Billy Crystal was only 15 years old when his dad died. All he had was “700 Sundays” with him, which became the title of his one-man Broadway show back in 2004. It was the comedian’s way of paying tribute to his father and mother. The show had the magic mix of humor paired with Crystal’s ability to touch your heart. He walked away with a Tony Award for his performance.
What made him decide to reprise it on Broadway in 2013 and let HBO bring it to television? “I never felt that I was done with the show,” the now 66-year-old Crystal says. “Then I turned 65 and realized I had been 50 years without a father. That is a long time. I felt like I wanted to do it one more time. So I said let’s do a limited run.” He realized that partnering with HBO to tell his story would allow him to reach a far larger audience.
“700 Sundays” gives us a peak into Crystal’s childhood. He stands on stage in front of a replica of his Long Beach, Long Island house where he lived with his parents and two older brothers. His Uncle Milt had created a jazz label called Commodore Records, and his dad managed the label’s store in Times Square. Jazz legends like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Billie Holiday frequented the store or paid a visit to his home, which is where Billy first started performing comedy for family and friends. .
Fast-forward to 2001, which was a challenging year for Crystal. He lost his beloved Uncle Milt, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11th, then his mother, godmother and a dear friend died within weeks of each other. From all this grief “700 Sundays” was born.
He compared how he felt performing the show the 1st versus the 2nd time around: “Doing it then was very cathartic, it was more emotional. Now, 10 yeas later, I found it equally freeing but not as painful. That made the performing of it a little more joyous and a little more carefree. When I came to the emotional parts, those sections became a really wonderful thing to act.”
If you’ve seen either the Broadway or HBO version, would you agree this is a show not to be missed? There is Crystal center stage sharing stories about love and loss that we can all relate to. Good for You, Billy Crystal for adding much needed laughter to our lives and deeply touching our hearts!