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Tag: Off Broadway (11-20 of 37)

This Week on Stage: John Grisham, Mary-Louise Parker and David Hyde Pierce take NYC


News finally arrived that the upcoming Broadway revival of Les Misérables has its principal cast intact — with Iran-born musical-theater hunk Ramin Karimloo in his first Broadway role as the bread-stealing Valjean, Tony-nominee Will Swenson (Hair) as staunch Javert, Ghost‘s Caissie Levy dreaming a dream of time gone by as tragic heroine Fantine, and Book of Mormon Tony victor Nikki M. James as lovelorn Eponine. Will they duplicate the successes (or in Russell Crowe’s case, non-successes) of their film counterparts, this time without the fish-eye lenses? The spring will tell, but if you live up North and are dying of curiosity, Mr. Karimloo is currently playing the role in Toronto before they bring him home (hee-hee) to NYC.

Also, six new shows pushed through an already crowded fall theater season, including several debuts: playwright Sharr White (The Other Place) takes on Chekhov, sort of, with Mary-Louise Parker returning to the stage for the first time in four years, David Hyde Pierce appears in a piece by his nephew Greg and Curtains composer John Kander, and mega-author John Grisham finds one of his books adapted to the Great White Way for the first time. How did they fare? (Click on the links below for the full reviews.)

This Week on Stage: Romeo, 'The Seagull,' and 'Wait Until Dark' in L.A.

More Bard, more Chekhov, and some choice revivals pepper this week’s lineup of new plays on the boards, with some notable stars getting their feet wet in classics (Alison Pill, Elizabeth Olsen, Alessandro Nivola, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), and expect more of the same this spring: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, and Oscar winner Marisa Tomei will join recent Best Actor Tony recipient (and acclaimed scribe) Tracy Letts in a new play by Will Eno on Broadway. Moreover, buzz has restarted that James Franco may finally make his long-awaited Main Stem debut in a revival of Of Mice and Men (or is he just trying to get even more attention?). And the stars will keep on comin’ — check back next week for reviews of new plays featuring Mary-Louise Parker and David Hyde Pierce (click on the links below to read the newest full reviews):

The Model Apartment  After an Off Broadway debut 20 years ago, Donald Margulies’ (Time Stands Still) unsettling play about Holocaust survivors weathering a temporary apartment and family dysfunction has long been considered one of the playwright’s most challenging works. Did Melissa Rose Bernardo find it worth reviving? A resounding yes: “It’s almost certainly the only Holocaust comedy you’ve ever seen…how Margulies conceived this nightmarish dream world I’ll never know. But I do know it’s one I’m not likely to forget.” EW grade: A-

Romeo & Juliet  Martha Marcy May Marlene star Elizabeth Olsen stars alongside T.R. Knight and Daphne Rubin-Vega in a modern-dress take on the tragedy about star-crossed lovers (the second of two this fall season, after Orlando Bloom’s critically drubbed Broadway take). Senior editor Thom Geier found this one considerably less than a rose by any other name, dubbing it “sadly amateurish… [Tea] Alagic’s production makes [little] sense…the cast seems to have been left to its own devices to create their characters and block their scenes.” EW grade: D+

The Seagull  Trudie Styler (known to most of us as Sting’s longtime spouse and producer extraordinaire) hits the stage as Anton Chekhov’s actress Arkadina (dubbed Isobel here) in an Irish-set downtown revival of the oft-produced country drama. Does this Seagull have wings? Stephan Lee claims Styler “shines” but adds that “director Max Stafford-Clark doesn’t stray too far from the original spirit of this classic, but his production is unlikely to win new fans.” EW grade: B

Wait Until Dark The Newsroom’s Alison Pill takes a stab (pun intended) at a role created memorably by Audrey Hepburn in Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of the spooker about a blind woman terrorized by con men. Lindsey Bahr insists the tense thriller still has a kick. “[The production] reminds CGI-infected audiences that a few shadows, a shiny knife, and compelling characters can still go a long way to create suspense… the famous showdown does not disappoint.” EW grade: A–

The Winslow Boy  Roundabout Theatre Company revives Terrence Rattigan’s 1946 English drama about a family’s efforts to clear their son’s good name from a crime, starring Roger Rees, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Alessandro Nivola. Thom Geier had mixed feelings about the production: “Director Lindsay Posner, who previously staged the show at London’s Old Vic, brings a crisp precision to the proceedings. But there’s only so much you can do with the material, which feels like an over-long and decidedly twee Masterpiece Theatre drama.” EW grade: B-

'Pretty Little Liars' star Keegan Allen talks his NYC stage debut in 'Small Engine Repair'

Sure, you can find Pretty Little Liars‘ Toby, the show’s second most questionable fella, running around Rosewood, but starting this month, the same can’t be said for Toby’s portrayer, Keegan Allen. Rather, Allen, 26, is spending his days on a stage just out of Rosewood’s reach.

