Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joel Grey to Join Revival of "Anything Goes"

The upcoming revival of Anything Goes at the Roundabout has just gotten a new star.  Joel Grey will be joining the cast as Moonface Martin alongside Sutton Foster's Reno Sweeney.  The production will be directed by Kathleen Marshall and will begin previews on March 10th, 2011, with an opening date set for April 7th at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on Broadway.

Acting Legend Tony Curtis Dead at 85

Tony Curtis, the heartthrob of many a film of the 1950s including The Sweet Smell of Success, The Defiant Ones, and Some Like It Hot, died last night of cardiac arrest at his home in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada.  He was 85.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Catch Me If You Can Books Neil Simon Theatre

The musical adaptation of the film Catch Me If You Can has booked the Neil Simon Theatre.  The show has a book by Terrence McNally (the book writer of Ragtime) and a score by Mark Shaiman and Scott Whitman (the composers of Hairspray).  The show will be directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell.  Previews will begin on March 7th and opening night is set for April 10th.

Also, Jerry Mitchell has spilled some details about the show to  Follow the link below to find out more.

David Cromer Wins MacArthur Genius Grant

Though the headline says it all, go to the article linked below at for the full story.

Women on the Verge of a Postponement

The upcoming Broadway musical version of Pedro Almodovar's Oscar-nominated film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown has postponed its first preview a second time.  According to a press release, the first preview of the musical will now be on October 8th instead of October 5th, though opening night is still set for november 4th at the Belasco Theatre in New York City.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman May Return to the Boards

Broadway vet and Tony-nominee Phillip Seymour Hoffman may be returning to Broadway some time soon.  According to the New York Post, Hoffman is in talks to star in a revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman in 2011 to be directed by Mike Nichols.  Hoffman would play the show's titular salesman, Willie Loman, and there is also buzz that Linda Emond would play Willie's wife, Linda.  Hoffman was last seen on Broadway in his Tony-nominated supporting performance in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night back in 2003.  Emond's last Broadway appearance was in 2003 when she starred in Yasmina Reza's Life X 3, for which she was nominated for a supporting actress Tony.  No dates or further casting have been announced.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Strictly Ballroom to Dance on Broadway

Baz Luhrmann is returning to the Broadway scene with an adaptation of his 1992 film Strictly Ballroom.  No writers or creative team have been announced, Luhrmann will begin a workshop to develop the show starting in December in Sydney, Australia.

For more information, check out this article.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Moonlighting in the Sand?

Allyce Beasley, a featured actress in TV's Moonlighting, has given an interview to about her upcoming Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of La Cage Aux Folles.  Check it out at the link below!

Singer Eddie Fisher Dead at 82

An era has definitely passed.  Eddie Fisher, father of Carrie Fisher and Joely Fisher, has died at the age of 82.  In 1958, Fisher was at the center of a scandal when, after the death of his best friend, Mike Todd, he went to comfort Todd's widow, Elizabeth Taylor.  Within a year, Fisher had divorced his wife, Debbie Reynolds, in order to marry Elizabeth.  Later, when she fell in love with Richard Burton, she divorced Fisher to marry Burton, after which Fisher married Connie Stevens.  Anyhow ... for the full story, follow the link below.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Complete Casting Announced for "Merchant of Venice" Revival

Complete casting has been announced for the much buzzed-about Broadway revival of William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, which is set to star Al Pacino as one of Shakespeare's most famous characters: Shylock.  In this transfer of the Public Theater's Central Park production, Lily Rabe will reprise her performance as Portia.  Other performers who will reprise their roles are Byron Jennings as Antonio, and Heather Lind as Shylock's daughter, Jessica.  Christopher Fitzgerald, a 2010 Tony nominee for his featured turn in Finian's Rainbow, will take over the role of Launcelot Gobbo from Jesse Tyler Ferguson who will be filming the second season of the hit TV show Modern Family.  David Harbour (a 2005 Tony nominee for his portrayal of Nick in the most recent revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) will take on the role of Bassanio, the role played by Hamish Linklater in the Park.

For the full cast, check out this article at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lynn Nottage Wins Steinberg Prize

Playwright Lynn Nottage has won the 2010 Steinberg Award for playwriting.  The award, the most lucrative in the theater world with a monetary prize of $200,000, was granted for her full body of work, according to a statement yesterday from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.

For more information about the award and its recent recipient, go to the New York Times Arts Beat at the following link.

