Mike Birbiglia, the comedic storyteller who has mined his experiences with romance, fatherhood and sleep disorders for narrative purposes, will return to Broadway this fall with a new show prompted by swimming.
Birbiglia has been developing the show, called “The Old Man & the Pool,” through a series of performances over the last year at venues including Berkeley Repertory Theater in California, Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago and Center Theater Group in Los Angeles.
The Broadway production is scheduled to begin previews on Oct. 28 and to open on Nov. 13 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center.
Birbiglia, 44, previously appeared on Broadway in his solo show “The New One,” which had a two-month run that began performances in 2018.
“The last show was, in some ways, about birth, and this show, in some ways, is about death, through the storytelling lens of hitting middle age and realizing that our bodies are slowly in decline,” Birbiglia said. “The most crucial thing about it is that it’s funny — it goes to the darkest places about life and death for hopefully 90 minutes of laughs, where at the end of it people feel better on the way out than when they came in.”
“The Old Man & the Pool” is directed by Seth Barrish, a frequent Birbiglia collaborator who also directed “The New One,” and includes contributions from Ira Glass, the “This American Life” host, who executive produced “The New One.”
Birbiglia said he has felt “euphoric” about returning to in-person performing after the pandemic shutdown, when, he said, he worried about the future of the form. “It’s almost like before the pandemic, entertainment was elective, and now it’s essential,” he said.
And why Broadway? “I’ve always thought of the shows as solo plays, somewhere between storytelling and theater and comedy,” he said. “What happens with Broadway, in addition to these being some of the best theaters in the world physically and sonically and in all the technical ways, there are some people who only pay attention to Broadway, so that’s meaningful. It opens up the aperture to more people, and that’s the really the goal.”
Although Lincoln Center Theater is a nonprofit organization, this show is a commercial venture produced by Sue Wagner, John Johnson, Patrick Catullo and Seaview, a production company founded by Greg Nobile and Jana Shea.