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Tag: Off Broadway (1-10 of 37)

'House of Cards' creator Beau Willimon talks 'Breathing Time,' his intense new play

BREATHING-TIME

Breathing Time, a new play by House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, opens with an extremely hungover guy named Jack entering his nondescript office, plopping himself down at his desk, and swearing. A lot. So much that during a recent performance, a shocked woman in the front row halted the action onstage in order to demand a refund.

If she had stuck around, she’d have gotten to know both Jack (Craig Wesley Divino) and his officemate Mike (Lee Dolson) as the pair bantered about everything from Machiavelli to Medieval Times. Their sprawling conversation takes up much of Breathing Time‘s first act…until something happens that turns this ordinary day into anything but. READ FULL STORY

'Heathers: The Musical': A very '80s first look at Veronica, JD, and the Heathers -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

Break out your slushies and BBQ Corn Nuts and gaze with wonder at the ultimate ‘80s throwback that is Heathers: The Musical.

The cult-classic 1989 dark comedy has been adapted for the stage, but before you toss on your scrunchie for opening night (on March 31 at Off Broadway’s New World Stages), EW has an exclusive first look at the fierce fashion that’ll be flaunted on stage at the fictional Westerburg High.

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On the Scene: Emma Thompson cuts it up, literally, as Mrs. Lovett in 'Sweeney Todd'

Is there anything Emma Thompson cannot do? The British actress, snubbed for an Oscar nomination this year for her turn as Mary Poppins writer P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, proves herself a felonious triple threat as the cannibalistic cook Mrs. Lovett in a five-night-only concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, which opened Wednesday night at Avery Fisher Hall in NYC’s Lincoln Center. (If you’re unable to snag a ticket to one of the remaining performances, fret not: PBS is filming the production for broadcast later this year.)

Thompson sings surprisingly well, she quips, she does pratfalls, she swipes props from members of the New York Philharmonic — including, at one point, conductor Alan Gilbert’s baton. In short, she nearly steals the show out from under her very talented (and admittedly stronger-voiced) co-stars. The cast isn’t exactly full of slouches, either: Audra McDonald brings her booming soprano to the mysterious beggar woman’s “City on Fire,” Broadway vet Jay Armstrong Johnson (Hands on a Hardbody) makes a charming, fresh-voiced suitor to Sweeney’s flax-haired daughter (Chaplin‘s Erin Mackey), and the Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel delivers his strong, rich baritone to the title role and proves himself a suitably creepy leading man. I could imagine Tonys all around if this remarkable cast managed to slice a space into their schedules for a Broadway run. READ FULL STORY

'Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812' eyes movie plans through Kickstarter -- EXCLUSIVE

How do you preserve a comet mid-blaze? By capturing it on screen before it burns out.

Producers of the acclaimed electro-pop opera Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 are planning a feature film adaptation of the Off Broadway spectacle to the big screen, enlisting the help of fans by way of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a cinematic adaptation of the long-running show.

Independent film director Abe Sylvia (Dirty Girl, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie) is attached to capture the immersive experience of The Great Comet, which tells a scandalous portion of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace in an interactive format wherein the actors perform in front of/next to/all around the audience inside a Russian supper club. It’s a wholly theatrical environment, and Sylvia and co. are hoping to bring that experience into a film context that’s part HD live recording, part concert film, part feature film, and part music video. READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Debra Messing's Broadway debut and Christopher Plummer in L.A.

Two-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper announced this week (in an EW exclusive) that he’ll be returning to Broadway this fall to star in a revival of The Elephant Man opposite Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola. (Yes, it sounds like a stretch for People‘s former Sexiest Man Alive — especially since Bernard Pomerance’s play does not require any prosthetics for the title role.) The David Byrne-Fatboy Slim musical Here Lies Love, which made EW’s Top 10 list last year, will return to the Public Theater in March for an open-ended run. And there were a handful of notable openings on both coasts, including the Broadway debut of Will & Grace star Debra Messing. For full reviews, click on the links below.

