Theater Talk: TONY Wrap-Up and “Turn Me Loose”


>>HASKINS: Coming up on…>>DeLARIA: ♪ I want to be in the room where it happens, the room where it happens, the room where it happens ♪ ♪ I want to be in the room where it happens, the room where it happens ♪ [ Scratching record ]>>ANDREW #1: You’re hired.>>HASKINS: “Theater Talk” is made possible in part by… ♪♪>>♪ …upside down ♪>>♪ We won ♪ ♪ We won, we won, we won ♪>>♪ The world turned… ♪>>HASKINS: From New York City, this is “Theater Talk.” I’m Susan Haskins.>>RIEDEL: And I’m Michael Riedel of the New York Post. And it is now time, after many, many months, to close the book on “Hamilton” I am pleased to say! [ Laughter ] It won 11 Tony Awards at what I thought was one of the best Tony telecasts in many, many years.>>MUSTO: Do you mean the “Hamiltonys”?>>RIEDEL: The “Hamiltonys,” exactly. How many plugs for “Hamilton” were on the Tony Awards? Patrick Pacheco from NY 1, Michael Musto from…>>MUSTO: Out.com — hello, gorgeous.>>RIEDEL: And Jesse Green from hamilton.com.>>GREEN: Or New York magazine.>>RIEDEL: That would be it.>>MUSTO: Let’s make an agreement on this show. Let’s not say the word “Hamilton.” Let’s just say, “Insert title of show,” okay?>>HASKINS: Okay, very good.>>MUSTO: Agreed?>>RIEDEL: How many plugs for “insert title of show” could you squeeze onto those Tony Awards, Patrick? I mean, it was a little bit too much, don’t you think?>>PACHECO: Too numerous to mention. It was constant, and everybody knew that. And I think the producers of the telecast understood that. But I think what was fascinating about the Tony Awards is the pall that was cast over it by the tragedy in Orlando and the producers having to scramble at the very last minute to see how to dignify the Tonys, given the tragic news that was coming out of Orlando.>>RIEDEL: And I thought they did a very good job because instead of casting a pall over the whole thing — I was there in the theater, and James Corden came out, and he taped a quick thing, acknowledging it.>>CORDEN: Hate will never win. Together, we have to make sure of that. Tonight’s show stands as a symbol and a celebration of that principle. This is the Tony Awards.>>RIEDEL: And Broadway did what it does best. The show went on.>>HASKINS: Right.>>MUSTO: I had to come from a vigil, and it was heart-wrenching and had to then go watch the Tonys. I was in no mood for it. But once he made that speech at the beginning, I thought that sort of okays them to then go on to best lighting director. Basically, this is the world we live in and love, and this is the world that celebrates LGBTs, celebrates diversity, and it was a wonderful catharsis. And I appreciated the speakers and the winners who acknowledged the situation. Frank Langella I thought gave the best speech.>>RIEDEL: Beautiful. And he was one of the few nominees who even talked about it. And I thought it was appropriate for someone of Frank’s standing in this world to be the person who gave the one acceptance speech that really touched on what happened.>>GREEN: Well, it was a good thing that someone who knew how to do it did it.>>RIEDEL: Oh, yeah.>>GREEN: Having a lot of people who really wouldn’t know how to balance the issues in 30 seconds and who also didn’t, having never won Tonys before, perhaps needed the time to thank their agent, would have been a mistake. So, he was the perfect person.>>MUSTO: He covered his career, how he was a late bloomer.>>RIEDEL: With a joke, with a fabulous joke.>>MUSTO: Then covered the topic of his play, “The Father,” which is Alzheimer’s, and how his brother is suffering, and then he went into the Orlando thing.>>LANGELLA: And I urge you, Orlando, to be strong because I’m standing in a room full of the most generous human beings on Earth, and we will be with you every step of the way. [ Applause ] Thank you.>>MUSTO: And it kind of put into perspective some of the winners — I won’t name names — who just gave you lists of names or were so self-congratulatory that they don’t even seem to know about current events.>>RIEDEL: Yeah.