Friday, October 31, 2014

The Real Thing Opens on Broadway

A new revival of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing opened on Broadway last night and the reviews are in.  This production has gotten reviews that are all over the board.  Newsday raved about the production, telling its readers, "don't look here for a complaint about this being the third Broadway revival of Stoppard's 1982 dissection of adultery, the theater, radical politics, and other so-called real things of the aching heart.  Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal [make] impressively comfortable Broadway debuts … [and] everyone, including Cynthia Nixon, … is appealing and smart."  The New York Times, on the other hand, hated the show, saying, "Don't be misled by the title.  Authenticity is conspicuous only by its absence in the tinny revival which opened on Thursday night at the American Airlines Theatre."

Marilyn Stasio, of Variety Magazine, wrote, "The largely American cast performing here under the helming of Sam Gold seems overwhelmed, not to say cowed, by the scribe's blithely brittle humor.  Missing the subtlety of the satire, they seem to think this cutting comedy of manners is better played as earnest drama -- except for those jarring musical interludes when everyone drops out of character and sits around singing those 1950s and 60s pop songs of which Stoppard was notoriously fond."

The New York Post was the most mixed of any individual review.  That review said, "Tom Stoppard plays like The Coast of Utopia and Arcadia are reliably smart and witty, with intricate structures ... that flatter audience's ego and tickle the actors. No wonder Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Cynthia Nixon were drawn to this revival of The Real Thing: It's Stoppard to a T and, unlike a lot of his work, has a heart as well as a brain.  Yet the play feels like a kettle that simmers without ever reaching a  boiling point."

Take that for what you will.  Very mixed reviews of a play whose two previous Broadway productions did nothing but win Tony Awards.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It Should Be There … and it Will Be

There's a new addition to the Broadway season.  It Shoulda Been You, which has been circling Broadway since its out of town tryout in 2012 at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ, has finally booked a Broadway house.  The show will be playing the Brooks Atkinson Theatre with previews beginning on March 17, 2015.  Opening night is set for April 14th.  David Hyde Pierce, a Tony winner for his performance in Curtains and an Emmy winner for creating Niles Crane Frasier, will make his Broadway directorial debut with the show, which will star Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Sierra Boggess, and Eddie Hibbert.  The show, which was conceived by Barbara Anselmi, with book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove and score by Ms. Anselmi, and additional lyrics by several other contributors.  The design team includes Anna Louizos (sets), William Ivey Long (costumes), Ken Billington (lights), and Nevin Steinberg (sound).  The producing team includes Daryl Roth, Scott Landis, Jayne Sherman, Jane Bergere, and John O'Doyle.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Last Ship Opens On Broadway

The Last Ship, the new musical with a score by Sting, opened yesterday at the Neil Simon Theatre.  The reviews are in and they are mixed-to-negative.  The score was considered to be strong for a pop star coming to Broadway, and may well get a Tony nomination.  Michael Esper's leading performance and several supporting performances were also well received -- including Fred Applegate, Collin Kelly-Sordelet, Aaron Lazar, and Jimmy Nail.  The lighting and set designs were highly spoken of, but the choreography was the big stand-out of the crowd as the most highly praised element of the show.

Not the best of reviews, meaning the show's chances are less than stellar.  They may sell well enough to last through awards season but, unless they pick up some serious recognition, I doubt they will last very long.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Disgraced Opens on Broadway

A new play has opened on Broadway with quite a pedigree to its name.  Disgraced opened last night at the Lyceum Theatre after a 2012 production off-Broadway at Lincoln Center followed by a 2013 London production.  The play won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama in its original incarnation and is now making its debut on the Main Stem.  The play, by Ayad Akhtar, is about a Muslim lawyer who has tried to hide from his faith but who may no longer be able to hide when his reputation is put on the line after he takes on a high profile client.

The reviews are in and they are both strong and positive.  The writing is said to have some minor flaws, but none that are at all significant enough to interfere.  Kimberly Senior's direction is taut, and the production generally terrific.  Three of the actors were particularly cited for their performances -- leading man Hari Dhillon, Karen Pittman (the only one to transfer with the show from a previous production of the play), and Josh Radnor (from television's How I Met Your Mother).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Roundabout Theatre Company News: Keira Knightly Comes to Broadway

A new adaptation of Therese Raquin is in the works and is headed to Broadway -- and will bring a major star, Keira Knightly, to her Broadway debut.  The Roundabout Theatre Company has commissioned Helen Edmundson to write a new adaptation of Emile Zola's 1867 novel about a young woman trapped in an unhappy marriage.  Ms. Edmundson previously adapted Jamila Gavin's 2000 novel Coram Boy for the stage.  The show is going to be the first production of the Roundabout's 50th anniversary season next fall.  The show will begin previews on October 1st with an opening night of October 29th, 2015.

Here's how the show is being billed: "In this tale of love, lust, betrayal, and guilt, Therese has made peace with her loveless marriage to a weak man when her world is turned upside down by Laurent walking through the door.  Unable to ignore her passion, the pair sets off on a violent path that may have far worse consequences for the perpetrators than for the victims."

