Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jessie Mueller's New Job

2014 Tony winner Jessie Mueller has landed her next gig.  The talented singer/actress will star in a new musical adaptation of the 2007 film Waitress, which starred Kerri Russell.  According to The New York Times and, the new musical will feature a score by five-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles.  The show is being produced by Fran and Barry Weissler, who will be collaborating with Tony winning director Diane Paulus.  The show is aiming for a 2015-2016 premier at the A.R.T. in Cambridge, MA.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sting to Play Broadway

The Last Ship composer Sting will be joining the cast of his show, according to  According to the article, "Sting will play an eight-performance-a-week schedule [from] December 9th through January 10th."  He will be taking over the role of Jackie White, currently played by Jimmy Nail, who has been with the show since its pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago.  The likely reason for the casting move is that the show has been struggling at the box office since receiving mixed reviews upon its October 26th opening.  In an additional move to help the show, Playbill is reporting that Sting has waived his royalties for the production in order to keep the show going.  The production reportedly needs to bring in $625,000 a week to cover its running costs but, for the week ending November 16th, the show only brought in $536,449.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Delicate Balance Opens on Broadway

The revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance has opened on Broadway to mixed reviews.  Some people loved it, others hated it.  The ones who loved it gushed over pretty much everything.  The ones who didn't like it said it was too sterile and that, while it was easier to understand, it was also harder to enjoy because of that (I interpret that to mean that it was unsuccessfully dumbed down).  Different reviewers had different opinions about which performers were strong and which ones weren't.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

EGOT Winner Mike Nichols Dead at 83

The prolific director Mike Nichols has died.  The German-born director was one of only twelve individuals to have won the EGOT -- an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony -- for his work.  Mr. Nichols' work includes the film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, as well as The Graduate, for which he won his Oscar.  He won two Emmy's, for directing the TV adaptations of the plays W;t and Angels in America.  He has won seven Tony's for directing, most recently for the 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman.  He was also part of the comedy duo Nichols and May, in which he partnered with writer and actress Elaine May.  Their comedy album, An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May, won the pair the 1961 Grammy for Best Comedy Album.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Side Show Sidles Into its Broadway Opening

The Broadway revival of Side Show opened last night and got some rave reviews.  Of particular note were the two leading performances of Erin Davie and Emily Padgett.  The direction, design, and particularly the musical direction were highly praised.  This one will be a hot ticket for sure.

Rock of Ages Posts Closing Notice

Rock of Ages, which has been playing Broadway since March of 2009, has posted its closing notice.  The show began previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on March 7th, 2009, and opened there on April 7th of the same year.  The show temporarily closed in January of 2011, and reopened on March 24th, 2011, at the Helen Hayes Theatre where it has been playing ever since.  The show will close on January 18th, 2015, after having played 22 previews and 2,328 regular performances.  The show received critical acclaim upon its opening and garnered 5 2009 Tony nominations, including Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Constantine Maroulis.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The River Floods Onto Broadway

Last night, a new play, The River, opened on Broadway.  The reviews are in and are decidedly mixed.  Reviewers seemed to love the design elements, the direction, and Hugh Jackman's performance.  The writing, however, was not so warmly received.

Ben Brantley of The New York Times said, "I think it's safe to say that the effectiveness of The River depends on our awareness that we are physically in the room -- even held captive -- with the tense people onstage.  The small Circle in the Square, with its three-sided stage, contributes to this feeling.  So does the expert, immersive lighting and sound design … with [its] prettily creepy music."

Marilyn Stasio of Variety Magazine said, "the open-sided setting designed by Ultz depicts the rustic cabin where a character designated The Man (Jackman) has taken a character designated The Woman (Cush Jumbo) for a romantic night of trout fishing.  The lighting … is subtly seductive, and the ever inventive sound maven Ian Dickinson, who also did the fancy work on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Jerusalem has invented a symphony of provocative night sounds that sustains the mood of the play from beginning to end, even when the human voices start to grate on the ear.

Of Mr. Jackman's performance, Mr. Brantley said, "Mr. Jackman conveys an impression of mightily self-contained silence, even when he's talking like Wordsworth on a bender.  And in banking his fires so compellingly, he ascends with assurance to a new level as a stage actor."

The writing, however, was not so highly praised.  Marilyn Stasio said, "Aside from the charismatic star's intense performance as a lovesick fisherman who is given to poetic laments over the fish (and the woman) who slipped away from him, just about everything else about Jez Buttersorth's strange chamber piece, The River, is a downer."  Mr. Brantley added, after highly praising Mr. Jackman's performance, "I make no comparable claims* for Mr. Butterworth's short and elliptical play, previously staged at the Royal Court Theater and his first since the mighty Jerusalem K.O.'d New York in 2011.  That heaving portrait of a belief-starved Britain was an audacious symphony of words, ideas, and characters you hated to love.  The River is conducted in a more minor key [than was his previous play], and is also a more minor effort."

All in all, a strong production of a mediocre play.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tony Awards Administration Committee Makes First Round of Decisions

The Tony Awards Administration Committee, which meets several times throughout the year to determine in which categories certain performers and plays will be considered eligible, met for the first time this season on November 13th.  Their decisions were:

Saul Williams will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Holler If Ya Hear Me.

This Is Our Youth will be considered a Revival.

Tavi Gevinson will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category for This Is Our Youth.

James Earl Jones, Byron Jennings, Patrick Kerr, Fran Kanz, Mark Linn-Baker, and Reg Rogers will all be eligible in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play category for You Can't Take It With You.

