MURRAY HILL: ABOUT TO BREAK Announced at Joe's Pub
Joe's Pub at The Public presents the North American premiere of Murray Hill: About To Break, a new comedy and theatrical event, running September 20-22 and 27-29. About To Break is written and performed by Hill and directed and developed with Tony Award-winning lyricist, writer, and director Scott Wittman. Renowned as a comic host around the world, this new show is a departure, putting Hill center stage in the first major dedicated solo show of his long, storied career. Musical direction is by Paul Leschen with original music by Hill with Wittman, Marc Shaiman, Kyle Forrester, Eric Kornfeld, Jesse Elder, and Leschen.
About To Break is a commission of New York Voices, the Joe's Pub program that supports the creation of original theater works by critically acclaimed musicians and performers, aligning with The Public's commitment to the development and commission of new works.
Performances run September 20-21 at 7PM, September 22 and 27-29 at 9:30PM. Tickets ($25-$50 VIP) are available online, over the phone (212-967-7555) and in-person at The Public Theater's box office (425 Lafayette, NYC). VIP tickets include a seat in Murray Hill's Showbiz booth, an enamel pin, a meet and greet, plus a "Follow" on Instagram.
About To Break is an ecstatic and heartfelt comedy show about a man who loves to perform and performs to live. Called "the reigning patriarch of downtown performance" by The New York Times, Hill shines a spotlight on a man who keeps going despite years of struggles and heartbreak. For the first time on stage, he flips the record and plays the B-side of his seemingly sparkly showbiz life. Detailing his chronic middle-aged crisis, numerous comebacks and infamous ad-libbing, the show builds to Hill's defining moment: a wrenching breakup song entitled "The Girl I Left Behind." The show asks, "What drives him to keep going? How did he get here? Who the hell is this guy they call Mr. Showbiz?"
Hill has been honing his act and flexing his showbiz chops for decades-from Ave C and 4th street, running for Mayor of New York City against Giuliani in the 1990s, calling Bingo on the Bowery, hosting thousands of shows, touring the country with Dita Von Teese, performing on the comedy circuit with Bridget Everett, slinging jokes at Bally's in Vegas, and starring in the hit cabaret Club Swizzle at The Sydney Opera House. But somehow, he's still waiting for his big break. It's always right around the corner. He's been around many corners, he's walking in circles. He's paid his showbiz dues and is still paying-on a monthly plan, with interest. He is finally back home in the city where he was born again, and he's about to break. Literally.
Wittman said, "When I first saw Murray perform for the troops in the Korean War, it was my dream to work with him." He continued, "Murray Hill: About To Break is all fun and games until he gets to the hard questions. The ones you might not want answers to. It's all heart and guts."
When Hill received this New York Voices commission, he quietly stopped touring and came back to the States to focus on this show, spending several months in Los Angeles working with his hero Paul Reubens. Being mentored by Reubens has proved the utmost inspiration for Hill, and provided invaluable foundation for the show's development in New York with Wittman and Joe's Pub.
"Murray is the heart and soul of downtown New York City. This show is a long overdue deeper look into the man, the myth, and the legend. With this unbelievable all-star team, he is set to take the world by storm and we can't wait for the world to take notice," said Shanta Thake, Director of Joe's Pub.
About To Break features additional material by Eric Kornfeld and new original songs written by Murray Hill with Scott Wittman, Marc Shaiman, Kyle Forrester, Kornfeld, Jesse Elder, and Musical Director Paul Leschen. The swinging music is performed by THE EARLY BIRD SPECIALS (Leschen-piano, Frank Canino-bass, Scott Kreitzer-sax, Howie Gordon-drums), known on the Atlantic City and Vegas circuit backing the likes of Buddy Hackett and Don Rickles. Hill's former showgirls Murray Hill'S GOLDDIGGERS (Frieda Williams, Francis Asher) are coming out of retirement to do some 1/2 high kicks and back-up singing.