Eugene O'Neill Center Starts Open Season

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's open submissions period for new plays and musicals has begun for their summer conferences.  They have a National Playwright's Conference which works with playwrights to develop about eight plays per summer, and this program will be accepting submissions through October 22nd.  Submissions for the musical side of the O'Neill Center will be accepting submissions for their National Music Theater Conference between October 1st and December 1st.  The musicals Avenue Q and In the Heights were developed there, as were many of August Wilson's plays.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Broadway Musicals Returning in Rare Form

Last year was a relatively sparse year for the new musical on Broadway, with only two new book musicals opening on the Great White Way -- Memphis and The Addams Family.  This year, however, there are eight new musicals planning to open on Broadway.  This is a heavier onslaught than during the average year during the Golden Age of Broadway, when five or so new musicals per year was the norm.  The new year on Broadway will include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Elf, The Scottsboro Boys, Spider-Man, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, all opening this fall, and Wonderland, Book of MormonSister Act, and the recently announced spring opening of the musical adaptation of Catch Me If You Can.  Word is still out as to whether or not Love Never Dies, the Andrew Lloyd Weber sequel to Phantom of the Opera, will hit New York this year.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nicole Kidman to Return to Broadway in Tennessee Williams Classic

Nicole Kidman is returning to the main stem in a production of Sweet Bird of Youth in a production to be directed by David Cromer, and the New York Post have reported.  The production is expected to hit Gotham next fall.  The play first came to Broadway in 1959 and was revived in 1975 in a production starring Christopher Walken and Irene Worth.

Promises, Promises to Close January 2nd

The current revival of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's Promises, Promises has announced a January 2, 2011 closing date.  At that point, the show will have played 30 previews and 291 regular performances.  Stars Sean Hayes, Tony Goldwyn, Dick Latessa, Molly Shannon (who will be replacing Katie Finneran's Tony Winning performance starting October 12th) and friend to the blog Kristin Chenoweth have all extended their contracts to stay with the show through then.  A note of good news for the show: by the time it closes, the show is expected to turn a profit for its producers, and a tour of the revival is in the works.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Sets Dates

Get ready, girls, 'cause here she comes!  The flamboyant and fabulous tour bus will be pulling into the Palace Theatre, with previews beginning February 28th and an opening date set for March 20, 2011.  This announcement comes hot on the heels of the closing announcement for the Palace's current resident, West Side Story, which will depart on January 2nd.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who's the Biggest Broadway Fan?

The New York Times has posted to its website an article announcing the publication of The Broadway Musical Quiz Book by Laura Frankos, a quiz bank of over 1200 questions in a wide range of categories from Composers to Star Performers.  To take a sample quiz, follow the link below and let me know how you do by posting in the comments section!

Billy Crudup to Return to Arcadia on Broadway

Billy Crudup is coming back and it looks like he's bringing Tom Stoppard (and the 1995 play in which Crudup made his Broadway debut) with him.  Arcadia, a play set in two different time periods whose differences may not be so large as we think, will return to Broadway in February of 2011 with Crudup starring as Bernard Nightengale, the role played by Victor Garber in the 1995 production in which Crudup played Septimus Hodge.  No creative team nor any further casting has been announced, to my knowledge.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Broadway in Chicago, or the Other Way Around?

 There has been a lot of hoopla lately about road houses and transfers of shows both to and from Broadway, and no single city has been busier in this regard than Chicago.  With a number of productions having done their out of town try outs there (most recently The Addams Family), many productions transferring from resident Chicago productions to Broadway (including Desire Under the Elms with Brian Dennehy, and Tracey Letts' August: Osage County and Superior Donuts) and even a production of Wicked that moved there to stay, Chicago has been a hot-spot for high quality theater.  But what do THEY think about it?  Here's a link to a great article on, written by Chris Jones.

Broadway ... Where Nothing Ever Really Dies

Ben Brantley has written a fascinating article, published in the New York Times Arts section on September 8th, about the world of second chances that exists in the Broadway continuum.  Originally a place where stars were born, Brantley calls the Broadway of today a "sort of makeover salon for those of faded glory looking to be reincarnated."  To read the full article, follow the link here:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Geoffrey Rush in Talks For Man in Chair

Tony- and Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush, best known for his Oscar-winning turn in the film Shine, the Pirates of the Carribean trilogy, and a Tony-winning turn in last year's Exit the King, is in talks to play Man in Chair in a possible film adaptation of the 2006 musical The Drowsy Chaperone.  According to, Rush "played the role an Australian production of the musical at the Melbourne Theatre Company."  The show's book writer, Don McKellar, is on tap to direct the project, as well as adapting his original book for the screen.

To quote the article, "Featuring a Tony winning score by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, The Drowsy Chaperone follows a musical theater fan who recounts the romantic entanglements of a classic movie star from his favorite fictional musical. Using creative stagecraft, the show within a show comes to life in the narrator's apartment. The Drowsy Chaperone opened on Broadway on May 1, 2006, and ran for 674 performances at the Marquis Theatre. The show receieved 13 Tony nominations and took home four awards, including a win for featured actress Beth Leavel."

