'The Notebook' on Broadway weaves story of love and loss together in new way

Joelle Garguilo Image
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
'The Notebook' on Broadway weaves love story together in new way
Joelle Garguilo has more on the Broadway rendition of 'The Notebook.'

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- First came the bestselling book by Nicholas Sparks, followed by the film in 2004.

"The Notebook" made Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams certified stars.

Now, new performers are taking on those iconic roles as "The Notebook" is getting a new life on Broadway.

Twenty years after that iconic film, the story lives on as a musical made for the stage.

However, the way they tell the story is different than the movie.

You've got three sets of actors playing the couple, so you've got younger, middle, and older Noah and Allie.

One thing is the same, it's a tearjerker. It follows the couple's decades-long love and ultimately loss.

Joy Woods and Ryan Vasquez play the middle couple.

Somehow, even with three different people playing each character, they still feel like one.

"We do a lot of watching each other on stage every night. I'm always watching MaryAnn and Jordan and thinking like, who is Allie today and how I'm feeling and who was Allie today? Where is she at this specific part of the journey and what's special about sharing a role is that we kind of have a passing the baton moment, picking up where the other left off," Woods said. "And I had a thought about like, when you find when you start a job, and you'd be like 18 and you meet this 47-year-old person and you guys become like best friends, your sewing, you know your work best friend, your souls, or you're the same person. And that's kind of what it feels like doing the show, you know, you can look completely different come from completely different backgrounds and still have the same core."

"I think initially, we were really concerned with making sure that it made sense, right? Like, we were like, we need people to from jump understand that these six people are inhabiting these two individuals, right, and these characters and so we had these little footholds of, you know, like Noah will favor this knee because of the limb from the war, he will, you know, have this ache here and sort of always like gesture," Vasquez said. "And I think as we've, you know, Allie had these gestures as well that they sort of painted like throughout the show on the characters. And I think as we've gotten more comfortable and more confident in the material, that sort of really overt stuff has started to fall away."

As in the film and novel, Noah reads from a notebook to Allie who has Alzheimer's.

The pages are their story. The stage version stands on its own, in part, because of the music by Ingrid Michaelson, and of course, the book.

"I think like a lot of the time when we adapt, shows, we're trying to find how it sings. And 'The Notebook' really like sings on its own," Vasquez said. "I think our book writer really honors the movie but created a brand-new fresh script that doesn't sort of have those moments of like regurgitating something that already exists. It's actually incredibly different from the movie."

"And that's partially due to the casting of the show that at each stage of our life, we all look different. I remember when I watched the movie, I saw the way that they looked. And I thought that that didn't really, there wasn't a way that I could really relate to that, because that's not what I looked like. And I was talking to Jordan Place, younger Allie earlier, and she was talking about how many people come up to her at the stage door, and how many different kinds of people come up to her at the stage door, saying, 'You just told my life story? Thank you for sharing.' And I don't think our show would have had that much reach if we all were of the same demographic, or if this show was played by one couple throughout the whole life, you know, it's done very, very well, I think, and that it's not so you know while honoring the identities of the actors, it's not so focused on identity in that it's people just being people. Like it's this universal story is of course, like everyone has been through elements of you know, Dorian said earlier that everyone has experienced the love whether it's for like a family member or in a romantic relationship, or a friendship or a pet or like anything, right love, and loss. And these things like these are things not only that everybody has experienced, but have acutely experienced in the last couple of years. And so to process all of that like in a show that's just so like moving and lovely. It's just a unique experience is such a privilege.

The Broadway show, like the movie and book, is a tearjerker. The audience collectively can be heard sobbing at the end of the show.

"I think it was first preview when there were the sniffles the sob and I think somebody yelped, and the audience and then said sorry, to the rest of the audience for doing that. And we came on for the last number. And it's kind of stripped down with not a lot of music. So we can really hear what's going on in the audience. And between the people laughing at the person saying sorry, and the sniffles and the crying, it sounded like some sort of weird, disembodied, horror noise. And I was gripping on to you for to live not knowing what was going on. But usually, we can hear it, it's nice to know that people aren't being affected by a story that we believe in and that they feel the same thing as we do," Woods said.

"Yeah, it's such a testament to what live theater is supposed to be," Vasquez said. "However the show hits you, it's not just a love story, it's this like, deeply human moving thing. And so I think as people react in different ways like there's, there's really a, it's a group of 1,000 people like all holding space for each other to be vulnerable, which is rare. And we don't get enough of, of course, and after so long of not being able to gather in that way, like now where we're ready to come back and commune in that way. It's profound. Truly, it sounds corny, but it's not."

There have been famous faces in the audience each night like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson

"He sent us a letter," Woods said.

"Written on a typewriter," Vasquez said.

"It was very sweet of them to do that. And it's like hanging up on our bulletin board," Woods said.

Woods and Vasquez hope you'll join them as they portray this emotional story.

"Moving and excellence," Vasquez said when asked to describe "The Notebook" on Broadway.

"Excellent or gorgeous!" Woods said.


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