"Murray sends a life-affirming jolt to your senses and a bottle rocket right through your heart. Hands-down one of the funniest and most human performers I've ever worked with." -Bridget Everett
"I didn't know it, but 20 years ago my life was missing a 1950s-style, Borscht Belt, all-American cheese ball comedy showbiz genius. But then I saw the light that is Murray Hill! Murray Hill is a legend!" -Alan Cumming
"Hill is a singing, dancing, shticking throwback to the comedy entertainers of yesteryear: the wild gesticulation vaudeville of Oliver Hardy, the boiling point masculinity of Jackie Gleason, and the mischievous ribaldry of Benny Hill." - THE BOSTON PHOENIX
Murray Hill (Creator, Writer, Performer) is a New York City (still-living) legend, comedian, host, trailblazer, and international entertainer. Mr. Showbiz is renowned for his improv, shtick for days, quick wit, and tight tuxedos. He's been touring comedy festivals with comedian/singer Bridget Everett and was awarded a New York Voices commission from Joe's Pub at The Public. He has toured the U.S. several times over with burlesque superstar Dita Von Teese and hosted her historic debut sold-out Australian tour. He performed two seasons at The Sydney Opera House in Club Swizzle, which went on to tour major festivals.
His eponymous The Murray Hill Show was the hottest ticket in town for a decade. Hill's annual sold-out A Murray Little Christmas is a "downtown institution" (New York Times). Dubbed "The King of Comedy" by Time Out, he's performed his comedy at top showrooms like Upright Citizens Brigade, Gotham Comedy Club, LA's Billy Wilder Theater, and headlined his own show at Caroline's on Broadway. He is making his Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Just For Laughs debuts this season.
He starred in his own pop culture show, called SHOWBIZ, on MTV online and was the U.S. Showbiz Correspondent for Channel 4 in UK. Hill's other television appearances include: TLC's LI Medium, LOGO's New Now Next and Cocktails & Classics, HBO's Bored to Death, BRAVO's Watch What Happens Live, HBO's Taxicab Confessions, BRAVO's Real Housewives of New York, and music videos for Peaches, TV On The Radio, The Regrettes, Joan As Police Woman, Bridget Everett, and The Gossip. Hill is featured in two recently released books: DRAGS by Gregory Kramer and Gotta Get Bigger Dreams by Alan Cumming.
The New York Times anointed Hill "Downtown's New 'It' Boy." He has been inducted into PAPER's Nightlife Hall of Fame; twice selected as OUT Magazine's Top 100 influential performers; included in New York Magazine's "Fifty Most Iconic Gender Benders of All Time," PAPER's "Top Ten 'It' Boys in NYC Nightlife History," and named one of the Top 12 gender-bending performers in NYC by Time Out. The City of New York awarded Hill a citation for his positive impact on the LGBT community in Brooklyn. If you made it this far reading this (and what's wrong with you?), see Hill after the show for a special prize. Thank you, for real. Showbiz. Instagram: @Murray_Hill
Scott Wittman (Lyricist, Director, Writer, Conceiver) is a Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award-winning lyricist, director, writer, and conceiver. Wittman co-wrote the lyrics for the hit musical Hairspray (Tony, Grammy, Olivier Award winner) with creative partner Marc Shaiman, and served as an executive producer on the hit adaptation starring John Travolta.
Wittman was nominated for a Golden Globe, Grammy, and two Emmy Awards for the original songs in NBC's musical drama Smash. During this time, he co-wrote songs for Jennifer Hudson, Uma Thurman, Bernadette Peters, and Liza Minnelli. Sony Records released Shaiman and Wittman's original score for Bombshell, the Marilyn Monroe musical at the center of Smash. The duo's Broadway writing credits include Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, which Wittman also directed, Catch Me If You Can (Tony nomination for Best Musical), and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway and the West End.
