King Kong ain’t got s–t on superstar Denzel Washington (at least, not until the beast’s new musical declares a firm date next season), as the movie megastar touched down on Broadway for the first time since his Tony-winning turn in August Wilson’s Fences in 2010. And like that heralded revival, he once again got raves from most outlets. Also receiving raves this week was Wicked star Idina Menzel, who dazzles in If/Then, the new tuner by the Next to Normal team of Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. And though the young fans who adore her voice in Frozen may, well, freeze at the prospect of their favorite snow queen Elsa singing a song called “What the F–k?”, her Tony buzz and emotion-rich work has assured her status in the Broadway diva pantheon. (And speaking of Frozen, EW posted video of Smash alum Jeremy Jordan nailing Menzel’s signature Disney tune “Let It Go.” Seriously, check it out.) READ FULL STORY
Tag: This Week on Stage (11-20 of 181)
As you can tell from above, Prisoner 24601 still has the physical prowess to make us swoon (much like Hugh Jackman’s Oscar-nominated turn as Jean Valjean in the 2012 film), but Iranian/Canadian star Ramin Karimloo’s long-awaited Broadway debut as Valjean proved to be worth the wait. Coming off stellar reviews (and proving a threat to claim the Best Actor in a Musical Tony), with the revival already a smash hit, it seems that everything old is new again, as audiences cannot get enough barricades and French resistance (this time sans turntable, and all the better for it). Tyne Daly also made a welcome Main Stem return since the 2011 revival of Master Class where she was a Master Callas (Maria, that is), and EW teased new some new, starry Broadway premieres with the likes of Audra McDonald, and the much-decorated cast of The Realistic Joneses, as well as a early listen of the CD for the musical Beautiful, the Carole King opus with the uncanny and impressive Jessie Mueller. EW reviewed the aforementioned shows and a few others as we head into the nitty-gritty of the theater season, with no less than 12 Broadway openings to come in the next series of weeks (click on the links below for full reviews): READ FULL STORY
Disney can show you the world. Shining. Shimmering. Splendid. And given the mid-show standing ovation for “Friend Like Me” at every performance of Broadway’s Aladdin and the oohs and aahs of the young children who witness the literal magic carpet ride the show depicts, it’s safe to assume that Disney has its latest long-runner. (Now whether it can ever unseat The Lion King as the fourth longest-running show ever is another question.) In other news this week, Chris Pine and Lauren Ambrose will be taking on Sam Shepard’s lovers-in-squabble drama Fool for Love for three weeks in Williamstown, Mass. this summer, Daniel Radcliffe spoke to EW about his return to the NYC stage as the lead in Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, Norm Lewis will become the first African-American to star as Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera, beginning May 12 (opposite his Little Mermaid costar Sierra Boggess), and Tony winner Nina Arianda makes a long-awaited return to the stage (Off Broadway this time) in a new period play (click on the links below for reviews of this and other new productions of the week below). READ FULL STORY
“I have made a series of very bad decisions and I cannot make another one” was a line once spoken by Breaking Bad‘s Walter White, but it couldn’t be less true of the actor who said it. The one and only Bryan Cranston — on an impeccable roll for the last few years — has just made his Broadway debut to ecstatic notices for his lived-in, charged Lyndon Baines Johnson in All the Way, and early pundits indicate he may be the man to beat at Tony time. (Though not so fast, he still has heavy-hitters like Denzel Washington, Michael C. Hall, and Daniel Radcliffe to fend off in the next two months). In other news, King Kong is delaying plans to open this fall, making way for a revival of On the Town (which played to great acclaim in Massachusetts last season) to fill the barn-like parameters of the newly-named Lyric Theatre, vacant since Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark swung out in January to soon set up camp in Las Vegas. And the boards are ablaze with new shows in and out NYC (click on the links below for the full reviews): READ FULL STORY
