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Tag: This Week on Stage (81-90 of 177)

Happy Birthday, 'Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark'! Hope you asked for cash.

One year ago today, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark swung into New York City’s Foxwoods Theatre for its very first preview—a disastrous outing that was stopped five times as wires fell, scenery broke, and two actors were left dangling helplessly in midair. Twelve months, two directors, six rescheduled opening nights, and 369 performances later, how is Broadway’s injury-ridden, lawsuit-stricken, most-expensive-musical-ever faring?

Eh. On the celebratory side, since starting previews, Spider-Man’s been playing to nearly full houses (665,395 total tickets sold so far) and grossing an average of $1.4 million a week, despite earning mostly bad reviews when it opened in June. Last week—which included the tourist-filled Thanksgiving holiday—the musical didn’t just best all its previous weekly grosses by earning $2.1 million dollars, it also it broke Foxwoods’ record for the highest six-day haul by a single show. Granted, the venue has hosted only eight other productions, including flops like The Pirate Queen, in its 13-year history.

On the bury-your-head-and-pretend-your-birthday-is-just-another-day side, the New York Times estimated that the $75 million show, which costs over $1 million a week to operate, would have to play at this capacity for at least five more years in order to pay off its debts. And that projection doesn’t account for the legal fees accrued to fight lawsuits recently filed by original director Julie Taymor and investor Patricia Lambrecht—or any possible payouts.

So what’s a 1-year-old show to do? Improve with age. According to the Times, rather than relying on money from touring productions or international versions of the musical to recoup its investment, Spider-Man‘s producers are going to first focus on bettering the current show in New York (albeit with costly endeavors). Among their ideas: adding a new scene and musical number every year. They’ll also expand Spidey’s radio advertising campaign across the country and continue to aggressively court foreign tourists. Who knows–we could be back here next year celebrating the show’s terrible twos.

This Week on Stage: Evenings with Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, and Alan Rickman

Three of Broadway’s best—Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin and Alan Rickman—returned to the Main Stem this week, but don’t be too thankful, because the results are varied.

EW film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum gives Rickman’s writing-themed Seminar (pictured) a C+, calling it a “synthetic, audience-stroking comedy,” and adding that it “has little of depth or authenticity to say about the struggle to put words in order.” She does, however, praise actor Hamish Linklater, who makes his Broadway debut in the play. “In the end, Seminar belongs to Hamish Linklater,” she writes. “The actor does such a good job of creating, sustaining, and quietly intensifying [his character’s] full personality.”

On the other hand, An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin is “two hours of good old-fashioned musical theater” according to critic Melissa Rose Bernardo. “The greatest of the greatest hits are here,” says Bernardo, giving the play an A-.  Patinkin’s ‘Oh What a Circus’ “reminds us what Ricky Martin’s up against in this spring’s Evita revival” and LuPone’s ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ has “powerhouse vocals….She gets a standing ovation simply by slowly raising her arms in the now-famous Evita-on-the-balcony pose.”

Off-Broadway had similar up-and-downs this week. The Cold War drama Blood and Gifts earns an A from stage editor Thom Geier, who praises playwright J.T Rogers. “He takes a subject that seems like the stuff of PBS or dry policy papers—Afghanistan in the 1980s,” writes Geier, “and crafts a smart, intellectually stimulating, and just-plain entertaining spy thriller.” On the other hand, while there are “some interesting ideas at work” in Thomas Higgins’ C+ boyhood drama Wild Animals You Should Know, Geier warns “none of the characters seem fully fleshed out in Higgins’ engaging but overly schematic plot.”

This Week on Stage: Julie Taymor fights back; Hugh Jackman returns to Broadway

Broadway’s most expensive musical is still nabbing the week’s biggest headlines. First, ousted Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark director Julie Taymor made her beef with the show’s producers official on Tuesday when she filed a federal lawsuit against 8 Legged Productions and Spidey co-writer Glen Berger for copyright infringement and breach of contract. Their response: We’ll see you in court. Then actor Matthew James Thomas — making his debut as Peter Parker — was injured offstage during a Wednesday matinee performance.

While Taymor and 8 Legged prepared to duke it out and Thomas mended, our critics reviewed a week’s worth of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Los Angeles shows — including Hugh Jackman’s hip-shaking return to the New York boards. Read the highlights below. READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: 'Funny Girl' postponed, 'Other Desert Cities' opens on Broadway

The current Broadway buzz isn’t so much about what’s happening next year (a David Mamet-penned prison drama starring Patti LuPone and Laurie Metcalf) as what’s not: Producers announced last night that the Lauren Ambrose-led revival of Funny Girl (scheduled to debut in early 2012) has been postponed indefinitely. The Matthew Broderick starrer Nice Work if You Can Get It is already set to take its space at New York’s Imperial Theatre.

But that’s enough rain on your parade. Our reviewers checked out three solid productions this week. Read the highlights below.  READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Jesse Eisenberg makes his playwriting debut

First time’s a charm, apparently: Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg’s stage-writing debut, Asuncion, earned a healthy B+ this week from writer Keith Staskiewicz. Our critics also saw two other productions — a premiere on the Main Stem and an I Love Lucy tribute in L.A — highlights below.

