Stage Plays
Click here to read an excerpt from "Break A Leg"

Break A Leg

“There’s no business—like the theater business!”
—Imre Laszlo (Act I, Scene II)
(Left to right) David Margulies, Jack Weston and Joseph Leon in Break A Leg on Broadway, 1979 (New York Public Library)

“One of the wildest, funniest, best-acted, farces I've ever seen.” —Associated Press (1979)

If She Loves Me mated with Dangerous Liaisons, their child would be Break A Leg.

“Ache-provoking laughs.” —Trumbull Times (1979)

Levin first visited the world of the theater with his critic-as-paragon comedy Critic's Choice. Here, the portrayal's less dewey-eyed, with a reviled critic standing poised to receive his long-due comeuppance from the theater company he's repeatedly brutalized. This side-splitting theatrical revenge fable is set – as its synopsis (written in the voice of the company's dramaturgically-challenged, and totally non-autobiographical playwright Imre Laszlo) succinctly states – “...long ago in Vienna or Berlin. Or Prague or Buda-Pesth. Anyway, it's not New York and not now.”

Break A Leg is one of Levin's least-known, yet funniest works. Told from the perspective of a woebegone theater company as it uses its combined skills to pay back a vicious critic in full, it does for revenge-comedy what Kiss Me, Kate did for Shakespeare.

With a delightful cast of characters (...singing sweethearts Mitzi Karlowe and Carlo Mizzi...!), those with a love of the theater – or a dislike of critics – are sure to love Break A Leg.

When asked in 1979 by columnist Jay Sharbutt if Break A Leg's premise sprang from a real-life critic revenge fantasy, Levin replied: “I think it really did start with a book review or a play review, I forget which. But I had the feeling someone should kill him ... So I began to cook and concoct an elaborate scheme of revenge.”


(Above) Julie Harris and Rene Auberjonois in Break A Leg on Broadway (1979)

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(Above) Out-of-town Tryouts Theater Program (1979)