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This Week on Stage: Tony season ends, Jenna Fischer makes her stage debut

The 2012-2013 theater season came to a close this past week with this year’s Tony Awards — up 20 percent in the TV ratings over last year — as Neil Patrick Harris proved an unstoppable host. (Seriously, you need to watch that opening number again.). In other news, the much-utilized TKTS discount booths, present in Manhattan and Brooklyn and a great assist for all those on a budget, turns 40 this month! (Click here to see the various incarnations of the booth over the past four decades.) Neil LaBute’s latest premiered (and the drama wasn’t all on stage, it seems), with The Office’s Jenna Fischer making her stage debut opposite Josh Hamilton in the author’s follow-up to his Tony-nominated 2009 play Reasons to Be Pretty. (Click on the links below for the full reviews):

3 Kinds of Exile  At age 75, playwright John Guare shows no signs of slowing down, and he even acts in his newest, a triptych centering on Eastern European émigrés in the 20th century. Is Guare still in his prime? EW’s Thom Geier says “despite some verbal stumbles, Guare proves a natural onstage performer, delivering the ultimate cocktail-party show-stopper” but that the final segment “is a kind of manic tedium that undercuts the touching portraits that come before it.” EW grade: B

Reasons to Be Happy  Neil LaBute revisits the foursome made famous in his 2009 Reasons to be Pretty, this time with a fully new cast and a new set of events. Did it make reviewer Melissa Rose Bernardo happy? She states, “Happy stands on its own, of course; so if you didn’t see Pretty, don’t worry — LaBute gives us all the necessary background. I just wish he’d given us a credible female character or two as well.” EW grade: B

Venice  Othello meets In the Heights meets dystopic terror in this new musical at the Public, starring The Visitor’s Haaz Sleiman and Next to Normal’s Jennifer Damiano. Should you rise up and buy a ticket? “What should be a taut, efficiently told story gets undone by some head-scratching stylistic and structural choices”, says Kyle Anderson, “there are a lot of inspired ideas and killer traditional music theater numbers…but you have to dig pretty deep beneath Venice‘s stylistic overkill to truly savor them. EW grade: B-


Read more:
EW Stage Hub
Broadway’s ‘Ann,’ starring Holland Taylor, closing early
On-the-scene at 2013 Tony Awards: Cyndi Lauper talks about big winner ‘Kinky Boots’

Sit back, grab a hanky, and prepare to say goodbye to 'The Office' -- VIDEO

In just about 36 hours, The Office — the sitcom that made a star out of Steve Carell, brought mockumentaries and cringe humor to mainstream American TV, and largely defined NBC’s post-Friends identity — will close for good.

Naturally, this is a fairly emotional time for the series’s loyal longtime fans… but we’ve got nothing on Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, and executive producer/Cousin Mose Michael Schur, who let the anecdotes fly and the waterworks flow in this moving, 10-minute-long goodbye video. Also, the guy who played Roy is in there. Remember Roy? READ FULL STORY

'The Office': Adam Scott as 'Jim,' and other awesome casting what-ifs from the original audition list -- PHOTO

Leslie Knope’s one true love, wooing a mousy receptionist played by 24‘s Chloe O’Brian? Bridesmaids‘s secret air marshal explaining to an invisible documentary crew that he wants people to be afraid of how much they love him? A kooky beet farmer/paper salesman who doubles as a founding member of the legendary Upright Citizens Brigade improv troupe?

Thanks to Rainn Wilson, we now know that all of them could have been featured on The Office — if casting had gone just a little differently.

“This is the original sign-in sheet for the first day of casting for The Office given to me by Allison Jones, our incredible casting agent,” Wilson explained upon posting this revealing photo on Facebook yesterday. “I was the very first person to audition for the series, 11/06/03.” As you’ll see, Wilson and a certain future Parks and Recreation star arrived at the audition simultaneously — and 12 other notable actors followed in their stead:


Jenna Fischer finds 'Reasons to Be Happy' after 'The Office'

The Office may be coming to an end, but Jenna Fischer will start a run in a Neil LaBute play off-Broadway this spring. She’s set to star in the world premiere of Reasons to Be Happy, a companion piece to LaBute’s Tony-nominated reasons to be pretty, alongside Leslie Bibb, Josh Hamilton, and Fred Weller for MCC Theater. Performances run from May 16 through June 23 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

Three years after breaking up, Steph (Fischer) and Greg (Hamilton) start wondering if they should try again — only she’s married to someone else and he’s just started dating her best friend, single mother Carly (Bibb), who has a jealous ex-husband, Kent (Weller). As the theater’s site says, “Reasons to Be Happy is a funny, surprising, and poignant new play about the choices and sacrifices we are willing to make in the pursuit of that often elusive ideal: happiness.”

Both Fischer and Bibb will be making their New York stage debuts.

Read more:
Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Kinky Boots’ are coming for Broadway — EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS
Broadway box office: Tom Hanks boosts one very ‘Lucky Guy’
This Week on Stage: ‘Cinderella’ and Holland Taylor seek a perfect fit on Broadway

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