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This Week On Stage: Bette Midler, Alan Cumming, Fiona Shaw, and Cicely Tyson take the stage

Here they are, the last gasp of shows for the 2012-2013 theater season as we approach T-Day (Tony Nomination Day on April 30). And on that note, some notable rulings have been announced: the four young tykes taking on the title role in Matilda will not be competing jointly for Best Actress in a Musical (they will instead receive a special “Tony Honor For Excellence”). And poor Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and all the men in Orphans have been added to the crowded slate of competitors for Leading Actor/Actress, which means about eight Tony-worthy performers will be vying for five spaces in each, already dubbing this year as Sophie’s Choices. Read the full eligibility details here.

This edition features return Broadway favorites like Pippin and The Trip to Bountiful and a particularly solo-show heavy week, with Bette Midler, Fiona Shaw and Brief Encounter’s Tristan Sturrock all holding court (and even Alan Cumming’s take on the Scottish Play falls into the pseudo category). And David Byrne and Fatboy Slim are getting their groove on downtown too. (Click on the links below to read the full reviews):

Here Lies Love  On your feet, disco lovers! No, really. This new David Byrne-Fatboy Slim musical is a literal stand-up experience — wear comfortable shoes! — using the space inside the Public Theater as a full-on dance floor to tell a mirrorballed tale of controversial Philippines strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda. Kyle Anderson declares the odd hybrid a smashing success: The show’s narrative center is so strong and its infectious melodic spirit so complete that it could easily work in a traditional theater setting (or in the round, on a street corner, or in your living room). The fact that you can sweat right along with the incredible cast is a happy-footed bonus.” EW grade: A READ FULL STORY

Broadway box office: 'Matilda' joins 'Motown' and 'Lucky Guy' as a new hit

Matilda has emerged as a Dahled-up hit of the new Broadway season. In its first full week since its April 11 opening, the rapturously reviewed musical earned $1.13 million for the week ending April 21, according to figures from the Broadway League. That’s a 51 percent increase in ticket sales from the previous week, and represents nearly 89 percent of the potential gross from the Shubert Theatre.

Matilda is one of four brand-new shows that joined this week’s Million Dollar Club of high earners on the Great White Way. The Tom Hanks-topped drama Lucky Guy raked in $1.41 million, fully 124 percent of its potential earnings due to premium-priced ticket sales; Motown the Musical pulled down $1.15 million, 81 percent of its maximum; and the Cyndi Lauper musical Kinky Boots kicked up $1.06 million, about 73 percent of its potential high.

Rounding out this week’s Million Dollar Club are four long-running mainstays: The Lion King ($1.84 million); Wicked ($1.81 million); The Book of Mormon ($1.67 million); and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ($1.06 million).

Five more shows are slated to open this week, including a high-profile (and high-flying) revival of the musical Pippin, which last week earned $683,911 (a strong 74 percent of its potential gross).  And there are early indications of box office staying power for Bette Midler’s one-woman play I’ll Eat You Last, which broke a new record last week for the relatively small Booth Theatre with $686,031 in sales. What’s even more impressive is that the Divine Miss M is playing just seven performances a week (most Broadway shows do eight).

Some other star-driven nonmusical newbies — including The Nance with Nathan Lane, Orphans with Alec Baldwin, Macbeth with Alan Cumming, and The Trip to Bountiful with Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. — have yet to spark much box office heat. Each show may have to hope for a strong critical embrace (several have only just opened or will be debuting in coming days) and the even stronger embrace of the Tony nominating committee (which announces its picks on April 30).

Follow Thom on Twitter: @ThomGeier

Read More on EW.com:
This Week on Stage: Alec Baldwin, Nathan Lane, The Rascals, and a slew of new openings
See Opening Night Video for The Nance
Listen to three tracks from Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
EW Stage hub

'Liza & Alan': Wasn't It Swell?

Koitz

During Alan Cumming’s Tony-winning turn as the Emcee in Cabaret on Broadway, Liza Minnelli (who, obviously, won an Oscar for playing Sally Bowles in Bob Fosse’s 1972 film) went to see him backstage. She was so in awe of his brilliant performance that she said, “Alan, I want to be your friend forever.” In an era of celebrity air kisses that make no physical or emotional contact, that could have been the equivalent to, “Nice to meet you.” But if one thing was clear during last night’s wonderfully fun (and, sure, flawed… not that anyone cared) Liza & Alan at New York City’s Town Hall (a one-night performance that sold out so quickly a second night was added), Liza meant what she said. READ FULL STORY

Alan Cumming returns to Broadway in one-man production of 'Macbeth'

Alan Cumming

Not only is Alan Cumming hitting the Broadway stage in the latest production of Macbeth, but he’s doing it alone.

For only 73 performances, Cumming will star in a one-man version of the Shakespearean drama, in which he plays a patient in a psychiatric unit. The Tony Award winner then proceeds to inhabit every part within the play. Directed by Tony Award winners John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, Cumming’s Macbeth is coming to Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theater from April 7 through June 30 after successful stints at the National Theatre of Scotland and the Lincoln Center Festival.

“Performing Macbeth last year was the most challenging and fulfilling experience of my career by far, and so I am both honored and daunted to do it again in my adopted hometown of New York City,” Cumming said in a press release.

The play’s opening night is Sunday, April 21.

Read more:
Macbeth Review
Alan Cumming plays all the roles in ‘Macbeth’ — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
This Week on Stage: Dragons, Alan Cumming’s one-man ‘Macbeth,’ and ‘The Exorcist’ in L.A.

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