Theresa Rebeck's I Need That is a show that takes an in-depth look at family and connection. With Danny DeVito and daughter Lucy DeVito starring, the story of a father and daughter is fitting both onstage and off. Playbill caught up with the full I Need That team on opening night.
"I think it gets to the heart of a lot of hard feelings that [we] as humans go through. They're dealing with isolation, and feeling the need to connect to other people," Lucy says. "It's been really wonderful to be able to explore that, and to be vulnerable."
After beginning previews October 13, I Need That officially opened November 2 at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway, produced by Roundabout Theatre Company. The extended limited engagement will continue through December 30. Read the critics' reviews here.
Lucy DeVito is making her Broadway debut as Amelia, alongside Danny DeVito as Sam, and Ray Anthony Thomas as Foster. Understudies Suzy Jane Hunt, Lance Roberts, and Danny Rutigliano round out the company. Moritz von Stuelpnagel directs.
Rebeck's play follows Sam, a hoarder who struggles with agoraphobia. As he faces eviction, his daughter Amelia tries to rescue him from his piles and piles of possessions, which are full of reminders of his past.
"I think at its core, it's about what happens when your aging parent is on their own," von Stuelpnagel says. "When you're the adult child of an aging parent, that's a complicated dynamic. There's a shift that happens when you go from being the child to having to, in some ways, parent your parent, and that is complicated and painful, and not always easy."
Adds Thomas: "It's about a lot of the human condition." He joins the father-daughter duo as Foster, Sam's longtime friend, who tries to help him clean up. "It's about friendship, it's about people not wanting to give up not only physical things, but emotional things and relationships."
I Need That is Danny DeVito's first return to Broadway since his Tony-nominated performance in Arthur Miller's The Price (also at the Roundabout). But this time, he's sharing the stage with his daughter.
"It's just off the charts [to work with Lucy]," he says. "We've always had a great relationship, thank goodness. I've got three kids and I'm pushing 80, and they still talk to me. So that's really great. To have the opportunity to be on stage with her, it's a blessing. She's a really terrific actress. Working with Ray and Lucy, it's just a joy to be up there. I can't wait to go to work."
Lucy says she's thrilled to be making her Broadway debut, and to do so with her father at her side is just an added benefit. "I'm pinching myself. It's not lost on me how special this is," Lucy says. "I get nervous sometimes going out there, but then I remind myself, 'I'm just going out with my dad. He's right there.' How many people can say that? I just feel so happy to be there with him."
Playbill also asked the cast, creatives, and opening night attendees to disclose their bad habits. Check out the video below.
"The main thing I've learned is how deeply these three characters just love each other," Thomas says. "I feel like our relationship sort of mirrors the relationships in the play a little bit. Danny tells his stories. Lucy tells him, 'OK, that's too much,' that kind of stuff. Just watching them, working with them and watching how their relationship is really something that I'll never forget."
Danny also emphasizes that I Need That is a comedy, but with layers of emotional messages. "The premise of the play is, of course, a guy in a house, [and] it looks like he can't get rid of anything," he says. "That's the outside layer of the onion. But if you dig deep inside, you see all kinds of things, the reasons for everything. There's a reason for everything in I Need That. There's a reason that my daughter is there. There's a reason that she has the dilemma that a lot of you—that we all have: Older people in our lives that you feel responsible for, and...you're going to feel things that are really meaningful to you."
Below, see photos from opening night, where Mark Ruffalo, William Jackson Harper, Edward Norton, and more were in attendance.