Monday, February 28, 2011

Spider-Man Musical Might Delay ... Again

Surprise, surprise ... Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Julie Taymor's $65 million mega-musical, has delayed its opening night again.  For the sixth time this year.  The reason given this time?  According to the New York Times, who spoke with three anonymous sources who have insider knowledge of the deliberations, the reason is "to make more changes to the show in hopes of improving its worldwide commercial prospects after theater critics savaged it this month."  How long will we have to wait for it to open?  Maybe as late as June, which would push the show into next year's Tony race, given an April 28th deadline for shows to open and still be considered eligible for the 2011 Tony Awards.  For more detail, here's the New York Times article for those who are interested.

The Yiddish Theater Looses a Star

Pearl Sacks, one of the stars of Yiddish Theater and Yiddish Radio (read your history books, kids ... this stuff used to be huge!) has died at the age of 80.  Sacks appeared with none other than Fanny Brice and Boris Thomashefsky at the Parkway Theater in Brooklyn, as well as with Victor Parker on his radio show and in his acting troup when it went through the Catskills.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Broadway's Trouble With Rock 'n' Roll

Rock is getting an increasing presence on Broadway these days with shows like Memphis, Spring Awakening, and more.  But not all shows seem to do well with Rock scores.  Check out's article on the subject.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jeffrey Tambor Leaving La Cage

Only one week after joining the cast of the Tony winning revival of La Cage Aux Folles, Jeffrey Tambor has departed the show without explanation.  Tambor took over the role of Georges from Kelsey Grammer, who was Tony nominated for this role.  No replacement has been announced, but Tambor's understudy, Chris Hoch, has taken over the role in the mean while.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Fame of the Flop

Sardi's restaurant is known as much for the portraits of celebrities it has on the wall as it is for the food it serves to people around the New York theater scene.  But it's Joe Allen's, another New York theater joint, that has the truly interesting wall hangings.  The New York Times recently ran an article about the special style of posters Joe Allen keeps on its walls -- of Broadway's biggest flops.  The question raised by the article is how quickly the $65 million Julie Taymour show, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, will join the ranks of Joe Allen's walls.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Late Addition to the Season

Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart will be joining the 2010-2011 Broadway season as one of the last productions to open with a chance for a 2011 Tony Award.  The revival will open on April 27th, just under the wire -- shows must open by April 28th to be eligible this year rather than next.  The show is expected to play at the Golden Theatre, where the revival of Driving Miss Daisy is expected to close on April 9th.  This play was among the first in New York theater to face AIDS and homosexuality directly.  The show will star actor/director Joe Mantello in the central role of Ned Weeks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nancy Opel to Travel to Memphis

Veteran Broadway actress Nancy Opel will be heading down to Tennessee ... or, rather, Memphis, that is.  Opel will be joining the cast of the Tony Winning Best Musical as Mama on March 15th, taking over from original star Cass Morgan.  Opel was nominated for a Tony back in 2002 for her leading performance in Urinetown, in which she played Penny Pennywise.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Everything Old is New Again

In a world where Broadway revivals are king, new works have, of late, been hard to come by.  Until this year, that is.  There is a large number of new plays and musicals coming to Broadway this season and, to focus on them rather than on the revivals that have taken over, Ben Brantley of the NY Times has written some anticipatory buzz about the new works coming to the New York stage, which I have copied below.

