It was one busy week on the New York stage, with three Broadway openings and one rare day-after-premiere closing: No sooner did the producers of the starry porn-world comedy The Performers study the show’s mixed reviews than they decided to call it quits. (Guess they thought they’d lost their money shot.) Over at the Encores! series at New York City Center, Glee star Amber Riley jazzed up the Broadway-ready revue Cotton Club Parade. And Off Broadway saw at least a half dozen major new productions featuring stars like Ethan Hawke, Sigourney Weaver, David Hyde Pierce, and Boardwalk Empire‘s Gretchen Mol. READ FULL STORY
Tag: This Week on Stage (31-40 of 171)
Two Sandys dominated the New York theater scene this week. One was the canine star of the beloved musical Annie, which opened Thursday night to generally mixed reviews (despite a near rave from EW’s Jessica Shaw). The other was the hurricane that disrupted numerous productions last week. The storm even became the unlikely scapegoat for the producers of the Al Pacino-led revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, which pushed back its opening date from Nov. 11 to Dec. 8 despite being in previews since Oct. 9 and canceling only a handful of performances due to Sandy. Here’s our take on recent openings:
Annie The rags-to-riches 1977 musical makes a welcome return to Broadway in a new production starring 11-year-old Lilla Crawford (pictured above, with rescue dog Sunny as Sandy). According to EW’s Jessica Shaw, “This Annie is a love letter to both the city and a musical that’s endured for 35 years.” EW grade: A–
Sorry Like his last two plays, Richard Nelson’s deliberately timely new Off Broadway drama opened on the day on which it’s set: In this case, Election Day 2012. As Melissa Rose Bernardo writes, “The lightning-in-a-bottle nature of the works — particularly Sorry, with its references to Hurricane Sandy and even the approaching nor’easter — imbues them with a thrilling immediacy.” EW grade: A–
Bad Jews Off Broadway regular Tracee Chimoo is “terrific,” Lisa Schwarzbaum writes, in up-and-coming playwright Joshua Harmon’s “lively little comedy of hostility and intrafamily kvetching.” EW grade: B
The Heiress I had nothing but praise for “s crisp, first-rate production,” starring about a wealthy 19th-century physician (David Strathairn) whose plain-Jane daughter (Jessica Chastain) is suddenly wooed by a penniless charmer played by Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens. EW grade: A
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Winter is coming to Broadway. And so is Emilia Clarke, the Khaleesi from HBO’s Game of Thrones, who will play Holly Golightly in a new adaptation of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out), opening this spring.
In addition, Tom Hanks confirmed that he’ll make his long-overdue Broadway debut this season as the late tabloid columnist Mike McAlary in Lucky Guy, a new play by Nora Ephron (who died of leukemia in June).
Also booked for the Great White Way this spring: Eric Coble’s new comedy The Velocity of Autumn, starring Estelle Parsons as an 80-year-old who locks herself into her Brooklyn brownstone with a pile of Molotov cocktails to resist her family’s attempt to move her into a nursing home. (The 84-year-old actress, now appearing in the musical Nice Work If You Can Get Is, has been a firecracker on stage for years — I can’t wait to see her armed with the real thing.)
Of course, the biggest star heading to the stage may be a certain classic primate with sights on Melbourne’s Regent Theatre in June: This week, producers announced plans for a very large-scale King Kong musical, with a book by Craig Lucas (Light in the Piazza) and a rock score featuring tunes from Sarah McLachlan, Justice, Massive Attack’s Robert del Naja, and the Avalanches’ Guy Garvey. After the jump, check out EW’s take on the week’s biggest new openings in New York and Los Angeles. READ FULL STORY
“Seasons of Ape-Human Love”? “Seventy-Six Fighter Planes”? “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going (to Climb Down the Empire State Building)”? These made-up songs will not appear in a new musical based on the classic 1933 film King Kong — but the show itself is very much real. According to a press release, Kong is set to premiere in June 2013 at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre.
The musical’s book was written by Tony Award nominee Craig Lucas, who also penned the script for The Light in the Piazza. Its score is studded with both refurbished Depression-era tunes and original material by contemporary artists including Sarah McLachlan, Justice, Massive Attack’s Robert del Naja, and The Avalanches’ Guy Garvey. Producer Marius deVries will oversee Kong‘s music; he’s being credited as the show’s “composer and arranger.”
The theater season has just begun, but it’s already claimed its first Broadway casualty. Producers scuttled plans for a musical version of the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca, which was to open this fall, but failed to secure all of its $12 million budget amid reports of phantom investors, sabotage, and fateful producer inexperience. Not all of the drama was backstage, however, with several high-profile productions making their debuts with (mostly) mixed critical response:
Despite reports that the first few preview performances of Into the Woods in Central Park were far from happily ever after, the Stephen Sondheim revival opened this week to generally mixed reviews (including a rave from EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum for stars Amy Adams and Donna Murphy). It’s not the only fairytale story in the theater world this week: The musical version of the Will Ferrell movie Elf will return to Broadway after a one-year hiatus, and producers announced plans to bring Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (which the famed songwriting team wrote for television in 1957) to Broadway this spring. Tony-nominated Grease and Bonnie & Clyde star Laura Osnes will star as the glass-slippered heroine in a new production with an updated book by Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed).
