Slings and Arrows Returns! Smash, Move Aside

Slings and Arrows may return, says one of its three creators
Slings and Arrows, a cult-like backstage television series that ran for three seasons. Its creators hope to revive it

I uncovered startling news for the many fans of “Slings and Arrows,” the cult Canadian TV series about a fictional theater suspiciously similar to the Stratford Festival.

I had recently discovered this brilliant series, which ran for three seasons in both Canada and the United States, ending in 2007.Each of its three seasons focused on a different play by William Shakespeare that the repertory company was putting on: Hamlet, then MacBeth, and finally King Lear. Each six-episode season was funny and touching, but it was also greatly (and painlessly) illuminating about the works themselves. It starred Paul Gross (who recently starred on Broadway in “Private Lives”)  as the once-insane artistic director Geoffrey Tennant and his real-life wife Martha Burns as his lead actress and (former/still/complicated) love-of-his-life Ellen Fenshaw, but the entire cast was spot-on.  I loved this series. It is certainly the best backstage television series I’ve ever seen. Smash, the NBC series about the (fictional) making of “Bombshell!,” a (possibly eventually real) Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, could take lessons from Slings and Arrows.

So I asked my Canadian theater friends: Why did this only run for three seasons?

Ask Bob Martin, they said.

Martin, the comedian who co-created The Drowsy Chaperone and Elf, was one of the three writers, along with Mark McKinney and Susan Coyne, all of whom appeared in the show as well.

Our exchange on Twitter occurred right before the Drama Desk Awards. He goes by @drstorper; Dr. David Storper is the character he played in a television series last year entitled “Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays”

Was a season four for Slings and Arrows ever considered?

Bob Martin (@drstorper): Yes. Yes it was.

Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater):  Which Shakespeare play would the fourth season of Slings and Arrows have revolved around?

Bob Martin: We had many discussions about many approaches. Richard III came up many times…

Jonathan Mandell: So why did you abandon the idea?

Bob Martin:  That’s too complicated an answer to tweet. Crudely put, it felt finished.

But recently we have been meeting and thinking, shall we say, laterally. Slings may live again.

Jonathan: OMG

I sent out the word: Slings & Arrows might return!

Bob Martin: Oops. I didn’t realize you had 9000 followers.

Jonathan: Nothing compared to the millions who love Slings and Arrows

Bob Martin: I appreciate that. We’re quite fond of it ourselves.

Jonathan Mandell:  Is there a timetable, or is this more like a dream?

Bob Martin: Well, it’s more than a dream, I’ll tell you that much. I’ll stop now, before I’m hoisted by my own petard.

You heard it here first! How’s that for bombshell?

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

34 thoughts on “Slings and Arrows Returns! Smash, Move Aside

  1. SLINGS is quality television with a theatrical pedigree that promotes Shakespeare as well as dramatic lives with all the drama on off stage. Please let a fourth season come to fruition soon to rescue us from the broadcast/cable wasteland.

    1. less a reply than an humble addendum and fervent wish….let there be a fourth and a fifth and a sixth

  2. Slings and Arrows is one of my favoritest TV shows ever, many parallels to theatre here in Portland, joyful and painful to laugh and cringe, may it have a glorious & triumphant return!

  3. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!! I would be elated. I love that show, and have recommended it to so many friends (who also love it).

  4. I ran into Paul Gross and Martha Burns at a performance of “You Can’t Take It With You” at Soulpepper last night and they told my Mother and I that it was still rumour at this point but that they hoped it became reality as well. As I am originally from Brantford, home of the Sanderson Centre, where the 2nd and 3rd seasons were filmed, I *really* hope this happens – for myself and for the community.

  5. We have the DVD of the first season and long for the series to return. Make it happen!!

  6. FANTASTIC news! I just finished the last episode on Netflix and came online to look for any possibility of this very news! Ha! Wonderful–

  7. This show must come back. I have been dreaming of it’s return since I watched the final episode. My favorite series ever.

  8. Oh please, let it be more than the dream of an idle brain. The imagination reels when considering what Darren Nichols would do to The Hunchback King. Plus, no show has been as brilliant, witty and articulate since S&A’s curtain rang down. We really need to hear Anna on the phone and Maria cursing the actors, Ellen’s latest excuse for a late arrival and Geoffrey’s brilliant insight on some of the greatest plays ever written. Please to quote Dickens (that other English author) “I want some more.” 18 episodes wasn’t nearly enough

  9. YES, YES, YES! And I am shouting. I just discovered this after hearing fellow actors mention it. It is just a great show.

  10. Oh, gods and goddesses of theater, quality, humor, humanity, and smarts–
    please let this not be a tease.

  11. Please, please come back! there’s a world of Shakespeare you could do stuff with. There’s Antony and Cleopatra, there’s Tempest… Slings and Arrows is such fun. I’m going through serious withdrawal, after the last episode, and think of the zany stuff like Pericles and Cymbeline, to say nothing of Titus, well, maybe not Titus.

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