GOOD PEOPLE And, it seems, relatively ordinary people as well. David Lindsay-Abaire, once known for works of high whimsy (“Fuddy Meers”), returns to the naturalistic vein he mined so successfully for his Pulitzer Prize Prize-winning “Rabbit Hole” in this story of second chapters in the lives of beleaguered Bostonians. Daniel Sullivan directs a cast that includes Frances McDormandand Tate Donovan. (March 3, Samuel Friedman Theater)
ARCADIA Tom Stoppard, that most wistful and wily of theatrical wordsmiths, has rarely been as exquisitely heartbroken as in this generations-jumping tale of academics and aristocrats pursuing a mystery from the age of Byron. Billy Crudup, who appeared in the original Broadway production 16 years ago, returns in a different (and older and wiser) part. David Leveaux directs. (March 17, Ethel Barrymore Theater)
THE BOOK OF MORMON Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the taboo-busting creators of the animated “South Park” series, have always carried a torch for song-and-dance shows. (Their first collaboration was called “Cannibal! The Musical.”) This story of Mormon missionaries adrift in Africa, written with the composer Robert Lopez, is guaranteed to cross the boundaries of good taste. (March 24, Eugene O’Neill Theater)
THE ____________ WITH THE HAT It seems fitting that the combustible comedian Chris Rock, never one for self-censorship, should make his Broadway debut in a play with an unprintable title. Love, drugs and other mind-altering essences figure in this play from the street-smart Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by Anna D. Shapiro. (April 11,Gerald Schoenfeld Theater)
WAR HORSE When was the last time a puppet made you cry? Tears have been flowing in London since the title character of this sentimental drama — brought to fully dimensional life by a team of puppeteers — first took the stage of the National Theater in 2008. Nick Stafford adapted Michael Morpurgo’s novel about a country boy and his noble steed, separated by World War I. Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris direct. (April 11, Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center)
JERUSALEM Two helpings of Mark Rylance in one season? Oh, the bliss of it. Having wowed New York as the fatuous title character in “La BĂȘte” last fall, Mr. Rylance takes on the part of a superannuated trailer-park Pied Piper in Jez Butterworth’s sprawling, two-fisted portrait of vanishing British myths, directed by Ian Rickson. (April 21, Music Box Theater)
FAT PIG Dane Cook, like Chris Rock (see above), is tossing aside the stand-up microphone to leap into a bona fide play. Mr. Cook portrays a seriously obnoxious member of the primitive species Homo labutus (that’s man according to the harsh moralistNeil LaBute) in this raw but oddly tender comic drama from 2004. The cast also includes Josh Hamilton and Julia Stiles. (April 26, Belasco Theater)
THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE Donna Murphy, the amazing chameleon woman of Broadway musicals, plays a New York grandmother who was once a Yiddish theater star in Poland in this brand-new show by Iris Rainer Dart (the novel “Beaches”), with lyrics by Ms. Dart and music by Mike Stoller and Artie Butler. (April 28, Studio 54)
THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES The season’s longest title is a riff on that of a book by George Bernard Shaw, and the play’s author is, but of course, the Shavian (read: eloquent, passionate, long-winded and politically engaged) Tony Kushner, who here pokes at unraveling family ties in blue-collar Brooklyn. Michael Greif directs. (May 5, Public Theater)
BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK Lynn Nottage, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the wrenching topical drama “Ruined,” slips into a less somber (but, one imagines, still trenchant) mode with this look at racial stereotyping in Hollywood, which takes a cue or two from vintage screwball comedies. Sanaa Lathan plays an African-American maid with dreams of big-screen stardom. Jo Bonney directs. (May 9, Second Stage Theater)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ben Brantley on Mark Rylance

Ben Brantley has posted audio commentary on the New York Times website about the versatility of Mark Rylance, the British actor who may end up with two Best Actor in a Play Tony nominations this year.  Follow the link below to hear all about it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Something's Coming Something Good, If I Can Wait

Steven McElroy recently interviewed a number of last year's Tony Award winners and nominees for the New York Times about what shows or performances they are most looking forward to in the upcoming months on Broadway.  I have copied their answers below.

