HOUSTON — His biggest deals include superstar players and million-dollar contracts, but Rockets general manager Daryl Morey finds himself at a theatre rehearsal, thanks to one simple offer too interesting to pass up.
“Yeah, it’s pretty ironic,” Morey said. “I do think people who are a little bit into logic and math are into music, so I think that may be the connection.”
It’s not just music. It’s a musical at Houston’s Catastrophic Theatre, and Morey is the producer.
How does that happen?
“I pitched the silliest idea of all-time,” said Jason Nodler, the theatre’s artistic director. “I said, ‘Let’s do a basketball musical.’”
When he’s not pitching or directing, Nodler is obsessing over basketball.
“It begins with my having been a Rockets fanatic for life," he said.
That’s why Nodler invited Morey to a play after learning Morey had mentioned on Twitter back in 2013 his other dream job was "Theatre Director." Morey says he's loved the arts since middle school, when he first attended a production of Les Misérables.
Morey is now on the board of Catastrophic Theatre.
“I sent him a message,” Nodler said. “Never expected to hear back.”
That’s enough of that story. Let’s get to this one: Small Ball. That silly idea, years in the making, is now hitting the stage.
Without giving away too much of the plot, it’s a comedy centered around a losing team’s news conference.
“You have failed, and you’ve been asked, 'Why did you fail?'” Nodler said.
Small Ball, with book and lyrics by Mickle Maher and music by Merel van Dijk and Anthony Barilla, opens April 6 and runs through May 13th. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at smallballmusical.com or matchouston.org.
Morey, naturally, downplays the role he plays.
“Write the checks, buy pizza,” Morey joked.
But everyone we talked to said Morey is much more than that.
“He makes his concerns known,” Nodler said. “He trusts us to be the professionals.”
“He knows music really well,” Barilla said of Morey. “He thinks really well about how songs work (within a story).”
Landing the ideal playwright, finding composers and actors and with sellouts expected every single night, math and logic points to another winner for Morey, who built a Rockets team which now has the best record in the NBA.
All that should be music to Morey’s ears.