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Saturday, April 13, 2024

‘Doubt’ writer John Patrick Shanley gets advice from Bugs Bunny

Playwright John Patrick Shanley likes to run ideas past the people who populated his youth growing up in the Bronx.

But one of his regular helpers isn’t even human.

“I definitely confer with Bugs Bunny,” the Tony Award and Oscar winner told The Post.

Shanley, 73, thinks the tricky rabbit exemplifies New York attitude.

“He has a certain ironic thing that he brings to the most exciting or calamitous situation,” he said. “And he tends to find a way to enjoy whatever’s going on, even if it’s Yosemite Sam trying to blow his head off.”

John Patrick Shanley poses at the Walter Kerr Theatre. ASSOCIATED PRESS
John Patrick Shanley backstage at the Academy Awards in LA in 1988. Getty Images

Like Bugs, Shanley is certainly loving the moment right now — he has an impressive trio of plays onstage in NYC this year.

“It just happened,” Shanley said with a touch of disbelief. “It wasn’t engineered by anybody. Different forces came together, and, by happenstance, it ended up being three shows in one season.”

The Shanley-sance kicked off this past winter, when Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott starred in a hit off-Broadway revival of his play “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” at the Lucille Lortel Theater in the West Village that closed in January.

Further uptown, two shows by the “Moonstruck” screenwriter continue playing eight times a week.

“Saturday Night Live” alum Cecily Strong appears in a new play he wrote and directed called “Brooklyn Laundry” at Manhattan Theatre Club’s City Center venue.

And a Broadway revival of his 2004 Pulitzer prize-winning drama “Doubt” at the Todd Haimes Theatre is led by Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) and Amy Ryan (“Only Murders in the Building.” Post critic Johnny Oleksinski called it “an immaculate work” and a “bona fide classic.”

The original production starred Cherry Jones and Brian F. O’Byrne and it was also made into a movie starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.

Liev Schreiber as Father Flynn, left, and Zoe Kazan as Sister James, in Roundabout Theatre Company’s new Broadway production of “Doubt: A Parable.” AP

The explosive drama centers around a stern principal — and nun — of a Bronx Catholic school who suspects that a charismatic priest is molesting an altar boy.

Shanley attended a parochial school as a child and based the main character, Sister Aloysius, on one of his first teachers, Sister Margaret McEntee.

“Sister Peggy [Margaret] back then, Sister James 1711541914,” he said, explaining that the order have “given up their habits, they’ve given up the names that they were assigned back then. But the thing that remains is that they’ve spent their life in service to others.

“And it shows, they’re very joyful people. Unusually so.”

Shanley attended a parochial school as a child and based the main character, Sister Aloysius, on one of his first teachers, Sister Margaret McEntee. AP

With “Doubt” back on the boards, Shanley has started perusing some religious texts, like the New Testament — and he’s been shocked by it.

“It’s very extreme and very radical,” he told The Post. “Even Jesus says, ‘I did not come here to bring peace but a sword.’ So, you know, take it with a grain of salt.”

And according to Shanley, Jesus in the New Testament is a crafty fellow, “somebody who is deeply not to be trusted…and not humble at all!”

Off-Broadway’s “Doubt” runs at the Todd Haimes Theatre. The limited engagement has extended through April 21.

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