SEAN HAYESnominee, leading actor in a musical, “Promises, Promises”: “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.” Not only because I just finished working with Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Beth Williams and Rob Ashford but I’m anxious to see my friend Daniel Radcliffe in his Broadway musical debut. I know he’ll be nothing short of spectacular. And I hope that he can finally make a name for himself in this business. 
JAN MAXWELLnominee, leading actress in a play, “The Royal Family,” and nominee, featured actress in a play, “Lend Me a Tenor”: Because I am in love with David Greenspan, I am very much looking forward to seeing his play "Go Back To Where You Are" at Playwrights Horizons. David and I met during "The Royal Family" last year and he gave me a few of his plays to read. I loved them. His work is quirky, modern, ancient, heartfelt and irreverent. He also happens to be one of the most magnificent human beings I have ever met.
STEPHEN KUNKENnominee, featured actor in a play, “Enron”: For sheer theatricality, it’ll be hard to beat the magnificent horses at the center of "War Horse." The advertisements alone are astonishing. And Mark Rylance goes to battle with his own performance in "La BĂȘte" in what I have been told by all my cross-pond compatriots is not only the performance of the season, but of a great actor’s career: I’ll definitely be interested in seeing his colossal "Jerusalem."
BOBBY STEGGERTnominee, best performance by a featured actor in a musical, “Ragtime”: I am genuinely excited to see "The Book of Mormon" — an original musical with an original score, based on an original idea, performed by actors cast for their talent and not name recognition. What a concept!” 
CHAD KIMBALL, nominee, leading actor in a musical, “Memphis”: I’m very much intrigued by a new piece at Classic Stage Company called "Unnatural Acts," conceived and directed by Tony Speciale. It’s a play that explores the drama surrounding Harvard’s secret courts of the 1920’s. The secret courts are something I’ve heard about but have always been interested to know more.
JOE DIPIETROwinner, best book of a musical, “Memphis.” I first came across "That Championship Season" on a library shelf in the mid-70s, and I’ve been obsessed with the play ever since. I was an awkward teenager who was immediately mesmerized by Jason Miller’s exploration of modern-day masculinity, and although I’ve reread the play several times, I’ve never had the opportunity to see it.
CHRISTINE JONESwinner, best scenic design of a musical, “American Idiot”:“Beautiful Burnout” [at St. Ann’s Warehouse], directed and choreographed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett. Hoggett did the choreography for "American Idiot" as well as "Black Watch." His work is fierce and from the heart, raw and tender. I’m a huge fan.
KATE BALDWINnominee, leading actress in a musical, “Finian’s Rainbow”: The new musical “A Minister’s Wife” which will play the Mitzi Newhouse this spring. It is based on one of my favorite plays, stars one of my favorite actresses and comes from one of my favorite cities. "Candida," Kate Fry and Chicago all wrapped up in beautiful music. Fantastic.
LEVI KREISwinner, featured actor in a musical, “Million Dollar Quartet”: "The Book of Mormon" because it is from the writers of "South Park" and word on the street is that it is supposed to be hilarious and very smart at the same time. Any time religion is approached with a sense of humor, I’m already hooked.
GEOFFREY NAUFFTSnominee, best play, “Next Fall”: MCC’s upcoming production of Sharr White’s "The Other Place." Sharr’s one of my all-time favorite writers, he’s been kicking around for years, and it’s time New Yorkers get to see his brilliance.
MARIAN SELDESspecial Tony award for lifetime achievement in the theater: Born Yesterday’ because it was written by Garson Kanin. (Ms. Seldes was married to Kanin from 1990 until he died in 1999.)
GREGORY MOSHERbest direction of a play, “A View From the Bridge”: Like every theater lover in New York, I can hardly wait for the Public’s presentation of Tony Kushner’s "The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures." Kushner’s play is going to be a feast of ideas, and I’m planning to go at least a few times.
ROB ASHFORDnominee, best choreography, “Promises, Promises.” "Anything Goes." The Lincoln Center production starring Patti LuPone was my first Broadway job as a dancer after moving to New York. With Sutton Foster as Reno and Kathleen Marshall at the helm I know it will be amazing!
DONALD MARGULIESnominee, best play, “Time Stands Still”: New plays by three playwrights at different stages of their careers are high on my list: Amy Herzog, who is just taking off, has "4000 Miles" at LCT3; Rajiv Joseph, who is on his way, has "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" on Broadway; and Tony Kushner, who is in his prime, delivers, in May, "The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide...” as part of his exhilarating Signature season.
JESSICA HECHTnominee, featured actress in a play, “A View From the Bridge.” I really want to endorse "By the Way, Meet Vera Stark" because I think Jo Bonney is such a tremendous director and has done in my mind remarkably insightful contemporary productions, especially by female writers, that are just incomparable. And "Ruined" just changed my life.
SHERIE RENE SCOTTnominee, best book of a musical and leading actress in a musical, “Everyday Rapture.” As a proud three-time Tony-losing actress/writer, it’s hard for me not to play favorites. If I say "House of Blue Leaves," cynics will think it’s just because I’m pals with its brilliant author, John Guare. Not true. Others may accuse me of buttering up the singular, sexy, and oh-so-funny genius that is John Guare because I’m hoping he’ll hire me again. Not true...ish. It’s because "House of Blue Leaves" is a modern-day masterpiece. And because Mr. Guare has the softest hands of any playwright I know, and I think that’s worth something.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Evelyn Page Dies at 90

Evelyn Page, veteran stage actress and singer, has died at the age of 90 of natural causes.  Her Broadway credits include Wonderful Town, Little Me, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Canterbury Tales

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bi-Coastal Basketball to Come to Broadway?