>>HASKINS: I thought Lin Manuel-Miranda’s poetry was…>>MIRANDA: When senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day…>>MUSTO: “And love is love is love.”>>RIEDEL: Love is love is love…>>MUSTO: Then they went to commercial for Chick-fil-A… [ Laughter ] …which hates gays.>>RIEDEL: I missed that!>>GREEN: Cross promotion!>>MUSTO: At least it wasn’t “insert title of show.” [ Laughter continues ]>>RIEDEL: Hey, listen. “Insert title of show” did not need to take out any advertising time on the Tonys because they had the whole thing all sewn up in the beginning.>>MUSTO: By the time Barbra Streisand came out dressed like this… [ Laughter ] Have we all noticed? When looking like something out of “The Lion King,” I really thought they were tipping the scales too much in favor of this already. Give “Bright Star” a break.>>GREEN: Didn’t even open the envelope. She just knew.>>MUSTO: “Insert title of show.”>>RIEDEL: You know, had “Bright Star” won, you would have had to your hillbilly hat on the show today, Michael.>>MUSTO: I was pretty certain I could send that to the dry cleaners and not have to worry.>>RIEDEL: All right, serious for a moment. I must say, Patrick, that I thought James Corden was the most exciting Tony host I’ve seen since I think Hugh Jackman first did it 10 or 12 years ago. It was a terrific show, and he was superb.>>PACHECO: A pro, a pro, because we saw what he could do in “One Man, Two Guvnors,” for which he won the Tony Award for best leading actor in a play. And he was able to use that. He had quick timing. It was very well-written, and it moved fast, and I think it had a great spontaneity and fun, and he was able to roll with it. So, I totally agree with you, and I think the ratings are the best in 15 years.>>RIEDEL: Do we know what the ratings are? I haven’t seen them.>>GREEN: They’re up 33% or 35% over last year.>>RIEDEL: As I predicted in the Post.>>PACHECO: Oh, my God, Michael. Again? Another good prediction?>>GREEN: Part of what you’re getting with James Corden that we’ve missed is an unironic enthusiasm — well, not just enthusiasm. Screaming queendom, if you like. [ Laughter ]>>RIEDEL: He has a girlfriend, I hear.>>GREEN: Queendom has nothing to do with your sexuality.>>MUSTO: Thank God! [ Laughter ]>>GREEN: You’re safe.>>MUSTO: I was worried.>>GREEN: But what I mean is, he represents for America that it’s okay to be an incredible fanboy for this stuff and then put it out there for everybody. I was delighted.>>MUSTO: I thought his opening number, where he did snippets from all the great –>>RIEDEL: Yeah, but Whoopi Goldberg did that several years ago.>>PACHECO: Well, and, also, it’s really kind of an homage let’s say to “Something Rotten,” that song where they reference every musical ever made. But by the time he got to “Dreamgirls,” he did win me over, and I thought, “He’s straight, and he’s doing ‘Dreamgirls.'”>>CORDEN: ♪ …ever known… ♪>>HASKINS: And his Mama Rose breakdown was…>>MUSTO: And Barbra’s taking notes.>>HASKINS: One thing that didn’t work for me, though, was, who was it? Was it Diane Lane who came out and described all the plays?>>MUSTO: In the zebra outfit from “Lion King.”>>HASKINS: They always have a problem with the plays, and I really thought — I just fazed out. She went into this blather about the plays.>>GREEN: They never make this work. They’ve tried everything. In the old days, you may recall they used to have a little intro, and then they would do a hideously embarrassing one-minute segment from the play itself. That didn’t work. The little film montages don’t work. I actually thought this was better than it’s been a while, even though it’s clearly not –>>MUSTO: What did you all think of the casts of the different shows coming out and singing other musicals, like the cast of “Fiddler” doing “Rent” or whatever it was?>>RIEDEL: The best was Andrew Lloyd Webber on the tambourine. That was adorable. That really was. He was still rattling the old — hey, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s the tambourine man.>>MUSTO: I thought of all the numbers, the one from the Gloria Estefan show with Gloria Estefan –>>RIEDEL: Looked great.