Outside Mullingar The new romantic comedy by John Patrick Shanley (MoonstruckDoubt) stars Brían F. O’Byrne and Debra Messing as middle-aged loners living side by side on Irish farms but struggling to connect with each other. I found it to be a “sweet but peculiar” play that’s “wispier than the smoke from a peat bog.” How does Messing fare? “Though she seems ill at ease through the first half of the show, too aware of the audience and of the effort to keep up her accent, she settles in toward the end when she’s able to deploy her gifts for physical comedy.” EW grade: B

A Word or Two Christopher Plummer’s one-man show in L.A., first performed at the Stratford festival in his native Canada, is less a staged memoir than a reflection on life incorporating influential texts from Lewis Carroll to the Bard. As EW’s Jake Perlman writes, “His commanding stage presence makes you want to watch. But in A Word or Two, he also makes you want to listen.” EW grade: A

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner In a new stage adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s 1959 short story at the Off Broadway Atlantic Theater Company, Sheldon Best plays a 17-year-old at a youth correctional facility who has a mixed response to his innate athletic skills. “While moving and at times inventive as a showcase for Best’s athletic charisma,” Stephan Lee writes, the play “doesn’t inject enough new energy into the tired tropes.” EW grade: B

Chloe Grace Moretz to star in Steven Soderbergh-directed play about gun violence

Movie starlet Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-AssHugo) is set to make her New York theater acting debut in a new drama directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh.

The Library, which will premiere this spring at Off Broadway’s Public Theater, is a world premiere drama from frequent Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns, who penned Side Effects, ContagionThe Bourne Ultimatum and the upcoming Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

The play explores the effects of gun violence on high school student Caitlin (Moretz). After she survives a deadly shooting at her school, Caitlin struggles to relay the story to her parents and the police, even as conflicting stories about the event make their way into the media.

“I wanted to write a play about the stories we tell each other in the face of calamity — the pretty lies and the brutal truths,” Burns said in a release. “This is something Steven and I have discussed over the last decade while making movies. What is the value of the truth? What is the cost of a lie? How does a story drift as it moves through time?”

Soderbergh and Burns will both make their New York theatrical debuts with the piece, which runs from March 25 through April 27 at the Public (official opening night is April 15).

'Kung Fu' dancers get a kick in rehearsal from 'So You Think You Can Dance' choreographer Sonya Tayeh -- VIDEO

Would Mary and Nigel give Kung Fu a ticket on the hot tamale train? Quite likely!

Off Broadway’s Signature Theatre is hosting the world premiere of Tony-winning playwright David Henry Hwang’s new biographical play Kung Fu, starring So You Think You Can Dance season nine standout Cole Horibe as martial arts legend Bruce Lee. For the buzzy role, Horibe is one of EW’s stars to watch in 2014Spring Awakening and Glee alum Phoebe Strole will play Lee’s wife Linda. READ FULL STORY

'Heathers: The Musical' will open Off Broadway in March

What is your damage!? If this news doesn’t make you want to dust off your Big Fun album, conduct a lunchtime poll, or simply play a rousing round of croquet, then you’re being a real cooze.

Heathers: The Musical, the stage adaptation of the 1989 cult-classic dark comedy about teen suicide and scrunchies, will make its New York premiere at Off Broadway’s New World Stages. The limited engagement will begin previews March 17, 2014, in anticipation of opening night March 31.

The musical, which enjoyed a sold-out premiere in Los Angeles earlier this year, features book, music, and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe (Legally Blonde) and Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness). Andy Fickman will direct, with choreography by Emmy winner Marguerite Derricks.

What is the story of Heathers, you ask? The original comedy stars Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer, a sardonic misfit who finds herself hanging out with Westerberg High’s most popular clique, a trio of shoulder-padded hotties all named Heather. When Veronica meets the mysterious J.D., she finds herself accidentally responsible for launching a string of deaths that become suspiciously in vogue among the high school hierarchy.

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'Spring Awakening': Lea Michele, Jonathan Groff, and original cast reunite -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Lea-Michele.jpg

It’s been seven whole years since the off-Broadway premiere of Spring Awakening, the youth-oriented musical that became a Tony-winning Broadway musical hit and introduced the world to such breakout stars as Lea Michele (Glee), Jonathan Groff (Frozen), and John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom).

Now, the Atlantic Theatre Company has reassembled the entire original cast to launch a new social-media campaign, ATC Uncovered, which aims to connect fans to the inner-workings of the off-Broadway company. In addition to the the exclusive video below, in which Michele and Groff recall the first performances of Spring Awakening in ATC’s tiny 199-seat theater, the program will include a live-stream Facebook Q&A event with the cast on Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. ET, hosted by original castmate Brian Charles Johnson.