Sports seem to be getting some major traction on Broadway these days.   From Terrence McNally's Deuce, a tennis-themed play (and Angela Lansbury vehicle) from a few years back through the current Broadway production of Lombardi, a football-themed play, sports are increasing their visibility on the Broadway stage.  The next sport up?  Basketball.  Lombardi scribe Eric Simonson is writing a play about one of the most famous basketball rivalries of the last 30 years -- the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics -- through the lens of each team's most famous players, Earvin 'Magic' Johnson of the Lakers and Larry Bird of the Celtics.  For more details, check out the link below!

Tony Winner John Gallagher, Jr. Gets New Gig

When it rains, it pours!  John Gallagher Jr., who won a featured actor in a musical Tony a few years back for his performance in Spring Awakening and who is now rocking out in the Green Day inspired musical American Idiot will be moving a block away to join the cast of the upcoming play Jerusalem.  Gallagher's last performance in his current show will be on February 27th in order that he can go almost directly into rehearsals for Jerusalem, which begins previews on April 2nd.  Jerusalem, a drama by Jez Butterworth, was originally produced in London, where it starred Mark Rylance, who will be transferring with the show after his recent star turn in La Bete opposite David Hyde Pierce.

Spider-Man to Get New Book?

A report has surfaced that Julie Taymor's musical adaptation of the Spider-Man comics, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, may be getting a new book.  The report has stated that the show's producers have reached out to playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa "to help rework the book".  Aguirre-Scasa has, it would seem, done this kind of thing before, having updated the book of the 1966 musical It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman for a production in Dallas last summer.  Check out the article below for more details.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Broadway-Bound musical adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca is scheduled to have its first reading on March 18th, starring Sierra Boggess, Carolee Carmello, Hugh Panaro, and James Barbour.  The reading will be directed by Tony winner Michael Blakemore and Francesca Zambello.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Woes for Spider-Man

In the newest development within the ongoing Spider-Man disaster saga, "the New York State Department of Labor  has issued two safety violations against the Broadway musical ... over accidents last year that involved an actor falling more than 20 feet during the show and two other performers sustaining injuries while rehearsing a sling-shot technique," according to a February 12th New York Times article.  Though the agency has not made any official announcement, an anonymous source to the Times has stated that no fines will be attached to these violations, though I, personally, don't believe that will stick.  For full details, check out the Times article below.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wilson Jermaine Heredia Interview

Wilson Jermaine Heredia, possibly the most elusive alumnus of RENT's original Broadway cast, has come out of hiding to give an interview.  Check it out!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dr. Zhivago Tuner From Down Under with Stateside Aspirations

A musical adaptation of Dr. Zhivago, based on the Boris Pasternak novel and the movie of the same name, has begun life in Australia -- and the show's producers have hopes of bringing the show to New York when it's ready.  While Australia is not the usual starting place for Broadway musicals (or, Broadway anything, for that matter), it is not entirely unheard of.  Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a musical getting ready to open on Broadway in the next few weeks, started out in Australia before moving to London, then Toronto, and now, Broadway.  Back in 2003, another Aussie tuner, The Boy From Oz, came to Broadway and won Hugh Jackman a Tony Award, as well as a Tony nomination for Best Musical, among others.  For full details on the Dr. Zhivago musical, check out this article from

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When Things Go Terribly Wrong ... or the Joys of Live Theater

Ben Brantley of the New York Times recently wrote an article about those moments in the theater when things go terribly wrong.  Moments like these are exactly the reasons we love theater ... most of us, anyhow.  Anyhow, after reading Brantley's article, come back here and post your thoughts on the issue of why we love this mishaps so much, or recount stories of shows you saw where things went wrong.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Second Eligibility Decisions

The Tony nominating committee has had the second of their four annual meetings to discuss how certain performers or shows will be eligible for Tony Awards.  The results of this round of discussion are below.

The committee has determined that Lily Rabe, who plays Portia opposite Al Pacino’s Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, will be considered eligible in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.