>>MUSTO: Fabulous. And sold tickets. It might not be art, but it’s what Broadway is now. And I almost wanted to buy tickets and see it again.>>GREEN: Several of the numbers looked quite good, especially if they focused on one thing that the show does well, instead of chopping up into a montage in order to get this person and that person and that person. Some of the numbers were quite effective. Others were not.>>PACHECO: And it showed the diversity and eclecticism of the Broadway season. That was what was remarkable. It was a great promotion for Broadway.>>GREEN: It took some of the onus off of it being the “Hamiltonys,” even though it kept winning all the awards. In between, you would see something else wonderful that had been –>>RIEDEL: Exactly. And listen, we should tell people who are coming to New York, there are a lot of great shows besides “Hamilton.” Believe me.>>PACHECO: I think the fever on “Hamilton” will now die down to some extent because there won’t be this onslaught of publicity. And half of the mania surrounding “insert name of show” is the fact that — is this neurosis about “I want to get into something that I can’t get into.” And it’s bragging rights. “I’ve seen ‘Hamilton,’ and you haven’t.”>>MUSTO: I want to get into the room where it happens. If I hear that one more time…>>RIEDEL: Oh, my God. I know. I know. I was worried some of the people who won Tonys were like, “I just want to thank Lin-Manuel Miranda for letting me be in ‘the room where it happened.'” Vomit bucket!>>HASKINS: All right.>>GREEN: He also won the Stanley Cup last night, I understand. [ Laughter ]>>MUSTO: And he won on “Drag Race,” too.>>GREEN: Oh, the Stanley Cup — it’s hockey. Just letting you know.>>MUSTO: Oh, good, ’cause I’m gay. [ Laughter ] I’m one of the rare queens who is also gay.>>PACHECO: The Tonys were the Super Bowl for people that don’t know what the Super Bowl –>>RIEDEL: You are the gayest Founding Father I’ve ever met. But I think overall because this is PBS, and we must be a bit serious here, I must say, given what happened in Orlando, that an ISIS-inspired Islamic terrorist who deliberately set out to murder gay people, the best response to that was to have a Tony Awards this year that celebrated a show, a Broadway musical called “Hamilton,” that is a huge cultural phenomenon. And we know without the gays, there’s no Broadway, and this industry is now front and center in American popular culture, and that means that gay creators and gay writers of these shows, all these things we love, are part of the mainstream culture, and that is the best rejoinder to parts of the world that want to kill people who have a lifestyle they don’t approve of.>>PACHECO: And “Hamilton’s” about the price of an open society, which, of course, allows these sort of things to happen because we can’t police everything.>>MUSTO: And wearing fruity outfits.>>RIEDEL: Well, “Theater Talk” is in favor of fruity outfits!>>HASKINS: All right. Bravo, gentlemen. We’ll see you in the fall if I raise enough money to come back. [ Laughter ]>>MUSTO: If “Spring Awakening” can get on the Tonys, you can come back.>>RIEDEL: Patrick Pacheco from NY1 “On Stage.”>>PACHECO: And Los Angeles Times.>>RIEDEL: Michael Musto, the gay Founding Father. Who was the gay president? You and Martin Van Buren, right?>>MUSTO: Hillary.>>RIEDEL: [ Laughs ]>>MUSTO: Didn’t you read Gennifer Flowers’ book? [ Laughter ]>>RIEDEL: You better keep that. Jesse Green from New York magazine.>>PACHECO: Who gives the only note of dignity to this.>>RIEDEL: Thanks. “Fruity-tooty” “Theater Talk.”>>ANDREW #1: Andrew?>>ANDREW #2: Oh, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Hi. Andrew and Andrew on the red carpet of the Tony Awards.>>ANDREW #1: The “Hamiltony” awards.>>ANDREW #2: Yes, the “Hamiltony” awards. They’ve decided to give everything to “Hamilton” already. There’s no need to have a show.>>ANDREW #1: What’s the one thing you’re most looking forward to at the “Hamiltonys”?>>WEBBER: Well..