In 1997, I was at something of a crossroads. At that point, the main thrust of my career had been writing children’s novels. But without another idea for a new one, a friend suggested that I write a comic novel for adults that centered around dating in New York. Still single, I seemed to be the type of guy who got set up on lots of dates and therefore had lots of stories to tell. After some trial and error, I came upon the character Henry Mann, a hopeless romantic, prone to Walter Mittyish-type fantasies about whatever girl he had just met. The end result was my novel, NINE WIVES, which was published by St. Martins Press in 2005.
In 2008 I was fortunate enough to have a show on Broadway, 13 (co-bookwriter). Looking around for another project I had the idea that NINE WIVES could be a musical. Why not? One actress could play all of the women roles (or nine wives)! Around the time that 13 was playing, I went to see a reading of my friend Doug Cohen’s wonderful musical, The Gig.. The songs were just so good and I immediately asked if he’d like to help me turn my book into a show. Thankfully, Doug said yes.
Like most musicals, Mann… and Wife had several developmental workshops. In 2013 it was included in the Goodspeed New Works Festival. It’s also had several titles along the way. First, it was called Nine Wives, then What’s the Matter with Henry?, then Nine Wives again (for it’s first developmental production at the Sharon Playhouse in 2014). Finally, it’s true title, Mann… and Wife emerged just in time for its world premiere at the Lyric Theater in Oklahoma City in February of 2016.
Throughout the process, Doug and I have tried to be true to the spirit of the book: creating a funny show that also manages to take an honest look at a lovable, but hapless guy who learns a thing or two about relationships and manhood along the way.
I’m happy to say that I finally did get married. (Though my future wife refused to talk to me for a full week after reading a draft of the novel). Like Henry, maybe I had some growing up to do. Maybe it just took me a while to find the right person. But it seems to me that there is no one – man, woman, straight, or gay – who doesn’t have to learn a few things about him or herself before being able to make a relationship work. Doug and I hope that audiences will find Mann… and Wife to be a hilarious and touching window into one man’s journey.
– Dan Elish, January 2016