The world of backstage drama was, of course, familiar for the central trio. Short got his start in the 1972 Toronto production of “Godspell.” Martin has written two Broadway productions: the play “Meteor Shower” and the musical “Bright Star.” Gomez is the only one of them without Broadway experience, but she has toured as a pop star.
“All three of us know show business and, I’d say, the stage world so well,” Martin said on a video call with Short and Gomez. “We draw upon a lot of memories: You know, the volatile director, the sensitive actor. And we don’t have to exaggerate to do it because we all have been there.”
Still, Streep’s presence can be daunting for even the most seasoned performer, including Short.
“I’m old and I’ve done this a long time,” he said. “And I’m driving to work the first day to work with Meryl, who I’ve known socially through the years but never worked with, and I found myself for first time in a long while going, Gee, I’m a little bit nervous.” During a pause in filming, Short was surprised to learn she had similar jitters.
Selena Gomez was also star struck. “I never in a million years thought I would get to work with Meryl Streep,” she said. Streep’s performance, she added, made her cry. Alas, despite her other career as a pop recording artist, Gomez does not have a song in the onscreen musical.
“I’m a terrible singer,” Martin said. “Selena should have a song, but her character is not in show business.” (Gomez does perform a quick Fosse-inspired dance number in a dream sequence.)
During filming of the stage performances, which were shot at the United Palace in Washington Heights, Streep took up residence in the audience. Specifically, she wanted to watch Martin do his big tongue-twister number, “Which of the Pickwick Triplets Did It?”
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