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Broadway 'Love Letters' casts Carol Burnett, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston

The first Broadway revival of A.R. Gurney’s seminal epistolary play has assembled a high-profile cast for a series of limited engagements this fall.

Love Letters remains one of theater’s most enduring romances of the past 25 years, having first opened in New Haven, Connecticut, in November 1988. The show paints a portrait of two friends—Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III—who have exchanged letters for over 50 years, having spent a lifetime discussing their greatest hopes and deepest disappointments.

Directed by Gregory Mosher, Love Letters will feature a rotating ensemble of players who will star in the two-person romance, opening Sept. 18 at the Nederlander Theatre. The cast schedule is as follows: READ FULL STORY

Soon you'll be able to see James Franco in 'Of Mice and Men' on screen

The hit Broadway production of Of Mice and Men is galloping to a close this Sunday. But the very idea of James Franco and Chris O’Dowd playing iconic ranchhands George and Lennie will live on forever, as National Theatre Live has announced plans to film and internationally broadcast the Anna D. Shapiro-directed revival.

Of Mice and Men—which also stars Gossip Girl alum Leighton Meester, True Blood alum Jim Parrack, and stage veteran Jim Norton—will be the first Broadway show filmed by the company. Screening dates will be announced later this year.

National Theatre Live’s M.O. is to film productions—typically the starrier, more memorable ones based in the UK—and screen them in cinemas and on digital platforms. The company began in June 2009, broadcasting Helen Mirren’s Phedre, and has since preserved War Horse, Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller in Frankenstein, and Tom Hiddleston’s Coriolanus, among dozens of others.

Of Mice and Men opened on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre on July 20, and became the first production of the spring to recoup its full investment after twelve weeks.

Andrew Rannells gets glittery in 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' poster

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In comes Andrew, out goes Neil, but the glitter will always remain the same.

A new poster has been released for Andrew Rannells’ stage return in the Broadway rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He replaces Tony winner Neil Patrick Harris as the German transvestite rocker intent on putting on a concert across the street from his ex-lover’s rival show.

With the announcement of Rannells’ casting in June, the Tony-winning revival of Hedwig also announced its extension beyond Harris’ originally scheduled end date of August 17. Rannells will step into the role for a limited eight-week engagement beginning August 20.

Hint: Click the photo above for full-size Rannells.

Elaine Stritch: A toast to a stage legend

“I’d like to propose a toast.” They’re just six simple words introducing “The Ladies Who Lunch” in the musical Company, but they’re the six words that introduced the scene that got theater and cabaret audiences talking about Elaine Stritch, who died today at age 89.

This bit, which unfolds over about 12 minutes with the tension of an ace Hitchcock thriller, is about as apt a descriptor of Stritch’s legacy as any: In the benchmark 1971 D.A. Pennebaker documentary Company: Original Cast Album, Stritch famously tries to get through a marathon show album recording. Tugging at her hair with voice tired and weary, her resolve dwindling, with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim nervously shrinking in the sound booth, even Stritch cannot deal with the sound of her voice on playback after the less-than-stellar take. “Oh, shut up!” she screams at herself in agony. They all agree to table the recording of “Ladies” until the next day. And just some hours later, they reconvene in the studio, everyone on pins and needles, and she absolutely nails it. And cast album history is made. READ FULL STORY

'Rocky' musical to get knocked off Broadway in August

It looks like Rocky is out for the count.

The musical adaptation of the 1976 Sylvester Stallone film will close on Broadway on August 17 after only 28 previews and 188 regular performances at the Winter Garden Theatre. Though the show was able to perform at last month’s Tony Awards, taking home a prize for scenic design, a lack of best musical nomination and lukewarm reviews resulted in a dwindling box office for the show.

Stallone had adapted his own screenplay with Thomas Meehan (Annie) in writing the book for the musical, with Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime) penning the score. After a world premiere in 2012 in Hamburg, Germany, the show opened on Broadway in March with Andy Karl starring in the title role as Philly boxer Rocky Balboa.

'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' with Neil Patrick Harris recoups investment on Broadway

Neil Patrick Harris, in fishnets and heels, has officially torn down the Broadway box office.

