Meet the dynamic DeVito duo of 'I Need That' on Broadway

Danny DeVito and his daughter, Lucy DeVito, join forces in Theresa Rebeck's play, which marks the younger DeVito's Broadway debut and the elder's return.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Danny DeVito's return to Broadway, in the new comedy play I Need That, is an event unto itself. "It's exciting as can be," he said, a statement his many fans would likely echo.

But there's only one thing more exciting than a DeVito on stage, and that's two DeVitos on stage.

The Emmy-winning, Tony-nominated star of Taxi and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia now performs opposite Lucy DeVito, his daughter with a sizable stage and screen resume of her own. Fittingly, they play father and daughter through December 30 in I Need That — albeit a father, Sam, with a hoarding problem that requires his daughter Amelia's intervention lest he face eviction.

Working together for weeks on end might cause similar tension in some families, especially ones who've never shared the stage. Danny DeVito has only been on Broadway once before, in 2017's The Price, and Lucy DeVito is making her debut. But their offstage relationship is stronger than ever.

"To hang out with her every day for months doing the rehearsals, and now doing the play every night, I just can't wait to go to work," Danny DeVito said.

"Working with my dad has brought me and him closer," Lucy DeVito echoed. "We're buddies! He's my best friend! We're having so much fun."

She went on to describe her dad as "the funniest dude ever," but when asked what he admires about his daughter, the elder DeVito got more thoughtful. "I always admire her because she has a great work ethic," he said. "She's very funny and she's genuine and loving, but she also takes it very seriously."

Their bond is apparent to everyone else involved in I Need That, too, including Ray Anthony Thomas, who stars opposite the DeVitos as a longtime friend of Sam's; playwright Theresa Rebeck; and director Moritz von Stuelpnagel (he and Rebeck are another dynamic duo, having collaborated five times before).

"If somebody discovers something in their performance, the other one will often break character because they're so proud to see what they've come up with," von Stuelpnagel said. "I have to remind them, 'Stay in character!'"

He may joke about the DeVitos derailing his rehearsals, but he sincerely added, "That joy and admiration and respect has been infectious to the whole room."

Lance Foster and Suzy Jane Hunt, who understudy Thomas and Lucy DeVito, respectively, attested to that, too. "It's rare to see family members work together, let alone family members from different generations," Foster noted. "I've never seen a mother and a daughter or a father and a daughter [perform together on Broadway]."

"It makes me miss my dad, honestly, to watch them interact, and the way you can't quite tell if they're acting, running a scene, or chatting in the corners," Hunt added.

But as much as the DeVitos's stage collaboration is a monumental occasion, hearing them talk about how they "goof off all the time" (Lucy's words) and share cannolis backstage (one of their many weekly rituals, also including a taco Tuesday), you'd think they were simply spending ordinary quality time like any other father and daughter.

Said Lucy DeVito: "We are able to talk about the work, and then we're able to leave that aside, and then my family's going to come, and we're all going to have Thanksgiving."

Photo credit: Lucy DeVito and Danny DeVito in I Need That. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

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