Matthew López & Amber Ruffin on Removing the 20th Century Lens of Some Like It Hot for Broadway
The new musical Some Like It Hot, based on the 1959 Hollywood classic, has arrived on the Broadway boards. With direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw and a score by Tony-winning songwriting duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Some Like It Hot features an updated book by Tony-winning scribe Matthew López and comedian Amber Ruffin. The two writers flipped the script and turned the classic comedy on its head for a 2022 audience. On The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal, López and Ruffin sat down with Broadway.com Editor-in-Chief Paul Wontorek to talk about removing the 20th century lens from the story, writing in authentic way and more.
Unlike most writing teams, López and Ruffin didn’t have a working relationship before joining the production. “We shared a desire to make the show that we made,” López said. “You never want to talk about starting a project from the negative, but when you’re making Some Like It Hot for a 21st century audience you inevitably go to ‘it’s not going to be this and it’s not going to be that.’ Once we had cleared all the things that it wasn’t going to be, we looked at what it could be.”
This marks the Broadway debut for Ruffin, who is known for The Amber Ruffin Show and writing for Late Night with Seth Meyers. “I said yes to Some Like it Hot for two reasons,” she said. “One, the team is outstanding.You’ve got Marc and Scott and Casey and Matthew. I did want to work with them because that’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I also said yes to this show because the lead is a Black lady and that’s it. Getting to write for a Black woman on Broadway? I want to do that.”
In Some Like It Hot, friends Joe (Christian Borle) and Jerry (J. Harrison Ghee) are on the run from gangsters and disguise themselves as women while befriending singer Sugar (Adrianna Hicks). In this stage adaptation, the audience sees Jerry go through self-realization and acceptance. “Our ideas of what a period piece are formed by the period in which that art was made in which there are so many restrictions,” López said. “It isn’t as if queer people just magically sprung up from the ground in 1969. They were there all along. They just didn’t make movies about them. They didn’t write novels about them. We were not gone. We were just not talked about. The idea of a 21st century lens on this story is a bit of a misnomer. What it really is is removing the 20th century lens from it. If you remove the 20th century lens from the story, it automatically works today. And all we needed to do was just clean that lens.”
Watch the interview below, and head here to check your local listings for The Broadway Show. Hosted by Fadal, it is the only nationally syndicated weekly theater news program.