Rose Byrne, Annaleigh Ashford, Johanna Day, Julie Halston, Kristine Nielsen, and Elizabeth Ashley will all be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category for You Can't Take It With You.

Blythe Danner will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for The Country House.

It's Only a Play will be considered a revival.

F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Broderick, Rupert Grint, and Micah Stock will all be considered in the Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play category.

Stockard Channing and Megan Mullaly will be considered in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play category.

Tony Yazbek will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical category.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Do They Keep Those Ceilings Up?

Theater Mania posted an interesting article that I wanted to bring to your attention.  The article discusses a side of the entertainment business that most people don't even think about -- the real estate.  Jujamcyn Theaters' Hal Goldberg and Jennifer Hershey talked with Theater Mania about what they do to maintain their buildings, particularly when they have long-running tenants like Jersey Boys, which has occupied the August Wilson Theatre since 2005.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Additional Casting for Finding Neverland Announced

Additional casting has been announced for the upcoming Broadway transfer of Finding Neverland.  The ART-based production, directed by Diane Paulus, is based on the 2004 film of the same name.  In addition to previously announced star Matthew Morrison, the production will also star Laura Michelle Kelly and Kelsey Grammer.  The show is expected to begin previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in March with an anticipated opening date of April 15th.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Matthew Morrison and the Queen of England

Two pieces of news have hit the boards in the last 24 hours about two high-profile performers coming to Broadway this year.

Harvey Weinstein and the producers of the upcoming ART production of Finding Neverland have announced that Tony and Emmy nominated actor Matthew Morrison will replace Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan in the Broadway bound production of the show.  The production premiered at Cambridge, Massachusetts' American Repertory Theatre under the direction of Diane Paulus with Mr. Jordan and Olivier Award nominee Laura Michelle Kelly.

In other news, there has been an interesting announcement about the upcoming Broadway transfer of the London production of The Queen, starring Helen Mirren.  It seems that when the show hits our shores, it will have a different ending than it did in the UK.  Stephen Daldry, the play's Tony winning director, told the LA Times, "Peter [Morgan] will always be re-writing!  For Broadway, it will be essential.  The end will have to change quite radically to reflect the exact moment in current events."

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's The Real Thing -- But What Is It?

I just found a great article on to which I wanted to bring your attention.  The article discusses and dissects The Real Thing -- a 1984 Tom Stoppard play currently being revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company now through January 4th.  For anyone not familiar with Mr. Stoppard's work, they are often academic and can be hard to follow if you're not paying attention, so this article may prove to be useful to viewers, even though this play may be his most accessible.  Check out the article and let me know what you think about it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New "Into the Woods" Trailer Released -- This Time With Singing!

A new 30 second TV spot has been released for the upcoming film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods.  Unlike previous commercials for the movie, this one actually includes the characters singing.  This may or may not be in response to complaints that the first commercial released for the film did not include any singing or music other than some basic underscoring.

Friday, November 7, 2014

News From Around the Broadway Block

There is news about two shows -- one that's already on Broadway and another that is on its way.

First comes news about the currently-running It's Only a Play.  The star-studded show has made several large-scale announcements in a press release yesterday.  The first is that the play will be extending through March 29, 2015.  The show will continue to play the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre through January 18th.  Then, it will transfer to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre beginning January 23rd.  In additional news, Tony- and Emmy-winner Martin Short will be joining the production beginning January 7th, replacing Tony-winner Nathan Lane.

In other news, there will be another revival of Fiddler on the Roof next year.  No theater has been announced for the show, but the production will be directed by Tony-winner Bartlett Sher and will star five-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein.  Performances will begin November 17th, 2015.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pippin to Close

Well, folks, I've been a little behind the times.  On Monday, the Tony-winning revival of Pippin announced that it will be closing.  The show opened on April 25th, 2013 to ecstatic reviews and ended up winning four Tony Awards, including Best Director and Best Musical Revival.  At the time of its closing, the show will have played 37 previews and 709 regular performances.

Title of Song Cut From Into the Woods Revealed has revealed the title of the song that was cut from the film version of Into the Woods.  The song was written particularly for Meryl Streep in her role as the witch.  The song, which was filmed and put into an early cut of the film, but dropped from the final version, is titled "She'll Be Back".  The film's director, Rob Marshall, said in a statement, that cutting the song was "painful, especially a new Sondheim song which is so thrilling," adding that the film simply works better without it.  The song, which was written particularly for Meryl Streep, will be preserved on the DVD release of the film, whenever that happens to be released.

Variety Magazine reports that most of the songs were pre-recorded, unlike the film version of Les Miserables.  The sole exception to this was the witches rap.  Michael Higham, who was the film's music producer/supervisor, told Variety, "Meryl did that live.  It was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bradley Cooper Laughed His Way to the Stage

The story goes that, when Bradley Cooper walked off stage at the end of a performance of Bernard Pomerance's 1977 play The Elephant Man, his father was shaking.  "You picked the right profession," his father, Charles, is supposed to have said.  But this performance was not at Broadway's Booth Theatre, nor was it at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2012.  It was in 1999, when Bradley was in the Actor's Studio masters program and had performed the play as his thesis.  Cooper's connection to the play began in 1987 when his dad bought a VCR and showed him the movie.  Bradley's obsession with John Merrick never waned over the years and now he is finally playing the role on Broadway eight shows a week.