Allen is starring in the off-Broadway play Small Engine Repair. Put on by MCC Theater, Small Engine Repair is a comic thriller about three old high-school pals who regularly meet up at an off-the-beaten-path repair shop. What they do, we’re not sure. But we do know that when 19-year-old Chad (Allen) shows up, things start happening, and social media plays a big part in all the goings on.

The play, which is written by John Pollono, already found success at L.A.’s Rogue Machine Theatre, even winning a Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for playwriting. And now it has made its way to New York. Small Engine Repair is directed by Jo Bonney and stars, along with Allen, James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3), James Ransone (The Wire), and the playwright himself, John Pollono. Previews begin Oct. 30 at the Lucille Lortel Theater, with opening night set for Nov. 20.

We caught up with Allen to talk about the play, his acting choices, and that James Franco movie:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is Small Engine Repair about? How did you get involved?
KEEGAN ALLEN: Small Engine Repair is a psychological thriller that is also a comedy. It has a huge amount of twists and turns. When I look at material that I want to do, I look at it as would I want to see this? Would I want to be an audience member that would want to not only purchase the ticket but walk away from it with something. And John [Pollono] hits on all cylinders with this, not only with the comedy but also with the very interesting look at our generation and social media, [and the] huge lack of empathy now because of texting … Twitter or Facebook or anything, Four Square, all of these technical aspects that remove us from human contact. And he touches on this and kind of brings two generations colliding together, so it was great. I play a 19-year-old privileged jock, would be the best way to describe it in a very vague way so as to not give anything away, amongst these middle-aged men. It’s a really challenging role. READ FULL STORY

Sarah Jessica Parker's new stage role: Get a behind-the-scenes look -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

It’s amazing to discover that Sarah Jessica Parker hasn’t appeared on the New York stage in 12 years (!), which was right in the midst of her celebrated turn as Carrie Bradshaw in HBO’s Sex and the City.

Meanwhile, uptown…(hee hee), it is quite a big deal that NYC has her back, starring in a brand-new play called The Commons of Pensacola, written by none other than actress Amanda Peet (The Good Wife) — making her stage debut as a playwright — with a tale of a woman (Parker) reconnecting with her her mother, who has been forced out of living a luxurious lifestyle. And given that the latter role is played by Blythe Danner (who, it is mentioned, was Parker’s co-star in A.R. Gurney’s delightful comedy Sylvia nearly 20 years ago), this looks to be one of the hot shows to catch this fall. And it’s already a monster hit off-Broadway, with nary a performance under their belt and a several-week extension (seats are only on sale through Jan. 26, so you might want to act fast). Judging by the clip below, there appears to be no shortage of chemistry between these ladies.

The Commons of Pensacola begins previews at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stage I in NYC on Oct. 22, with an opening night scheduled for Nov. 21. The play will run through Jan. 26; for tickets and additional info, you can visit MTC’s website.

'Pretty Little Liars' star Keegan Allen to make NYC stage debut in 'Small Engine Repair' -- EXCLUSIVE

Pretty Little Liars star Keegan Allen will make his professional stage debut this fall in MCC Theater‘s Off Broadway production of  Small Engine Repair. And it sounds like he hasn’t left the intrigue of Rosewood behind. Allen will play a privileged college jock who turns up at an out-of-the-way repair shop and sets off an explosion of resentment among the three former high school buddies who regularly meet there under shady circumstances. The buddies will be played by James Badge Dale (World War Z, The Lone Ranger, Iron Man 3), James Ransone (The Wire, Treme), and actor-playwright John Pollono, who wrote the script. (Dale replaces The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal, who had previously been announced for the play but had to bow out due to scheduling issues.) READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: 'Matilda' casts her spell on Broadway


This week marks the arrival of the biggest Brit hit musical since a little boy named Billy Elliot pirouetted his way across the pond, but the Off Broadway offerings in this round-up are also not to be ignored. As we prep for a tidal wave of openings in the next three weeks (with 12 Broadway titles alone to come!), check out what our staff has to say about these: (click on the links below to read the full reviews):

Matilda: Four very lucky little girls share the title role in this bold reimagining of the classic Roald Dahl novel which broke records sweeping Britain’s Olivier Awards last year. Did it survive the ride across the ocean with kudos intact? Thom Geier says yes and dubs it as enticing as a bedtime story, “you want to shout, ”Again!” and demand that the cast start over from the very beginning so you might catch everything that you missed”. He adds, “ [the show] captures the wonder and innocence of childhood, but also the frustrations that face kids confronting the bitter unfairness of the adult world”. EW grade: A– READ FULL STORY

Jeremy Jordan and Jonathan Groff sing gender-bending cover of 'Let Me Be Your Star' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

It’s Smash as you’ve never seen it before.

