By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - British actor Rupert Grint, best known as wizard Ron Weasley in the "Harry Potter" film franchise, makes his Broadway debut as a young, wunderkind director alongside a stellar ensemble cast in the show business comedy, "It's Only a Play."
The play, which begins previews on Aug. 28 and opens for a limited run on Oct. 9, sports a notable cast headed by Tony winners Nathan Lane ("The Producers"), Matthew Broderick ("How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying") and Stockard Channing ("A Day in the Life of Joe Egg").
F. Murray Abraham, who picked up a best actor Oscar for "Amadeus," plays an infamous drama critic named Ira Drew and Emmy winner Megan Mullally ("Will & Grace") is Broadway producer Julia Budder.
"It's hard not to be overwhelmed when we're rehearsing," Grint, 25, said about his cast mates. "It's quite exhausting trying to keep up with them."
The fly-on-the-wall comedy is set at an opening night party of a new play, "The Golden Egg," as its director Frank Finger (Grint) and the playwright, cast, producer and friends await reviews to see if it's a hit.
"He's a very complicated, deeply troubled man. So it's something I've always wanted to try," said Grint, who admitted it was scary leaving the bumbling Ron Weasley character he portrayed in the "Harry Potter" films for so long.
Broderick is writer Peter Austin, whose career hangs on the success of his play. Channing plays his erratic leading lady, Virginia Noyes, and newcomer Micah Stock portrays a coat check attendant newly arrived in New York.
"It's very true to life," said Lane, who plays a television star and Broderick's best friend James Wicker.
"I've been through this many times, and it's endlessly fascinating to be, I hope for the audience, to be a fly on the wall in the midst of the event of waiting for the New York Times review, which is the centerpiece of the play," added the Broadway veteran, who has been through his fair share of opening nights.
"He thinks, of course, it is going to be a rave. He's been told it's going to be a rave and then it's not. It's the most devastating and hilariously funny review you could ever get."
Multiple Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally ("Ragtime," "Master Class") did a substantial rewrite of the 1986 play, inserting contemporary references to update it.
"It's Only a Play" reunites Lane and Broderick, who worked together on hit musical "The Producers" and other shows. It also brings Abraham full circle with McNally, who cast him in a play decades ago early in his career.
McNally said he has been working on "It's Only a Play" all of his life and it has had many manifestations. He got the idea for the comedy on the opening night of another play that starred Abraham.
"This is the right group to do this play at this time," he said. (Editing by Eric Kelsey. Editing by Andre Grenon)