Bronx Bombers has just announced a closing date of March 2, proving yet again that sports fans and Broadway do not make good bedfellows. There’s already a whisper in the air that the soon-to-be-vacant Circle in the Square might see Audra McDonald in a production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill a staple of regional theaters about Billie Holiday (not to be confused with last fall’s Off Broadway show Lady Day). That would complicate the Tony race for Best Actress in a Musical, which is already shaping up as a showdown between Sutton Foster (Violet), Idina Menzel (If/Then), Jessie Mueller (Beautiful), Michelle Williams (Cabaret), and the leading lady of the week, Kelli O’Hara, who just debuted to bright notices for her lovelorn Iowa housewife in the musical version of The Bridges of Madison County. Let the diva bloodbath begin! Bridges was reviewed by EW this week as well as three other new productions (click on the links below for the full reviews): READ FULL STORY
This Week on Stage: Hugh Jackman resumes Tony duties, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Andrea Martin score new roles
Given that the ubiquitous Neil Patrick Harris will be plenty busy in a wig and heels as the lead in the upcoming Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, it was apparent he would not resume his envied tenure as Tony Awards Host Extraordinaire. But no fretting, as megastar Hugh Jackman (due back on Broadway next season in a new Jez Butterworth play) is picking up the baton for his fourth time as host. And it’s quite a year too, as the star quotient for the 2014 show is sky-high (Denzel Washington, Bryan Cranston, James Franco, Zach Braff, and these are just for starters). In other news, word came down that Maggie Gyllenhaal will be the lucky lady to star opposite Ewan McGregor in the newest revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, with both actors making their Broadway debuts despite previous stage work.
And Andrea Martin, comedy fave and recent Tony winner for her literally show-stopping turn in Pippin, is set to delight farce-connoisseurs everywhere as maid Dotty Otley in the play within a play of Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Noises Off next season. You can definitely expect her to net a career-sixth Tony nomination in 2015 if she’s half as uproarious as expected. The week also provides an assembly of new show on both coasts (click on the links below to read the full reviews): READ FULL STORY
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 (Moonstruck, Doubt) 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
The winter chill may still be in the air but the theater season hasn’t cooled down too much; an extension has been granted for the Patrick Stewart/Ian McKellen Pinter-Beckett duo on the Great White Way, the Mark Rylance Shakespeare plays recently entered the top 10 weekly Broadway grossers (an astonishing feat for classic plays), Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh will take on Off Broadway’s Public Theater with a new play by frequent collaborator Scott Z. Burns to star Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie), and lots more big stars are soon to be touching down.
Daniel Radcliffe will return to NYC to take on the lead role in Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan (for which he got rave reviews in London last year). The dream-team cast of The Realistic Joneses (Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei) are definitely setting up camp this season, though curiously still have no theater (hmmm…). And some little birdies are chirping that megastar Hugh Jackman is eyeballing a Jez Butterworth play called The River as a return to Broadway in 2015 now that Houdini has vanished from the lineup. And this week marks an unusually busy week of openings for January, including the Broadway debut of rising British star Rebecca Hall, Frank Langella’s go to the Bard’s ultimate patriarch, and the auspicious breakthrough by one of our great new musical leading ladies (click on the links below to read the full reviews): READ FULL STORY
After three years on the boards, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has decided to call it quits on Jan. 5 after a tumultuous, headline-grabbing ride on Broadway that will result in a reported $60 million loss. Will producers be leery of investing in the next wave of in-development super-musicals (including a buzzed-about King Kong that is eyeing New York after a successful run in Melbourne). Meanwhile, this week’s openings are significantly less costly, including Ethan Hawke’s first Shakespeare turn on Broadway in 10 years, Tony winner Jefferson Mays in an eight-role bonanza, a first-time play by actress Amanda Peet with some heavy-hitting leads, and Pretty Little Liars’ Keegan Allen and ubiquitous movie heavy James Badge Dale in a new bro play (click on the links below for full reviews):