He has created and directed two Broadway shows, three studio recordings, and three sold-out Carnegie Hall concerts for Patti LuPone. He has created solo shows for Christine Ebersole and Nathan Lane, as well as writing for Bette Midler's 2015 Divine Intervention World Tour. Off-Broadway, he conceived and directed Jukebox Jackie starring Justin Vivian Bond, Cole Escola, and Bridget Everett at La Mama, and Bridget Everett's Rock Bottom at The Public Theater. His notorious and legendary Downtown shows are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Paul Leschen (Composer, Musical Director) was nominated for his score for Bedbugs!!! The Musical by NY Innovative Theatre Awards, and for a Drama Desk for Outstanding Music for Twist. His co-arrangement of Scissor Sisters' "Comfortably Numb" was the band's first breakout hit and the biggest selling album in the UK in 2004. Paul is a longtime collaborator with international entertainer, icon, and comedian Murray Hill. His music and lyrics have been featured in Murray Hill Is 100% Polyester, Caught in the Act, This is Burlesque, and The Murray Hill Show. Leschen is fixture of the rock cabaret scene in New York City, and an innovator in the fledgling field of Live Piano Karaoke. He has written songs for or with many artists including Amber Martin, Angela DiCarlo, Brian Charles Rooney, and Hedda Lettuce, and has a band, Kingship, with singer/co-writer Chris Hall. In addition to other shows currently in development, Paul's collaboration with Fred Sauter has yielded The Astronaut Love Show and Karma Kills.
Eric Kornfeld has been writing for Bette Midler since 1999. He wrote her Kiss My Brass tour and her Vegas Extravaganza, The Showgirl Must Go On. He's written on The Rosie O'Donnell Show, The Caroline Rhea Show, TCM, HBO, PBS, and Rhea's new show on the Game Show Network. He's worked with such luminaries as Hugh Jackman, Betty Buckley, Jane Krakowski, Judy Gold, John Pinette, Elaine Stritch and Murray Hill! His musical Love In The Middle Ages was a "Fringe Fave" at The NYC Fringe Festival and his new play The Virgin & Miss Davis is beginning the "reading" process. Eric has been nominated for several Emmy and Mac awards but the mantel remains bare.
ONLINE at joespub.com / PHONE, 10AM-7:00PM, DAILY 212-967-7555
IN PERSON The Public Theater Box Office, 425 Lafayette Street, NYC (Opens daily at 2PM). NOTE There is a $12 food / two (2) drink minimum per person per show, unless otherwise noted.
Joe's Pub AT THE PUBLIC, named for Public Theater founder Joe Papp, opened in 1998 and plays a vital role in The Public's mission of supporting young artists while providing established artists with an intimate space to perform and develop new work. Joe's Pub presents the best in live music and performance nightly, continuing its commitment to diversity, production values, community and artistic freedom. The organization also offers opportunities like New York Voices, an artist commissioning program that provides musicians the resources and tools needed to develop original theater works; Joe's Pub Working Group, an artist development initiative; The Vanguard Award & Residency, a yearlong series that celebrates the career of a prolific and influential artist, who leads their own artistic community; and nationwide programming partnerships. Commissioned artists have included Mx Justin Vivian Bond, Bridget Everett, Daniel Alexander Jones, Ethan Lipton, Toshi Reagon, Allen Toussaint and more. The venue's food and beverage partner is the venerated Noho Hospitality Group, helmed by acclaimed chef Andrew Carmellini. With its intimate atmosphere and superior acoustics, Joe's Pub presents talent from all over the world as part of The Public's programming downtown at its Astor Place home, hosting approximately 800 shows and serving over 100,000 audience members annually.
THE PUBLIC is theater of, by, and for all people. Artist-driven, radically inclusive, and fundamentally democratic, The Public continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today. Conceived over 60 years ago as one of the nation's first nonprofit theaters, The Public has long operated on the principles that theater is an essential cultural force and that art and culture belong to everyone. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public's wide breadth of programming includes an annual season of new work at its landmark home at Astor Place, Free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, The Mobile Unit touring throughout New York City's five boroughs, Public Forum, Under the Radar, Public Studio, Public Works, Public Shakespeare Initiative, and Joe's Pub. Since premiering HAIR in 1967, The Public continues to create the canon of American Theater and is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Their programs and productions can also be seen regionally across the country and around the world. The Public has received 59 Tony Awards, 170 Obie Awards, 53 Drama Desk Awards, 54 Lortel Awards, 32 Outer Critic Circle Awards, 13 New York Drama Desk Awards, and 6 Pulitzer Prizes.