>>[ Laughs ]>>DeLARIA: At “Hamiltonys.” [ Laughs ] I love you boys so much. The thing that I’m looking forward to more than anything else in the entire world is being in the same room, proximity, near where I can actually reach out and touch Barbra Streisand! I’m so gay!>>ANDREW #1: So, how many times have you seen “Hamilton,” and can you get us tickets?>>LACAMOIRE: [ Laughs ] How many times have I seen it? I guess it’s probably, like, 300, 400, ’cause I conduct, and I get to watch it every night.>>FITZGERALD: Once, but that was almost too many times because I’m not — no, it’s amazing.>>ANDREW #1: So, you have seen “Hamilton.”>>RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I’ve seen it twice.>>ANDREW #1: How did you get tickets, and can you get us tickets?>>RODRIGUEZ: I don’t think I can anymore. I got them because I was in “In the Heights.” So, all those are my friends.>>ANDREW #1: There’s a lot of people out there that have not seen it. Can you give us a synopsis of what “Hamilton” actually is about? In sign language.>>RODRIGUEZ: Oh. ♪ I want to be in the room where it happens ♪>>SEGARRA: Oh, man. You got to go see it. I can’t give you a synopsis. You got to go see it. I don’t want to mess it up for anybody, you know? Don’t put that on me.>>DeLARIA: ♪ …the room where it happens, the room where it happens ♪ ♪ I want to be in the room where it happens, the room where it happens ♪ [ Scratching record ]>>ANDREW #1: You’re hired.>>DeLARIA: I’m hired. Bye, boys.>>ANDREW #1: Have you seen “Hamilton”?>>SHARP: I have. I’ve seen it three times.>>ANDREW #1: How did you get tickets?>>SHARP: Um…I know people.>>ANDREW #1: Can you help us get tickets?>>SHARP: No.>>GREGORY: And people ask me, “What percentage of white folks do you think is laughing at your humor because they are guilty?” And my answer to them was, “I cannot look at a cat and just because he’s light and looks white, assume that he’s white, because he might not be a white cat and be laughing without a damn thing to be guilty of.” [ Laughter ] White is not a color. It’s an attitude. Black is not a color. It’s an attitude. [ Applause ]>>HASKINS: “Turn Me Loose” is a powerful, new play about the life and times of the comedian Dick Gregory, a pioneer of comedy in the 20th century.>>RIEDEL: And social satire, too. We can’t think of Dick Gregory, brilliant performer, as just a standup comic, all right? He was a man who was tearing down the establishment of his time with wit and humor and insight.>>HASKINS: Well, and I thought I would ask our guests about that. [ Laughter ]>>RIEDEL: I know more about Dick Gregory than they do! [ Laughter ]>>HASKINS: And with us, the playwright of “Turn Me Loose,” Gretchen Law, the director, John Gould Rubin, and as Dick Gregory, we have actor Joe Morton.>>RIEDEL: And let me just say before we start — I said this off the air. I must say this. I saw Joe Morton play Colin Powell at the National Theatre in David Hare’s play, “Stuff Happens,” one of the best plays I’ve ever seen, and he gave an absolutely superb performance about a man who was conflicted about that war in Iraq.>>MORTON: But, also, you got a chance to see Colin out of the public arena, behind closed doors, and he was a very different man behind closed doors than he was in front of the public.>>RIEDEL: Yeah. Well, it was a colossally good performance.>>MORTON: Well, thank you. Thank you.>>HASKINS: But Dick Gregory in front of the public… [ Laughter ] …was a very important and continues to be a very important social activist and comedian. Tell us a little bit about him in the beginning.>>MORTON: Well, in 1961, as he says in the play, he was pretty much dirt-poor. 1962, suddenly, because of playing the Playboy Club — at the Playboy Club, he was confronted with an audience full of southerners. He was only supposed to be there for maybe an hour, an hour and a half. I think he ended up being there for, like, six hours or something crazy like that. Won them over, and as a result of that, ended up going on to the “Tonight Show,” which just opened up the world for him. I mean, I think at one point he said in his life he went from making $17 a week to making $17 million a year.