How ‘The Notebook’ Broadway Musical Highlights the Universality of the Story’s Enduring Romance

Even if you don’t know “The Notebook,” you know there’s a romantic couple at the heart of the story. But in the new Broadway musical adaptation of “The Notebook,” there’s not just one couple — there’s three: Three actors playing each of the two characters at different times of their lives.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

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“We certainly didn’t invent the concept of splitting one character between three actors, but it felt very right for this,” said the show’s book writer, Bekah Brunstetter, appearing with songwriter Ingrid Michaelson on the new episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast. “It allowed us to really make our show different from the movie and book — and just having those three woman and three men in those different time periods allowed me to make it a play, really.”

There’s no attempt to make sure the two sets of three actors look alike, and each character is played by actors of more than one race. Bekah and Brunstetter said the creative team, including directors Michael Greif and Schele Williams, made that choice to underscore the universality of the tale.

“We have this opportunity to take this beloved story and expand it in a way that people can hopefully see themselves, or a fraction of themselves, or pieces of themselves onstage,” said Michaelson. “Why wouldn’t we do that? What a beautiful way to show the universality of love and loss and everything in between. It takes this beautiful story and it just busts it open into the heavens. Into the multiverse.”

“Early on we knew that we wanted to create the opportunity for not just white people to see themselves in this story,” Brunstetter added.

Also on the new episode of Stagecraft, Michaelson revealed the exquisite torture she experiences watching “The Notebook” with an audience, and explained why she feels more vulnerable watching the show than performing her own work onstage at one of her concerts. She and Brunstetter also discussed the challenges of striking a delicate balance between satisfying fans of the story and surprising them.

But don’t worry: That famous moment in the rain happens, and yes, there’s onstage rain. Neither of the two creators, though, know whether the water’s warm. They haven’t tested that water for themselves yet.

“We gotta get up there,” Brunstetter said. “This is a good idea!”

Michaelson agreed. “This would be a good TikTok. Bekah, I’ll pick you up in the rain!”

To hear the entire conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and the Broadway Podcast NetworkNew episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.

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