All hail James Corden, the comedy king of New York
22:51 GMT, 19 April 2012
Big hit: Poster promoting James Corden in the Broadway play One Man, Two Guvnors at the Music Box Theatre
James Corden has his face and name on a billboard outside the Music Box Theatre, where he’s the star of the biggest comedy to hit Broadway in years.
And when he ends his run in One Man, Two Guvnors, he’ll marry the mother of his son. And then, if negotiations are successful, he’ll portray Britain’s Got Talent sensation Paul Potts in a major film.
And as if that’s not enough, he’ll film a six-part comedy thriller for BBC2 called The Wrong Mans at the end of the year. ‘Think of 24 — as a sitcom,’ he told me.
When Michael Crawford opened in The
Phantom Of The Opera in New York more than two decades ago, he told me
you don’t know what success is till you’re a hit on Broadway.
That’s just a measure of what’s happened to Corden. One Man, Two Guvnors is the National Theatre’s gift to New York.
critics, every single one (except a humourless lady from Newsday), have
given the show, adapted by Richard Bean from Carlo Goldoni’s The
Servant Of Two Masters, rave reviews.
parents Margaret and Malcolm were in the audience and at the
first-night party and his mother told me she was in bits when the show
was given a rapturous standing ovation.
‘You don’t expect your child to have that kind of success. I’m very proud of James — as I am of all three of my children,’ Margaret said.
Nicholas Hytner, the National Theatre’s artistic chief who directed One Man with Cal McCrystal, commissioned the play especially for Corden, having worked with him on the stage and film versions of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.
One man, two parents: James Corden poses with his mother Margaret Corden and father Malcolm Corden at the after party for One Man, Two Guvnors Broadway opening night
Toast of the town: James Corden has been praised by New York critics for his performance in One Man, Two Guvnors
Hytner revealed to me that he and Corden will work together again on another stage production for the National in two or three years’ time.
Studio boss Harvey Weinstein and David Frankel (who made the film The Devil Wears Prada), both saw Corden when he was in One Man in London.
Weinstein said he wants to make Corden a ‘movie star’.
The actor refused to talk about the Potts film, which is called One Chance, after Potts’s first platinum best-selling album.
However, I can tell you that if discussions can be finalised, shooting will begin in the UK in October.
There have been rumours that Katy Perry and Adele have been asked to play Potts’s wife Julie-Ann, but neither are going to be cast.
One Chance will follow Potts’s life as a sales manager for Carphone Warehouse and the series of mishaps he suffered — surgery on a tumour; a bike accident — before he got to appear on Britain’s Got Talent.
The film will end just as he’s about to appear before Simon Cowell.
'A dream come true': Corden, seen onstage with Suzie Toase, said he never realised the play would be such a hit stateside
Five star reviews: Suzie Toase, Oliver Chris, James Corden and Jemima Rooper impressed U.S audiences with the British play, set in Brighton
I bumped into Corden as he was lunching on an egg-white omelette at a cafe on the Upper West Side, near where he’s sharing an apartment with his fiancee Jules and their son Max.
He confirmed they will marry on September 14 ‘somewhere in England’.
He told me he finds it humbling that One Man has become a phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘It will probably play, at some level, somewhere, for the rest of my life.
‘I think we all felt with The History Boys that it would stand the test of time and now it’s happening with this. It has already taken more money than The History Boys.’
In London, the show is extending till January at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket with 100,000 extra tickets.
Who's the guvnor Oliver Chris and Jemima Rooper
However, Corden told me he can only commit to One Man on Broadway till early September because of his nuptials, and his two other professional commitments.
I asked him how he felt about the show not taking any gongs home at this week’s Olivier Awards and we chatted about how comedy often gets dissed by big-time awards.
‘It’s mystifying that comedy doesn’t get recognised, but it gets recognised by audiences and ultimately, for me, that’s the barometer for this play.
'It reaches everyone and excludes no one — it’s the thing I’m proudest of,’ he said.
With the mega-wattage reviews for One Man, Corden is bound to be offered a lot of work in the States.
‘I would work here if the work was the right kind of work, but I have to say I’d much rather be working in a play at the Royal Court or a Jimmy McGovern drama than in Los Angeles shooting Alvin And The Chipmunks prequels,’ he joked.
But then James Corden’s the Comedy King of New York. There’s nothing he can’t do.
Jemima Rooper and Oliver Chris were certainly getting to grips with each other at the after-party for the hit show One Man, Two Guvnors, which is now officially the funniest play on the planet.
The two British actors play the Two Guvnors, and are part of the sensational original National Theatre ensemble, which includes James Corden, Martyn Ellis, Suzie Toase, Trevor Laird, Fred Ridgeway, Claire Lams and Tom Edden.
Jemima told me Joan Rivers saw the show and was impressed with all the classic comedy references 'all the way from Chaplin to the Three Stooges'.
The show cost $3.5million to put on at the Music Box – and at the rate ticket sales are going, it will go into profit in a few weeks.
The run is set to end on September 2 , but if a surefire star replacement for Corden can be found, it will continue.
Douglas Hodge has been doing a reading of John Osborne’s play Inadmissible Evidence with director Jamie Lloyd for the artistic leadership at the Roundabout Theatre.
The play ran at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre last year and Hodge, Lloyd and the Roundabout are exploring whether a production would work in New York.
Hodge is popular here, thanks to his Tony-award winning turn in La Cage aux Folles. First, though, he will direct Torch Song Trilogy for the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre in Southwark.