In Steve Martin’s new play, Meteor Shower, the titular space rocks falling from the sky are, perhaps, the least shocking aspect of a coastal California dinner party that goes spectacularly—and hilariously—off the rails. With a cast that boasts comedic superstars Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key, as well as theatrical mainstays Laura Benanti and Alan Tudyk, this romp about marriage fits right into Martin’s sweet spot: West Coast intellectualism meets the outrageously absurd.
Martin met Schumer, red-hot in Hollywood but new to Broadway, through Edie Brickell, his collaborator on the Tony Award–nominated musical Bright Star, which also earned Martin and Brickell Outer Critics Circle Awards for their score and Best Musical. “Later, I went to an event at [Schumer’s] house, and I had this thought that she would be fantastic in this play,” says Martin. “I wrote her an email and sent the script, asked if she wanted to do it, and she said immediately that she did. It was easier than it should have been.”
When Martin asked Schumer if she had previous experience in theater, “she said, ‘I run a theater company.’” (Schumer is a founding member of the New York–based The Collective.) Martin also learned she had performed in a staging of his widely produced earlier play Picasso at the Lapin Agile: “She sent me video.”
Schumer is cast as the dinner party’s hostess, Corky, with Tudyk playing her husband, Norm. Key (also in his Broadway debut) and Benanti, in her first Broadway role since becoming a mom last February, play their dinner guests, Gerald and Laura.
“I love the cast so much,” says Martin. “With those four going at each other, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
To stage the play on Broadway, Martin teamed with another comedic master: veteran director Jerry Zaks, hot off his triumphant revival of Hello, Dolly!
Of Zaks, Martin says, “I’ve heard Jerry’s name my whole life; friends of mine have worked with him and had great things to say about him. And he just comes from Broadway, so I feel like he’s making [Shower] into a ‘proper Broadway comedy.’” Though rehearsals haven’t begun, he’s already “working on the script with Jerry on a weekly basis.”
Martin, who’s reached the pinnacle of just about every creative medium he’s tried his hand at, takes nothing about this experience for granted, including the building: “Broadway is the apex. Everything helps define what the play is, including the theatre. The Booth is right in the heart of Broadway, and I’ve always thought of it as a great comedy house.”
Ever the multitasker, Martin plans to release The Long-Awaited Album with bluegrass band the Steep Canyon Rangers on September 22, and Bright Star is launching a tour in October at Los Angeles’s Ahmanson Theatre. “We did make changes” after the musical’s Broadway run, Martin says, “and we’re pretty confident they’re good changes. I’m excited to see it in front of an audience and get to live in that world again.”