This was a theater week of major losses for the stage community (RIP Mike Nichols) and some a bit smaller (the soon to be RIP Rock of Ages on Broadway, which announced a Jan. 18 closing), and the last onslaught of opening nights before the holiday season takes shape. And folks are already casting an eye toward the spring with rumors that the long-delayed Broadway arrival of The Visit starring Chita Rivera might succeed Rock of Ages, which leaves behind a highly desired theater (the Helen Hayes is Broadway’s smallest with only 597 seats). Meanwhile, there’s plenty of fish out there right now for theatergoers; literally, in the case of the week’s leader Hugh Jackman (pictured above) taking pride in gutting an actual fish onstage mere feet in front of you in his new Broadway play The River, which EW has checked out in addition to, among other dignified openings, the star-laden revival of one of Edward Albee’s best works, the glitzy revisal of the beloved 90s musical Side Show, and a super-bloody three-hour-plus Christopher Marlowe revenger (click on the links below for full reviews).
Tag: This Week on Stage (1-10 of 181)
This week marked the Broadway bows of actors Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal and one Gordon Sumner, but we all know him better as musician Sting (though, to be clear, this the composing debut of original music by Sting on Broadway; he actually appeared in a production of 3 Penny Opera on the boards 25 years ago). McGregor and Gyllenhaal are no strangers to the stage either, the former got raves for his smooth crooner in Guys and Dolls in the West End years back (why, oh why, didn’t we get that one too?), and Gyllenhaal has been quietly doing the classics downtown for some time now and brother Jake is getting in on the Broadway act too. Tyne Daly will also return to the Main Stem next spring after her triumphant, Tony-nommed turn in Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons this year with the David Hyde Pierce-directed musical comedy It Shoulda Been You, which will also feature ace songstress Sierra Boggess and, notably, Neil Patrick Harris’s better half David Burtka returning to Broadway after several years–and this is all in conjunction with both of them appearing on American Horror Story this season. Where, oh where, do these guys find the time? EW staffers also found some time to check out all of the new openings this week, which also include the first play by acclaimed novelist Walter Mosley and an eye-opening first part to Suzan Lori-Parks’ planned nine-part history opus (click on the links below for full reviews):
Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) Pultizer-winner Suzan Lori-Parks is no stranger to lofty projects (her 365 Plays/365 Days was exactly that), but her latest production at the Public Theater may be her most ambitious yet. And according to senor editor Thom Geier, it is most certainly one of her very best: “Parks’ stunning new drama is that rare work of art: one that bears the heavy burden of its subject matter—the peculiar institution of American slavery—but that carries it lightly.” EW grade: A
The Last Ship You can hear hits like “All This Time” and “When We Dance” in rocker Sting’s new musical about shipbuilders in a coastal British town fighting the winds of change both literally and figuratively, but most of the show’s tunes are completely original, entering him in the rockers-turned-composer canon that recently has included Bono and Cyndi Lauper. Senior writer Kyle Anderson says that “despite the relative lack of variety in the music and the hole-friendly narrative, there’s a lot to like about The Last Ship…but Sting’s score remains a burden, anchoring this Ship when it should be making bigger waves.” EW grade: B–
We were all hoping that the London production of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour would mark Keira Knightley’s Broadway debut (she got great reviews in 2011 starring opposite Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss), but we’ll take her however we can get her. Next fall, she will make her Broadway debut in Roundabout Theatre Company’s adaptation of the tragic novel Thérèse Raquin, continuing with Knightley’s affinity for period dramas. In other news, Big Brother standout Frankie J. Grande (the bro of another famous Grande, Ariana) will take on a supporting role in Rock of Ages for two months beginning Nov. 10 (not his first rodeo, though-he was famously in Mamma Mia! some years back) and the Shubert Organization, the titans who own most of the Broadway houses in NYC, announced a deal with super-producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan to produce new content for the stage. Which, given their involvement with lofty projects like (ahem) The Oscars means more big stars to keep those attendances on the Great White Way sky high. It was also a very busy week for the folks at EW, with six new Broadway and Off Broadway openings: Josh Radnor and Gretchen Mol return to the stage after the wrap of their long-running TV shows, How I Met Your Mother and Boardwalk Empire (whose finale airs this weekend). A valued member of the Redgrave dynasty takes on a classic solo. And speaking of Mad Men, Vincent Kartheiser goes all accent-y to capture the spirit of the late, great Billy Wilder (click on the links below for full reviews).
