Betraying the Stratford Festival?

Josh Young, who plays Judas in "Jesus Christ Superstar" on Broadway, poses outside the Theatre World Awards, where he was honored for his Broadway debut
Josh Young plays Judas in the Stratford Festival’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Broadway

Josh Young, talented and attractive, plays Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, which transferred from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, which is – or is not, or is partially – the model for Slings and Arrows.  So that’s why I thought to ask him about that TV show, which, if you believe my last post, may be revived.


Young is making his Broadway debut, yet is up for a Tony. That’s how good he is, as I wrote in my review of the musical.

This was despite a spate of ill-timed illness. Most New York theater critics saw his understudy. Based on an interview with him conducted by my pals at the theater blog The Craptacular, he seems genuinely unassuming and approachable.

 So I approached him, just after the Theatre World Awards, which are given to 12 noteworthy performers making their New York stage debuts. He was one of the winners this year.

 I asked him about Sings and Arrows.

“I’ve watched the first episode.”

Just the first?

“My fiancée bought me a boxed set of the series.”

He hasn’t seen the series?! This surprised me. It’s a Canadian series.  (I had forgotten that he’s not Canadian: He grew up in Wallingford, PA.)

“Did you hear that it may be revived?”

“I heard something about that,” he said, which I took as being polite. He seemed very polite.

“How much is the show like the Stratford Shakespeare Festival? Is that what it’s modeled on? How do people at Stratford react to it?”

“If it’s supposed to be the Stratford Festival…,” he began

Suddenly the woman by his side, his publicist, interrupted him mid-sentence.

“What publication are you from?” she asked me. Her lip seemed literally to curl up into a snarl. (Maybe I’ve been watching too much “Grimm.”)

“He’s very busy now, we’re on our way to the party.”

“Can’t he just finish his sentence?”

No, basically.

I was baffled at the antagonism. So I went where I go whenever I’m baffled these days, to Twitter.

Did they think I was being rude by asking? Does the Stratford Festival resemble Slings and Arrows?

 “It could be a documentary,”  Catherine Kustanczy (@catekustanczy), tweeted about the resemblance between Stratford Fest and Sings and Arrows “Seriously. I know of what I speak (too well). “ (Online, she identifies herself as a writer and broadcaster and an “accidental Canadian.”)

Raoul Bhaneja a Shakespearean actor in Canada who has performed in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, explained that “in the early days, some felt the show was an attack on Stratford. But as time went on and it became so loved,” this was less the case. Then he asked

Raoul Bhaneja (@raoulbhaneja): Is Smash?

Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater) Is Smash what? Beloved? No. Seen as an attack on Broadway? No.

Raoul Bhaneja: Ok but is it “really” like Broadway?

Jonathan Mandell:That’s what everybody in New York theater talks about Smash: Is it really like Broadway? Most people say no it isn’t

Raou Bhaneja: Slings and Arrows is more my speed and experience than Smash

Josh Young, who is also on Twitter, sent me a Tweet: “email me in 2 weeks..I’ll watch both seasons and get back to you.”

This was nice, but I don’t have his e-mail address. Did he mean Tweet him?

Later I saw that the Tonys asked all nominees to write a “six-word memoir.”

Steven Kazee of Once wrote: “Dared to dream, strum and sing.” David Alan Grier of Porgy and Bess wrote: “Begged, Auditioned, Waited, Worried, I’m here.”

Josh Young’s was:

“Stratford Shakespeare Festival got me here”

Author: New York Theater

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

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