for his best friend of 30 years. In examining their colorful history and eventual estrangement, the perpetual power of friendship is exalted.
“It’s not a big show with a big cast and lots of flashy sets,” says Bartram, who composed the music and lyrics, “but it’s a story that anyone can connect with. It’s accessible, genuine, and heartfelt.”
While it may celebrate BFFs, the show is no Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 3. Directed by Richard Maltby, Jr. (a Tony-winner for Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Fosse), The Story of My Life stars Broadway favorite Will Chase (Rent, Aida, The Full Monty) and out Tony-nominee Malcolm Gets (Adam & Steve, Caroline in the City, and the upcoming Grey Gardens) as the besties in question.
“There are more barriers and complications between male friends than there are between female friends, which added more conflict to the story,” says bookwriter Hill. “Men tend to be more guarded with their feelings.”