100 Days, Funding and a Shutdown – We’ve Seen It Before from Donald J. Trump
By Mark McLaren with Helaine Feldman, Contributing Writer, April 26, 2017
There is, if you can believe it, even greater scrutiny on President Trump this week as he approaches his first 100 days in office, and as he and Congress haggle over funding a wall, Obamacare, and the U.S. government. Then there’s the nagging question as to whether the president will be party to a governmental shutdown.
But this, by no stretch, is the first time that Donald Trump has faced a prickly 100 day milestone with funding problems and shutdown threats.
In another job for which some questioned his preparedness, Donald J. Trump produced a Broadway show. In 1970.
He was 23, had a degree from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an extremely profitable family business waiting for him.
But Donald Trump thought he would like to be a Broadway producer. So he met with the successful David Black (George M!; The Impossible Years Ready When You Are, CB! among others) and they joined together—Black providing the experience and know-how and Trump putting up a big chunk of the money.
The play was Paris Is Out!, slated for the 1969-70 season.
Its playwright Richard Seff remembers: “I did not actually meet young Trump, except briefly and informally, for he was an investor and I didn’t even know he was involved until after we opened. I do recall standing next to him on two occasions during our 13 week run, at the back of the orchestra, where we both stood, watching the play. He had arrived on his own, in his white convertible, stayed awhile, then drove off.”
The play had a modest run, but ran into some bad luck along the way.
“For each week that we ran,” says Seff, “despite mixed reviews, our gross was creeping up to the point where the house manager told me, ‘If we get through Easter and Passover, we’ll be here all summer.’”
But on Easter Sunday, there was a blizzard and three ‘nervous hits’ closed the next week: Noel Coward’s Private Lives; Sheep on the Runway by Art Buchwald, and Paris is Out!.
Trump’s show ran for 104 performances, including previews. So at about 80 days, the show Trump funded shutdown.
Today, of course, Donald Trump has gone on to other things. But we all know how you get to Carnegie Hall.
As for Paris is Out!, Seff says “audiences loved the play, and Brooks Atkinson, the dean of American critics offered us a great quote: ‘A delightful family comedy in which Molly Picon and Sam Levene are in top form.’
The play had an afterlife. With original star Molly Picon, it broke house records at the Philadelphia Playhouse in the Park after closing on Broadway. Film star Pat O’Brien toured in the play for 48 weeks in dinner theaters around the country. Ann B. Davis (from TV’s The Brady Bunch), toured it as well.
Seff adds, “A couple of years ago, 40-odd years after we closed on Broadway, a dinner theatre in Paradise, Pennsylvania played it for 11 weeks with great success.”
In other news, Producer Trump is responsible for supporting Pennsylvania jobs. That will help in the midterms.
Note: This article is updated from one by Helaine Feldman published earlier this year, which can be found here.