>>HASKINS: And yet he was always a social activist. And, Gretchen, what drew you to writing a play about him?>>LAW: I had written another play in which he was a character — he, Cornel West, Rev. Sharpton, and Josiah Henson, whom Harriet Beecher Stowe based “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” on. And had sent the play out to Dick Gregory and his agent. And they read it. This was, like, 2003, 2004. And then John got the concept of including Dick Gregory in a composite piece about 1968, which he’d be in a better position to tell you about. Called Dick Gregory and his agent, and they suggested me as the playwright to work with John Rubin in New York. So, kind of two projects merged.>>RIEDEL: And why were you thinking about Dick Gregory? I mean, we love him, of course, but he is a blast from the past. Why was he on your mind?>>RUBIN: I was trying to do a piece about the ’60s in which none of the clichés of the ’60s were invoked, so I could try –>>RIEDEL: No Woodstock.>>RUBIN: No Woodstock, no Beatles, no Stones, but that there would be things that would evoke the kind of cacophony of the era and make the audience feel it. So, I wanted disparate influences. And I thought that Dick Gregory was a really great way of having a different form of engagement with the audience because it was standup. And, also, because I felt like it was the source of the confrontation about race in that era, and I thought it was a really great way of embellishing and enhancing that world.>>HASKINS: You say a wonderful thing, that he was a comedian of great elegance and wit without the buffoonery of Amos & Andy, which is not something that we had seen. Do you agree that was not something we had seen when Dick Gregory came along?>>MORTON: Well, yeah. You’d seen “Pigmeat” Markham. You’d seen Nipsy Russell. You’d seen a bunch of comedians who were all about a kind of comedy that –>>RIEDEL: Flip Wilson.>>MORTON: Flip Wilson. Yes, not so much. Flip was a little smarter than the guys I just mentioned.>>RIEDEL: And transgender.>>MORTON: Yes, he did. That’s right.>>RIEDEL: Geraldine — I loved it.>>MORTON: But, see, Dick Gregory would never do a Geraldine.>>HASKINS: That’s right.>>MORTON: He would never do that. And he decided, because of his upbringing, that he would talk about the things he knew, and the things that he knew were racism. He lived in St. Louis and Chicago. Well, two things I have to say about that. One is, I think he told his first joke in front of the house he lived in, but not as a racial joke. It was something to protect himself from being beat up.>>HASKINS: Yeah.>>MORTON: So, he got a reputation. So, people would actually come, kind of like what they did with Groucho Marx. They would come around to just insult him to hear what his comeback would be. But eventually, as he got older and started making a little bit of money here and there, doing whatever he was doing, racism became the thing that became foremost in his mind. And that was the thing he decided he wanted to talk about, which is eventually what got him to becoming an activist. And Medgar Evers was that turning point.>>HASKINS: Yes, and “Turn Me Loose” –>>LAW: Were Medgar Evers’ last three words before he passed away.>>HASKINS: And for those who don’t know Medgar Evers…>>MORTON: Shame on you. [ Laughter ]>>HASKINS: You know, Gretchen, I asked you when did Dick Gregory, as he says in the play, say, “If conservatism takes hold, the middle class is going down”? And you said, “I wrote that line.”>>LAW: [ Laughs ] Well, a lot of our lines merge in the script, and that’s one of the interesting things about the piece.>>HASKINS: So, Dick Gregory’s in D.C. How much interaction did you have?>>RIEDEL: Was he involved in this whole production?>>RUBIN: He gave us a blank check. He really allowed us to do whatever he wanted. We sent versions of the script to his manager. We thought he was reading it. We weren’t sure. We didn’t know, but he certainly had the right to. But they never questioned anything we were doing, and I think part of the reason for that was because Gretchen really was starting to inhabit the voice.>>MORTON: Yeah, it’s true.