The hit FX comedy It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia wasn’t the most likely TV show to be transformed into a musical. You don’t expect wisecracking cast members/co-creators Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, and Charlie Day — whose lives revolve around a Philly dive bar — to pen a catchy tune, or break out into song.
But last season’s final episode, which aired in November, found Day’s character, also named Charlie, enlisting the gang to perform a musical he wrote entitled The Nightman Cometh — failing to mention his hidden agenda, that the play was simply a vehicle for him to propose marriage to a waitress he’s pined for since the series began.
The musical episode was such a success that it’s been transformed into an actual stage production, which the cast — also featuring Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito — will perform in seven cities, beginning Sept. 15 in Boston.
We caught up with Day to find out more about the musical, what fans can expect from the TV show’s upcoming season, and his other projects.
How did the idea of touring as a musical come about?
A friend of Rob McElhenney has a band and was going to play the Troubadour [in Los Angeles] and he asked if we’d like to open the show. We agreed, not really knowing what we were going to do [– comedy, songs, whatever]. The Troubadour posted that we were going to perform The Nightman Cometh and it sold out in record time. We realized that we had to do something good. We could sit around a piano and sing songs for people, but how entertaining would that be? So we could just do the whole episode like a play, and the play within the play as well. It was so well received that we decided it would be fun to do it other places. Live Nation approached us with the idea of a tour and they wanted to do something like fifty dates, which of course we couldn’t do. We agreed to six, which became seven, and now we’re doing it.
Are you a very musical person?
Yeah, I’ve always considered myself a musical person. I grew up the son of two music teachers and I grew up in a house full of musical instruments. My sister has her doctorate in choral conducting, so everyone in my family is very familiar with music and plays a little music. I’d always been writing songs as a hobby so when the opportunity came up to write music for the show I was very excited.
What can people expect from your live performances?
We’ll perform the episode, obviously, and we’ve added a few numbers. There was a song Rob sings that we shot for the episode but had to cut out due to time. The title of that song is “It’s Nature, Shit Happens.” We’re also going to screen a new episode of the show and we’re going to show a scene from the Christmas DVD we have coming out around the holidays. I hope at least a handful of people dress up like Greenman [a.k.a. Charlie in a skin-tight, head-to-toe green suit]. And not just Greenman. I want to encourage fans to dress as any character they want to. Make it an event.
Can you give us a preview of the new season?
There’s lot of great episodes. We have one where we give Frank [played by Danny DeVito] an intervention and he confuses it for a roast. We have another where we pile in a car and decide to go on a road trip. One of my favorites is where we decide to put on a show to celebrate the troops coming back from Iraq and we put on a wrestling show and Mac, Dennis, and I create a wrestling team called “Birds of War” and we’re dressed like half birds and half men. We had to deal with the recession so there’s an episode that is about the recession and Ponzi schemes. We even touch on the octo-mom thing, just for a second.
Are you working on anything else besides It’s Always Sunny?
I’m filming a comedy with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. It’s a romantic thing and I’m just there for some comedy relief. I haven’t had many opportunities to do other roles over the years because we’re working on the show all year usually so I’m not sure how good I am at playing other characters. We’ll see in the future. For some reason I play the character on the show a little closer to life than I should.
Do you actually sleep in those long underwear you wear on the show?
Well I don’t because I live in Los Angeles and that would be a little hot. But I just think people should be more secure with being comfortable. You’re just sleeping. You don’t have to be sexy. Scratch that, long johns can be sexy! I don’t work for the fine people over at the long johns company, though. I’m waiting for that endorsement deal. Any day now.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia live tour dates:
9/15, Boston, MA (House of Blues)
9/16, New York, NY (Beacon Theatre)
9/17, Philadelphia, PA (Tower Theatre — two performances)
9/22, Seattle, WA (Moore Theatre)
9/24, San Francisco, CA (Nob Hill Masonic Center)
9/25, Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Palladium)