History of “The Two and Only!”
Paul Kreppel and Murphy Cross were producing a benefit for Los Angeles’ Hamilton Academy of Music- a performing arts high school, where Paul’s 2 kids were in attendance. Murphy suggested adding more comedy to balance the “power ballad” heavy event and Paul suggested they invite his old friend Jay Johnson to perform.
It was a star-studded affair featuring Tony, Grammy and Emmy award winners – extraordinary professionals from every performance art imaginable. Even among all this glorious talent Jay stood out. Murphy and Paul realized that what Jay did was not only hilarious and masterful, but unique. They immediately approached Jay about creating a theatrical event. They met at Jay’s house to begin the process. Jay showed them around his home as he spoke passionately about his artform… its history and importance in his life. All around were historic memorabilia which prompted amazing anecdotes and introductions to Jay’s characters, all of which were notated by Murphy, on 3”X5” cards. The most important element of the afternoon was the laughter. At the end of the day Jay asked… “So what will the show be about?” Murphy and Paul looked at each other and giggled as she held up the cards. “This is the show!”
A series of rehearsals followed as Jay continued to introduce Paul and Murphy to his many hilarious characters. The file cards placed on the floor shaped the outline of the show and revealed the show’s themes. Murphy asked Jay what it would take to get him to write the script we had outlined and he said “give me a time and a place where we will do it.” They called him back later that day with a firm date for a theater in five weeks. Jay had the first draft written in ten days.
The show was mounted at the Whitefire Theatre for one performance only. The invited audience of friends and supportive theatre professionals responded wildly and based on the reaction and creative feedback, the “three and only” co-creators went to work making changes. Next at the suggestion of friend Abraham Tetenbaum, they invited Roger Gindi, a New York theatrical producer/General Manager to get his reaction. Eight months later, in 2004, the show opened off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company (Lucille Lortel Award nomination). Subsequent award-winning runs include The Brentwood and Colony Theatres of Greater Los Angeles (LA Stage Alliance OVATION Award, LA Drama Critics Award nomination) and the American Repertory Theatre Company in Cambridge (IRNE Award). Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! opened on Broadway September 28th 2006 (TONY Award nominee, Outer Critics Circle Award nominee). Since then Jay has been honored by having the original Bob, his partner from TV’s SOAP inducted into the Smithsonian to sit next to Charlie McCarthy and Jerry Mahoney. Other honors include: YMCA of NY’s “Artist of The Year” Award and the NY Branch of the International Dyslexia Association Achievement Award.