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This Week on Stage: New York, New York – a helluva 'Town'

The randy sailors of On the Town are back in the Big Apple, and taking up permanent residence at the newly-renamed Lyric Theatre (where the beleaguered Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was the previous tenant), with lots of dancing boys and girls courtesy of Smash‘s acclaimed choreographer Joshua Bergasse (keep your eyes peeled to EW.com for a future feature on him, by the way). In other news, “Big” Al Pacino is coming back to Broadway next fall in a brand-new play written expressly for him by master wordsmith David Mamet, about a billionaire taking a fateful phone call before semi-retirement. And Emma Stone is getting ready to take over for Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles in Cabaret (EW jumped on that as well this week). And EW staff is busy as ever covering the fall openings, with six new productions this week, including a new musical based on Davy Rothbart’s famous series of found notes and letters, and new plays with live hot tubs and full meals; no expense-spared entertainment! (Click on the links below for full reviews.)

On the Town  The classic boys-on-a-day-pass from the Navy musical gets a large-scale revival with expert hoofers Tony Yazbeck, Megan Fairchild and Clyde Alves (with the comic stylings of Jackie Hoffman). Did senior editor Thom Geier have a helluva time? He calls it “spirited and surprisingly frank…But the biggest laughs of the evening go to Broadway veteran Hoffman, who serves up a rare culinary treat in her gut-busting recurring role as the heroine’s delusional vocal instructor: She’s a kosher ham.” EW grade: B+

While I Yet Live  Last year, Billy Porter won the musical best actor Tony for Kinky Boots so what was net on the horizon for him? Playwright, of course! He tells a semi-autobiographical tale of growing up black, gay and religious in a troubled family. Melissa Rose Bernardo praises its leading lady, Law & Order star S. Epatha Merkerson, dubbing her physical performance “astonishing”, but indicates the play has some issues: “Porter’s intentions may be beyond reproach; the fault is merely in his execution.” EW grade: C+ READ FULL STORY

Al Pacino headed back to Broadway in new Mamet play

After last appearing on Broadway in a revival of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, Al Pacino is headed back to the Great White Way in a new work from the playwright.  READ FULL STORY

Tony nomination surprises and snubs: Not much love for 'Motown' or Bette

There were plenty of surprises in the Tony nominations this morning, starting with the fact that the most-recognized show was Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots (with 13 total nominations, including Best Musical) — and not presumed front-runner Matilda (with 12). Of course, the Roald Dahl-inspired Matilda might have picked up a tying 13th nomination had the four young actresses rotating in the title role not been ruled ineligible for Best Actress in a Musical (the quartet will share special Tony honors instead).

Plenty of familiar Hollywood names made the cut for nominations, including three in the Best Actor in a Play category: Tom Hanks (inching closer to EGOT status with his leading role in the late Nora Ephron’s play Lucky Guy), Nathan Lane for The Nance, and David Hyde Pierce for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
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Your Daily Shaw Report

Our pop-culture guide to what’s in, what’s fading, and what’s definitely out.

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and friends stand up for New York post-Sandy

The waters have receded and the power is back on, but for the New Yorkers hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, life will never be the same. Thousands of homes were destroyed and many people have been dislocated and forced to start over. The entertainment community, especially that with roots in the tri-state area, has responded in many positive ways, beginning with NBC’s primetime telethon on Nov. 2 that raised $23 million. On Dec. 12, Madison Square Garden is hosting The Concert for Sandy Relief, an all-star effort featuring Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys, Eddie Vedder, Billy Joel and several others, to raise money for the Robin Hood Relief Fund.

Jane Rosenthal of the Tribeca Film Festival is working with the State of New York to help raise funding for the city’s still-hurting residents, and she recruited some of New York’s biggest names to serve as messengers. So far, generous Americans have committed $17 million to the Empire State Relief Fund, which is working with various housing and community agencies to direct these funds to the New Yorkers that need it most. But even with the support of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Steve Buscemi, there’s still more to be done.

Watch the video below: READ FULL STORY

Broadway box office: Jessica Chastain and 'Downton' star Dan Stevens lure fans to 'The Heiress'

Judging by the crowds snapping photos of themselves with giant cast posters outside the Walter Kerr Theatre, the biggest draw to the acclaimed new Broadway revival of The Heiress isn’t Oscar-nominated movie star Jessica Chastain but her British costar Dan Stevens, a.k.a. Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey. The high-powered duo (pictured above with costar David Strathairn, center) certainly seem to be luring fans to the Great White Way. In its first full week of performances since its Nov. 1 opening, their period drama earned an impressive $583,852 for the week ending Nov. 11, according to figures from The Broadway League. That’s 68 percent of the venue’s potential gross, a particularly strong figure for a straight play.
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Fall Theater Preview: 10 Shows We're Dying to See

Let’s face it: There are a whole lot of new stage productions opening in New York City this fall. Some shows boast legendary veterans like Al Pacino (left) and Sigourney Weaver. Others promise young stars like Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal. For still others, the title alone (a 50th anniversary revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, anyone?) may be the biggest draw. Here are the 10 that have us most eager to line up for tickets.

Annie
(Broadway) This tale of the world’s most optimistic orphan girl searching for a family is one of our greatest musicals. Its music is iconic (“It’s a Hard Knock Life,” “Tomorrow”), and the rags-to-riches story of its endearing protagonist (played by newcomer Lilla Crawford) has been warming hearts since it debuted in 1977 and won seven Tonys. In the hands of director James Lapine, who boasts three Tonys of his own, you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll be a hit. (Previews start Oct. 3; show opens Nov. 8)

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Al Pacino back to Broadway in 'Glengarry Glen Ross'

David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Glengarry Glen Ross will have at least one major name attached to it when the play returns to Broadway next season. According to The New York Times, Al Pacino is set to star in the revival of Mamet’s real estate shark tank saga, which last bowed on Broadway in 2005 and won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

This time around, Pacino is eyeing the role of former top-dog salesman Shelley “The Machine” Levene, which Jack Lemmon played in the 1992 film adaptation. Pacino appeared in the same film as hotshot “closer” Ricky Roma, a performance that earned the actor his seventh Academy Award nomination. Twenty years later, the role switcheroo is a natural fit, with the older Pacino leaving room for an eager new actor to play Roma on Broadway.

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