One Man ‘Breaking Bad’ Kills on Stage
Yo, theater kids! Nothing was quite made for the stage like the hilarious story of a teacher with cancer who turns into a meth-dealing drug lord. Told in 60 minutes, of course.
EDINBURGH — How much do you love Breaking Bad? Not as much as Miles Allen, that’s for sure; this Midwestern boy’s superfandom has transformed him from a wannabe actor struggling in Hollywood to a rising star with a smash-hit show.
After sell-out runs at comedy festivals in Melbourne and Edinburgh, One Man Breaking Bad: 60 Episodes in 60 Minutes is expected to land in the United States in the next year. Allen, 24, can’t believe his luck. In his own words, the show is no more than “a vessel for fan boys enjoying a comedic nostalgic trip,” but the overwhelming number of those fan boys has all but guaranteed its success.
The entire production grew out of a YouTube video that went viral when Allen showcased his excellent Breaking Bad impressions while dressed as a homeless man. It was a private joke between a few of his friends that quickly attracted more than a million views.
The full breathless one-man show covers all the main plot points from the series, although it’s clear from the very first scene that we’re also getting a raucous in-built commentary. When the doctor tells Walter White he’s surprised at how well he’s coping with the news of his terminal cancer, Allen shoots back, in a near-perfect Bryan Cranston imitation: “Yes, my wife is a bitch and I’d rather die.”
The action is guided by a narration from Jesse Pinkman, so we’re also seeing everything from a slightly different perspective. This version of Jesse is a little more confident—even bragging about the killing of Walt’s understudy, Gale Boetticher. Allen re-creates the stunning moment Walt’s wife realizes her partner has become a monster. “I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger,” he growls. “A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!”
Jesse’s voice chimes in immediately: “Um, I was the one who knocked, yo!”
Not every joke hits the target but the quick-fire delivery and enthusiastic crowd of fellow fans makes it an extremely enjoyable hour. At the end of each show, Allen stands outside reprising his impressions and posing for photos until every last member of the audience has filtered out. “I couldn’t not do that,” he told The Daily Beast. “I made it a rule for myself to be approachable. I was bullied a lot growing up so I made a decision in my life, especially in those really dark times, that I would never let anyone feel that way around me.”
Some critics have questioned Allen’s sensitivity, however, when it comes to Walter Junior. Walt’s son, who suffers from cerebral palsy, is lampooned just as vigorously as all of the other characters, culminating in an extraordinary slurred rendition of a hit Miley Cyrus song.
You come in like a wrecking ball Never hit so hard in love All I wanted was some breakfast, Daaad.
Allen admitted that he had been worried about impersonating Walt Jr. but thought it would be discriminatory to leave him out. He said one woman who came to the show had reassured him. “She has like a master’s in sociology and she says, ‘I have cerebral palsy and it hasn’t offended me at all.’ And that is great. Knowing someone that has the ailment, coming to my show and not feeling offended, I feel like it is a thin line to walk, but I feel like I am walking it,” he said.
The Wrecking Ball cover isn’t the only musical moment; the pink teddy bear from the White family pool sings of his desire for revenge, and we even get a quick blast of the Happy Days theme tune, after the introduction of red-haired villain Todd. “Dude looks just like Richie Cunningham—Sunday, Monday—Psychopath!”
As a Hollywood hopeful himself, Allen also ventures into the lightest of Cranston-mockery; in the show Gus Fring is at his most dastardly when he threatens to force Walt to cooperate by threatening to destroy his wife, his kids…and his Emmy nomination. “Nooooooo!” wails Walt.
Allen admits he’s a long way from winning any acting awards himself. He moved to Los Angeles straight out of college at 22, but the only steady work he found was as a male nanny. “I do a lot of puppet work at a kid’s ministry at my church and so I was like, ‘I’m good with kids, I should be a manny!’” he said.
He would still be caring for the children of two families in L.A. if a theater producer on the other side of the world hadn’t enjoyed Allen’s viral video. “I get contacted by this producer in Australia and he says he saw my YouTube video, he likes it and he liked my impressions and we had this idea: What if we condensed the entire series of Breaking Bad into an hour? At first I’m like, ‘Are you trying to steal my money?’”
It wasn’t a scam, the show was a huge hit at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival before transferring to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. A run in the U.S. is on the horizon with discussions about an opening on the West Coast. “Or even, I heard there is a Breaking Bad festival going on in Albuquerque, which I think would be a perfect place to do the show in the States.”
Allen knows his show’s success is based on people’s love for the AMC series. “I’m going to be so bold to say that Breaking Bad is, in fact, the best TV show of all time,” he said.
He still thinks he can repeat the trick, however. “You know,” he says, conspiratorially, “2015 is the year Marty McFly arrives in the future…”