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Brooke Shields' 'Chicago' lights up Hollywood Bowl

I spent a good chunk of my weekend getting into the new Netflix show Orange Is the New Black, which follows the story of a woman from a privileged background who ends up in a federal women’s prison for trafficking drug money. It paints a pretty stark picture of the corrections system and looks about as far from a good time as I can imagine. On the extreme other hand, Saturday night I went to see Chicago, the 1975 Kander and Ebb musical, which plays for a handful of performances this weekend at the Hollywood Bowl. The show follows two 1920s vaudeville showgirls who team up after meeting in prison for murder. But there are no orange jumpsuits here. This prison is punctuated by shimmering dresses, punchy songs, an empathetic and bribable warden, and one sexy, slimy lawyer. If I had to choose, I’d take the Chicago version of jail.

Chicago, directed by actress Brooke Shields, closely follows the Bob Fosse-inspired choreography and staging of the 1996 Broadway revival (and strongly echoes the Oscar-winning 2002 film directed by Rob Marshall) — and with good reason. Shields recruited original Chicago national tour dance captain Gregory Butler to choreograph, and she cast recognizable faces in the leading roles — including Ashlee Simpson, who reprises her turn as Roxie Hart from the 2006 West End production. In addition, much of the very strong supporting cast performed in the Broadway and national tour productions of Chicago. The stark black-and-white staging and black-clad, fedora-topped ensemble suit the outdoor setting of the Bowl and work well on the much-needed jumbo-trons, but lack the shimmery punch of red that Marshall’s film version ingrained in me. So there’s not much new here, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.
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Brooke Shields to direct 'Chicago' at Hollywood Bowl

You can add director to Brooke Shields’ long resume. The actress will helm Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl this July, the show’s producers announced Tuesday. The annual summer musical will play at the Bowl in Los Angeles for only three performances: July 26, 27, and 28.

Though best known for her film and TV roles, Shields is hardly a newcomer to the stage. She starred in the Broadway and West End productions of Chicago as Roxie Hart and also performed on Broadway in the Wonderful Town, Grease!, and Cabaret. The Bowl production will be her first time directing. Rob Fisher, supervising music director of the various official Chicago productions around the world, will conduct the musical.
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Who should replace Joy Behar on 'The View'? -- VOTE

Big changes are coming at The View. On this morning’s program, Joy Behar officially announced she was leaving the show. While there were rumors over the weekend that Barbara Walters may also be stepping down and that Elizabeth Hasselbeck was fired, those reports appear untrue for now. But we know there is at least one talk show chair to fill.

Joy Behar is considered by many to be the funniest of the group. It may be a long shot, but I’d love to see another feisty red-headed comedian replace her: Kathy Griffin. The fact that Griffin continually gets herself banned from the show won’t do her any favors, but it would be a way for a whole new audience to make the ABC morning show appointment television. She has her own show on Bravo, but its lack of ratings may entice her to switch things up. Her potential smackdowns with Hasselbeck would be legendary.

Almost immediately after Behar’s departure was announced, there were rumors that Brooke Shields would replace her. (A rep for The View told EW, “Everything was discussed at the top of today’s show. As far as Brooke Shields joining the show, I cannot confirm this rumor.” A rep for Shields had no comment.) The actress’ most recent appearance was playing Lady Nora in the Downton Abbey Jimmy Fallon spoof, so the frequent guest co-host (she’s sat in on the Today show, The Talk and Good Morning America) could definitely be looking for a new project. READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Dragons, Alan Cumming's one-man 'Macbeth,' and 'The Exorcist' in L.A.

There are few new shows opening on Broadway this summer, which means that the action shifts to other locales. For instance: the Nevada desert, where EW’s Annie Barrett reported on Dancing With the Stars: Live in Las Vegas, a fringe- and sequin-filled spectacle hosted by a gawping and handsy Carson Cressley. Among the week’s other big debuts:

The Exorcist A new (non-musical) stage version of the horror classic, adapted by John Pielmeier (Agnes of God) and directed by John Doyle, premiered at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse. The heavyweight cast includes Richard Chamberlain as head exorcist Father Merrin and Brooke Shields as the mother of a girl possessed by a malevolent force (pictured above). But EW’s Josh Rottenberg writes: “This stripped-down, cerebral take on the story of a demonically possessed young girl is more interested in stimulating ruminations about the nature of evil and the meaning of faith than inducing anyone to scream, faint, or fumble for a barf bag.” EW grade: C
How to Train Your Dragon Stage Spectacular DreamWorks Animation’s 2010 cartoon hit about a young Viking named Hiccup and the dragons his clan seeks to vanquish has begun a six-month, multi-city tour in arenas across North America. Jeff Labrecque was impressed by the stagecraft, particularly the 3,200-pound animatronic dragons. Still, he writes, “Cirque du Soleil fans might appreciate all the bells and whistles — break dancing, shadow puppetry, loud blasts of controlled fire — but some scenes feel like a limp parody of a Scandinavia-set Winter Olympics opening ceremony.” EW grade: B
Macbeth Tony-winning Scottish actor Alan Cumming (The GoodWife) takes a daring approach to Shakespeare’s tragedy, playing a patient in an asylum who acts out all the parts in the play — from prissy King Duncan to seductive Lady Macbeth to the three witches — in a production at NYC’s Lincoln Center Festival. “Unless you already know who’s who, you might find yourself checking out during this high-concept presentation,” warns Melissa Rose Bernardo, though she offers high praise for Cumming’s “ambidextrous” performance. EW grade: B+

Related:
Broadway box office report: Without Ricky Martin, do cry for ‘Evita’
Sigourney Weaver, David Hyde Pierce will return to the stage this fall
EW’s Stage Hub

This Week on Stage: An actor breaks a leg, old Jews tell jokes, and a 'Cock' fight wows Off Broadway

That old actor’s adage “Break a leg” is not supposed to be taken literally. But that message apparently didn’t make it to Michael McKean, the Laverne & Shirley and This is Spinal Tap alum now starring in the hit Broadway revival Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. The actor was hospitalized Tuesday with a broken leg after being struck by a car in New York City; James Lecesne will be playing his role as a presidential campaign manager for the foreseeable future.

Otherwise, it was relatively quiet on the theater scene, though L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse announced that Brooke Shields and Richard Chamberlain would be starring in its world premiere (non-musical) stage adaptation of The Exorcist, which opens July 11. The week’s big openings all happened Off Broadway. Here’s what EW’s critics thought:

Cock Adam Markovitz found this London transfer (pictured above), about a man in a charged love triangle with a longtime boyfriend and a woman he just met, to be “a lean and sharp piece of theater.” EW grade: B+ READ FULL STORY

Brooke Shields to play the mother in stage version of 'The Exorcist'

There are two surprises in that headline, and I’ll guess that the bigger shock is that The Exorcist — the 1973 horror classic that wrought hellish nightmares on a generation — will take the stage in a new adaptation (of the original novel) at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse. And yes, Brooke Shields will be playing the mother.

The play will frighten audiences courtesy of Tony Award-winning director John Doyle, the Tim Burton of the theater community, well-known for his genre-challenging productions (like his everybody-plays-their-own-instrument mountings of Sweeney Todd and Company). In Doyle’s wicked world premiere, stage and screen vet Shields joins a cast that includes Richard Chamberlain as Father Merrin, Manoel Felciano as Father Joe, Stephen Bogardus as Dr. Strong and young Emily Yetter as the possessed Regan. Shields is set to play Chris MacNeil, the renowned actress who struggles to understand her daughter’s demonic behavior (Bieber fever, perhaps?).

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