Asuncion: According to Staskiewicz, Eisenberg’s off-Broadway comedy about a liberal who discovers his hidden prejudices “is a solid playwriting debut.” “Even if the plot can be as shaggy and messy as the low-rent apartment in which it’s set,” he says, “Eisenberg has created something more ambitious than the sort of safe, colorless dramedy that a lot of first-time playwrights go for.” READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Steve Jobs gets remembered, Woody Allen and co. disappoint

Comedy apparently doesn’t come in threes. The triple-threat writing team behind Broadway’s Relatively Speaking — Woody Allen, Ethan Coen, and Elaine May — failed to impress this week, earning only a C+ from EW senior writer Clark Collis. Luckily, our reviewers saw three other higher-ranking Off-Broadway plays.  Read the highlights below.

Relatively Speaking: “This trio of comedies,” writes Collis, “is, comparatively speaking, far from any of its creators’ finest work.” Of the three C+ vignettes that make up Speaking, Collis likes May’s the best, as only she “seems to have really put her heart and soul into her one-act.” “[Speaking] most resembles the output of some supergroup whose members have decided to save their A game for solo projects.” READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: Samuel L. Jackson makes his Broadway debut

This week’s biggest opening — and best EW review — may belong to the Samuel L. Jackson/Angela Bassett two-hander The Mountaintop, but our critics also saw four other productions in New York and California. Read the highlights from all five reviews below (click on the bolded title for the full write-ups).

Man and Boy: Correspondent Keith Staskiewicz was captivated by Frank Langella’s “towering performance” as a ruthless financier whose crumbling empire forces him to reconcile with his son in this Depression-set Broadway revival. READ FULL STORY

This Week on Stage: 'Glee's Jonathan Groff, and Adam Rapp's newest off-Broadway

Broadway’s biggest news this week was sad stuff: Tony-winner Billy Elliot will shut its doors on Jan. 8 after 1,304 performances. Yet there were some things to be happy about. Rumors that Newsies could be headed to Broadway gained some ground when producers confirmed that they had been approached by several NYC theater owners wanting to host the show. Ghost the Musical announced its U.S. debut date: April 23, 2012. Jesus Christ Superstar is returning to Broadway in March. Alicia Keys will be writing original music for December’s Stick Fly. And Alan Rickman gave EW.com readers a little taste of what it’s like to be one of his cast members in Theresa Rebeck’s upcoming Seminar. As for off-the Great White Way, our reviewers saw four shows. Read the highlights below (click on the titles for the full reviews). READ FULL STORY

Stop the presses! 'Newsies' may be heading to Broadway this spring

Disney’s new stage version of the 1992 musical film Newsies, which had its world premiere this week at Millburn, N.J.’s Paper Mill Playhouse to generally rave reviews, may be headed to Broadway this spring. EW has confirmed reports that Disney has been approached by several Broadway theater owners about a possible transfer of the production, which is currently slated to run through Oct. 16 at Paper Mill. There are no firm plans as yet, since Disney had only modest ambitions for the show: namely, licensing it for schools and community theater groups.

Though the original film was a box office flop, Newsies developed a cult following on home video thanks to Beauty and the Beast composer Alan Menken’s songs and the early, enthusiastic (and sometimes charmingly off-key) performance of Christian Bale as a turn-of-the-20th-century newsboy leading a strike against New York City newspaper barons. One potential hitch for mounting Newsies on Broadway is that the lead actor playing Bale’s character from the film is already committed to another production. Jeremy Jordan will play Clyde Barrow in the Frank Wildhorn musical Bonnie & Clyde, which is scheduled to begin previews Nov. 4 before a Dec. 1 opening.

Read more:
‘Newsies’ first look photo
Christian Bale won’t star in stage version of ‘Newsies,’ but here’s what you can expect

'8': On the scene at the new, star-studded Broadway play by Dustin Lance Black

For one night only, the stars turned out on Broadway last night to stage a reading of 8, the new dramatization — directed by Joe Mantello and penned by Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk — of Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, the landmark 2010 trial that led the Federal Court to rule Proposition 8 unconstitutional. To say that the night’s cast was star-studded is an understatement; performers included Morgan Freeman, Rob Reiner, John Lithgow, Bradley Whitford, Ellen Barkin, Cheyenne Jackson, Matt Bomer, and Christine Lahti, among many other big names.

A crowd of celebrities, theater lovers, and LGBT rights supporters packed into the small but historic Eugene O’Neill Theater. On the way to find my seat, I spotted Barbara Walters, Jeffrey Toobin, and Fran Drescher, with gay ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson in tow. Amid set pieces for The Book of Mormon, which is currently in engagement at the Eugene O’Neill, the stage was set simply with director’s chairs arranged Inherit the Wind-style to represent a courtroom. The performers walked onstage to thunderous applause READ FULL STORY

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