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.
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?