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Exclusive: The cast of Broadway's 'It's Only a Play' reenacts Ellen's Oscar selfie

Imagine if Jennifer Lawrence were Rupert Grint.

Okay, now take that one step further and replace Ellen DeGeneres with Matthew Broderick, Bradley Cooper with Nathan Lane, Angelina Jolie with Megan Mullally, Meryl Streep with Stockard Channing, and so on and so forth. See what we’re getting at?

Ellen’s epic Oscar selfie gets sent up, Broadway style, in the first look at the upcoming comedy It’s Only a Play. The production examines the frantic behind-the-scenes antics of a new Broadway show and the eccentric creative and business types behind it. The link to Ellen’s selfie is directly inspired by a moment in the revised script by Terrence McNally, who has refreshed the play for the 2014 audience.

Given the starry cast (not to mention the reunion of The Producers pair Lane and Broderick), expect It’s Only a Play to be one of this fall’s hottest tickets. F. Murray Abraham and newcomer Micah Stock round out the cast of the Jack O’Brien-directed Broadway play, which will open on October 9 for a limited 18-week engagement at the Schoenfeld Theatre. Previews begin August 28.

This Week on Stage: Hugh Jackman's back!

It seems Hugh Jackman can’t get Broadway out of his system. After the May 23 opening of the supersized Marvel opus X-Men: Days of Future Past, he will preside over the 2014 Tony Awards on CBS June 8 (where we can possibly see a taste of the song-and-dance man of The Boy From Oz and Oklahoma!), and it was just announced that he will return to the NYC stage this fall in a brand-new play by acclaimed playwright Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem) called The River, set in a remote rural cabin and featuring only three actors. And despite the fact that Jackman could likely sell out Radio City Music Hall (the site of the current Tonys), the play will take shape on the 776-seat thrust stage of Circle in the Square, where the back row is still only mere feet away from the performers. And even better news: there will be $35 seats reserved for each performance so that the premium-seat gobblers do not claim all the glory (much like what was done with the smash-hit Shakespeare revivals with Mark Rylance this past season to ensure a broader audience). The River begins previews on Oct. 31, and will open on Nov. 16.

And on the complete opposite size spectrum, the mammoth Lyric Theatre (formerly the Foxwoods, where Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark swung through controversy for several seasons), will host a revival of the beloved musical On the Town (come to think of it, wouldn’t Jackman make an amazing Gabey in this?), which begins previews Sept. 20 for a scheduled opening on Oct. 16. And if you’re not in the New York City area but need some theater fixes this fall, you’re in luck: PBS will broadcast the live NY Philharmonic concert version of Sweeney Todd starring Oscar-winner Emma Thompson on Sept. 26, and the network will also present the filmed production of The Nance from last year. Nathan Lane (delighting us on The Good Wife this season), who earned a Tony nomination and starred in the period comedy about the vaudeville era, gave one of his greatest performances to date. One will not want to miss his tour-de-force work in it; The Nance is slated to air sometime in the fall. And EW continues covering the new weekly openings, including Off Broadway favorite Forbidden Broadway, back to skewer all the past year’s new Great White Way contenders (click on the links below for full reviews): READ FULL STORY

Nathan Lane to return to 'The Nance' after injury -- UPDATE

A spokeswoman for The Nance says star Nathan Lane will return to the Broadway play Thursday after injuring his leg during Wednesday’s performance.

Lane was unable to finish Wednesday night after the Tony Award-winner’s leg was injured by the play’s revolving set. Two and a half hours before he was due to go on Thursday, the spokeswoman said he would be back.

In Douglas Carter Beane’s play, Lane plays a “nance” — a show business term for a stereotypically camp homosexual man — who is struggling both with his own identity and frustration at society’s hypocrisy toward homosexuality.

Lane, a Tony winner for The Producers and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, was nominated as best actor this year for The Nance.

Tony Awards 2013: Who will win?

Despite a Broadway season that saw a 6-percent dip in attendance, theater fans still have cause for celebration at this Sunday’s Tony Awards. There’s a  contest heating up for Best Musical, pitting the “revolting” children of Matilda against the fabulous drag queens of Kinky Boots.

And there’s some real suspense in other major categories: Will two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (above) add a Tony to his mantel for his Broadway debut in Lucky Guy? Will former Who’s the Boss star Judith Light win back-to-back Tonys in Best Featured Actress in a Play? EW critics Melissa Rose Bernardo and Thom Geier offer their predictions of who will be step-step-kicking to the podium at Radio City Music Hall this Sunday. (By the way, we’ll also be live-blogging the ceremony, hosted for the fourth time by the Energizer bunny of awards-show hosts, Neil Patrick Harris.) Disagree with our picks? Please let us know who you think will win — or should win — in the comments section.
READ FULL STORY

Tom Hanks, Bette Midler and Steve Martin among 2013 Drama Desk Nominations

The Drama Desk Awards — commonly known as the theater world’s Golden Globes, though nominees are represented across all NYC productions in a season — are the last precursor to the Tony Awards (check EW.com tomorrow morning for a full list of those). And judging by the list below, it’s going to be quite a competitive year, with some pretty heavy-hitters mixed in with longshots, not to mention some major snubs (Alan Cumming, Cyndi Lauper, Fiona Shaw, Chaplin‘s Rob McClure to name a few). The winners will be announced at NYC’s Town Hall on May 19.  Below is the full list of nominees and special awards recipients: 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

This Week on Stage: Alec Baldwin, Nathan Lane, The Rascals and a slew of new openings

The theater season is in full-swing glory right now, and EW has covered no less than nine (!) shows since last week. Broadway is saying one permanent good night (RIP Breakfast at Tiffany’s), and hellos to stage stalwarts as varied as Alec Baldwin, Nathan Lane, Bobby Cannavale and Constantine Maroulis. And Motown legend Berry Gordy throws his hat into the ring too. So, who’s most worth your hard-earned bucks? (Click on the links below to read the full reviews):

The Assembled Parties  Richard Greenberg (already on the boards this season with Tiffany’s) unveils a new play about two Christmases in a tense Upper West Side family’s history. Tanner Stransky called the play “as close to bullet-proof as they come on the Great White Way these days”, highlighting “a first-rate cast [including Judith Light and Jessica Hecht] that feels as familiar and complicated as any real-life clan”. EW grade: A– READ FULL STORY

Broadway comes out for Nathan Lane on opening-night of 'The Nance' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Nathan Lane fans, rejoice! The two-time Tony winner plays Chauncey Miles, a gay burlesque star of the 1930s living an underground life and contemplating romance with a much-younger admirer (Jonny Orsini) in Douglas Carter Beane’s new play The Nance. The show premiered on Monday at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway, and EW’s exclusive video clip from opening night includes appearances by some notable first-nighters (Jesse Tyler Ferguson! Victor Garber! Cynthia Nixon!) and hints at what you can expect from the show. (Dig that great turntable set!)

Click on the link below to watch the video: READ FULL STORY

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