It’s been a week of big hellos and sad goodbyes in the theater world, so let’s round-up the news:
You can stop practicing your “hello, gorgeous” in the mirror, it ain’t gonna be you. The producers of the Broadway bound revival of Funny Girl have chosen their Fanny Brice, accomplished stage and television actress Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under). For those raising their eyebrows at the choice, remember Fanny isn’t Streisand; there is room for a new take. Plus, the last time Ambrose worked with director Bartlett Sher was in the Tony-winning Awake and Sing…a little foreshadowing in the title, hmm?
- Death isn’t just taking a holiday; he’s giving up the whole gig. Following a protracted illness and after missing numerous performances (including opening night), actor Julian Ovenden is stepping aside from the lead role in Death Takes a Holiday. For the rest of the run, understudy Kevin Earley will officially get top billing as the romantic grim reaper.
- Quick…name a Broadway musical about basketball? Yeah, me neither. (Though there was that “dribbling becomes stripping” number in The Full Monty.) Well, at last the hoops will sing when the Off-Broadway hit Lysistrata Jones comes to the Great White Way for previews beginning November 12. An update of the ancient Greek “women withholding sex” comedy transferred to the world of high school sports by the always hysterical Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed), I hope there will be at least one “he shoots, he scores” joke.
- Sad news, musical fans: St. Bernadette’s just lost its best dancer. The Hollywood Reporter announced that actress Annette Charles passed away at the age of 63. While that name may not ring bells, I’m sure “Cha Cha” DiGregorio does. Ms. Charles whipped her skirt and stole John Travolta away from Olivia Newton John in the film Grease. Her fierce dancing and bad girl attitude made an indelible mark on my young mind (even if I knew I was destined to be more of a Sandy). After the jump, lets watch her do the Hand Jive one more time…