What if Broadway vets Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) and Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening) had been vying to play Marilyn Monroe on the first season of the Broadway-set NBC drama instead of Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty? Well, alternate-universe shippers can rejoice! On Monday, Jordan and Groff belted out a gender-bent version of the show’s signature ballad, “Let Me Be Your Star,” at a benefit for the Off Broadway’s MCC Theater (whose current production, Really Really, stars Girls‘ Zosia Mamet and Parenthood‘s Matt Lauria).

This year’s “Miscast” fund-raiser featured a bunch of theater-friendly celebs performing tunes originally written for performers of decidedly different ages, genders, or ethnicities. Tony-winner Jane Krakowski tackled the title song from the Latino-centric musical In the Heights, while her former 30 Rock castmate Cheyenne Jackson paired with Jordan to play Side Show‘s conjoined twins Daisy and Violet on “Who Will Love Me As I Am.” But nothing can top Jordan and Groff’s wiggy take on “Let Me Be Your Star.”

Check out the clip below. READ FULL STORY

See the cast of Off Broadway's 'The Last Five Years' perform the song 'Shiksa Goddess' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

So you can’t wait for Jeremy Jordan (Smash) and Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) to star in the just-announced Richard LaGravenese-directed big-screen musical The Last Five Years? Well, this month Off Broadway’s Second Stage is staging a revival of composer Jason Robert Brown’s 2002 chamber musical, which follows an aspiring writer and a struggling actress through the ups and downs of twentysomething love in New York City. Brown’s show has garnered a cult following since it premiered a decade ago, thanks in part to its ingenious structure: His story unfolds chronologically from their first meeting, while hers is told backwards from the dissolution of their marriage.

And if you really, really can’t wait to see something of The Last Five Years, here’s an exclusive clip of Adam Kantor (Ezra from The Good Wife) belting the heck out of the number “Shiksa Goddess” in rehearsals. You’ll also catch a glimpse of costar Betsy Wolfe (most recently of Broadway’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and Brown himself. He’s directing the Second Stage revival, which starts performances March 7 for an April 2 opening.

Follow Thom on Twitter: @ThomGeier

Read more:
This Week on Stage: Jesse Eisenberg and Edie Falco open Off Broadway
Meet the four young stars of Broadway’s ‘Matilda the Musical’ — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
Shia LaBeouf reveals ‘creative differences’ with Alec Baldwin after exiting Broadway show
EW Stage hub

This Week on Stage: Jesse Eisenberg and Edie Falco open Off Broadway

In a rare treat for Off Broadway audiences, the incomparable Vanessa Redgrave is playing a Polish septuagenarian opposite Jesse Eisenberg in Eisenberg’s own play The Revisionist. I can’t imagine the last time the Oscar- and Tony-award-winning actress has played in a venue as small as the 179-seat Cherry Lane Theatre. But The Revisionist isn’t the only starry premiere on the boards this week; here’s a roundup of notable openings (click links for the full review).

The Revisionist Vanessa Redgrave displays “a well-wrought accent and hard-earned professional brio” in Jesse Eisenberg’s new drama about a young American writer visiting a distant Polish cousin, I write. But Eisenberg, who also stars, “ends his play far too abruptly, with a surprise decision that feels forced and implausible.” EW grade: B

The Madrid Edie Falco, as a kindergarten teacher who abandons her job as well as her family without so much as a note of explanation, “instantly elevates what could be just another wayward-character drama into something that feels moored in a great performance,” writes Tanner Stransky. EW grade: B– READ FULL STORY

'Peter and the Starcatcher' heads Off Broadway


Peter and the Starcatcher may be closing on Broadway later this month, but the Tony Award-winning play has found a new home Off Broadway at New World Stages.

Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the Peter Pan prequel tells the story of the orphan who became The Boy Who Never Grew Up. The play first debuted in March 2011 at New York Theatre Workshop before heading to Broadway in 2012, where it will close on Jan. 20. The show will transfer to its new Off-Broadway location this spring.

“We have had an amazing run on Broadway, and audience demand continues to grow,” said lead producer Nancy Nagel Gibbs. “In fact, last week we had our highest grossing week ever. Our transfer to New World Stages allows the ‘little show that could’ to continue to inspire and enchant even more audiences.”

A national tour is scheduled to begin in August.

Read more:
‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ gets box office bump even before Tony wins
Tony Awards: Check out the full list of winners here!
Broadway critical list: ‘Magic/Bird,’ ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ struggle out of the gate

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