Paul Reubens and Jeffrey Wright will be considered eligible in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for their performances in The Pee-wee Herman Show and A Free Man of Color, respectively. Also eligible in this category are The Importance of Being Earnest’s Santino Fontana and David Furr.

Elf star, Sebastian Arcelus, will be considered eligible in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical.

All other decisions were consistent with the opening night credits. As previously reported the committee (Emanuel Azenberg, Roger Berlind, Ted Chapin, Bill Craver, Dasha Epstein, Cecilia Friederichs, Philip Getter, Jeffrey Eric Jenkins, Doug Leeds, Paul Libin, Margo Lion, Jo Sullivan Loesser, Kevin McCollum, James L. Nederlander, James M. Nederlander, Enid Nemy, Laura Penn, Michael Price, Charlotte St. Martin, Ralph Sevush, Howard Sherman, Philip Smith and David Stone) met for the first time on December 9, and will meet a total of four times throughout the 2010-2011 season to decide on eligibility.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

David Lindsay-Abaire Profile

David Lindsay-Abaire, a Boston-born-and-raised playwright who has made it big in New York Theater (earning 3 Tony nominations along the way) has been profiled in the New York Times this week.  Lindsay-Abaire's first major work on Broadway, Rabbit Hole, which won the Pulitzer Prize and earned him his first Tony nomination, was recently given the Hollywood treatment, scoring an Oscar nomination for the role that Cynthia Nixon created onstage to Tony-winning effect.  Check out the profile!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Robert Sean Leonard to Return to Broadway has announced that Robert Sean Leonard will return to Broadway in the upcoming Broadway revival of Born Yesterday.  He will be joining previously announced headliner Jim Belushi in Garson Kanin's 1946 comedy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Early Spider-Man Thoughts

Though the show doesn't officially open until March 15th, Ben Brantley of the New York Times saw Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark this weekend and today's Times ran a piece discussing his thoughts on what he saw.  Though I haven't seen the show, I have read the Brantley article.  While I won't leak his opinions to those who don't want to see them, a link to that article is below for those who do.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Broadway and the Super Bowl ... More Connected Than You Think

I know there was last night's special Glee episode with all things Football attached to it, but there's really no good connection between the Super Bowl and Broadway, right?  Well, according to an article in this week's New York Times, the answer may actually be a resounding ... WRONG!  Check out the article below to see why.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spider-Man the Joke of Broadway

The new Spider-Man musical on Broadway, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, has achieved something I don't think any other show has achieved in the history of Broadway (though I'd love for you readers out there to prove me wrong ... or even close to wrong on this one!).  Today, I think that show became the first show in history to get so much buzz that now, even the BUZZ is getting buzz and the jokes that buzz is inspiring are being joked about.  The New York Times has published an article that I think you all will enjoy reading about exactly this phenomenon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Final Encores Show Announced

The final show in the 2010-2011 City Center Encores! season of overlooked and underappreciated musicals has been announced.  The show will be Where's Charley with stars Rebecca Luker and Howard McGillin in the lead roles and will be directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Alex Sanchez.  The original Broadway production opened in 1948 and featured choreography by George Balanchine and the first Broadway score by Frank Loesser, who went on to write scores for Broadway classics like Guys & Dolls, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and The Most Happy Fella.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Spider-Man Musical to Air On Internet is reporting that Syfy will be holding its March 22nd upfront presentation at Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre, home of the much-buzzed-about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  This presentation will be immediately followed by a performance of the musical.  Syfy is the lead media producer of the $65+ million musical.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Executive Director of Public Theater Resigns

Warren Spector, chairman of the board of the Public Theater, has announced that Andrew D. Hamingson, the Public's Executive Director, has resigned after only two and a half years as the company's top financial executive.  No official explanation beyond "personal reasons" was cited for the Hamingson's departure.  Attempts by the New York Times to get further information on the "personal reasons" did not net any new information other than that Mr. Hamingson's health is fine.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

James Franco Confirmed for Broadway

Recent (as of a week ago) Oscar-nominee James Franco has been confirmed for the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth.  This production, in which Franco will star opposite another 2011 Oscar-nominated actress, Nicole Kidman, will mark Franco's Broadway debut.  The production will be directed by David Cromer.