The Commons of Pensacola The Madoff scandal influences another play, this time the playwriting debut of actress Amanda Peet. The biggest coup: Stage and screen titans Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner play the leads. Senior writer Jessica Shaw was less than enchanted by the results, though she has great things to say about Ms. Danner: “The show belongs to Blythe Danner… she brings class and wit…even when asked to pass gas.” EW grade: B-
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder Wodehouse farce and classic musical theater blend together for this regional smash that has made its way to Broadway, with Jefferson Mays in arguably the toughest workout on Broadway playing the eight members of a homicidally unlucky family. Senior editor Thom Geier calls Mays’ performance “jaw-dropping” and adds, “no one is likely to get sick of the black comedy in A Gentleman’s Guide, which remains winsome and charming despite an alarming surfeit of devious and devilish characters. Quite simply, it’s a bloody good time.” EW grade: A
Macbeth In Lincoln Center’s bold new take on The Scottish Play, Ethan Hawke plays the beleaguered king and Anne-Marie Duff makes her Broadway debut as his scheming wife. According to EW’s Melissa Rose Bernardo, the Witches take center stage in this revival. “The craggy all-male trio of Malcolm Gets, John Glover, and Byron Jennings — pull all the strings, popping up in minor roles and causing toil and trouble at every turn” she writes. As for Hawke, she adds: “Though his scruffy, still-boyish looks suggest the prototypical Hamlet, Hawke makes a very convincing (and wonderfully sleazy) Scottish king.” EW grade: B-
One Night… True Blood’s Rutina Wesley, who had a fiery turn a few seasons ago opposite Jonathan Groff in The Submission, returns to the stage in Charles Fuller’s new Off Broadway play about traumas facing women in the U.S. armed forces. Melissa Rose Bernardo cops to finding this new work overstuffed: “Operation Iraqi Freedom, hallucinations, PTSD, homeless veterans, rape, sexism, arson, and broken families. How do you pack all that into a 90-minute play? Not very tidily, as it turns out.” EW grade: C
Small Engine Repair A quartet of guys with questionable histories meet up for a fateful evening in a New England auto repair shop, but senior writer Adam Markovitz wasn’t completely in tune with the Off Broadway play by John Pollono. “It’s a savvily written piece of punchline theater — the kind of play with 60 minutes of talky preamble leading up to one scene that’s funny, nerve-wracking, and ballsy enough to justify the whole show,” he writes. “For more ambitious work, you’re better off looking elsewhere.” EW grade: B-
Taking Care of Baby Dennis Kelly — who won a Tony this year for his book for the smash musical hit Matilda — enjoys the American premiere of his 2007 British play about a young mother implicated in the deaths of her two young children, and the media circus that surrounds it. The “verbatim play,” as it is known, proved a mixed but worthy affair per my review: “For about half of the play’s two-plus hours, the gimmick is genuinely compelling…. but the production is blessed with a laser-focused principal cast.” EW grade: B
Too Much, Too Much, Too Many A family copes with loss in this new work at Roundabout Underground, which highlights new works by up-and-coming scribes in an intimate Off Broadway black box space. “The cast gives passionate performances,” Stephan Lee writes, though he adds: “It’s a play in which a character says of another, ”He’s got loss in his voice,’ without a hint of irony.” EW grade: B
Another week, another one swimming off the Great White Way as the large-scale musical of Big Fish announced it will play its final show on Dec. 29 after 98 regular performances. (But definitely count on it being remembered at Tony time, especially for fearless lead Norbert Leo Butz.) People are showing in droves, however, for two of this week’s new entries: The return of Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays bagged over $1 million with only six performances last week (most shows have eight), and the Globe-inspired Shakespeare play duo at the Belasco is playing close to capacity every show, cementing Mark Rylance’s status as our premier import. Could he win, not one, but two more Tonys this season? He’s got competition aplenty already (including Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, also performing two shows in rep which open next weekend). But as a character in Twelfth Night says, “I have them at my fingers’ end.” Also this week is a radio play by the late Samuel Beckett (whom McKellen and Stewart are getting to know quite well with Waiting for Godot), and an Oscar-winning family dramedy that finds a new life on the NYC stage (click on the links below for full reviews): READ FULL STORY
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