CBS to Broadcast Tony Awards Through at Least 2013

Gordon Cox of has reported on that website that CBS has recently closed a deal to broadcast the Tony Awards through at least 2013.  Here's his article.

An eye on the arts
Tonys will remain on CBS through at least 2013
CBS has reupped its pact to broadcast the Tony Awards for another three years, keeping the legit industry's top kudo ceremony on the net through 2013.
The Tonys' annual three-hour berth on national network TV carries major weight in the New York theater industry, repping one of the most important marketing opportunities of the year for Broadway as a brand and for the productions showcased, particularly the musicals.
CBS, meanwhile, can tout its ongoing commitment to the performing arts. Net has broadcast the Tonys since 1978 and also reserves an annual slot for the Kennedy Center Honors.
"The performing arts are one of the lifebloods of the industry, and these broadcasts speak to our tradition of supporting them," said CBS entertainment prexy Nina Tassler. "Events such as the Tony's and Kennedy Center Honors -- that recognize and showcase such amazing artistic and creative talent -- are important to us, and an important part of a business dedicated to creating great entertainment across all mediums."
Ratings for the Tony broadcast are often on the low side, with the inherently local nature of Manhattan-based Broadway often counted as an obstacle in attracting national awareness of the latest industry offerings. The June kudocast also regularly faces tough competish from the NBA Finals.
The most recent ceremony, which featured a slew of Hollywood names including host Sean Hayes and winners Denzel Washington and Catherine Zeta-Jones, was down to about 7 million viewers following the three-year high of 7.4 million posted by the 2009 outing.
Last year's ceremony, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, recently picked up Emmys for special class program and for writing for variety, music or comedy special. Kudocast also picked up trophies in 2008, 2007 and 2005.
Although ratings may not hit blockbuster levels, the prime demo of Broadway theatergoers is well off and well educated (if also skewing older), making Tony watchers a potentially desirable aud for advertisers.
Under the agreement between CBS and the Tonys, the network ponies up a broadcast licensing fee that goes toward the production of the ceremony.
The new three-year deal is the first time in recent years CBS has reupped with the awards producers for more than a single year at a time, according to Howard Sherman, exec director of the American Theater Wing, one of the orgs that produces the Tonys. "It gives us the opportunity to plan for the future, which we couldn't always do," he said.
Exact date for the 2011 ceremony remain up in the air as organizers settle on a new venue for the awards. The Tonys' previous berth at Radio City Music Hall will next year be usurped by an incoming Cirque du Soleil show.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Captain America, Batman, Silver Surfer, and ... Bono?

It would seem that Bono, Grammy Award winning lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, is a superhero.  At least, that's what an article on says.  Here's the text of Michael Mellini's Is Bono a Superhero?  Spiderp-Man Stars Think So.

Could Grammy-winning rock star (and now Broadway composer) Bono have a secret life as a superhero? “Bono practically is Spider-Man,” says Patrick Page, who plays Green Goblin in the upcoming musical Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark, which Bono wrote with U2 bandmate The Edge.

"[Central character] Peter Parker is a kid with extraordinary powers and celebrity who finds all that comes with responsibility, and that’s what happened to Bono," Page told after Spider-Man debuted a song on Good Morning America on September 10. "He became a sensation, cameras began to follow him, and he had to ask himself what he was going to do with all that.” Thus, the superhero connection. The rock star's reputation is all about doing good; he is known for his philanthropy, including promoting humanitarian efforts in world hot spots, AIDS awareness and even winning the Man of Peace Prize.

Tony-winning director Julie Taymor agrees that the superstar has superhero tendencies. “There’s a world out there we’re responsible for taking care of and Bono has certainly operated his life that way.” She went on to explain that one of her favorite songs from the show, “Rise Above,” stemmed from Bono's desire to rise above the banality of every day life.

Reeve Carney, who plays the title character, didn't weigh in on whether Bono is actually a superhero, but he did talk about playing one. “I feel pressure that I have to live up to people's expectations, but I don’t want to play this part like anybody else has,” he says of the iconic web-slinger. As the lead singer of a rock band himself, Carney also noted that he is thrilled to be performing Bono’s music. “Bono and I sing in similar registers, so it was like the songs were written for my voice. It’s awesome.” Carney also revealed he won’t actually sing as the masked superhero, only as the undisguised Parker.

With Bono's talent, stardom and good will, audiences are eager to see the show soar. Carney said they won't be disappointed. “The sets are out of control. I would pay to see the show even if there were no actors,” he gushed. Spidey’s super powers won’t however be limited due to the confinement of the stage. “Everybody’s going to be up in the air, but you’ve never seen flying like this before,” said Page. “I walked into the theater the other day and somebody came zooming right over my head and I just screamed!” Nine actors will don the Spidey suit in order to manage the difficult flight operations. “The audience is going to just scream their heads off,” said Page.

Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark begins performances on November 14 and opens on December 21 at Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Martha Swope Archives Donated

In a field like live theater where, unlike the film industry, once something happens, it is gone forever, history is important.  Because of the generosity of Martha Swope, we now have the opportunity to recapture some of the great history of theater and dance.  Details are in the article below, which was written by Gordon Cox for

Martha Swope, a pre-eminent photographer of Broadway shows and New York dance from the late 1950s to the mid-1990s, has given her archive to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.The collection of contact sheets and negatives includes shots of about 800 theater productions, including "West Side Story," "A Chorus Line," "Sweeney Todd," "42nd Street," "Moon for the Misbegotten" (with Colleen Dewhurst), "Annie" (starring a young Sarah Jessica Parker) and "Of Mice and Men" (toplined by James Earl Jones).
Also included are Swope's snaps of New York City Ballet output and major dance productions from choreographers and dancers such as Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, George Balanchine and Mikhail Baryshnikov. She also shot for operas and for movie posters, including the iconic dance floor image for "Saturday Night Fever."
The collection consists of 1,520,000 images on contact prints with corresponding negatives, 152,000 slides and 12,250 prints, along with about 75,000 digitally scanned images.
"It's a period of 30 to 40 years that was very important and very productive in theater and dance," said Swope of the work recorded in her archive.
The self-taught photographer will assist the library with labeling and captioning the material.
Swope, who retired in 1994, saw her work printed in publications including Life, Newsweek, the New York Times, People and many theater and dance outlets. Much of what she shot was used as press material for productions, with her shots often running in newspapers alongside reviews.
At the library, the collection will be physically preserved while a certain number of photos -- including about 15 shots per major production -- will be digitized.
Reps for the Library for the Performing Arts (LPA) anticipate the Swope archive will be used by scholars and students as well as designers and others working in the performing arts. LPA also will handle requests from newspapers, magazines, textbooks and other sources to publish the archival images.
"Martha's work rounds out a perspective of theater and dance that someone can gain by looking at our collection," said LPA exec director Jacqueline Z. Davis. "It's very comprehensive."Swope came to New York from Texas in the 1950s as a dancer, but turned to photography after Jerome Robbins -- who was in one of her ballet classes as a warm-up to work on "West Side Story" -- asked her to shoot photos of "West Side" rehearsals. Eventually she became the go-to photog for Gotham performing arts and for Broadway, working regularly with producers including David Merrick and Harold Prince.
According to Davis, it was Prince who alerted the LPA to the fact that Swope was looking for a place for her collection, following the archive's eight-year stint with Time, Inc. The LPA and the photographer have been in talks about the donation since 2002.
In 2004 Swope was awarded a Tony Honor, the kudo given to those in the legit industry whose work is not eligible for the awards' competitive categories. In 2007 she received a lifetime achievement award from the League of Professional Theater Women.
Swope, who gave away all her cameras when she retired, said her approach to her work was largely intuitive. "I can't think analytically about it, because I just did it," she said. "I reacted to what was in front of me."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jerry Herman, Bill T. Jones, and Oprah to Receive Kennedy Center Honors

Tony Winners Jerry Herman and Bill T. Jones and Tony nominee Oprah Winfrey will be among this year's Kennedy Center Honorees, along with Paul McCartney and Merle Haggard.  The ceremony will be on December 4th with a gala performance the following day.  The gala performance will be recorded and will air on PBS December 28th.

Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls ..." to Hit Theaters November 5th

Tyler Perry's film adaptation of the Broadway play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf will hit theaters a little earlier than expected.  Though the film was originally slated for a January, 2011 release, the film will now arrive in theaters on November 5th of this year.  To quote the article, the film will star "Tony winners Whoopi Goldberg, Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad as well as Kerry Washington, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, Macy Gray and Tessa Thompson."

