1988: Madonna's Broadway Debut 25 Years Ago


25 years ago today, Madonna's official New York Broadway acting debut took place in "Speed-The-Plow"!

A 3-character play by David Mamet (who at that time was already a highly respected award-winning writer), "Speed-The-Plow" was originally cast in October 1987 with Joe Mantegna, Ron Silver and Elizabeth Perkins playing Bobby, Charlie and Karen respectively.

In early December 1987 Perkins withdrew from the play and the search for her replacement took place quickly.

On Tuesday January 19th 1988 it was officially announced that Madonna would play the role of Karen a temporary secretary to Hollywood Producer Bobby, in what was then planned to be an 8-10 week run of the play at Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center, New York.

Only a few months had passed since Madonna's top-grossing "Who's That Girl" world tour had finished and since then there had been much speculation about her next career move. The world's media of course went into complete frenzy then at the news that one of the biggest stars on the planet would be turning her hand to stage acting.

"Speed-The-Plow" would be Madonna's public debut on the stage (in August 1986 she appeared in a workshop production of David Rabe's ''Goose and Tom-Tom'' that was not open to the public).


With worldwide interest in Madonna's theatre debut reaching fever pitch and the Lincoln Center facing overwhelming box office demand for tickets, producers announced on Tuesday 23rd Feburary 1988 that the play would move to Broadway's Theater Royale after running for 3 weeks at its originally planned off-Broadway location.

A further announcement on Tuesday March 8th 1988 however confirmed that the entire run of the play would instead now take place on Broadway at the Royale. Previews which were originally set to begin March 29th were put back to Friday April 9th and the official opening was announced for Tuesday May 3rd 1988.

Opening night saw media from all over the world descend on Broadway to interview stars arriving for the play. Madonna and her co-stars later held a press-conference at the play's after-party that evening.

Overall, reviews of the play were excellent but Madonna's performance received a mixed reaction (to put it politely). Less than a week after its official opening, the Tony Award Nominations were announced and "Speed-The-Plow" gained nods for "Best Play", "Best Actor" (Ron Silver - who went on to win) and "Best Director" (Gregory Mosher).


Three months later on Monday August 8th 1988 it was confirmed that a new cast would take over "Speed-The-Plow" earlier than originally expected, on August 30th (Felicity Huffman would replace Madonna as Karen).

The original cast including Madonna made their final appearance on Sunday August 28th 1988 after almost 5 months of performances

Here's how MTV's "Week In Rock"  on May 6th 1988 reported on the opening of the play.



(MTV, May 1988
)