Disgraced The 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Drama by Ayad Akhtar finally receives a Broadway berth courtesy of Lincoln Center (which first produced it in their black-box Off Broadway space), with new actors Josh Radnor and Gretchen Mol joining actors Hari Dhillon and Karen Pittman from previous productions. Senior editor Thom Geier feels the work hasn’t lost any of his luster, stating that “we get an engaging snapshot of the challenge for upwardly mobile Muslim Americans in the post-9/11 age…Akhtar packs a lot into his scenes, in terms of both coincidence-heavy personal drama and talky disquisitions on religion and politics, but he usually manages to pull back from the edge of too-muchness.” EW grade: B+
The Belle of Amherst Nip/Tuck star Joely Richardson takes on one of the late Julie Harris’ most acclaimed roles, essaying Emily Dickinson, but did senior editor Adam Markovitz find her the Belle of the ball? “It’s easy to see why Richardson would be drawn to a revival…there’s nowhere to hide if it doesn’t work, no one to lean on if the energy flags. For Richardson, the gamble doesn’t quite pay off. During a recent performance, trudging through a few fumbled lines and what sounded like an ill-timed cold, the actress often gave the impression that she was marking out the play’s beats—laugh here, fall down crying there—without fully acting them.” EW grade: C READ FULL STORY
The randy sailors of On the Town are back in the Big Apple, and taking up permanent residence at the newly-renamed Lyric Theatre (where the beleaguered Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was the previous tenant), with lots of dancing boys and girls courtesy of Smash‘s acclaimed choreographer Joshua Bergasse (keep your eyes peeled to EW.com for a future feature on him, by the way). In other news, “Big” Al Pacino is coming back to Broadway next fall in a brand-new play written expressly for him by master wordsmith David Mamet, about a billionaire taking a fateful phone call before semi-retirement. And Emma Stone is getting ready to take over for Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles in Cabaret (EW jumped on that as well this week). And EW staff is busy as ever covering the fall openings, with six new productions this week, including a new musical based on Davy Rothbart’s famous series of found notes and letters, and new plays with live hot tubs and full meals; no expense-spared entertainment! (Click on the links below for full reviews.)
On the Town The classic boys-on-a-day-pass from the Navy musical gets a large-scale revival with expert hoofers Tony Yazbeck, Megan Fairchild and Clyde Alves (with the comic stylings of Jackie Hoffman). Did senior editor Thom Geier have a helluva time? He calls it “spirited and surprisingly frank…But the biggest laughs of the evening go to Broadway veteran Hoffman, who serves up a rare culinary treat in her gut-busting recurring role as the heroine’s delusional vocal instructor: She’s a kosher ham.” EW grade: B+
While I Yet Live Last year, Billy Porter won the musical best actor Tony for Kinky Boots so what was net on the horizon for him? Playwright, of course! He tells a semi-autobiographical tale of growing up black, gay and religious in a troubled family. Melissa Rose Bernardo praises its leading lady, Law & Order star S. Epatha Merkerson, dubbing her physical performance “astonishing”, but indicates the play has some issues: “Porter’s intentions may be beyond reproach; the fault is merely in his execution.” EW grade: C+ READ FULL STORY
Two buzzy new plays opened on Broadway this week. It’s Only a Play, a Terrence McNally comedy reuniting Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, is proving to be anything but an only at the box office. It’s averaging 1.2 million bucks per week and 101 percent attendance. The madcap sendup of Broadway roasts a lot of boldface names; one of its biggest targets — New York Times critic Ben Brantley — had a surprisingly good sense of humor about the depiction of himself. Also opening this week is the stateside premiere of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling 2003 novel. (Note: If you see the show, don’t head too quickly for the exit post-curtain call, trust me.) In other news, after falling slowly (ba-dum-bum) for some months now in ticket sales, the Tony-winning musical Once is throwing in the towel on Jan. 4 after a nearly two-year run. Andrew Rannells winds down his run in Hedwig and the Angry Inch this weekend to make way for Dexter star Michael C. Hall in his first musical role on Broadway in over 10 years. Here are EW’s reviews of this week’s new Broadway plays (click on the links below for full reviews): READ FULL STORY
Anna Gunn could very well win her second consecutive Emmy for Breaking Bad in about three weeks on the West Coast—but right now, she’s laying down some East Coast roots in Sex With Strangers, a new drama directed by David Schwimmer. The role is only the actress’s second major New York City stage part (she was in the supporting cast of The Rehearsal opposite Frances Conroy and Roger Rees back on Broadway in 1996), but the reviews for her and costar Billy Magnussen (soon to be seen in the long-awaited film of James Lapine/Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods; by the way, have you seen that spiffy trailer yet?), like the one we’ll provide you below, indicate she’ll get more love from theatergoers than Skyler White ever did as a character.
