Big Apple-Bound

Dallas playwright's comedy gets a starry New York City premiere

Dallas playwright's comedy gets a starry New York City premiere

Dallas actor and playwright Jeff Swearingen
Dallas playwright and actor Jeff Swearingen. Courtesy photo

An award-winning backstage farce by local playwright Jeff Swearingen will get a New York showcase production in February — the next step in the show's journey to Off Broadway.

Stiff, which Swearingen wrote in 2014, has assembled a cast of actors from Broadway, television, and film for its 12-performance run February 21-March 3, 2018, at The TBG Theater in Manhattan. Tony-nominated producer Terry D. Loftis is behind the production, along with Dallas producers Bren Rapp and Gregory Patterson and former DFW resident Andy Baldwin, who is directing and co-producing.

Fun House Theatre and Film, the acclaimed, youth-centric Dallas theater company co-founded by Rapp and Swearingen, first produced the comedy in 2014 with its own troupe of actors, all of whom were under the age of 18. The show landed on nearly every critic's best-of list, and enjoyed a New York-based staged reading earlier this year. 

Described as Bullets Over Broadway meets Weekend at Bernie's, Stiff takes place during the Broadway boom of the late 1950s. When the town's most powerful critic, Mickey Blake, is found dead in the Tin Box Theater after a performance of the off-off Broadway show The Blighted Heart, a trio of hapless but determined theater folk refuse to let their dream be deterred. Producer Saul Solomon, writer Robert Grey, and director Stanley Miller fake Blake's review of their show and hide his death just long enough to let the rave hit the stands. Of course, just when they think they have it all under control, the group is hit with a surprise, and mayhem ensues.

Joshua Morgan, from the Broadway production of Les Miserables, stars as director Stanley Miller. Mitch Lerner is the writer Robert Grey, and has been seen previously onscreen in Attack of the Show, June Falling Down, and My Best Friend's Death. Nicolas Greco will play the producer Saul Solomon, and has been seen in TV shows for Nickelodeon and MTV and onstage as far away as Shakespeare's Globe theater in London.

The main cast is rounded out by Clifton Samuels as Walter Goldstein (Samuels' Broadway credits include Follies with Bernadette Peters and Amazing Grace, the Coen brothers' film Hail! Caesar, and TV's Blacklist and Boardwalk Empire), Robert Tunstall as Mickey Blake (his past world tour credits include leading roles in A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, and The Wizard of Oz), and Amandina Altomare as Vanessa Verkamp (who appeared in Gypsy with Leslie Uggams). Swearingen himself plays the actor Guy Van.