As Westwood’s Geffen Playhouse celebrated the opening day of The Inheritance on Sunday, there was a special guest seated in the audience all day long: Matthew López. And what a day-turned-night it was.
The Tony-winning playwright turned up for an epic day at the Geffen, which presented part one and part two back-to-back with a block party in between.
The day’s schedule kicked off as doors opened at noon for a cocktail hour that preceded the first performance, from 1-4:30 p.m. An outdoor picnic followed from 4:30-6 p.m. featuring boxed lunches, an ice cream truck, a coffee cart and other treats sprinkled about on Le Conte Avenue, a spread that also featured a production-approved cherry tree. Then a musical performance and DJ in the Geffen courtyard from 6-7 p.m. followed by Part 2 and a post-show party at STK Steakhouse at W Los Angeles from 10:30 p.m. onwards.
“This is insane. It’s so nice and unbelievable,” Lopez told The Hollywood Reporter while standing in the courtyard during an intermission. “It’s like a street fair or one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to. The play is about community and theaters like the Geffen are also about community, the communities in which they serve and the communities of audiences that they cultivate. So it’s very nice that a play about community, one that requires so much of the audience in terms of time, that there’s a lovely welcoming environment for it here.”
Penned by Lopez and directed by Mike Donahue, the L.A. production stars (in alphabetical order) Bill Brochtrup, Tantoo Cardinal, Juan Castano, Jay Donnell, Eric Flores, Israel Erron Ford, August Gray Gall, Adam Kantor, Eddie Lopez, Kasey Mahaffy, Miguel Pinzon, Avi Roque, Bradley James Tejeda and Tuc Watkins. Tejeda stepped in to reprise his role as Adam/Leo after cast member Nic Ashe had to bow out due to an undisclosed injury.
Inspired by the novel Howards End by E. M. Forster, Lopez’s epic work (totaling six hours and 25 minutes on stage) tells the story of three generations of gay men in New York as they attempt to forge a future amid a turbulent and changing America. The play debuted in London at the Young Vic in March 2018 before it went on to Broadway in November 2019.
For Lopez, taking a seat inside the Geffen on Sunday — he posted up smack dab in the middle of a fully masked crowd inside the Gil Cates Theater for both parts — marked the first time he had experienced his work in more than two and a half years. He did so among a sea of attendees that also included Nico Santos, Zeke Smith, Taylor Zakhar-Perez (who stars in Lopez’s directorial debut Red White & Royal Blue), Jeffery Self, Augustus Prew, Eric Cervini, Adam Powell, and others.
“It felt like visiting old friends today,” he explained. “Like coming home. And seeing this beautiful interpretation of the production that my dear friend Mike directed with this cast that is so gorgeous, I’m very happy. Also to be here in a theater all day with strangers, I’ve really missed that.”
The Inheritance runs through Nov. 27.