Jesse Williams and Patrick J. Adams on Going Fully Nude for Their Broadway Debut (Exclusive)

The two stars, as well as Jesse Tyler Ferguson, open up to ET about the Broadway revival of the gay baseball drama ‘Take Me Out.’

After spending the last decade on TV, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jesse Williams and Patrick J. Adams are following up their iconic roles – on Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy and Suits, respectively – with a much anticipated turn on stage in the Broadway revival of Take Me Out. While preparing for the show’s opening at the Hayes Theater in New York City after a two-year delay, the three actors open up to ET about going fully nude on stage, the timeliness of playwright Richard Greenberg’s drama 20 years later and if any of their famous co-stars will be in the audience.  

That’s right, not only are Adams and Williams making their Broadway debuts but they’re doing it fully nude. “Everything debuts, [it’s] not a partial debut,” Williams quips about stripping down as a professional baseball player named Darren Lemming, who decides to come out as gay, opposite of Adams as his teammate, Kippy Sunderstrom, who warns him against that decision. 

The production, which first debuted off-Broadway in 2002 before moving to Broadway a year later and eventually winning the Tony Award for Best Play, famously includes several nude scenes with the story set inside the team’s locker room. 

“This has gotta be the smartest play that involves nudity,” Williams says, with Adams explaining that “there’s something about it, it’s so fully integrated into the play. When I first heard about Take Me Out, and I just heard naked guys in a play, you sort of make assumptions that maybe it’s sort of gratuitous or not necessary. But with this play, it’s so fully integrated into the fabric of really what it’s about: people being stripped bare and getting down to the basics.” 

Adams continues by saying, “It’s kind of great in that way. You feel like you’re servicing such a beautiful play.” 

Take Me Out

Inspired by the fact that no player in Major League Baseball had ever come out publicly during their career, Greenberg’s play explores what would happen if something like that took place today while also tackling themes of prejudice, race and homophobia. Initially written in 2002, before any U.S. professional athlete had come out while still an active player on a major sports team, the revival comes in the wake of Jason Collins (NBA), Carl Nassib (NFL), Robbie Rogers (MLS), Luke Prokop (NHL) and more players slowly coming out amid their careers. Yet, no one in baseball has and being LGBTQ in sports still comes with its own stigmas and barriers.  

The revival directed by Scott Ellis hasn’t changed that much in the two decades since. And that makes it even more relevant, Adams says. “We’re drawing attention to the fact that even though this play is 20 years old, we’re basically still in the same circumstance.” 

For Ferguson, in particular, the play still resonates as much today as it did when he first saw it. “When I saw this play, it was very timely. But I thought, ‘Probably in two years it won’t be anymore,’” he recalls. “And here we are [20] years later, and racism and homophobia are still very relevant.”

Not only that, while he acknowledges the likes of Collins and Rogers coming out, Ferguson says there’s still more needed when it comes to LGBTQ representation. “We haven’t had anyone on the level of the character in this play [come out]. I know they exist. I wish there was more visibility in sports.” 

That said, “I don’t think this play is going to make anyone come out of the closet,” the actor acknowledges. “But I think that it certainly shines a light on what the current climate is.” 

While Ferguson has been nude on stage before, he’s quick to let audiences know that he’s not repeating that experience here as accountant Mason Marzac, a gay man uninterested in baseball until Darren comes out. “We should also just say this because I don’t want people to not buy tickets,” he jokes.

The cast and crew of 'Take Me Out' in 2020. - Take Me Out

Actually, Ferguson isn’t the only one with experience with getting naked on stage. Adams previously stripped down during a Los Angeles production of 9 Circles, the same show his former Suits co-star, Meghan Markle, happened to see him in at the time. “She certainly was at the play where I was naked and she had a good time making fun of me after,” he recalls, adding that “she’ll certainly get an invitation” to Take Me Out. “So, maybe she’d like a repeat performance.”

He adds, “I would love for Meghan to come and enjoy the show.” 

When it comes to Williams and Ferguson’s former co-stars, the latter jokes that the Modern Family gang has “been banned.” But in all honesty, “if they can come, I’d love to have them,” Ferguson says, explaining that the rest of the cast is all in Los Angeles. “People’s lives have changed a lot these last few years with [all the] families that have happened.”   

Ferguson himself became a father during the pandemic, with his son born in the summer of 2020, when the play was initially supposed to be in production. “I know that fatherhood is something you can’t control and you can’t prepare for,” he told ET at the time. Now, he jokes that “when my baby cries, a handler doesn’t come in and take them away, which is something that was really nice on the set of Modern Family.” 

Williams, meanwhile, says that he’s reached out to Debbie Allen, Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez, all of whom have made their mark on Broadway. “I think folks will all show up. Nobody’s responded to any texts yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s probably a signal issue.” 

Despite any signal issues with his former Grey’s co-stars, Williams says when it comes to returning to the long-running medical drama, which was renewed for season 19, he is open to it. “I’d consider it. [Jackson] still exists in the world of the show, so it’s totally a possibility.”

In the meantime, Williams, along with Ferguson and Adams, are focused on finally reviving Take Me Out for a new generation of Broadway fans, especially after such an extended delay. “I don’t know about these guys, but I’ve spent the last two years of having this play jump around in my head not knowing if it ever was going to be something we put on stage and say out loud,” Adams says. “So, it’s just a relief to finally be in the room will all the same people and pick up where we left off.” 

“Yeah, one of the privileges is we’ve met and worked on it for a few weeks,” Williams says. “So, now when we re-approach it, it’s not going into this great mystery. We have a sense of each other, we have some camaraderie, we’ve gotten to know each other better, which helps team chemistry. And the world has changed, and I think a lot of us have and have matured differently.”

Echoing that sentiment, Ferguson adds, “Excitement is an understatement. We’ve all been thinking about this play for a very long time… It’s nice to come back now knowing that we’re in a different place and able to move forward.” 

Performances of Take Me Out begin March 10, 2022 at the Hayes Theater. 

--Reporting by Rande Iaboni and Stacy Lambe


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