In other news, 2014 marks a banner year in which both Woody Allen and Mia Farrow scored Broadway shows. His self-penned Bullets Over Broadway will sleep with the fishes on Aug. 24, while Farrow begins a stint in A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters on Sept. 13, her first Broadway appearance since 1980’s Romantic Comedy. And no, I’m not counting her voice work in the megabomb Stephen Sondheim (him again!) play Getting Away With Murder. Letters will feature a rotating cast that will also include Brian Dennehy, Carol Burnett, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Martin Sheen and Game of Thrones‘ Diana Rigg, so it’s kind of a choose-your-own-veteran actor-adventure. And speaking of adventures, this week offered a cornucopia of new ones Off Broadway, including a bloody puppet bacchanal presented by the frontman for Twisted Sister, a new play from a scribe of Girls and Looking on HBO, and the sterling return of one of NYC’s most-emerged playwrights.
Click on the links below for full reviews: READ FULL STORY
The weekend of the Tonys has finally arrived, and EW will be your shepherd through the entire night, with reports from the red carpet and Radio City Music Hall, and senior editor Thom Geier and myself hosting a live blog of the entire ceremony, beginning at 8 p.m. ET when it airs on CBS. Host Hugh Jackman must already have his eyes on a prize for next season when he returns for Jerusalem playwright Jez Butterworth’s three-person drama The River, and other starry productions are slowly finding homes for next season. Glenn Close, John Lithgow, and Martha Plimpton will star in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance this fall at the Golden, James Earl Jones returns to Broadway in You Can’t Take it With You at the Longacre, and Bradley Cooper’s long-awaited return to Broadway in The Elephant Man is solid, with he and costars Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola assuming the Booth Theatre, a relatively intimate house, and perfect for B. Coop oglers as he will be largely unclothed for a large portion of the play. In other news, Blue star Julia Stiles returns to NYC in an Off-Broadway in a new work Off Broadway called Phoenix (her first production since tackling David Mamet’s Oleanna in 2009).
But never fear, EW’s Thom Geier is still checking out the latest productions amidst the Tony tornado; this week’s offerings include Kenneth Branagh (above) in his first-ever NYC stage appearance, Boardwalk Empire and Man of Steel star Michael Shannon tearing up Eugene Ionesco in Brooklyn, and veteran English actor Jim Dale (the voice behind the Harry Potter audiobooks) in a bioplay about his considerable theater career (click on the links below for full reviews): READ FULL STORY
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
With the Drama Desk nominations newly-minted, and Tony nominations being announced on Tuesday, we are in full-swing for year-end theater awards mania. And EW’s writers have been busy as bees getting out the last gasp of reviews from the 2013-2014 season, with no less than nine shows opening in the past week. Some themes are definitely emerging. We got men in ladies’ attire (Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, above, and Casa Valentina), men’s exposed buttocks (Alan Cumming in Cabaret, Nick Offerman in Annapurna), and sassy leading women who won’t take no for an answer (Estelle Parsons in The Velocity of Autumn, Sutton Foster in Violet). A little something for everyone! (Click on the links below for full reviews) READ FULL STORY
Lesson learned this week on Broadway: if he does not like what you wrote about him, James Franco will call you “a little bitch”. Franco, who made his Broadway debut this week in Of Mice and Men opposite Bridesmaids charmer Chris O’Dowd, took on the New York Times’ Ben Brantley on Instagram, making it the 453rd silly thing he’s done this year. (Or is it incredibly shrewd and constant self-promotion? One cannot be sure.) In more benevolent news, a bevy of much-loved stage, film, and TV triple threats returned to their roots, including Audra McDonald (channeling the haunted spirit of Billie Holiday, and amazingly so at that), Tony Shalhoub (a nominee last year for Golden Boy and could be again this year), Annette Bening (owning the stage as early 1900s performer Ruth Draper), and the now-film-retired Steven Soderbergh, making a dent Off-Broadway with a new play by frequent collaborator Scott Z. Burns, starring Carrie‘s Chloë Grace Moretz.
(Click on the links below for full reviews)
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