>>RUBIN: She really took the voice of Dick Gregory.>>HASKINS: Now, is it true that Dick Gregory turned down being on Jack Paar, which was the “Tonight Show.” Tell us that story.>>MORTON: Billy Eckstine and he were watching the “Tonight Show” and Billy said, “I hate this show.” Dick had been watching it for, like, years. He said, “What do you mean you hate this show?” He said, “Because he never lets the Negro performers talk after they perform.” And so, the story we tell in the play is exactly true, is that when that offer came around, he said no because what he’d learned from Billy Eckstine.>>HASKINS: And then Paar came back to him.>>MORTON: Paar came back to him and said, “If that’s what you want, fine. I’ll come on your show.”>>RIEDEL: “And you can sit by the desk and talk.”>>MORTON: “You can sit.” I think one of the first questions they asked Dick was, “What kind of car you drive?” He said, “A Lincoln, of course.” [ Laughter ]>>HASKINS: You jump around in time in the play. You show him as a young comedian, and the thing that’s — you don’t change makeup. You don’t change costumes, and yet you’re embodying the same man, the young comedian in the Chicago clubs, and then this way older man.>>MORTON: More present-day, yes.>>HASKINS: Political activist and who himself is very gaunt because he became a health nut.>>MORTON: Well, if you remember what he used to do is he would go on fasts in protest of either the Vietnam War or whatever social agenda he had on his plate. And he would go on fasts. And he obviously wanted to stay healthy, so he found out how to do that, how to fast and how to stay healthy. And that eventually became the Bahamian diet. So, that was another chapter in his life. He started getting very much involved with nutrition.>>RIEDEL: But technically, I’m curious. So, you knew Dick Gregory. You know his style, his rhythms, and you’re directing him playing Dick Gregory. Is there a moment were you say, “Okay, now I have to stop looking at Dick Gregory, because I have to create my own version of Dick Gregory”?>>RUBIN: And I think that was Gretchen. And I think that was Gretchen even before it was me and before it was Joe. It was writing the play that would serve the story rather than trying to write a faithful rendition or imitation of Dick Gregory. And I don’t think Joe was ever –>>MORTON: No, we never approached it that way, but more specifically, when we got to — we started rehearsal in California. And what John and I decided was, we had done all this research. We’d done some workshops and readings. Now it’s to take the research and what was Gretchen’s, what was the play, and put those two things together and create a character that’s called Dick Gregory.>>HASKINS: And yet, having been exposed to Dick Gregory a lot, never forgetting him, and yet so carried by your performance.>>MORTON: Yes, there was a great deal of work on my part to listen to Dick Gregory as a young man when he does routines and then to look at Dick Gregory. There’s a lot of YouTube of Dick Gregory present day, ’cause the other thing we wanted to make sure was there was a real difference between the young man and the old man. So, we came up with a number of things that made those differences. And then what I asked John to do when we started rehearsing was, “Could we rehearse them separately?” Could we do all of the things of him as a young man one day, let’s say, and all the things of him as an old man the following day and then eventually shuffle those two things together?>>HASKINS: At what point, John, did Dick Gregory, in his career, did Dick Gregory’s anger break through? At what point did he become an activist more than –>>RUBIN: I think that was in the ’60s. It was as soon as he started going down south, when Medgar Evers was asking him to come down south and give speeches. I think he started to make his transition right away, as soon as he got engaged. I think it was his whole life, but I think that’s the play is that transition in his character.>>MORTON: That’s right.