In other Roundabout news, it has been announced that a production of Michael Frayn's Noises Off, which has been circling a RTC stage for several months now, will be coming to Broadway next year.  The show will begin previews on December 17th, 2015, and open on January 14th, 2016, and will star Andrea Martin as Dotty.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bring Broadway Home -- Show Comes to DVD

The HBO filming of Billy Crystal's one man show, Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays, has been released on DVD.  The show, which was written and performed by Mr. Crystal, first performed on Broadway for 163 performances from December 2004 to June 2005 at the Broadhurst Theatre.  That production, directed by Des MacAnuff and originally produced by the LaJolla Playhouse, won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event and both the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Solo Performance.  The production that HBO filmed was a return engagement which played 46 performances from November 2013 to January 2014.  The filming aired on HBO on April 19th, and the DVD will include 14 minutes of material cut from the TV release.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Main Stem News

I have news items about two different Broadway shows today -- On the Twentieth Century and It's Only a Play.

On the Twentieth Century has announced additional casting.  In addition to previously announced stars Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher, the show will also star Michael McGrath, Mary Louise Wilson, Andy Karl, and Mark-Linn Baker.  The show, which is being produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, will begin previews on February 12th in anticipation of a March 12th opening.  The production will play through July 5th, or 20 weeks, at the American Airlines Theatre.

In other news, the Broadway revival of It's Only a Play has had a record setting week at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, has had a record setting week.  For the week ending October 19th, the show took in $1,375,481 -- a record for a single week at the 1,083 seat house.  The previous record holder was A Steady Rain, which took in $1,292,210 back in December 2009.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Photos from Side Show

The Broadway Revival of Side Show, which will be opening officially in about a month, has posted some production stills that I wanted to bring to your attention.  You can see them by clicking here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

On the Town Opens

The 70th anniversary revival of On the Town, the classic, if dated, musical by Leonard Bernstein and the legendary coupling of Betty Comden and Adolph Green, opened last night at the Lyric Theatre.  The reviews are in and the show is an unqualified hit.  Every review I read was a total rave.  Basically, get your tickets now.

Standouts in the reviews were John Rando's direction, Joshua Bergasse's choreography, and the performances of Tony Yazbeck, Jackie Hoffman, Megan Fairchild, Philip Boynkin, Alysha Umphress, and Elizabeth Stanley.

Friday, October 10, 2014

It's Only a Play Opens

A revival of Terrence McNally's It's Only a Play opened last night at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre and the reviews are in.  The show did not receive the reviews that its stellar cast and even better ticket sales would seem to merit.  The show was basically described as a vaguely amusing, if not quite funny, night out at the theater.  Nathan Lane was praised, Matthew Broderick and Rupert Grint were panned.  Megan Mulally and Stockard Channing received reviews that were middle of the road.  The writing -- well, thank goodness they have all those stars.  And oh -- another thing.  The irony that a show that makes fun of celebrities stars so many of them, was lost on no one.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Once the Musical" Posts Closing Notice

Once: the Musical, which won 8 Tony Awards in 2012 including Best Musical, has announced that it will be closing on January 4th, 2015.  At the time of its closing, the show will have played 22 previews and 1,167 regular performances.  The show, which opened at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on March 18, 2012, won Tony's for Best Musical, Book, Actor in a Leading Role (Steve Kazee), Director of a Musical (John Tiffany), Orchestrations, Scenic Design, Sound Design, and Lighting Design.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Broadway Openings

It has been a while since I have posted on this blog because of work and the holidays, but I am back.  Two shows have opened on Broadway in the interim and the reviews are in.  The two shows in question are Manhattan Theatre Club's Chekhov-inspired The Country House and the National Theatre's Broadway import of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Written by Donald Margulies and directed by Daniel Sullivan, Manhattan Theatre Club's The Country House opened on October 2nd and received mixed-to-negative reviews.  The play seemed contrived and, while amusing at times, was not considered to be simply a rehash of things we've all seen too many times before.  Blythe Danner, the play's leading lady, received some positive recognition for her performance, however.  It may or may not be enough to net her another Tony nomination -- it will have to depend on the competition and how long voters' memories are.

The other opening that happened recently is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a transfer from London's National Theatre.  The play opened last night and received absolute raves across the board.  This will definitely be the hot ticket of the season as well as the big winner come Tony season.  Almost every element of this play received mentions in several reviews, including the direction, design elements, and acting, particularly of the young male lead.  This is sure to receive nominations for Best Play, Lead Actor (Alex Sharp), Featured Actress (Francesca Faridany), Director, Set Design, Lighting Design, and, if the Tony committee decides to bring back the category, Sound Design.  The reviews were strong enough that they might also carry off a nomination for costumes.  This production may also become the second play in Tony history to be nominated for choreography.  The play is also likely to win for best play, along with its design elements being awarded come next June.  This will be the hot ticket of the Broadway season.