When he first began imagining his one-man show “The Movement You Need,” Brendan Hunt had a few challenges. He wanted to tell the story of his complicated relationship with his late mother and how they were united by the legendary rock band the Beatles. He wanted the show to have a universal appeal, even if you knew nothing about the Beatles. His other goal? In Hunt’s words: “To make a ‘I miss my dead mom’ solo show that doesn’t suck.”
Hunt has achieved this and more with his one-man show, which was workshopped at the Hollywood Fringe Festival earlier this year and will make its New York premiere at the SoHo Playhouse, playing Nov. 1-7. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, the show details how in 2022, Hunt was in the writing room of the Apple TV+ hit “Ted Lasso” — in which he also stars as the cryptic and lovable Coach Beard. His longtime friend and boss Jason Sudeikis was invited to watch Paul McCartney rehearse for the upcoming Taylor Hawkins memorial show at Wembley Stadium and invited others to come along. Hunt had so much he wanted to say to McCartney upon meeting him, but he didn’t want to come off like any other fan. Instead, he turned that meeting into the framework of a show he had been mulling over since his mother’s passing in 2016. Essentially, his story is all the things he wanted to say to McCartney but didn’t.
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It’s also about Hunt becoming a father for the first time, the complex bond between mothers and children, and full of so many wild connections to the music of the Beatles that will have audiences laughing, crying and, yes, singing.
At what point did you start thinking about telling the story of your relationship, specifically through the lens of the Beatles?
I’m not quite sure how it developed but one of my sisters, Megan, made a Facebook post that said: “I love the Beatles because my mom loved the Beatles.” And it struck me, because my mother will not go down on record as the most accomplished mother when it came to teaching us things, but she sure hit a home run with the Beatles thing. I started to realize there are so many moments in my life that are connected to the Beatles.
I did have a moment where I worried this wasn’t terribly original — there’s probably a lot of one-man shows about dead moms and a lot about what the Beatles mean to someone. And probably some that combine the two. But I thought, dammit, this one’s mine. Let’s see how it goes. And so far, it’s justifying its existence.
Something I want people to know is that you don’t have to know anything about the Beatles or even their music to enjoy this show.
You don’t have to know the Beatles, you don’t have to like the Beatles. I have to be able to reach people who don’t like the Beatles or who are just sick and tired of having the Beatles shoved down their throats. The story is about a mom and a son, and it happens to have the Beatles as the framework. Any amount of Beatles knowledge you might need is provided during the show.
How hard is the show on you physically but also emotionally? I was getting very emotional at the end, and it seemed like you were, too, but you’re also a really good actor. So maybe it’s just acting, but it felt very real to me, and I can’t imagine putting myself through that again and again.
It’s very real. But I have wondered about what happens if I do this show a long time — will I still feel the same way every night? I was actually doing two shows at Fringe. One was “Five Years in Amsterdam,” where I run all over the stage and I’m dancing and changing clothes. In “Movement,” I’m pretty much just standing there. But I was way more tired after “Movement.” Because the emotions of it are really, really draining. One day I did both shows in a day and I put “Amsterdam” last because of the physicality. But I should have reversed it because I was so drained after “Movement.”
You’re a skilled improviser and the show feels very off the cuff. How much of it is actually scripted, and do you stick to that script from night to night?
There’s a script but it has gaps in it, or parts that just in italics: “Here I talk about high school for a while.” Because I have someone running tech on my show and I’ve been in their shoes before where they have to know the cues. Every technician wants to do well, even if your show sucks. So it’s my job to hit those cues. Every single cue is in the script — but not necessarily every single word is in the script.
You talk frankly about your mother and your family in the show. Have any of them seen it?
Some of them have. I have a huge fucking family — my mom was one of 11 kids and my dad was one of six. My stepdad is one of seven. I have scores upon scores of cousins. And there are enough artists interspersed there that everyone kind of understands that sometimes you just gotta get to the truth of stuff. And sharing a harsh truth is not necessarily an act of violence. Nor is it a denunciation of affection for the antagonist of a given family story. Sometimes you just gotta tell your story. And if you’re being truthful, you have every right to. I’m fortunate enough to have a family that understands that.
“The Movement You Need” plays Nov. 1-7 at the SoHo Playhouse. For tickets an information, visit: https://www.sohoplayhouse.com/upcoming-events/the-movement-you-need
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