First he wrote the best-selling book. Then came the Oscar® winning movie. Now live on stage – Performed by the man who lived it. – First Preview Date: January 22, 2014 with a limited run.
Opening on February 5th and closes March 23, 2014.
Off- Broadway at St Lukes Theatre 308 W. 46th St, NY 10036.
NY Times Review – November 6, 2014
Correcting the Film Version of a Sensational Story
By Andy Webster
“There is intrinsic power in escape stories; consider films like “Papillon” or “Escape From Alcatraz.” With “Riding theMidnight Express With Billy Hayes,” the writer Billy Hayes tells his own. It’s been presented before: in “Midnight Express,” his 1976 memoir about five years he spent imprisoned in Turkey for trying to smuggle hashish, and in the 1978 movieadaptation. But as he makes clear in this one-man show, the movie omits much of his ordeal, and what it does present has, shall we say, a high degree of historical revisionism.
By 1970, Mr. Hayes at 23 had thrice carried hashish to America from Turkey, before that country cracked down on airport security to demonstrate to the Nixon administration its commitment to the war on drugs. Arrested while boarding a plane with two kilograms, Mr. Hayes was convicted and imprisoned. When his sentence was later increased to 30 years, he resolved to free himself.
Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning but overheated, dated and xenophobic script for the movie took liberties. Mr. Hayes never accidentally killed a prison guard, and, unlike his character in the movie, he did have a brief, physically intimate relationship with another inmate. Most important, Mr. Hayes says, he never delivered the blistering anti-Turkish speech in court that is a centerpiece of the film. The movie also completely ignores his transfer to an island prison, and his overnight row in a stolen dinghy across a stormy sea to shore and his trek on land to Greece and freedom. (That passage is a show highlight.)
Mr. Hayes — slender, gray-haired and physically fit — is an ingratiating presence, something that was even more apparent in his brief talk with the audience after the performance. Raised in Long Island, he now lives in Los Angeles but retains a mild New York accent. At times, his delivery, as directed by John Gould Rubin, could stand to slow down, to enable the audience to better savor his engrossing tale. But his sincerity — about his drug experience and affection for Turkish culture — is appealing, and his desperate journey to Greece is stirring.”
Opening on February 5th and closes March 23, 2014. Off- Broadway at St Lukes Theatre 308 W. 46th St, NY 10036.
For the first time, Billy Hayes recounts his time in a Turkish prison and his brazen, harrowing escape. Witness the true, mesmerizing story that captivated imaginations around the world. Meet Billy, up close and personal. You’ll never forget his cautionary, yet uplifting tale, “Riding The Midnight Express with Billy Hayes” .
“A remarkable, inherently theatrical tale, which Hayes articulates with great charm, humor and energy…Part memoir, part thriller, part philosophical contemplation of freedom…this absorbing story proves Hayes to be a fascinating character and charismatic storyteller.” The Times. Edinburgh Fringe Festival – 2013
Director: John Gould Rubin.
There will be a talk-back immediately following every performance of ” Riding the Midnight Express with Billy Hayes”
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