Broadway also found an unlikely new star in the form of a boxer whom even caustic New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel might not want to mess with. In its first week on Broadway, Mike Tyson’s one-man show Undisputed Truth earned nearly $625,000, an impressive 78 percent of the potential gross at the Longacre Theatre. (It even outgrossed long-running hits like Chicago, War Horse, and Rock of Ages.) Personally, I can’t wait for him to return to the stage. Perhaps the Public could build a revival of Julius Caesar around him. “Friends, Romans, Holyfields, lend me your ears…” READ FULL STORY
A high-flying, basket-tossing new musical based on the 2000 teen cheerleader comedy Bring It On took an unusual (backward-somersaulting) path to its Broadway opening this week. Instead of launching a national tour after a splashy New York run, the energetic tuner (which is only loosely based on the Kirsten Dunst film, plot-wise) played in 13 cities starting last November before bowing on the Great White Way. In my B+ review, I noted the youthful cast and a score, by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), with lyrics by Miranda and Amanda Green (High Fidelity), that actually “sounds like it was composed in this century.”
Also on Broadway, it’s the final curtain this weekend for three shows: Fela!, a short-run musical revival that has been doing anemic box office; Harvey, the comedy revival ending its limited summer run so star Jim Parsons can return to L.A. to shoot The Big Bang Theory; and Memphis, the 2010 Tony-winning musical that is expected to recoup its $12 million investment this weekend after 30 previews and 1,166 performances over the course of nearly three years. (At that rate, imagine how long it might take Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark to break even.) READ FULL STORY
Mel Brooks’ The Producers is typically a thoroughly New York affair, due to the fact that it’s a slapsticky, backstage musical about a pair of corrupt Broadway producers determined to make the biggest flop in the history of the Great White Way. But last night’s production of the musical at the Hollywood Bowl came off — as you might expect, in such a thoroughly historic Los Angeles location — as a very Tinseltown take on the show.
And it wasn’t only because Hollywood stars like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Dane Cook, and Rebecca Romijn were starring in the show, but rather because of the scene happening in the crowd as the sun set. Under the stars, tons of other stars were out and about. Brooks himself (looking spry at 86 years old!) ambled in with a security guard just minutes before the show started. The legend was followed by Eric Stonestreet, who plays Ferguson’s on-screen partner on Modern Family. Minutes later, Romijn’s husband Jerry O’Connell could be seen finding his seat in the amphitheater, which can hold about 17,000 folks when full. Who knows what other Hollywood stars or legends were in the crowd, but there were likely dozens of other bold-faced names there.
There are few new shows opening on Broadway this summer, which means that the action shifts to other locales. For instance: the Nevada desert, where EW’s Annie Barrett reported on Dancing With the Stars: Live in Las Vegas, a fringe- and sequin-filled spectacle hosted by a gawping and handsy Carson Cressley. Among the week’s other big debuts:
The Exorcist A new (non-musical) stage version of the horror classic, adapted by John Pielmeier (Agnes of God) and directed by John Doyle, premiered at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse. The heavyweight cast includes Richard Chamberlain as head exorcist Father Merrin and Brooke Shields as the mother of a girl possessed by a malevolent force (pictured above). But EW’s Josh Rottenberg writes: “This stripped-down, cerebral take on the story of a demonically possessed young girl is more interested in stimulating ruminations about the nature of evil and the meaning of faith than inducing anyone to scream, faint, or fumble for a barf bag.” EW grade: C
How to Train Your Dragon Stage Spectacular DreamWorks Animation’s 2010 cartoon hit about a young Viking named Hiccup and the dragons his clan seeks to vanquish has begun a six-month, multi-city tour in arenas across North America. Jeff Labrecque was impressed by the stagecraft, particularly the 3,200-pound animatronic dragons. Still, he writes, “Cirque du Soleil fans might appreciate all the bells and whistles — break dancing, shadow puppetry, loud blasts of controlled fire — but some scenes feel like a limp parody of a Scandinavia-set Winter Olympics opening ceremony.” EW grade: B
Macbeth Tony-winning Scottish actor Alan Cumming (The GoodWife) takes a daring approach to Shakespeare’s tragedy, playing a patient in an asylum who acts out all the parts in the play — from prissy King Duncan to seductive Lady Macbeth to the three witches — in a production at NYC’s Lincoln Center Festival. “Unless you already know who’s who, you might find yourself checking out during this high-concept presentation,” warns Melissa Rose Bernardo, though she offers high praise for Cumming’s “ambidextrous” performance. EW grade: B+
Alec Baldwin has already lined up his first post-30 Rock gig: The actor will star in the Broadway debut of Orphans, directed by Daniel Sullivan and produced by Frederick Zollo and Robert Cole.
“I have dreamed, for a long time, of doing this play with this director,” Baldwin said in a statement that was put out with the announcement. “It’s an honor to work with Dan Sullivan in Lyle Kessler’s Orphans.”
The play features three characters. At the center of it all are two orphaned brothers who live in a run-down row house in North Philadelphia. There’s Treat, the eldest, who supports his damaged younger brother Phillip by stealing. The house turns into a prison for Phillip, who appears to be simple-minded. On one particular occasion, Treat kidnaps a rich, older man, Harold — this is the role Baldwin has been cast in — who, as it’s revealed, has his own motives and becomes a father figure for the boys. The roles of Treat and Phillip have not yet been cast.
An exact location for the play has yet to be set, but Orphans will be staged at one of the Shubert theaters in New York City. Orphans first premiered in 1983 at The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles, before heading off for a Steppenwolfe Theatre engagement in Chicago in 1985 and a successful runs in off-Broadway in New York and in London. A film version was made in 1987.
Baldwin’s last hit the New York stage in 2006, when he starred in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Off Broadway production of Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr. Sloane. More recently, he appeared on stage in the 2010 Guild Hall production of Peter Shaffer’s Equus, directed by Tony Walton, in East Hampton, N.Y.
The upcoming seventh season of 30 Rock will be the NBC comedy’s last and, although Baldwin has a tradition of wavering before returning for each season, he will appear in the series’ final 13 episodes, including a one-hour season finale. 30 Rock will likely wrap its shooting for the season before Orphans debuts.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky
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