When it comes to bringing his "Diner" to Broadway, Barry Levinson is feeling a serious sense of deja vu.
As detailed in a recent New York Times article, "Diner" is among a number of shows that have had their projected openings pushed back, thanks to a combination of economic skittishness and (at least in the case of "Diner") scheduling problems stemming from the tumult caused by Superstorm Sandy. While the show's producers had hoped for an April opening, fall 2013 is appearing more likely. (You can read the Times story here.)
But the Baltimore-born Levinson, whose 1982 film was a snapshot of a group of young guys growing older and maybe a little wiser over burgers and fries at the local diner, said he's facing some of the same resistance to the play that he worked through when the film was being made. "Diner" defies easy categorization, and that makes potential backers nervous.
"It's not a silly comedy, it's not a coming-of-age film in the real sense. It's not a movie that could be pigeonholed ... the studios were always afraid of it," Levinson said. "That was always a negative, one of the initial problems we had with getting it out there 30 years ago. And in some ways, we're having the same problems again. It's funny to hear the same things."
So far, Levinson said, there have only been two run-throughs of his completed "Diner" script for prospective backers, thanks to scheduling problems attributable to Sandy and the damage it left behind. A third was staged for the creative team, he said, which includes songwriter Sheryl Crow.
Levinson added that he's still tinkering with the script ("I'm open to playing with stuff," he said) and raved about Crow's songs. "The reality is that the music is spectacular," he said, "It's really fantastic. In some Broadway musicals, you see them and you can not remember one song. But in this one, when you play some of the songs, you go, 'Holy God!' She really has done an extraordinary job."
Rather than rush things, he said, the show's producers have decided to aim for the later opening date, giving everyone time to work on fine-tuning the show and lining-up the necessary finances.
“We’ll sort our way out,” he promised. “I think it’ll probably go forward in the fall.”