Cy Hoffman likes the challenge of directing shows he’s never seen before. “My Favorite Year,” a movie that was made into a Broadway musical production, is a show with which Hoffman wasn’t familiar before he decided to direct it with his wife Jane Hoffman at the Adobe Theater.
“The music is new for me,” he explained. “It’s really nice music, very hummable. I’m sure it won’t be familiar to most people.”
The musical isn’t a carbon copy of the 1982 movie starring Peter O’Toole.
“It’s tighter and makes more sense,” said Cy Hoffman. “I think the musical is better than the movie.”
“My Favorite Year” is about Benjy Stone, an assistant writer on the popular 1950s TV comedy/variety series “The King Kaiser Show.” During one week’s show in 1954 the guest star is Hollywood idol Alan Swann, who is a swashbuckling, womanizing Errol Flynn-type of character with a fondness for drinking large quantities of liquor. Stone is assigned to keep the actor out of trouble during rehearsals and deliver him sober to the performance.
Stone and Swann become fast friends. All seems to go well until Swann panics when he discovers that Kaiser’s show will be telecast live and not filmed. He walks out just before airtime.
The musical also has several subplots, including the threat of Kaiser being killed by a gangster and Swann wanting to reconcile with his estranged daughter.
“In the Broadway production there was a cast of 50 and enormous sets,” said Cy Hoffman. “The show really didn’t do all that well on Broadway. I think it improves when it’s scaled down, like what we’re doing at the Adobe. At its heart, it’s a warm, poignant story.”
And it’s very funny, he says. Slapstick funny. “You can definitely bring your children to this production. They should really like it.”
Many of the 14 cast members play multiple roles. Jane Hoffman, while assuming the role of co-director, also is in the show. Bryan Daniels plays Benjy Stone and Tim MacAlpine plays Swann. Other cast members include Ron Bronitsky, Carolyn Hogan, Brynlyn Loomis and Warren Wilgus.
There are 20 musical numbers in the production. Music director Loretta Robinson has put together a small band of several keyboardists and drummers to accompany the tunes. Choreographer Kiersten Johnson works with all cast members since everyone is required to dance in the show.
The music for “My Favorite Year” was composed by Stephen Flaherty, with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. The team of Flaherty and Ahrens created the music and lyrics for the Adobe Theater’s 2011 presentation of “Lucky Stiff,” which the Hoffmans also directed.