The play, by Ntozake Shange, originally opened in 1976 at the Public Theatre after a smaller 1975 production in California.  It then transferred to Broadway where, in 1977, the play was nominated for Best Play and won a Tony for Trazana Beverly's supporting performance as Lady in Red.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Spice Girls Musical in the Works

As though we thought we could get rid of them, the Spice Girls are coming back in a new musical in London.   From what I've seen, the show is being called Viva Forever and, according to, is being described as "a modern fable of camaraderie, love and loyalty based on the songs of the Spice Girls." is also reporting that Jennifer Saunders, the writer/actress who is probably most famous in this country for the TV comedy Absolutely Fabulous, will be writing the show's book.  The show is expected to open in the West End at some point in 2012.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

 The Donmar Warehouse has announced its 2011 Season, combining classic British fare with fresh American musicals.  The article below is David Benedict's article, "Donmar unveils 2011 season" from
LONDON -- The European premiere of Tony-winning tuner "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," a new adaptation of Friedrich Schiller's 19th-century thriller "Luise Miller" and the first London revival of Pinter's "Moonlight" are the highlights of the 2011 Donmar Warehouse season announced Friday.Jamie Lloyd, currently rehearsing the Donmar's forthcoming production of Sondheim's "Passion," will helm William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin's tuner. Christopher Oram and Neil Austin, both 2010 Tony-winners for the Donmar/Arielle Tepper Madover "Red" will design and light the show, which runs Feb. 11-Apr. 2 with a Feb. 21 opening.

Pinter's 1993 tragicomedy "Moonlight," helmed by National Theater associate director Bijan Sheibani, designed by Bunny Christie and lit by Jon Clark, plays April 7-May 28 with an April 12 opening.
Donmar a.d. Michael Grandage's production of "Luise Miller" reunites him with translator Mike Poulton. Their previous Schiller collaboration "Don Carlos" was a West End critical and box-office smash. The play, best known as an opera by Verdi, runs June 8-July 30. Felicity Jones ("The Chalk Garden") plays the title role.

Contact the Variety newsroom at

Friday, September 3, 2010

Literary Source Material for Plays

I just read a great article on by Robert Hofler entitled "Plays booking a novel source: Theater returns to literary adaptations and both benefit".  While musicals have become famous in the past 10 or so years for just copying Hollywood and stealing ideas from other sources, I think Mr. Hofler may be onto a big trend in the future of plays.  Here is the text of his article.

With a journo's typically unreliable 20-20 foresight, it's a good bet that the novel-to-stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's "War Horse" looks to be one of the major events of the 2010-11 Broadway season. Then again, whether this Brit transfer turns into another hit (like "Nicholas Nickleby") or a flop (like "Coram Boy") won't be answered until April 14, when Nick Stafford's legit take on the book about a boy and his long-lost horse opens at LCT's Vivian Beaumont Theater.

But this much is certain: American playwrights are catching up to the Brits when it comes to finding legit material on the bestseller lists.

Yanks aren't exactly new to the form, with favorites like the Goetzes' "The Heiress" and Frank Galati's "The Grapes of Wrath" proving durable staples of American theater. But there's a fresh wave of lit adapations hitting the boards that suggests a renewed interest in the textures of the novel, even though such material isn't as remunerative for the playwright doing the adaptation because of royalty splits that give 25-50% to the original author.

The roster of new and recent productions includes:

Marsha Norman's "The Master Butchers Singing Club," adapted from Louise Erdrich's novel, debuts at the Guthrie this month.
At the Public, the Elevator Repair Service follows its adaptations of "The Sun Also Rises" and "The Sound and the Fury" with a six-hour production of "Gatz," based on "The Great Gatsby," beginning previews Sept. 26.

Atlanta's Theatrical Outfit concludes on Sept. 5 its current run of "Confederacy of Dunces" by Tom Keys, a production that follows Mary Machala's adaptation of the John Kennedy Toole novel last season at Seattle's Book-It Repertory Theater.

Denver Center Theater preems Caridad Svich's "The House of the Spirits" on Sept. 23.

And not to count the Brits out, Trevor Nunn's staging of Sebastian Faulks' WWI-set bestseller "Birdsong," adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff, goes up Sept. 18 on the West End.

Many in the commercial theater, however, are looking further ahead, to Rupert Holmes' stage redo of John Grisham's "A Time to Kill," which opens Arena Stage's new space, the Kreeger Theater, in April 2011.

From a monetary standpoint, the legit project intrigues because 1) it was suggested by Grisham's agent, David Gernert; 2) producer Daryl Roth plans to take it to Broadway; and 3) Holmes has radically restructured the novel to be a courtroom drama.

Once upon a time, courtroom dramas were a Broadway staple: Remember Ayn Rand's "Night of January 16," Agatha Christie's "Witness for the Prosecution" and Reginald Rose's jury-room drama, "Twelve Angry Men"? But TV, thanks to "Perry Mason" and shows of its legal ilk, co-opted the genre.

Regarding the new "A Time to Kill," it's no coincidence that the director will be Scott Ellis, who turned the Roundabout's recent production of "Twelve Angry Men" into a hit, reviving interest in not only Rose's play but the genre itself.
Says Holmes, "Of late, when I turn on TV, I find myself starved for something that someone made up, starved for a yarn. All I seem to get now are documentaries about people who know they are being filmed."

With TV serving up a full plate of reality shows and the movies driven by f/x-centered tentpoles, the door is wide open for theater to start telling great stories again via novels.
"Working from a pre-existing plot helps playwrights learn about plot, a thing they are chronically bad at. So I recommend this to students all the time," says Norman, a Pulitzer Prize winner ("?'night, Mother") who teaches at Juilliard. "A big adaptation really helps you learn the difference between plot and story, something any playwright must know."

Producers and playwrights know that the biggest Broadway moneymakers have been story-driven melodramas like "Proof," "Doubt" and "August: Osage County," which at its heart is a grand soap opera. And while those are original works, plays based on novels also bring the added marquee value of a known title.
In terms of box office, that luster helps -- even at a nonprofit venue like the Guthrie, where the "Master Butcher" novelist is a local celebrity and resident. "There's no question there's a strong value having Louise Erdrich's name attached," says Joe Dowling, the theater's artistic director. "Also, she's very popular nationally; it's not just a local thing."
With "A Time to Kill," the drawing card may be as much the 1996 Joel Schumacher film as the Grisham novel it's based on.

That kind of novel/movie/play synergy is something playwright Prince Gomolvilas experienced firsthand with his stage adaptation of Scott Heim's novel "Mysterious Skin." Movie crix praised the play for "brilliantly replicating" the film, about a sexually abused boy.
"But I never saw the film," says Gomolvilas, who opened his "Mysterious Skin" in San Francisco in 2003, one full year before the Gregg Araki movie saw the light of a movie projector.

Still, Gomolvilas won't bite the hand that helped his play win exposure. "The book is a seminal classic in gay literature, which was very helpful. Then certainly, when the movie made a splash, it really helped boost the Orange County production in 2005," he says.

A revival of "Mysterious Skin" begins previews Sept. 9 at L.A.'s East West Players.

As Holmes does with "A Time to Kill," Gomolvilas radically altered the structure of the source material -- with Heim's blessing -- by returning to a nearly forgotten but once-beloved legit genre.

"My play is a mystery. It's about an 18-year-old boy, who, investigating his past, believes he has been abducted by aliens. In the novel, the perpetrator (of the sexual abuse) is told upfront," says Gomolvilas.

On the advice of Nunn, Wagstaff is taking a more "respectful" approach with "Birdsong." She and her director "discussed the responsibility you have to a much-loved book," Wagstaff recalls.

"When something is well known and loved by the audience, be as faithful as you can while making the play work in its own right," advises Wagstaff, who has gone over her play "line by line" with Faulks.

If there's any downside to bringing a novel to the stage, it's one that legit agents are quick to point out.

"My clients strive for original material, thank God," says one agent. "Because you don't make as much money with an adaptation, especially on the really popular titles."

Indeed, the original author shares anywhere from 25% to 50% of the royalties with the playwright; there's no chance of a movie/TV sale; and even worse for the legit ego, if not the pocketbook, the novelist's name often appears a point-size bigger on the poster.

Contact Robert Hofler at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Nominating Committee for 2011 Tony Awards Announced

The nominating committe for the 2011 Tony Awards has been announced.  These are the people who see every show and determine who gets nominated in each of the categories.  According to the announcement at ...
The Nominating Committee attends all productions during the Broadway season and meets on the date designated by the Administration Committee to determine, by vote, the Tony Award nominees for that season. The committee of 30 Tony Nominators includes:
*Victoria Bailey - Executive Director, Theatre Development Fund
David Caddick - Music Supervisor
Ben Cameron - Program Director for the Arts - Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Kathleen Chalfant - Actor
Hope Clarke - Stage Director/Choreographer/Actor
Thomas Cott - Producer/Management Consultant
*André De Shields - Actor
Edgar Dobie - Producer/General Manager/Managing Director, Arena Stage Washington, DC
*Gordon Edelstein - Director/Artistic Director of Long Wharf Theatre
*Beverly Emmons - Lighting Designer
*Michael Greif - Director
Paulette Haupt - Director of the Music Theatre Conference at The O'Neill Center
*Mark Hollmann - Composer/Lyricist
Elena K. Holy - Founder - The International Fringe Festival
Robert Kamlot - Retired General Manager
*Moisés Kaufman - Director/Playwright/Artistic Director, Tectonic Theater
Robert Kimball - Author
Pia Lindström - Former Reporter/Theatre Critic
*Todd London - Artistic Director, New Dramatists
Donna McKechnie - Actor/Choreographer
Jon Nakagawa - Producer of Contemporary Programming - Lincoln Center
Alice Playten - Actor
Theresa Rebeck - Playwright
Susan H. Schulman - Director
*Rosemarie Tichler - Theatre Executive, Educator/Casting Director
Tamara Tunie - Actor/Producer
William Tynan - Actor/Reporter
*Kevin Wade - Playwright/Screenwriter
Doug Wright - Playwright/Screenwriter
Andrew Zerman - Retired Casting Director
*New Nominating Committee members

The 2011 American Theatre Wing's Tonys Awards are presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing. At The Broadway League, Paul Libin is Chairman and Charlotte St. Martin is Executive Director. At the American Theatre Wing, Theodore S. Chapin is Chairman and Howard Sherman is Executive Director. For Tony Award Productions, Alan Wasser and Allan Williams of Alan Wasser Associates are the General Managers. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment are Executive Producers of the 2011 Tony Awards. Mr. Weiss will also serve as Director of the 2011 Tony Awards

The Blog is Back!

As the 2010-2011 season is gearing back up, I wanted to start up my blog again with a preview of the shows we can expect to see this year, as far as current news reports have told us.  Here's an article from about the upcoming season and what shows will be hoping for Tony Awards in 2011.

The New Season – A Sneak Preview

By Gerard Raymond

An American President as a rock star; coal miners who paint; a legendary football coach; Pee Wee Herman; a classic movie tear-jerker; the Beatles revisited; a boy and his horse; and a pound of flesh - that's just a small taste of the theatrical smorgasbord that makes up the list of productions set to open on Broadway in the 2010-2011 season. These and other shows will be hoping to be mentioned when nominations for the American Theatre Wing's 65th annual Tony Awards® are announced in the spring.

Broadway fans love to make Tony predictions even before the curtain goes up on a new production. To help you out, here's a sneak preview of the shows, arranged chronologically in order of their currently announced preview start dates. Of course, nothing is set in stone, and there are sure to be changes along the way. Certainly additional shows will be announced. Check back frequently--we'll add new productions to the list as they are confirmed.

You can click on a title to visit the show's official website.

Mrs. Warren's Profession

Previews begin September 3, Roundabout Theatre Company/American Airlines Theatre

Two-time Tony Award-winner Cherry Jones returns to Broadway in the 1893 play by George Bernard Shaw that tells the story of Kitty Warren, a mother who makes a terrible sacrifice for her daughter Vivie's independence. The play was shut down by the police on its original Broadway premiere in 1905 because of its clear-eyed view of prostitution.

Brief Encounter

Previews begin September 10, Roundabout Theater Company/Studio 54

Noël Coward's story about unexpected romance on a railway station platform is recreated with songs, dance and video-projections using elements from David Lean's classic 1945 movie and the original Coward one-act play on which it was based.

The Pitmen Painters

Previews begin September 14, Manhattan Theater Club/Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

The Live Theatre Newcastle and the National Theatre of Great Britain production of a new play by past Tony-winner Lee Hall about a group of coal miners from a town in northeast England in the 1930s, whose paintings were celebrated by the British art world.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Previews begin September 20, Bernard Jacobs Theatre

The controversial populist seventh President of the United States, who invented the Democratic Party and ruthlessly removed native tribes from their homelands, is reconceived as an emo-rock star in a gleefully outrageous musical by writer/director Alex Timbers and composer/lyricist Michael Friedman, which was originally presented Off Broadway at the Public Theater.

A Life in the Theatre

Previews begin September 21, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

Patrick Stewart and T. R. Knight star in David Mamet's 1997 two-character drama about the relationship between an older actor and a newcomer, which is inspired by the playwright's observations of backstage life and his own short-lived stint as an actor.

La Bête

Previews begin September 23, Music Box Theatre

Backstage hijinks feature prominently in David Hirson's 1991 Molière-inspired verse comedy set in 17th-century France about a theatre troupe forced to make artistic comprises by their royal patron. This revival stars past Tony-winners Mark Rylance and David Hyde Pierce, along with Joanna Lumley.


Previews begin September 23, Circle in the Square Theatre

Dan Luria (of The Wonder Years) portrays the beloved Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi in a new play by Eric Simonson, based on the best-selling biography When Pride Still Mattered by David Maraniss. Also starring Judith Light.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Previews begin October 2, Lincoln Center Theater/Belasco Theatre

Pedro Almadóvar's 1988 Oscar-nominated film comedy about a bunch of high strung Madrid women and the men in their lives is now a new Broadway musical with a score by David Yazbek and a book by Jeffrey Lane (the team responsible for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). The cast is headed by Sheri Rene Scott and past Tony-winners Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti, and Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Driving Miss Daisy

Previews begin October 7, Golden Theatre

Past Tony-winners Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones star as a 72-year widowed Atlanta Jewish woman and her African-American chauffer in the 1987 play by past Tony-winner Alfred Uhry. Four-time Tony winner Boyd Gaines rounds out the cast

The Scottsboro Boys

Previews begin October 7, Lyceum Theatre

A new musical from multiple Tony-winners John Kander and the late Fred Ebb based on the notorious 1930s case about nine African-American men unjustly accused of rape. A transfer from Off Broadway's Vineyard Theatre, the musical is presented in the format of a minstrel show. Past-winner John Collum is among the cast.

RAIN - A Tribute to the Beatles on Broadway

Previews begin October 19, Neil Simon Theatre

A multi-media concert starring the band RAIN that brings to life the Fab Four, covering the Beatles' early days, including the "Ed Sullivan Show" appearance in 1964, through to their final performance prior to the release of Abbey Road in 1969.

The Merchant of Venice

Previews begin October 19, Broadhurst Theatre

A transfer from Central Park of the Public Theater's acclaimed production of Shakespeare's uncomfortable tragic-comedy that mixes romance and revenge, set in a sharply polarized Venetian society of Christians and Jews. Past Tony-winner Al Pacino plays Shylock.

A Free Man of Color

Previews begin October 21, Lincoln Center Theater/Vivian Beaumont

Playwright John Guare's take on the Louisiana Purchase. In a freewheeling epic set in 1802 New Orleans the title character (played by past-winner Jeffrey Wright), is a new-world Don Juan and the wealthiest inhabitant of this sexually charged and racially progressive city.

The Pee-wee Herman Show

Previews begin October 26, Stephen Sondheim Theatre

A stage show based on the Saturday morning children's TV series features Paul Ruebens as the genially innocent, yet slyly campy and subversive host, along with the much-loved members of his idiosyncratic Playhouse gang.

Elf - The Musical

Previews begin November 2, Al Hirschfeld Theatre

A musical adapted from the 2003 Will Farrell hit movie about a human raised by Santa's helpers in the North Pole, who comes to New York City to discover his identity. Music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin and book by past-winners Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin.

Spider-man Turn off the Dark

Previews begin November 14, Foxwoods Theatre

A new musical about the Marvel comics teen-age hero from Queens who suddenly finds himself endowed with super-powers. Music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge.

The Importance of Being Earnest

Previews begin December 20, Roundabout Theater Company/American Airlines Theatre

Past Tony-winner Brian Bedford both directs and performs the plum role of the formidable Lady Bracknell in a revival of Oscar Wilde's effervescent and perennially witty comedy of manners.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Previews begin February 26, Al Hirschfeld Theatre

Daniel Radcliffe stars in a new revival of the 1962 Tony-winning musical with a score by Frank Loesser about a young window cleaner who follows the advice of a self-help book to launch a meteoric rise from mail-room to Vice-President of Advertising in a large corporation.

Good People

Previews begin February 8, Manhattan Theatre Club/Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

Frances McDormand and Tate Donovan star in David Lindsay Abaire's play set in an impoverished Boston neighborhood, where people's paychecks don't cover their bills.

Anything Goes

Previews begin March 10, Roundabout Theatre Company/Stephen Sondheim Theatre

Past-winner Sutton Foster plays Reno Sweeney in a new revival of the musical romp from Cole Porter that takes place on an ocean liner steaming across the Atlantic.

War Horse

Previews begin March 17, Lincoln Center Theater/Vivian Beaumont Theatre

London transfer of a play adapted by Nick Stafford from the novel by Michael Morpurgo that relates the extraordinary adventures a boy and his horse, after the beloved animal was sold to the cavalry upon the outbreak of the First World War.


Previews begin March 21, theatre TBA

A new musical from Frank Wildhorn which offers a contemporary take on the Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland stories: A grown woman discovers a whole other world lying underneath modern-day Manhattan.

And There's More…

Several other new shows are heading towards Broadway and hoping to debut during the upcoming season. While theatres and preview dates are still up in the air, it's definitely worth keeping them on your radar. The following are all musicals:

The Book of Mormon - from creators of Avenue Q and the TV series South Park

Catch Me If You Can - a stage adaptation of the Steven Spielberg movie

Love Never Dies- continuing the story of The Phantom of the Opera

Priscilla Queen of the Desert - based on the Australian movie hit

Sister Act - an adaptation of the film comedy about singing nuns, with a score by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater

Unchain My Heart, The Ray Charles Musical - a musical biography of the soul-music giant

Yank! - transfer of the York Theatre's Off Broadway musical about a gay romance in the armed services during World War II.

Plays on the horizon include:

Elling - two psychiatric patients who have to prove that they are capable of being normal, adapted by Simon Bent from the 2001 Norwegian film.

Other shows will be announced as the season gets underway, and we'll add those titles as information is confirmed.

See you at the theatre!

Note: All determinations of eligibility for the Tony Awards are made exclusively by the Tony Awards Administration Committee.