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.

Broadway.com 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 Broadway.com 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 Broadway.com 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 Broadway.com about a new legal battle being fought by the team behind Fela!  The text below is a direct copy of the Broadway.com 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

Broadway.com 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 Broadway.com!


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."