Brian Fiddyment, left, at a table read of “I’m Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire.” Fiddyment plays Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire in the play that debuts this weekend in New York. Courtesy of Brian Reager

It wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic hit that Samantha Hurley knew she wanted be a playwright.

Hurley, who had been living in New York City, moved back to Maine to stay with her mother in Brunswick.

Courtesy of Samantha Hurley and Kellyanne Hanrahan

While searching for a way to meet her creative needs, she remembered a 10-minute play she had written for a class at Ithaca College, where she earned a theater studies degree in 2018. It was about an awkward eighth-grader named Shelby Hinckley and her 2000s-era crush: Tobey Maguire, the star of the first major Spider-Man movie franchise and the hot, young actor of the day.

In the play, Hinckley copes with a bad home life and unpopularity at school by focusing her energy on being the president of an online Tobey Maguire fan club. She then takes it further by kidnapping the actor with fantasies of a happily-ever-after ending.

On July 8, “I’m Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire” — now extended to a 90-minute show — will debut off-Broadway at The Cell Theatre in New York. The play, slated for a three-week run ending July 29, is described by showrunners as “a full-throttle explosion of our para-social relationships and the obsessions that detonate them.”

The opening weekend performances, along with most of the previews, have already sold out.


“We are in the thick of rehearsals right now!” Hurley texted at the end of June. “Set has been loaded in, tickets are selling. Very exciting!”

The 26-year-old’s love for theater and performing took root when she went to school in Pittston and spent time in Gardiner, attending the summer theater camp at the Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center and dancing at the Ampersand Academy of Dance & Performing Arts.

Samantha Hurley Submitted photo

But the genesis of the script was an assignment for a playwriting class she took about six years ago.

“I was like: I gotta crank something out. And luckily, this came out,” she said during an interview. “I’m very grateful for that class and that teacher now.”

After that, though, she set the idea aside and focused on her next steps: graduating and figuring out what she would do next.

Hurley said initially, her focus was playwriting. She had been working in the tour department of Radio City Music Hall. But the reality of being a playwright — it’s a hard and unsustainable gig for many — set in, and she shifted to something different.


She started studying and doing sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade, which teaches improv, sketch comedy and TV writing. The group has cultivated top comedians ranging from Amy Poehler and Chris Gethard to Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.

Hurley said her comedic background figured heavily into her new play.

“I’m a big premise person. I think that’s my sketch comedy background,” she said. “This little girl loves Tobey Maguire and marries him in her basement. In the 10-minute play, it was all kind of this fantasy, and in the end we find out it’s not real.”

Tessa Albertson at a table read of “I’m Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire.” Albertson plays the lead character, Shelby Hinckley, in the play that debuts this weekend in New York. Courtesy of Brian Reager

But as she developed the script into a full-length piece, Hurley said she realized the stakes had to be raised.

“It’s kind of completely changed, except for the basic premise and the characters,” she said.



Hurley reached out to Tyler Struble, one of her best friends, to collaborate, develop and eventually direct the play. Their mutual friend, Jacob Stuckelman of Watermark Productions, signed on to produce the show, having remembered seeing the early version performed at Ithaca College.

The cast of “I’m Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire” outside The Cell Theater at 338 West 23rd St. in New York City. From left are Tessa Albertson, who plays Shelby Hinckley; Janae Robinson, who plays Brenda Dee Cankles; and Brian Fiddyment, who plays Tobey Maguire. Courtesy of Brian Reager

“One of the biggest misunderstandings about theater is that these sort of things happen overnight,” said Brian Reager, associate artistic director for The Cell Theatre, where Hurley’s play will be staged. “It takes a lot of time to go from page to stage.

The nonprofit organization, located in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, is focused on incubating and presenting new work across artistic disciplines from visual arts and theater to opera and new music.

The theater was one of the places Hurley contacted in a cold ask in early 2022 to see if she could generate any interest in putting on the play.

“It’s a very rare situation where we attend a cold ask or we go see something that really sticks with us,” Reager said. “When we went to go see it, everybody was on the floor laughing. We knew this was a piece we wanted to do at The Cell.”

Between then and now, the play underwent a couple of readings and workshops. Hurley and Struble worked with the cast to develop the piece with feedback and support from Reager and Kira Simring, the theater’s artistic director. They also identified designers for sound, lights and the set.


“Kira is definitely a very strong proponent of women playwrights and got very excited about (the play),” Reager said.


As opening night approaches, Hurley is already looking past it to what happens next.

She’ll continue to pursue sketch comedy, she said, while she develops another play.

Janae Robinson at a table read of “I’m Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire.” Robinson plays Brenda Dee Cankles in the play that debuts this weekend in New York. Courtesy of Brian Reager

“It’s really a miracle, because I did come into it being like: this is the only play I’m gonna write. I think I wanna go to TV and film next, but I really think this has made me fall back in love with playwriting,” said Hurley.

When she was in college, Hurley and her fellow students performed plays and scenes, but few if any offered comedic monologues or material that seemed to be written by anyone within decades of their own age or reflecting their sense of humor.


She’s hoping the play will appeal to younger audiences and will be licensed so that other theaters and schools can produce it. Just as importantly, she’ll get a cut of the fee for her percentage of the rights.

“I really think I’m not good at anything else. Writing is something I love to do, and people seem receptive to my writing. So I think while I’m at this kind of young age where I’m unattached, I’m like: Well, let’s just go for it. If I fall on my face, I have a great support system.”

She paused.

“But, you know, health insurance would be amazing.”

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