Sean Hayes to Star in World Premiere of GOOD NIGHT, OSCAR at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago

By: Feb. 05, 2020
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Sean Hayes to Star in World Premiere of GOOD NIGHT, OSCAR at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago Goodman Theatre announced today it will premiere Good Night, Oscar, starring Emmy Award-winning actor and producer Sean Hayes (Broadway's Promises, Promises, NBC-TV's Will & Grace) as erstwhile character actor, pianist and wild card Oscar Levant. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife, War Paint), Good Night, Oscar is directed by Tony Award nominee Leigh Silverman (Chinglish).

Good Night, Oscar appears in the Goodman's 856-seat Albert Theatre as part of Goodman Theatre's 2020/2021 Season; additional plays in the new season will be announced next month, at which time tickets will be available by Goodman Theatre Membership. Discounted tickets for Groups of 15+ are available now at 312.443.3820 or

"We are thrilled to produce the world premiere production of Good Night, Oscar-and to welcome the inimitable Sean Hayes, whom I've long admired as one of our most versatile contemporary actors," said Artistic Director Robert Falls. "It's exciting to once again team up with Doug Wright and Leigh Silverman, two extraordinary artists whose previous collaborations have yielded exciting projects on our stages and beyond."

It's 1958, and Jack Paar hosts the hottest late-night talk-show on television. His favorite guest? Oscar Levant. Famous for his many epigrams, Oscar has a favorite: "There's a fine line between genius and insanity; I have erased this line." Oscar will prove just that when he gets a four-hour pass from the mental ward to appear live on national TV. It's an episode Paar's audience-and the rest of America-won't soon forget. Good Night, Oscar explores the nexus of humor and heartbreak, the ever-dwindling distinction between exploitation and entertainment and the high cost of baring one's soul for public consumption, all through the eyes of one of America's most memorable and subversive wits.

"I had terrific experiences at the Goodman with I Am My Own Wife and War Paint," said Playwright Doug Wright. "I'm so happy to have the continued support of Robert Falls, and can't wait for audiences to meet the maelstrom that is Oscar Levant."

Added Director Leigh Silverman, "The Goodman is one of the most exciting theaters to develop and premiere new work. I am beyond thrilled to be returning and with a dream team of incredible collaborators: the incomparable Sean Hayes giving a career re-defining performance and master playwright, Doug Wright."

Oscar Levant (1906 -1972) was an American concert pianist, composer, actor, and raconteur who eventually became one of the most celebrated and sardonic wits of his era. The son of Russian immigrants, Levant moved from New York to Hollywood in 1928 where he met and befriended George Gershwin. Over the next two decades he composed the music for more than twenty movies. At the height of his popularity, Oscar Levant was the highest-paid concert artist in America. Levant's 1945 recording of "Rhapsody in Blue" remained one of Columbia Records' best-selling albums for decades and the first exposure for many to the Gershwin masterpiece. From the 1930s through the mid-1950s, Levant appeared in a number of feature films, often playing a pianist or composer including major supporting roles in the notable Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals The Barkleys of Broadway (1949), An American in Paris (1951) and The Band Wagon (1953). In 1938 and 1939 Levant worked on Broadway as a conductor (filling in for his brother Harry) on Kaufman and Hart's The Fabulous Invalid and conductor and composer for The American Way, another Kaufman and Hart production. Levant became well known to a wider audience as a regular panelist on the radio quiz show Information Please in the late 1930s and 1940s. This led to a series of radio and television appearances including, NBC radio's Kraft Music Hall starring Al Jolson, NBC's Who Said That? and between 1958 and 1960, he hosted a television talk show on KCOP-TV in Los Angeles, The Oscar Levant Show, which later became syndicated. In time, Levant's reputation as a caustic, sometimes provocative humorist eclipsed his former glory as a pianist.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos