Friday, December 31, 2010

Lin-Manuel Miranda Dishes About His 2010 Success

Lin-Manuel Miranda has had one hell of a 2010, between his return to In the Heights to that show's film adaptation coming up, and his hit translation of West Side Story maintaining its smash hit status.  Follow the link below and watch him dish about his successes for 2010.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Arcadia Casting Announced

A previously announced revival of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia has gained some big talent, a recent press release has announced.  The revival, which will play at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, will be directed by David Leveaux and will star Tony-winner Billy Crudup and four time Tony-nominee Raul Esparza, as well as Lia Willams.  The production will start previews on February 25th, 2011, in preparation of a March 17th opening.  This will be Crudup's second outing with the play, after starring in the original 1995 production.

It's Time to Move On ... For the Actors, Anyhow

What do you do once your show closes?  How do you move on, particularly if you've been with that production for a long time?  Five actors who have had just that experience have shared their stories with The New York Times in a fascinating set of interviews.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Women on the Verge of Low Ticket Sales

We knew that this show was not long for the world, but who knew it was this bad?  The starry musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown will close early on January 2nd.  The show was originally scheduled to run through January 23rd.  When the show, a Lincoln Center production, did not extend beyond this initial run, we saw this as a signal that the show was in trouble and the poor reviews the critics gave it certainly didn't help anything.  The show stars Sherie Rene Scott (three time Tony-nominee), Patti LuPone (two-time Tony-winner), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Tony-winner), Laura Benanti (Tony-winner), and Justin Guarini.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Actress Departs Spider-Man

Natalie Mendoza, who notably suffered a concussion while performing in the Broadway mega-musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark after the show's first preview, has left the production, according to the New York Times.  The NY Times announcement sourced two representatives from the show who spoke to them on condition of anonymity "because the producers have forbid public comments given that the lawyers and others are still fine-tuning the language to explain Ms. Mendoza's departure, an artistic loss and embarrassing blow to the production."

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Importance of Dana Ivey

Dana Ivey is a unique actress with a unique distinction.  The five-time Tony nominee is one of only four actresses to receive two Tony nominations in the same year (the list also includes 2010's addition to the list, Jan Maxwell). recently interviewed Ms. Ivey in relation to her current stint in Broadway's The Importance of Being Earnest (her fourth production of the show), which is directed by Brian Bedford and stars Bedford as Lady Bracknell.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Unique Top 10

With awards season months away and the critics have created their best-of-the-year lists, so now it's time to showcase the more unique side of New York theater.  The New York Times has created a list of its favorite odd moments in theater this year.  Let me know what things the Times missed, and which of their choices were spot on.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Driving Miss Daisy A Hit at the B.O.

Star power has once again proven that it can sell tickets.  In under three months on Broadway, the hit revival of Driving Miss Daisy has recouped its entire $2.6 million investment, making it one of the of the most successful non-musicals of the season.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Two Time Tony Nominee Marcia Lewis Dead at 72

Marcia Lewis, known for her big smile and bigger singing voice, has died at the age of 72.  She was twice nominated for supporting actress Tony Awards -- the first for the 1994 revival of Grease! (in which she played Ms. Lynch) and for the 1996 revival of Chicago (in which she played Matron Mama Morton).  Ms. Lewis also appeared on Broadway in Rags, Hello Dolly!, the 1990 revival of Fiddler on the Roof, The Time of Your Life, and Orpheus Descending.

Mekka Lekka Hai Mekka HBO

Continuing in its series of filming Broadway hits, HBO will be filming a performance of The Pee-Wee Herman Show.  The show will be filmed live at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre after its January 2nd closing and will air at some point in 2011.  HBO recently also filmed Carrie Fisher's solo show, Wishful Drinking.

Jerusalem Sets Dates

Mark Rylance is having one hell of a season this year on Broadway.  After the close of his well recieved (and likely to be Tony-nominated) star turn in La Bete in January, he will be moving on to the Broadway transfer of Jerusalem.  This production, directed by Ian Rickson, originated in London and won him an Olivier Award (London's equivalent of the Tony) earlier this year.  The limited engagement will play for 16 weeks with previews beginning on April 2nd and opening officially on April 21st.  In a unique turn of events, the show will play at the Music Box Theatre where La Bete is currently playing.  Maybe he'll get to keep his dressing room!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merchant Extends Extra Sales

The Al Pacino-led production of The Merchant of Venice in which he stars as Shylock opposite Lily Rabe's Portia has announced an extension.  The show was originally scheduled to close for good on January 9th.  Now, the show will begin a three week hiatus after that Sunday matinee in order to allow Pacino to fulfill a prior commitment to a movie he has signed onto and will return to Broadway performances February 1st.  At that point, the show will perform for three more weeks, ending its run on February 20th.

Scottsboro Producers Ask for Help

In an unusual move, the producers of The Scottsboro Boys are asking for a form of Christmas present, even though the show closed last week.  They are asking fans (and anyone willing to help out) to commit to buying tickets if the show comes back for a limited run in the spring.  The show has already announced that they would like to come back for a limited run in the spring in order to help the show's chances of winning Tony Awards and has begun the process of looking for a space, but they want to make sure that there will be sufficient audience to do so.  If you'd like to commit to buying tickets at the "special price" of $99, you can go to the show's website listed below.

Nominations for the Tony's will be announced on May 2nd.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ben Brantley's Top 10

Ben Brantley has posted his top ten favorite performances of the year for the New York Times.

Friday, December 17, 2010

First Nomination Predictions

Hey everybody.  It's that time of year again -- time for predictions, that is.  I am posting my first predictions for who I will think will be nominated for Tony Awards in 2011, including some outside shots.  Let me know what you guys think!

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Catch Me if You Can
Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Catch Me if You Can
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Catch Me if You Can

A Free Man of Color
War Horse
Brief Encounter
The Pitmen Painters

Musical Revival
Anything Goes
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Play Revival
Merchant of Venice
La Bete
Driving Miss Daisy
The Importance of Being Ernest

Actor in a Play
Mark Rylance, La Bete
James Earl Jones, Driving Miss Daisy
Al Pacino, Merchant of Venice
Jeffrey Wright, A Free Man of Color
Dan Lauria, Lombardi
Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Ernest
David Hyde Pierce, La Bete
Tristan Sturrock, Brief Encounter
Dennis O'Hare, Elling
Mark Rylance, Jerusalem

Actress in a Play
Lily Rabe, Merchant of Venice
Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy
Charlotte Perry, Importance of Being Ernest
Cherry Jones, Mrs. Warren's Profession
Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter

Featured Actor in a Play
David Harbour, Merchant of Venice
Mos Def, A Free Man of Color
Damon Daunno, Brief Encounter
John McMartin, A Free Man of Color
Richard Easton, Elling
Byron Jennings, Merchant of Venice
Paul Dano, A Free Man of Color

Featured Actress in a Play
Judith Light, Lombardi
Joanna Lumley, La Bete
Jennifer Coolidge, Elling
Nicole Behari, A Free Man of Color
Dorothy Atkinson, Brief Encounter
Veanne Cox, A Free Man of Color
Christina Ricci, Time Stands Still

Actor in a Musical
Benjamin Walker, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys
Will Swenson, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Aaron Tveit, Catch Me if You Can
Daniel Radcliffe, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Colin Donnell, Anything Goes

Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Sherie Rene Scott, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Jennifer Damiano, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Rose Hemingway, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Janet Dacal, Alice: A New Wonderland
Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture

Featured Actor in a Musical
Coleman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys
Jeff Hiller, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Joel Grey, Anything Goes
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys
Patrick Page, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
John Cullum, The Scottsboro Boys

Featured Actress in a Musical
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Kristine Nielsen, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Natalie Mendoza, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Karen Mason, Alice: A New Wonderland

Director of a Play
Matthew Warchus, La Bete
Emma Rice, Brief Encounter
Daniel Sullivan, Merchant of Venice
George C. Wolfe, A Free Man of Color

Director of  a Musical
Julie Taymor, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Alex Timbers, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Jack O'Brien, Catch Me if You Can

Set Design of a Play
La Bete
The Pitmen Painters
Merchant of Venice
War Horse
Driving Miss Daisy
Brief Encounter

Costume Design of a Play
Free Man of Color
Merchant of Venice
La Bete
Mrs Warren’s Profession
War Horse

Lighting Design of a Play
La Bete
War Horse
Merchant of Venice
A Free Man of Color
Brief Encounter
Driving Miss Daisy

Sound Design of a Play
La Bete
A Free Man of Color
Merchant of Venice
Brief Encounter
The Pitmen Painters

Set Design of a Musical
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
The Scottsboro Boys
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Woderland: A New Alice
Catch Me if You Can

Costume Design of a Musical
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Lighting Design of a Musical
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Catch Me if You Can
Wonderland: A New Alice

Sound Design of a Musical
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark
The Scottsboro Boys
Catch Me if You Can
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Danny Mefford, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Jerry Mitchell, Catch Me if You Can
Ross Coleman, Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
Brief Encounter
Catch Me if You Can
Wonderland: A New Alice
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Spider-Man Delays Opening Again

Spider-Man has delayed opening night again, this time to February 7th, 2011, thus pushing back the opening a year after the show was originally supposed to open on Broadway.  All previews will continue as planned.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blake Edwards Dead at 88

Iconic director Blake Edwards, known for helming Breakfast at Tiffany's, 10, Victor/Victoria, and the Pink Panther series, has died at the age of 88.  He died at his home from complications from pneumonia at home with his family, including wife Julie Andrews, around him.  Edwards also directed and produced the stage musical version of Victor/Victoria starring Ms. Andrews.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dates Set for Master Class

Manhattan Theatre Club has confirmed dates for its revival of Terrence McNally's play Master Class, as well as the fact that Tyne Daly will star as Maria Callas.  The play will be the first new production of the 2011-2012 season, beginning previews on May 24th and opening officially on June 21st.  The production will be directed by Stephen Wadsworth.

Driving Miss Daisy to Extend

The Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy is officially a hit.  In a Broadway season that has seen a large number of productions close, including Best Musical frontrunners Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Scottsboro Boys, Driving Miss Daisy has announced that it will extend its run.  The production opened on October 25th and was scheduled to close on January 29th, but will now close on April 9th.  The show played to almost 95% capacity for the week ending December 12th.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Lee Daniels Talk

Lee Daniels is in talks to bring Nilo Cruz's play Anna in the Tropics to the big screen.  Cruz was nominated for a 2004 Tony for Best Play and won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the play, making him the first Latino to receive that honor.  Daniels is best known for his Oscar nominated direction of the film Precious and, in addition to the longstanding rumors that he would direct the film version of the musical Miss Saigon, Daniels' interest in directing the film of The Scottsboro Boys have recently come to light.

Patti Lupone Rumors ...

Rumors have begun to surface that Broadway's own Patti LuPone may star in a revival of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!  LuPone would take on the role originated (and made famous by) Carol Channing in the original Broadway production in the 1960s and Barbara Streisand in the 1969 film adaptation.  Neither Ms. LuPone nor the Nederlander Organization, which is developing the production, has confirmed or denied anything.

Broadway Stars at the 2011 Golden Globes

A number of Broadway stars are up for Golden Globes in 2011, with the nominations having been announced this morning.  Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison are nominated for their leading performances in Glee (as are Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer for their supporting roles in the show).  Al Pacino is also up for best actor in a made-for-TV movie for his performance as Jack Kevorkian in You Don't Know Jack.  Laura Linney is also up in the same category as Lea Michele for her performance in The Big C.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

History on Stage to Go the Way of the Dodo?

History lessons are either hit or miss when it comes to the stage.  Unlike television, where HBO or Ken Burns can turn out a well loved film about almost any time and place, Broadway audiences seem less into learning their history lessons.  A few seasons ago, we had a smash hit in Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia but, this year, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Scottsboro Boys, and A Free Man of Color -- all about various points in American history -- have been playing to less than stellar audiences despite strong reviews.  Read the NY Times article below discussing this phenomenon.  Let me know what you think may really be going on here by leaving comments.

Set Design a Help or a Hinderence?

The New York Times has an article on its website about set designs and how effective they are (or aren't, as the case may be).  They have opened a forum for discussion about the subject at the link below.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Scottsboro Boys May Return

In preparation for the Tony Awards in the spring, The Scottsboro Boys may return for a limited run in the spring, according to The Wall Street Journal.  This is despite the fact that the show has announced a December 12th closing date and is probably a strategy to make sure the voters don't forget the show come voting time.

Sergeant Bea Arthur? It may have been so!

According to an article from, reports have begun to surface that Bea Arthur, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Vera Charles in Mame and who was known nationally for her roles on The Golden Girls and Maude, served in the Marine Corps for two and a half years.  Among the recently surfaced documents includes a letter in which Bea described her previous employment as she prepared to enlist.  She began basic training in 1943 and was initially given duties as a typist in Washington, D.C.  Performance reviews reflected her famously brassy personality, calling her "vocabulary 'excellent', her conversation 'argumentative', and her general behavior 'overly aggressive.'  Her overall personality was rated as 'officious -- but probably a good worker -- if she has her own way!'"  She climbed from the rank of private to corporal to sergeant to staff sergeant before receiving an honorable discharge in September 1945.

Friday, December 10, 2010

First Eligibility Decisions for 2010-2011

Here's an article from about eligibility for Tony Awards in the 2010-2011 Broadway season.

The Tony Awards Administration Committee met on December 9 for the first time this season to decide the eligibility of Broadway productions for the American Theatre Wing's 2011 Tony Awards®, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.
The Committee considered 12 shows at this meeting from among the Broadway productions that opened between September 28 and November 9 (they will discuss other shows at subsequent meetings). The shows considered are, in opening-night order: Brief Encounter, The Pitmen Painters, Mrs. Warren's Profession, Time Stands Still, A Life in the Theatre, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, La Bête, Lombardi, Driving Miss DaisyThe Scottsboro BoysWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and Colin Quinn: Long Story Short.
The Committee announced the following:
  • Brief Encounter will be considered eligible in the Best Play category. Author credit will be: Noël Coward and adapted by Emma Rice.
  • Tristan Sturrock and Hannah Yelland will be considered eligible in the categories of Best Performance by an Actor/Actress in a Leading Role in a Play respectively for their performances in Brief Encounter.
  • Christina Ricci will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category for her performance in Time Stands Still.
  • Benjamin Walker will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical category for his performance in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.
  • Joanna Lumley will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category for her performance in La Bête.
  • Judith Light will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category for her performance in Lombardi.
  • Boyd Gaines will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play category for his performance in Driving Miss Daisy.
  • Joshua Henry will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical category for his performance in The Scottsboro Boys.
  • Sherie Rene Scott will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical category for her performance in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
All other decisions were consistent with the opening night credits.
What that means: In general, unless the committee has determined otherwise, performers listed ABOVE the title may be eligible in the Leading Actor/Actress categories; if a performers is listed BELOW the title, he or she is considered a "Featured" performer.
The 2011 Tony Nominations will be announced in the spring. The 65th annual Tony Awards ceremony takes place on Sunday, June 12, 2011, broadcast live on CBS live from NYC.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Time Stands Still to Close

The remounting of Time Stands Still has set a closing date of January 30th.  The play, in a second production close on the heels of its original limited run at Manhattan Theatre Club, was written by Donald Margulies and stars Laura Linney, Brian d'Arcy James, Eric Bogosian, and Christina Ricci.

Noel Coward Collection Reviewed in the NY Times

The New York Times has published a review of a collection of Noel Coward pieces put together by Barry Day.  This looks like a fascinating coffee table book, and a great holiday gift for any theater lover in your circle of friends.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oprah and Lynn Nottage Team Up

Oprah Winfrey is returning to acting in the near future.  She is set to act in and produce the film version of Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize winning play, Ruined.  Nottage has signed on to write the screenplay and Winfrey's production company, Harpo, will produce the film.  No director or other casting has been announced.

Additional Casting Announced for Anything Goes

The upcoming Broadway revival of Anything Goes coming to the Roundabout this spring has announced some additional casting.  In addition to Broadway vets Joel Grey and Sutton Foster, the production will also star Jessica Walter, John McMartin, and Laura Osnes.  The production, to be directed and choreographed by Tony-winner Kathleen Marshall, will move into the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in preparation for an April 7th opening night.

Theater Switching

Catch Me If You Can hasn't even landed on Broadway yet and it's already changing the landscape.  The show is supposed to move into the Neil Simon Theatre, where the Beatles-themed concert Rain is currently playing, in early March.  Rain was supposed to end its run in plenty of time to move out before Catch Me If You Can could move in but, given the success it's having, its producers would like to move it to another theater to extend that run.  You may be wondering at this point, "And where, exactly, are they intending to move the show?"  Well, the answer is the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, of course.  The only thing is that that theater is currently occupied by Rock of Ages.  So, the producers of that show are moving it to the Helen Hayes Theatre, where Colin Quinn's one man show is currently running.  Fortunately, as it sits now, that show will be ending its run in time for the moves to take place without any further hitch but, in this industry, who knows what will really happen.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bunny Flingus Has Entered the House

Jennifer Jason Leigh has signed on to star in the upcoming Broadway revival of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves.  She will star as Bunny Flingus, the mistress of Ben Stiller's character, Ronnie Shaughnessy.  Edie Falco is also attached to the production as Ronnie's wife Bananas.

Lee Daniels to Film Scottsboro Boys

Lee Daniels, the director probably best known these days for his Oscar-nominated film Precious, has expressed interested in directing and adapting The Scottsboro Boys for the big screen.  Susan Stroman, director and choreographer of the stage musical, would be an executive producer, with stage producer Barry Weissler also on board.  This may extend the life of the stage play, which has announced a December 12th closing date.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

That Championship Season Joins This One

A previously announced Broadway revival of Jason Miller's That Championship Season is officially joining the 2010-2011 Broadway season.  It has booked the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where current hit Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson will end its run in January, for a March opening.  The production will star Kiefer Sutherland and Chris Noth.  The play focuses on a group of high school basketball stars on the occasion of their 20th reunion after having won the state championship.  The original run in 1972 won both the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Halle Berry Confirms Broadway Debut

In a continuation of the movie-star-to-Broadway-star transition that seems to be occurring in droves these days, Halle Berry has confirmed that she will be coming to Broadway some time soon.  She has confirmed that she will make her debut in a production of Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, which will costar Samuel L. Jackson.  No dates or theater have been set.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Andrew Jackson to Leave Office

The 2010-2011 Broadway season gets more interesting day by day.  Seemingly right on the heels of the closing announcement for The Scottsboro Boys, the producers of the hit musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson have announced that the show will close on January 2nd, at which point the show will have played 120 performances at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.  Producers Jeffrey Frankel and Jeffrey Richards said in a statement, "We are so proud to have been part of this extraordinary production.  The good news is that we believe that Bloody will be done throughout the country in the years ahead."

Idina Menzel May Return to Television

Glee kids, get excited.  There may be more Shelby in our future!  There are rumors floating around that Tony winner Idina Menzel may be returning to the show to continue her stint as Rachel Berry's mom, Shelby, on Glee.  To further the excitement, ABC is developing a TV show around Menzel, according to  According to that website, the show will have Menzel portray "a single mother of a teenager who waits tables and performs at weddings and bar mitzvahs to make ends meet."  In a true-to-life turn of events, before making her big break (and earning her first Tony nomination) as Maureen in the original cast of Rent, Menzel also sang in a band that performed at weddings and bar mitzvahs.  The TV show is being created by Bob Kushell, the creator of Samantha Who? -- the show based around another Broadway alum, Christina Applegate.  The show is hoping to hit the airwaves next fall.

Mary J. Blige May Star in Rock of Ages Film

Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige is reportedly in talks to star as club owner Justice in the film adaptation of the Tony-nominated musical Rock of Ages.  Adam Shankman, who directed the film adaptation of the Broadway musical adaptation of Hairspray, is set to direct the film of Rock of Ages with a script by Chris d'Arienzo, the musical's librettist.

James Franco In Talks to Come to Broadway

Stop the presses, boys -- a new star is coming to town.  Well, maybe, at least.  James Franco, who has been garnering lots of praise for his performance in the film 127 Hours (a film for which he is likely to get an Oscar nomination) and who will be co-hosting the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony, is in talks to join Nicole Kidman in the upcoming Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth.  The show centers around Alexandra del Lago (Kidman) and the young gigolo, Chance Wayny (potentially Franco),who becomes her companion.  The production is being helmed by David Cromer (Our Town, Brighton Beach Memoirs).  The original production opened on Broadway in 1959 and starred Geraldine Page as Alexandra and Paul Newman as Chance.  A 1975 revival starred Christopher Walken and Irene Worth.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scottsboro Boys to Close

Despite strong reviews (and some protests), the Broadway production of The Scottsboro Boys, the last collaboration between composers John Kander and Fred Ebb, has announced a closing date of December 12th.  At that point, the show will have played 29 previews and 49 regular performances.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Excited About Spider-Man? The Stars Sure Are. recently caught up with the stars of the upcoming production of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark after the show's first preview.  To hear more about the show and get pumped about the buzz, read the article below.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ever Wanted to Talk to an Osmond?

As they prepare to hit Broadway, the Osmonds have reached out to the readers of and are taking your questions.  Follow this link to submit your question to Donny and Marie.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Elling Announces Closing Date

After some decidedly mixed reviews, the producers of the Broadway production of Elling have announced that the show will close this Sunday after 22 previews and 9 regular performances.  Though the actors in the show received strong reviews, particularly for Dennis O'Hare, Jennifer Coolidge, and Richard Easton, the play itself was not all that well received.

Bonnie and Clyde to Shoot Up Broadway

A musical version of the well-liked gangster film Bonnie and Clyde with a score by Frank Wildhorn has set its sights on Broadway.  The show is currently playing in Florida at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida in a production starring Laura Osnes (Sandy in the 2007 revival of Grease!) and directed by Jeff Calhoun.  The production aims to land on Broadway in August.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Master Class is Back on Tap

A Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's Master Class, to star Tyne Daly, is currently "in negotiations". The play originally opened on Broadway in the mid 1990s and won Tony Awards for Zoe Caldwell and Audra McDonald's performances as well as Best Play 1996.  To quote a article,

"Master Class is a portrait of the opera diva told through her recollections of the glories, triumphs, and tragedies of her own life and career. Her voice is gone, her lover is long departed, and her sanity could possibly be next. All she has is a lonely itinerary of master classes and luggage packed full of the memories that are her only travel companion."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wanda Sykes as Miss Hannigan?

Wanda Sykes recently revealed on Philadelphia's NBC affiliate that she is in interested in the role of  Miss Hannigan in a Philadelphia production of the hit musical Annie.  Watch the clip below for her hilarious antics and discussion about the role, as well as the child playing the little orphan herself.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Elling Opens on Broadway

Last night brought another screen-to-stage adaptation starring a minor (and fading) Hollywood star trying to recapture his fame -- namely of the Norwegian film Elling starring Brendan Fraser.  The show opened last night at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre to some pretty terrible reviews (as I expected it would).  Mr Fraser lumbers around the stage in a lifeless and belabored adaptation that also stars Dennis O'Hare (of True Blood fame and a Tony-winner for Richard Greenberg's 2003 play Take Me Out), Richard Easton, and Jennifer Coolidge.  O'Hare's performance was well enough liked, but not strong enough for a nomination, while Easton and Coolidge received enough praise that may get them nominations in this weak year (even though they probably wouldn't get nominated in a stronger year, and may not still).

Broadway on TV?

With the advent of TV and movie stars clawing their way to a Broadway debut (Brendan Fraser, anyone?), it's nice to see the phenomenon is moving in the other direction. The link below is to an article from Variety Magazine about the phenomenon of Broadway stars moving to the big screen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Six Degrees of a House of Blue Leaves ... and A Free Man of Color

John Guare, author of Six Degrees of Separation and The House of Blue Leaves, is back on Broadway this year with his first new play in 18 years, this one called A Free Man of Color.  The play opened last night at The Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center to mixed reviews.  The show was cited as trying to do too many things at once (though, in my experience, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing, so I'm not as worried about that as some reviewers seem to think it is).  The show was highly praised for Jeffrey Wright's leading performance, as well as the visually lush presentation and strong direction by George C. Wolfe, leading me to think there will definitely be nominations for these folks come May or June when the nominations are announced.  Just based on its scale alone, this play (which was cut down to two and a half hours from about five) may get a Best Play nomination, as well -- particularly in a year weak on new plays.  The play has been compared to Tony Kushnier's Angels in America (which won the Best Play Tony and was also directed by Wolfe) in the early 1990s, adding to the play's chances this year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And the Word of the Day is ...

In many ways, I actually feel sorry for kids these days who don't have what my generation did.  And one of those things was Pee-Wee's Playhouse.  Well, now I may have gotten some of my wish that kids get to know the joys of my childhood.  ("Wish!  Did somebody say WISH??")  Pee Wee, or, rather, his alter ego Paul Reubens, has brought the whole gang to Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, including the talking chair and window, Jambi, and the most beautiful woman in Puppetland herself, Miss Yvonne.  The show itself is much like an extended episode of the original TV show, including the word of the day and the same old songs and dances from the show.  It's much like nostalgia for those who still remember the show and a great way to introduce new audiences to the old material.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Elf Opens on Broadway

It looks like the Christmas season is already upon us and, with that (at least in New York), come the tourist traps.  It would seem that Elf, a new musical based on the Will Ferrell movie of the same name, is just that -- musical fluff that is designed to draw in tourists, but is not suitable for us regular New Yorkers with better things to do with our time.  The reviews were pretty terrible for this show, so the only hope seems to be for this show to bring in the tourists and raise ticket sale figures for the show.

La Bete Announces Closing Date

The current Broadway revival of La Bete, starring David Hyde Pierce, Joanna Lumley, and Mark Rylance has announced that it will close on January 9, 2011, at which point the show will have played 23 previews and 101 regular performances.

Merchant of Venice Reviews

On Saturday night, the Broadway revival of The Merchant of Venice officially opened for the press and the reviews are in.  In case anyone couldn't predict, Al Pacino has gotten rave reviews and is likely to get a Tony nomination for this performance.  The revival itself also received strong reviews, being cited as both simple and complex at the same time -- a notable feat to pull off.  Lily Rabe's Portia also was highly praised as among the strongest Portia's in recent memory -- no strong feat given her co-star, Mr. Pacino.  I think the strongest likelihood for Tony nominations for this production come from Mr. Pacino's leading performance and probably Ms. Rabe's, though her chances will largely be determined by whether the producers of the show will try and put her in the leading or supporting actress category.  The show also has a decent chance at a Best Play Revival nomination, though other productions could push it out of the category.  Christopher Fitzgerald and David Harbour received some good notices, but they did not get enough press for me to be certain they will be nominated and, besides, their roles may not be large enough to merit Tony level praise, so I will be keeping my mind out on their behalf, but will not be putting much stock in their chances.  The production also has a shot in some of the design categories.  Kenneth Posner, the lighting designer, has, for example, been nominated for 5 previous Tony Awards, including for Wicked and Hairspray, and winning for Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, leading me to think that he may be due for another nomination here.  Jess Goldstein also has a long history with period pieces (and Shakespeare), having designed Broadway productions of Henry IV, Cymbeline, Julius Caesar, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals.  Given her Tony nomination for Henry IV and her win for The Rivals, I think a nomination here is not out of the question.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Colin Quinn Comedy Show Opens

Colin Quinn: Long Story Short, a comedy routine performed by Colin Quinn and directed by Jerry Seinfeld, opened the other day on Broadway to some good reviews.  Though the jokes were not revelatory, the critics seemed to like the style and content.

Next to Normal Sets Closing Date

The Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning production of Next to Normal currently playing on Broadway has set a closing  date of January 16, 2011.  By that point, the musical, currently starring Marin Mazzie, will have played 21 previews and 733 regular performances at the Booth Theatre.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Merchant of Venice Sets New Opening Night

The Broadway production of The Merchant of Venice that has recently transferred from the Public Theatre has announced a new opening date after the previous date of November 7th was postponed due to the illness and death of Lily Rabe's mother, Jill Clayburgh.  The new opening night is now set for November 13th.  In an interesting move, the producers have released the following request: "So as not to conflict with the Broadway opening of Elf on Sunday, November 14, the producers respectfully request that Merchant reviews be embargoed until Tuesday, November 16." The request has been made because theater reviews do not appear in the Sunday New York Times.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lawsuit filed against Fela Creators

Here's an interesting article from about a new legal battle being fought by the team behind Fela!  The text below is a direct copy of the article.

"The author of a biography of Afrobeat musical pioneer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti has filed suit against the Broadway musical Fela!, claiming the show used portions of his book in the play's script in violation of his copyright, according to The New York Times.

Carlos Moore is the author of the 1982 book, Fela: This Bitch of a Life. According to his lawsuit, “Entire portions were simply copied from Moore’s book and inserted into the script of the musical.” The suit seeks damages and an injunction against the show itself.

Along with the production companies involved with Fela!, the complaint names director, choreographer and co-author Bill T. Jones, co-author Jim Lewis and producer Stephen Hendel as defendants.

In an interview with the Times, Hendel said, "Carlos has been incredibly supportive of the show. Several years ago, he saw the off-Broadway show. He was willing to sit and be interviewed by our people, to talk about Fela and Fela’s legacy, and that interview has been on YouTube for a long time, and at his request we have been selling his book in the theater since we opened and at our Web site. We’re disappointed and somewhat perplexed, and hope at some point we can get this resolved.”

In Fela!, audiences are welcomed into the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of real-life revolutionary Anikulapo-Kuti. In a hybrid of concert, dance and musical theater, the show explores Kuti's controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician. Fela!, which currently stars Kevin Mambo and Patti LaBelle, is scheduled to close on January 2, 2011, at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre."

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Life in the Theatre Gets Cut Short

The revival of David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre starring Patrick Stewart and T. R. Knight, which has been getting some terrible reviews, will be closing early.  Though the limited run had been anticipated to last through January 2nd, it has been announced that the show will now close on November 28th -- right after Thanksgiving.

The Play's the Thing ... or is it?

On November 5th, The New York Times posted on their website a great Ben Brantley article about how the size of a show can impact how it comes across to an audience, particularly on the large scale of a Broadway stage.  I'd love to get your reactions to this issue after you've read the article.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown Has Opened

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the Broadway musical adaptation of the Oscar-nominated film by Pedro Almodovar, opened on Thursday night to some pretty harsh reviews.  The show was universally cited as having attention deficit disorder -- of lacking a focus.  The reviews in both The New York Times and Variety have said that the show never fully develops anything before moving on (too quickly) to the next.  The show has a number of Tony winning stars, including Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Laura Benanti, as well as the 3-time Tony-nominee Sherie Renee Scott, as well as a much lauded design team headed up by Tony-winning Director Bartlett Sher.  However, it would seem that not even this talented group of people could reign in this mess of a show, even though Variety did call the show "visually fascinating".

That being said, however, Laura Benanti and Patti LuPone did get some pretty strong reviews, so they seem the show's best shot at Tony nominations this season.  The writing and direction seem to frenetic to go anywhere, but with the critics taken out of the voting pool, anything is really game, I suppose.  There is also some chance that at least one or two design departments (or maybe the choreography) will be nominated, but it's too soon to tell simply based on the lack of information about the competition.

Actress Jill Clayburgh Dead at 66

Actress Jill Clayburgh, whose career began on the stage in the 1960's and who then jumped over to Hollywood in the 1970's and back to Broadway in the last few years, has died of leukemia at 66.  Rumors of her illness spread when her daughter, Lily Rabe, started missing performances of the upcoming revival of The Merchant of Venice, in which Lily is currently starring as Portia opposite Al Pacino's Shylock.Clayburgh's credits include The Rothschilds, Pippin, and the original 1974 production of Jumpers (the Tom Stoppard play) on Broadway as well as Oscar-nominated performances in An Unmarried Woman and Starting Over.

Friday, November 5, 2010

VH1's (or Broadway's) Behind the Music: Andrew Jackson has created a great VH1 Behind the Music style video about the music of the current smash hit Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.  I tend to find these things interesting and I hope you will, as well.  Check it out!

Spider-Man Musical Delays Again

The upcoming Julie Taymor project, Spider-Man, Turn off the Dark, has delayed its opening for a second time.  The show, which had originally planned to start performances back in February 2010 delayed the first time for a December opening (after previews beginning in November), will now begin performances right after Thanksgiving and open in January 2011.  Let's hope this one sticks!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shylock Making a Late Payment?

The upcoming Broadway production of The Merchant of Venice, which is transferring from the Public Theatre and will star Lily Rabe as Portia and Al Pacino as Shylock, has delayed its opening night.  The original opening night had been planned for November 7th but, as of yet, no replacement opening night has been announced.  The rest of the cast includes Jesse L. Martin, David Harbour, Christopher Fitzgerald, Matt Rauch, and Byron Jennings.

Love Your Leader Much?

It seems that there really IS such a thing as really loving your leader.  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson dramaturg Anne Davison has not only seen the show over 50 times but has also gotten the show's logo tattooed on her wrist.  "I'm not what I would classify as a 'tattoo person'.  I don't even have my ears pierced!" Davison said in a statement.

For the full story, check out the article at!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jerry Bock, Composer of Fiddler on the Roof, Dies at 81

Jerry Bock, who won a Tony for composing the score to Fiddler on the Roof, as well as having composed the scores to Fiorello! and She Loves Me has died at 81, just over a week after the death of Fiddler's libretto, Joseph Stein.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes at it Again ... We Hope

It seems that Kristin Chenoweth is looking to recruit Sean Hayes to work on a new TV series being developed for her by Glee creator Ryan Murphy.  Though there are no official details yet, Chenoweth hopes to tap Hayes' talents for the upcoming comedy.  Referencing her recent extension in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises, which she did so that she and Hayes could close the show together in January, the actress joked, "I stayed on Broadway for him, so he owes me!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scottsboro Boys Opens on Broadway

The Scottsboro Boys, among the last original musicals penned by the composing team of John Kander and Fred Ebb, opened last night at the Lyceum Theater after a stint at the Vinyard Theater last spring.  The current Broadway transfer has received some mixed-to-positive reviews, with many critics loving it and some not being sure what to make of it.  The show tells the story of a group of young black men falsely accused of raping two white women in 1930s Alabama, but is framed as a minstrel show with a score of mostly ragtime music.

Though some reviewers were alienated by the minstrel style of the show, not knowing whether to be entertained or shocked, everyone agreed that the production was wonderful (even if a bit monotonous, according to some).  Susan Stroman's direction and choreography were praised across the board, particularly for the economy of staging -- the set apparantely consists of only a few chairs and a proscenium.  My current thinking is that Stroman has set herself up for another directing Tony nomination and likely another for choreography, as well as leading her designers to nominations, too.

The score received some mixed reviews, as well.  Some think of it as being on par with other classic Kander & Ebb scores like Cabaret or Chicago.  Others found the score clever but uninspired.  All agreed, though, that the song "Go Back Home" would soon become a standard of cabaret acts across the country.  It is unclear whether this score will be Tony-nominated.  On the one hand, the score appears in a new, heavily advertised musical that received lots of praise (think A Chorus Line, Billy Elliot, Shrek, and the list goes on).  Also, the fact that it was composed by the team of Kander and Ebb, among the more beloved composing teams still putting out new works and that Fred Ebb died in 2004, will lend this score a big hand come May when the nominations will be announced.  However, the mixed reception the score got may bump it down the list too far given other new musicals in the market this coming year, such as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, David Yazbeck's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Spiderman, Catch Me If You Can, and Frank Wildhorn's Wonderland: A New Alice.

Lastly, Joshua Henry, Colman Domingo, and Forrest McClendon received strong praise from many of the critics whose reviews I read.  It is not clear how these men will be categorized in terms of leading versus supporting roles at the Tonys in May, but I am sure that, depending on their categorization and the competition that results, at least one or two of them will be nominated for this show.

Donna Murphy to Star in New Musical at Roundabout

According to the New York Times, two time Tony-winner Donna Murphy will star in a new musical commissioned by the Roundabout Theatre Company which will start previews at the American Airlines Theatre on April 1st with opening night set for April 28th.  The show, called The People in the Picture, will feature a book by Iris Rainer Dart and a score by Dart (lyrics), Artie Bulter (music) and Mike Stoller (music), and is set to be directed by Leonard Foglia (who recently wrote Anna Deavere Smith's recent one-woman show Let Me Down Easy), musical direction by Alexander Gemignani and musical staging by Andy Blankenbuehler.  According to the Times article, the musical is about "a New York grandmother (Murphy) who was once a Yiddish theater actress in Poland before World War II [and] now longs to tell her Holocaust tales to her granddaughter, despite her daughter's desire to leave the past in the past."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rashad Returns to "A Raisin in the Sun" has announced that Phylicia Rashad will direct a production of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun in Los Angeles.  The production is set to open in the summer of 2011 and will be Rashad's third visit with the play in the past few years.  Rashad won a 2004 Tony for her portrayal of matriarch Lena Younger in the recent Broadway revival.  She then reprised her performance (for which she received a 2008 Emmy nomination) in the TV movie version of the production.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rain Opens on Broadway

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles on Broadway opened last night at the Neil Simon Theatre to decidedly mixed reviews.  The show has almost no plot (some say a smart choice, others say not so much), but the idea appears to be that anyone interested in buying a ticket would probably know as much of the relevant history as they would need, to paraphrase an idea put forth by Charles Isherwood in his New York Times review.  The four musicians playing the Fab Four channel the Beatles with mixed effect, getting some things spot on and others less convincingly so -- but all convey the requisite fun and enjoyment of the task at hand.  It sounds like this is a somewhat enjoyable concert for a certain crowd (maybe those looking for a brief trip down memory lane), but not much more than that.

In the Heights to Close

The long running musical In the Heights has set its closing date for January 9, 2011.  By that point, the show will have played 29 previews and 1185 regular performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.  The show's Tony-winning composer and original star, Lin Manuel Miranda, will return for the show's final two weeks, beginning on Christmas day.  The show won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Driving Miss Daisy Opens on Broadway

Alfred Uhry's 1987 play Driving Miss Daisy, a seminal classic in the American repertoire, has opened on Broadway.  The play, in its first production on Broadway, was produced originally at Playwrights Horizons and ran there for over 1200 performances starting in 1987.  That production won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and spawned a 1989 Best Picture Oscar winner.  This production has gotten some pretty strong reviews, itself.  The major praise has come for theater giants James Earl Jones (who, it was clear from the moment his casting was announced, would be wonderful in the part) and Vanessa Redgrave (a much less obvious choice for the part of Daisy, given that she's a Brit -- I was hoping for, perhaps, Marian Seldes).  These performances are central to the success of any production of this play and, while each in this production came with its (very) minor faults, they are thought to generally raise the bar for the show as a whole.  Much in the same way that this year's horrendous production of Mrs. Warren's Profession will likely rob Cherry Jones of a Tony nomination for what has been hailed as the performance of her career, this Driving Miss Diasy is likely to get a Best Revival Tony nomination (as well as nominations for the show's direction and design elements) on the strength of these two leading performances.  The only major complaint I read about this production is that the show is rather small and, much like this year's revival of David Mamet's A Life in the Theater, the production tries to make it bigger than it is in order to fit the larger theater it's living in (though this production offends in that regard much less than the Mamet play).

Joseph Stein, Author of 'Fiddler on the Roof', Dead at 98

Joseph Stein, who wrote the book of the musical Fiddler on the Roof died at the age of 98 in Manhattan after fracturing his skull in a fall.  His other works include Zorba, Take Me Along, and Enter Laughing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lombardi Opens on Broadway

There is no question about Vince Lombardi's talent as a football coach.  He did, after all, lead the Green Bay Packers to 5 Super Bowl wins in the 1950's and 1960's.  But whether he makes a good dramatic hero is another story all together, and the answer seems to be a resounding "no".  A new play about his career, appropriately titled Lombardi, opened last night at the Circle in the Square Theatre.  The script received decidedly mixed reception from the critics, with Charles Isherwood of the New York Times finding it to have no fire or focus, as well as having trouble with the play's structure, but with Marilyn Stasio calling the scenes well-written.  Isherwood also commented on the oddity of relegating the character of Vince Lombardi to a seemingly supporting role in a play about his life.  The thing that everyone has agreed on, however, is that Dan Lauria's performance is electric -- and likely to get a Tony nomination.  Judith Light, as Lombardi's wife, Marie, also got some good notices and may net a supporting actress Tony nomination.  The last piece that was well praised were Paul Tazewell's costumes.  But the mixed standing on the script, particularly with the NY Times effectively calling the show a mess, means that the show is unlikely to be nominated as best play.

Insights into Stephen Sondheim

A book has recently been released that looks at the collected lyrics of Stephen Sondheim, including his process in arriving at them and alternate choices he thought of along the way.  Here's a link to the NY Times article about the book, appropriately titled Finishing the Hat.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tom Bosley Dead at 83

Tony Award winning actor Tom Bosley, probably most widely known for playing Richie Cunningham's dad on Happy Days, has died today at the age of 83.  He died at a hospital near his home in Palm Springs, California, after a long battle with lung cancer.  The cause of death was heart failure.  The Chicago born Bosley got his start as an actor in 1947 in a college production of Thorton Wilder's Our Town and, after moving to New York, made his television debut in a 1955 production of Alice in Wonderland.  Bosley made his Broadway debut in 1958 in The Power and the Glory, but his big break came the following year in the hit musical Fiorello!, in which he played the mayor of New York City, for which he earned the Best Actor in a Musical Tony in 1960.  His Broadway career spanned over 40 years, including stints as the original Maurice (Belle's father) in Beauty and the Beast in 1994 and as Herr Schultz in the 1998 revival of Cabaret, as well as touring the country in the 1995 revival of Show Boat as Cap'n Andy.

I grew up having a different connection to Tom Bosley, though -- one entirely unrelated to his long stage career or his association with Happy Days.  I grew up watching him as Amos Tupper, the sheriff of Cabot Cove, Maine, in the long running TV series Murder, She Wrote from 1984 to 1996.  That show, which showcased theater legend Angela Lansbury, also showcased Bosley's abilities as a character actor who could make the most out of any part.  Bosley was the leading man in another of my favorite TV shows from when I was growing up -- The Father Dowling Mysteries, which aired from 1987 to 1991.  Though this does no justice to the Maine accent (to the extent that one exists), if there was any doubt about whether Mr. Bosley will be missed by those in my household, the answer is a strong "A-yup".

Cast Set for Carnage

Oscar- and Tony-nominee John C. Reilly will join the cast of Roman Polanski's film adaptation of Yasmina Reza's 2009 Tony-winning play God of Carnage.  Reilly will play Michael, the part originated on stage by James Gandolfini, in the movie, which will also star Oscar winners Jodie Foster as Veronica, Kate Winslet as Anette and Christoph Waltz as Alan.  Filming will take place in France starting in February.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Robin Williams at the Zoo

Robin Williams will be coming to the Broadway stage, marking his dramatic debut on Broadway, with the play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.  According to a press release I read about on, Williams will play the titular tiger in this 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist by Rajiv Joseph.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beauty or the Beast?

I never thought I'd be happy about mixed reviews, but after some dismal reviews of late for play revivals on Broadway this year (Mrs. Warren's Profession and A Life in the Theatre come to mind), it is nice to finally see a review that doesn't entirely bash the production.  A revival of David Hirson's La Bete opened Thursday night at the Music Box Theatre on Thursday in a production starring Tony winners David Hyde Pierce and Mark Rylance, along with TV star Joanna Lumley (Britain's Absolutely Fabulous) in her Broadway debut.  Though the play itself was criticized for being unbalanced in the way it was written, Mark Rylance gives, in the words of Ben Brantley, "a comic performance of such polished crudeness that it easily ranks with his Tony-winning tour-de-force in Boeing-Boeing of two years ago."  (Note the Tony nomination prediction Rylance has gotten out of this quote.)  Though the script has been drawn into question, the production has not.  To quote Brantley again, "this revival [has been] mounted with eye-popping elan by [director] Matthew Warchus and the [set] designer Mark Thompson."  Based on these reviews, I'm seeing a clear best actor nomination for Rylance and a best director nomination for Warchus, along with highly likely nominations as best revival and set design.  Joanna Lumley, David Hyde Pierce, and the other design nominations are too hard to call right now, but they definitely are not out of the game.

Lea Michele Might Be More Wicked Than We Thought

As i think I posted a few months ago, there is a film version of the Broadway mega-hit Wicked in the works.  The new buzz around town is that Lea Michele, musical theater actress extraordinaire, may be taking on the lead role of Elphaba -- the one we all know as the Wicked Witch of the West who, according to this version of the tale, may not be so wicked after all.  Stephen Schwartz, who composed the show's score, has said that nothing is set in stone yet, but that "Lea Michele is fantastic and it'd be silly to say that she would not be under consideration."  Adding to Lea's case is the fact that one of the frontrunners to direct the project is Ryan Murphy, creator and sometimes director of the hit musical TV series Glee, who recently helmed the film version of the novel Eat, Pray, Love.  Given the connection between the two, if Murphy signs on, Michele would not be too far behind.  Adding to the buzz mill, there are also rumors circulating that the movie may be filmed in 3D to enhance scenes in which the witches of Oz fly.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Bloody Success

Well, folks, it looks as though we have our first serious candidate for best musical this year.  Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson opened Wednesday night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where it transferred from the Public Theatre where it played last spring.  This musical, which many reviewers have trouble classifying, is the story of Andrew Jackson's rise to the presidency.  But it's told as an emo-rock, anachronistic Wild-West Show with a little bit of "smark-aleck collegtiate review" mixed in for good measure.

All that being said, in addition to all the parallels to modern politics which everyone seems to be talking about, this show actually manages to have production values.  Michael Friedman's score, unlike the scores of other rock musicals currently on Broadway, has been called ironic, "but it's not the easy irony of mock news shows on television ...  [The songs are] achingly sincere, even as they send up aching sincerity," says Ben Brantley of The New York Times.  Danny Mefford's choreography, which has the cast looking like demented Vegas show girls, fits the show and still looks good  --  a big asset in a show that is as all over the boards as this one seems to be.  Benjamin Walker's leading performance was praised as the "spirit of the show" with special attention drawn to the actors' "gift for paradox".  Maria Elena Ramirez as Andrew Jackson's wife and Kristine Nielsen as the Storyteller received strong notices for their supporting performances.  Also, in an unusual move for a New York Times review, the production's set designer received a whole paragraph worth of praise when usually designers aren't mentioned at all.  This makes it seem likely, at least at this point, for a Tony nomination in set design.  Come May of 2011, when the Tony nominations are announced, I'm expecting to see Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson get a whole bunch of things.

The Little Train that Shouldn't

Delicate is not a word often used to describe David Mamet.  Ever.  And yet, Tuesday night at the Schoenfeld Theatre, a revival of Mamet's 1977 play A Life in the Theatre opened in a production which Ben Brantley of The New York Times called "like a doily, a thin, lacy valentine to those who ply their trade on the stage."  Brantley goes on to say that, while the show was a smash hit as an off-Broadway show in the 1970's, it was probably never intended for a Broadway stage.  The production, which has a two man cast consisting of Patrick Stewart and T. R. Knight (of Grey's Anatomy fame) and a well-respected set design by Santo Loquasto, tries to look big to fit the Broadway stage it's currently playing, but the reviews I've read say that the show has never felt smaller.

The acting doesn't seem to help much either.  Although the play is full of Mamet's signature four letter vocabulary, neither of the actors seems fully comfortable in his role nor do they create fully formed characters.  The reviews noted that, while Patrick Stewart tends to do well with large-scale classical parts, small-scale comedy is not his strength.  T. R. Knight, who I'm guessing is more used to acting for television than he is for the stage, seems to have created a character that is too one-dimensional.  In addition to all this, the relationship between the two of them doesn't seem to change, according to Ben Brantley.  All said and done, this production comes across more like Michael Frayn's Noises Off than anything Mamet-esque.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bette Midler to Join List of Celebrity Producers

First there was Oprah and The Color Purple.  Then there was Next Fall and Elton John, followed by Jay-Z and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith with Fela!  Now, there's Bette Midler and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.  The Divine Miss M, who, according to an article from, fell in love with the show when she saw it in London, will be making a financial investment into the roughly $10 million show and hopes to take a hands-on approach in shaping the piece for its Broadway opening this spring.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Joanna Lumley Interview has don an interview with Joanna Lumley, half of the British comedy duo famous for the BritCom Absolutely Fabulous, about her upcoming Broadway debut. Check it out!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Start Spreading the News ...

I bet you can hear those trumpets now, just from reading that title.  And soon, images of the rat pack, Times Square, and the '50s are running through your head, along with Frank Sinatra's voice.  But what would you say if I told you that song was originally written for Liza Minelli in 1977? has a great article about the debate over who sings this song better, along with an official decision from the song's composer -- none other than three time Tony winner John Kander, who co-wrote the song with his writing partner Fred Ebb.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jersey Boys Move to Hollywood

The Tony winning smash hit musical Jersey Boys will be making the move to Hollywood -- on celluloid, at least.  A deal has just been inked by GK Films to make the film version of the Broadway show that recounts the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.  Marshall Brickman and Rick Elise, who received Tony nominations for the show's book, will write the screenplay for the film.  No director, casting, or other creative team have been announced.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sister Act Books Theater

The much-buzzed-about musical adaptation of the Whoopi Goldberg film, Sister Act, which is now playing in London, has booked a Broadway home.  The show will move into the Broadway Theatre, where Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes are currently starring in the revival of Promises, Promises through January 2nd.  The show will begin previews on March 14th, 2011 and open on April 20th, in a production directed by Jerry Zacks.

A Little Night Music to Close

The current Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night music has announced that it will close on January 9, 2011.  Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch have extended their runs in the show in order to remain in the show through the announced closing date.  By the time of closing, the show will have played 20 previews and 425 regular performances.  There are rumors that the next tenant for Night Music's current home, the Walter Kerr Theatre, will be the revival of John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves which, as I previously reported, has Edie Falco and Ben Stiller attached to star.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mrs. Warren's Profession

The Roundabout is at it again.  On Sunday night, the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of George Bernard Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession (in a prduction running through November 28th, unless it gets extended), opened at the American Airlines Theatre on 42nd Street and the reviews are in.

The New York Times totally panned the show, politely calling it "generally less than delightful" and citing Sally Hawkins as miscast as Vivie Warren, daughter of the title character, with the rest of the supporting cast noted as passable at best.  That being said, however, the Times review thought that Cherry Jones' performance in the lead role "does not nearly glow.  She glitters."  The review went on to say that Ms. Jones "is as illuminating as ever, confirming her reputation as an actress of not only formidable charisma but also meticulous craft."

Variety's review of the show said more or less the same thing, adding, in reference to the set, that "exteriors look unnatural, interiors feel too formal, and there are entirely too many chairs around for characters who are too stimulated by their own racing throughts to be sitting down so much."  Variety also praised Jones' performance, saying that "the stages of her performance are so subtly orchestrated that it's impossible to spot those critical moments when she realizes that things aren't going the way she planned."  But Variety also pointed out the problem with this: Ms. Jones is so good and everything else so week that the production feels unbalanced.

With reviews like this, I actually think I feel bad for Cherry Jones.  She is a well trained, bright, good actress who has clearly put in the effort in this production by all the praise she is getting.  Normally, this would make her a cynch for a Tony nomination (and, depending on how the rest of the competition turns out, even a win).  But the overall production was SO poorly received that those negative reviews may actually loose her that luxury.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Brief Encounter Reviews

I wanted to catch up a bit on a back review I forgot to post.  On September 28th, the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of Brief Encounter, an adaptation of the Noel Coward and David Lean film, opened at Studio 54.

Variety called the show "a consistent parade of jolts of playhouse wonderment" and went on to compare the show in some ways to the adaptation of Hitchcock's The 39 Steps from a few years back.  That review gave strong praise for Emma Rice's (who also wrote the adaptation) direction and the musical arrangements by Stu Barker.  While leading players Hannah Yelland and Tristan Sturrock got honorable mention as part of the "uniformly strong" cast, supporting players Dorothy Atkinson and, particularly, Damon Daunno got stellar reviews.  Neil Murray's sets and costumes also were strongly favored in the Variety review.

The New York Times also praised "Ms. Rice and her wonderful company [who] have made it possible to embrace Brief Encounter once more with feeling, and without irony and embarrassment."  The Times review also praises the "unflaggingly inventive design team [that] doesn't just conjure up different locations with witty efficiency.  It also subtly conveys the transformative, dissociative nature of passion."

As far as I can tell from this set of reviews, Ms. Rice seems pretty set to get a Tony nomination for her direction, as is Neil Murray's set design, with an 80%-or-so shot for Malcolm Rippeth's light design, Mr. Murray's costumes, and Mr. Barker's compositions and a better than average chance for supporting acting nominations for Dorothy Atkinson and Damon Daunno.

2010-2011 Broadway Calendar

As has become a tradition at the envelope, as much as such things exist, I have gone through and created a calendar of the season's upcoming shows, listing titles, opening nights, and the theaters at which each show will be playing.  Though it appears I have been remiss on reporting a few of the opening nights (which I will catch up with later in the week), I wanted to post the whole calendar for you guys to see.

Harry Connick, Jr. in Concert on Broadway – 7/15/2010 – Neil Simon

Brief Encounter – 9/28/10 – Studio 54

The Pitmen Painters – 10/3/2010 – Samuel J. Friedman

Mrs. Warren’s Profession – 10/3/2010 – American Airlines

Time Stands Still – 10/7/2010 – Cort

A Life in the Theatre – 10/12/2010 – Gerald Schoenfeld

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – 10/13/2010 – Bernard B. Jacobs

La Bete – 10/14/2010 – Music Box

Lombardi – 10/21/2010 – Circle in the Square

Driving Miss Diasy – 10/25/2010 – John Golden

Rain – 10/26/2010 – Neil Simon

The Scottsboro Boys – 10/31/2010 – Lyceum

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – 11/04/2010 – Belasco

The Merchant of Venice – 11/07/2010 – Broadhurst

Colin Quinn: Long Story Short – 11/09/2010 – Helen Hayes

Elf – 11/10/2010 – Al Hirschfeld

The Pee-wee Herman Show – 11/11/2010 – Stephen Sondheim

A Free Man of Color – 11/18/2010 – Vivian Beaumont

Elling – 11/21/2010 – Ethel Barrymore

The Importance of Being Earnest – 1/13/2010 – American Airlines

Good People – 3/03/2011 – Samuel J. Friedman

That Championship Season – 3/6/2011 – Bernard B. Jacobs

Arcadia – 3/17/2011 – Ethel Barrymore

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – 3/20/2011 – Palace

Ghetto Klown – 3/22/2011 – Lyceum

The Book of Mormon – 3/24/2011 – Eugene O’Neill

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – 03/27/2011 – Al Hirschfeld

A Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo – 3/31/2011 – Richard Rodgers

Anything Goes – 4/07/2010 – Stephen Sondheim

Catch Me If You Can – 4/10/2010 – Neil Simon

The Motherfucker With the Hat – 4/11/2011 – Gerald Schoenfeld

War Horse – 4/14/2010 – Vivian Beaumont

Wonderland: A New Alice – 4/17/2011 – Marquis

High – 4/19/2011 – Booth

Sister Act – 4/20/2011 – Broadway

Jerusalem – 4/21/2011 – Music Box

Born Yesterday – 4/24/2011 – Cort

The House of Blue Leaves – 4/25/2011 – Walter Kerr

Baby It's You! – 4/27/2011 – Broadhurst

The Normal Heart – 4/27/2011 – Golden

The People in the Picture – 4/28/2011 – American Airlines