Less than three months after opening, the Harris-led, Tony-winning revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch has recouped its initial investment on Broadway. Harris won a Tony last month for playing the titular German transgender rocker in the John Cameron Mitchell and  Stephen Trask musical, breaking the fourth wall and directly interacting with the audience at the Belasco Theatre seven times a week (unlike most shows, which are scheduled for eight performances). The production, directed by Michael Mayer, took home a total of four Tony Awards, including best revival of a musical and performance awards for Harris and co-star Lena Hall.

“Well, I guess New York loves Ms. Hedwig!” producer David Binder said in a statement. “Our girl is feeling it now! All of us at the Belasco Theatre couldn’t be more thrilled. We’re so grateful to all the folks who have turned out and we’re especially thankful to all the fans that have flown in from around the world to join our celebration on 44th street. It has been an incredible journey.”

Girls star and Tony nominee Andrew Rannells will take over wig-in-a-box duties from Harris next month, when he steps into the role of Hedwig beginning Aug. 20.

Tupac musical 'Holler If Ya Hear Me' will close July 20

After six weeks on stage, Holler If Ya Hear Me, the Broadway musical inspired by rapper Tupac Shakur’s music, is closing on Sunday, July 20.

“My hope is that a production of this calibre, powerful in its story telling, filled with great performances and exciting contemporary dance and music will eventually receive the recognition it deserves. It saddens me that due to the financial burdens of Broadway, I was unable to sustain this production longer in order to give it time to bloom on Broadway,” producer Eric L. Gold said in a statement. “Tupac’s urgent socially important insights and the audiences’ nightly rousing standing ovations deserve to be experienced by the world.”

READ FULL STORY

First listen: Audra McDonald channels Billie Holiday in Broadway's 'Lady Day'

It’s the performance everyone’s been talking about: Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald set a Tony record with her latest star turn, playing troubled blues singer Billie Holiday in the final months of her life in the Broadway play Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.

Set in a seedy bar in the late ’50s, McDonald plays the jazz legend in one of her final performances. It’s a fully transportative experience for the audience, whose reactions help create the illusion carried by McDonald’s performance. To reflect that experience, Lady Day’s new original Broadway cast album was recorded live during performances of the show in late May.

The two-disc set offers an immersive translation of the show, a feat not reflected in several of this season’s recent cast albums. Lady Day’s cast recording (by PS Classics) will be available digitally and in stores on July 15, but Entertainment Weekly has an exclusive first listen to four of the tracks from the show, offering recognizable Holiday songs and a sample of the stories McDonald shares during the performance.

READ FULL STORY

Magic show 'The Illusionists' will play Broadway

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One of the world’s most successful magic tours will make a pit stop on Broadway this fall.

The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible will begin previews on November 26 at the Marriott Marquis Theatre prior to a December 4 opening. The strictly limited six-week engagement, ending January 4, 2015, is one city on a 30-stop tour that will chug onward to Washington, D.C. following the Broadway run.

Conceived by Simon Painter, The Illusionists is a special effects-filled showcase for seven talented performers, each of whom is a field master of a different element of illusion: The Manipulator (Yu Ho-Jin); The Anti-Conjuror (Dan Sperry), described as “Marilyn Manson meets David Copperfield”; The Trickster (Jeff Hobson); The Escapologist (Andrew Basso), the “only person in the world to perform Houdini’s famous Water Torture Cell with absolutely no covers”; The Inventor (Kevin James); The Futurist (Adam Trent); and The Warrior (Aaron Crow), “a strong and silent type specializing in weapon magic.”

Musical version of 'First Wives Club' announced

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Here’s another movie-to-musical adaptation to add to the already-quite-long list.

A musical version of The First Wives Club, which starred Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, and Bette Midler in the film, is headed to Broadway, producers announced Monday. The show will have a pre-Broadway engagement in Chicago beginning in spring 2015, with a Broadway run planned beginning in the 2015-2016 season.

Five-time Emmy nominee Linda Bloodworth Thomason makes her theatrical debut as book writer. The First Wives Club, set to be directed by Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), will feature songs–both new original music and classics–by Motown legends Holland-Dozier-Holland, who are responsible for such hits as “Stop in the Name of Love” and “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).” READ FULL STORY

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