Lights, Cuomo, action?
New York City’s next big off-Broadway production is hoping for your vote and a powerful spot on the Great White Way.
Hank Morris, 67, a political consultant who pleaded guilty back in 2010 for his involvement in a pension fraud pay-to-play scandal, is plotting his sweet (fictional) revenge on the man who prosecuted him: Andrew Cuomo.
In his new musical comedy, “A Turtle on a Fence Post,” Morris is putting his grievances with Cuomo, 63, front and center. The show was first conceived while the powerbroker was serving his jail sentence.
“The play is based on true events, but it’s a fictionalized version of my journey and what happened to me and how it changed me,” Morris explained to Variety. “The principal antagonist in the play is a bullying governor named Andrew Cuomo.”
Gabriel Barre is directing the production, which will be choreographed by Kenny Ingram. Morris penned the book under his nom de plume, Prisoner #11RO731, which is an obvious reference to his inmate number. The show will also feature songs by Austin Nuckols and lyrics by Lily Dwoskin.
The title, “A Turtle on a Fence Post,” refers to one of former ’90s presidential bad boy Bill Clinton’s favorite remarks: “If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn’t get there by itself.”
Morris was granted parole in 2013 after he served 13 days at Rikers. Following his prison stint there, he spent two years, two weeks and two days in a state correctional facility. While he originally wanted to perform his play as a one-man show, it has since grown into a seven-person stage musical.
The story takes place in a comedy club as well as a correctional institution. It tells the tale of the rise and decline of one of Manhattan’s most powerful and ruthless men. (Sound familiar?) Morris believes the show will take on a different tone in the present day as the soon-to-be-ex New York governor announced his resignation on Aug. 10 after evidence was found that he sexually harassed women.
“Political insiders knew the story, but the general public is going to be more open to hearing my story and hearing what he’s capable of,” Morris told Hollywood trade paper Variety.
“The show has a universal message,” he continued. “To me the message is life’s pretty good no matter how many twists and turns you experience, and you should make the best of it. You’re lucky to be here. The second message is that we all make our own prisons, and we’re the only ones who can set ourselves free.”
“A Turtle on a Fence Post” will begin previews Oct. 26 and open Nov. 14 at Theater 555, at 555 W. 42nd St., according to Playbill. The limited 10-week engagement will run through Jan. 2, 2022.