>>RUBIN: And in his persona and in his values. Part of what’s interesting when you talk about the diet, it’s true. He started fasting. But like anything he did, he got fully engaged with it, and that led him to an attack on the American food industry.>>RIEDEL: He’s a legend now. He was big in the ’60s and ’70s. Is there a moment where political culture shifts and change, and suddenly he’s kind of forgotten for a bit?>>MORTON: Well, if you mean the man, I think that did happen. But I think what’s interesting about the play is that everything we speak about in the play, he was speaking about 40 years ago, 30 years ago, and they’re all relevant today. I think Isherwood said in his review, which I haven’t read except I’ve been told…>>RIEDEL: It was good! [ Laughter ]>>MORTON: Is that, though, the racist jokes wouldn’t work, wouldn’t land if racism wasn’t around anymore. That’s really kind of where this play sits. There’s so many things that Dick Gregory in Gretchen’s play talks about, that he talked about years ago that we’re still talking about today. And that’s the relevancy.>>HASKINS: He has a wonderful — now, is this your line or his line?>>RIEDEL: You’re writing Dick Gregory’s material now, apparently.>>LAW: Sometimes I don’t remember.>>HASKINS: “Some white folks are too scared to be openly bigoted, so they have to hide their bigotry and do it by calling it conservatism.”>>LAW: That’s Dick Gregory’s line.>>HASKINS: There you go. We’re right here now.>>RIEDEL: Donald Trump’s blown past that, though. He doesn’t hide it at all.>>RUBIN: We’re in a post-postracial –>>RIEDEL: Exactly! We really are.>>RUBIN: It’s also true that his dedication to activism was so invested that he sacrificed his career.>>MORTON: And that’s an important thing to remember. What John said is true. It started the first time he went to Mississippi. He was terrified of going to Mississippi because of what Mississippi represented in the ’60s. And Medgar showed him a side of Mississippi both in terms of what black people were doing and what white people in Mississippi were doing that changed his overview of what racism was about. He went back at one point where there was some town where they wanted to cut off the welfare checks, or whatever they did. Poor people couldn’t get food. So, what he did is he went to that town, and he managed to harvest, if you will, from other people, in terms of canned foods, 14,000 pounds of food that he gave out to people. And it was that kind of dedication, I think, that grew and grew and grew. And the more involved he got in activism, the less he was interested in being a comic.>>HASKINS: And then, of course, Medgar being assassinated.>>MORTON: Well, that turned the corner completely.>>LAW: Well, all of his peers — Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King.>>MORTON: He is the last.>>RIEDEL: Of that era.>>HASKINS: So, “Turn Me Loose” is so successful that it has been extended until July 17th at the Westside Theatre. Then, regrettably, Joe has to go back to California and do “Scandal.”>>RIEDEL: And make real money in this business, as opposed to off-Broadway money.>>HASKINS: But get on over to “Turn Me Loose,” and let’s hope it comes back to New York in an even bigger venue because it’s a powerful and wonderful play.>>MORTON: Thank you.>>HASKINS: Thank you very much, John Gould Rubin. Thank you, Gretchen Law. Thank you, Joe Morton.>>RIEDEL: And thank you, Dick Gregory.>>MORTON: And thank you, Dick Gregory, yes.>>GREGORY: There’s few people ever had a play about them, and they’re still alive. And that creates some of the problems. When you come in there to see “Turn Me Loose,” you’re going to see Joe Morton. So, if I’m in the room, that’s…up, ’cause people are looking at me and not him. That’s why I just can’t get up and go. Thank God that there’s folks out there that will hear this alive and feel it. You know, what it’s like to be there when they’re sitting out there, waiting to kill you.>>HASKINS: Our thanks to the Friends of “Theater Talk” for their significant contribution to this production.>>ANNOUNCER: We welcome your questions or comments for “Theater Talk.” Thank you.

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