“This is where our love blossomed,” Michele and Groff say of the reunion, captured in this exclusive video clip. It’s really an amazing thing to watch these twentysomethings rekindle their friendship. Watch below, and prepare to have your “Totally F—ed” memories come flooding back!
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This Week on Stage: Fantasia in the Jazz Age, Neil Patrick Harris serves up magic

November is shaping up to be the busiest in recent memory, but the hustle and bustle is costing Broadway a few shows. John Grisham’s A Time to Kill became A Time to Close with an end date of Nov. 17, and the Zachary Levi-Krysta Rodriguez musical rom-com First Date will have its last date on Jan. 5. With as-yet-unannounced premiere dates for shows like Tracy Letts’ Killer Joe (making a spring Broadway bow), Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses (starring Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, Marisa Tomei and…Letts — busy guy!) and Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons with Tyne Daly, it seems there are more productions than theaters to hold them. Stay tuned for which ones make the cut. Meanwhile, there have been a bevy of new openings, including Fantasia’s return to Broadway, Ed Harris and real-life spouse Amy Madigan in a new Beth Henley drama, a new play by Pulitzer winner Bruce Norris, Neil Patrick Harris directing a new magic show, and Julie Taymor’s major comeback (click on the links below for full reviews):

After Midnight  The Cotton Club era gets a jazzy jolt with this new Broadway revue already being called the sleeper hit of the season. Did senior editor Thom Geier share the enthusiasm? Ab-scat-lutely! “There are showstoppers aplenty in the ebullient new musical revue..After Midnight is a show that’s as light on its feet as its very talented ensemble.” EW grade: A-

The Black Suits Call it School of Rock with an age upgrade; Joe Iconis’ take on a high school rock band opened in L.A., but EW.com’s Laura Hertzfeld felt they could use a little more practice: “The Black Suits never gets deep enough into the roots of suburban angst to make you feel like these guys really have something to rage about — nor does it come up with light, frothy pop numbers that urge you to bop along.” EW grade: C+

Disaster!  Off Broadway gets invaded by killer bees, tidal waves, and disco-era hits in Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick’s wacky take on disaster movies. The show doesn’t hit any icebergs on the way to hilarity. As I write in my review, “It’s the perfect antidote to those lamenting the lack of Forbidden Broadway in their urban lives…scrappy but irresistible.” EW grade: B+

Domesticated  Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf star in Bruce Norris’ dark comedy about a disgraced politico and his put-upon wife weathering a Spitzer/Wiener/Good Wife-like scandal. Thom Geier had mixed feelings on this follow-up to the author’s Clybourne Park: “[Norris] strives to make a larger point about modern gender relations and the utility (and possibility) of male monogamy. But despite Anna D. Shapiro’s crisp, well-paced direction, Domesticated is better on caustic humor and verbal one-upmanship than real insight or character development.” EW grade: B

How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them  Actress Halley Feiffer takes a hand at playwriting in a new work at Off Broadway’s Rattlestick Theatre, but Stephan Lee firmly believed she may want to hone her craft a little more. “How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them opens with three girls shrieking at the top of their lungs, and over the next 90 minutes, they never really stop.” EW grade: C

The Jacksonian  Staff writer Keith Staskiewicz took a look at the NYC premiere of Beth Henley’s eerie Southern drama about a motel barkeep (Bill Pullman) corralling his oddball patrons (including multiple Oscar nominee Ed Harris). “Robert Falls’ eerie direction has more than a hint of David Lynch…here’s a healthy vein of black humor running throughout which turns Henley’s Southern Gothic soap opera into an even more surreal experience.” EW grade: B+

La Soiree  The naughty burlesque revue — already a hit in Europe — settles in downtown NYC to make the city blush. Marc Snetiker was among those wooed by the circus-like, raunchy fun. “There is an abundance of charm oozing from the cast, who each exude a gleeful passion for their talent (be it sexy, silly, or downright strange). If traditional circus isn’t your thing, you’re in luck.” EW grade: A-

A Midsummer Night’s Dream  Visual stylist Julie Taymor trades Spidey for fairies with an opulent new version of the Shakespeare comedy, the inaugural production at Theatre for a New Audience’s new Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. Thom Geier found himself much enchanted by Taymor’s reborn ingenuity: “There’s a magnificent muchness of her approach to the Bard’s most durable of comedies, as she tosses in everything from pillow fights to a grass-upholstered reclining chair to achieve her vision. But remarkably, this Midsummer never tips over into a too-muchness.” EW grade: A-

Nothing to Hide  It’s no secret that beloved star Neil Patrick Harris likes magic, but he’s fan of his peers too, and decided to helm a new 70-minute variety show featuring upstart showmen Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães. Did Hillary Busis surrender to the sleight of hands? “[The performers are] clever, surprising, and altogether incredible, in both the literal and figurative senses.” EW grade: A-


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