Josh Young in "Jesus Christ Superstar". Photo by David Hou.
A quick round-up of the weeks theater headlines:
- Want tickets to a “secret” performance by the cast of the upcoming revival of Jesus Christ Superstar? “Like” their Facebook page by Monday and you can be entered to win passes to the special event as well as tickets to the show.
- Need another reason to see Audra McDonald’s bravura performance in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess? Buy tickets to the February 21st performance through givenik.com, send your confirmation number to RSVP@givenik.com and you’ll be invited to a special post-show cast party at B. Smith’s, supporting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Condola Rashad & Mekhi Phifer in "Stick Fly". Photo by Richard Termine.
The multiplex to Main Stem fast lane continues to hum with the announcement of a Broadway bound adaptation of Honeymoon in Vegas, with music and lyrics by Tony Award-winner Jason Robert Brown (Parade) and book by Andrew Bergman (director and screenwriter of the original film which starred Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker).
- Playbill.com is reporting that the cast of Les Miserables will be singing live on sound stages and not lip-synching to pre-recorded tracks, at least for a portion of the film adaptation directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).
- Stick Fly, the well-reviewed family drama presented by singer Alicia Keys, announced it will be closing Sunday, February 26 following 24 previews and 92 regular performances on Broadway.
- Setting to rest any of the “will it or won’t it” drama of last week, the producers of the Pulitzer-winning Clybourne Park announced an official schedule, beginning previews March 26 and opening April 19.
Grease 2. Image via YouTube.
Pink Ladies, grab your satin jackets and your best bowling balls (we’re gonna score tonight, after all); August is over and it’s time to head back to school again. So let’s kick off September with a lesson in Broadway current events and a little recent history:
- James Franco announced this week that he will no longer make his Broadway debut in that Oscar-wattage revival of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth opposite Nicole Kidman. Thankfully, Nickers is still on board, though no opening date or new co-star has been named.
- Looking for great deals on Broadway? Huge shows like Wicked, Billy Elliot and many more are offering two-for-one tickets for performances September 18-30 during “Broadway Week”. Seats are on sale now for AARP members and available to the general public September 5.
Brian O'Brien. Photo by Jeremy Schaffer.
And in case you missed them, here are some of our most popular stories of August:
Speaking of embarrassment (of the most delicious sort), skip heading out to buy notebooks and pencil cases and watch Michelle Pfeiffer and her Grease 2 gang head back to school instead…
Reeve Carney. Image via Vevo.
Let’s close out the week (and the month) with some big Broadway releases and a look back at our favorite stories of July:
- Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark continues to “Rise Above” with another $1.8 million weekly gross and the release of a glossy music video featuring fetching leading man Reeve Carney and composers Bono and The Edge. Watch it below, after the jump.
- Get a free sneak preview of the music from the Broadway-bound musical Bonnie and Clyde, with a score by the oft-debated Frank Wildhorn (Wonderland) and Don Black (Sunset Boulevard). With a twanging, period-influenced sound and some Wildhorn-ian radio-friendly hooks, the fully-produced recordings have me a lot more curious about what will hit the stage November 4.
- Tom Aldredge, a five-time Tony-nominated actor, passed away this week at the age of 83. He leaves an indelible string of performances including his work in the original On Golden Pond and as the iconic narrator in Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Once upon a time…
In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite posts from the last four weeks:
And without further ado, let’s watch Reeve Carney spin his web in a song from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark:
Some news briefs from the week in theater; click the links for more info:
- The Wednesday night performance of How to Succeed was cancelled following the death of a crew member just before curtain. The cause of death is officially still under investigation. Our thoughts go out to the family of the stagehand and to the entire staff and cast of the show as they face the difficult task of moving forward without one of their own.
A number of shows announced big moves this week: LCT3′s well-reviewed 4000 Miles is getting an Off-Broadway run, the next Frank Wildhorn musical Bonnie & Clyde heads for Broadway this fall and, according to Playbill, the Transport Group hit Lysistrata Jones is rumored to be on the same road to the Great White Way.
- The amazing Angela Bassett is coming to Broadway opposite Samuel L. Jackson in a play about Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Million Dollar Quartet". Photo by Joan Marcus.
Producers of the Tony-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet announced they will be closing the show on Broadway this Sunday, only to re-open at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages in July.
After years of lamentation about the economics of Off-Broadway, a new paradigm seems to be in play with multiple shows using their Broadway run to build brand equity and then carry on in easier to fill houses at, one would assume, stripped down costs. At the same theater complex, The 39 Steps extended its life by 341 performances, Avenue Q is running strong, and a new Rent is waiting in the wings. All of these shows have adaptable sets, relatively small casts and the kind of name recognition or thematic hook that makes them tourist draws long after their initial openings. Million Dollar Quartet fits right in with its Elvis and friends jam session.
While this new pattern may not help those developing new material, perhaps there’s a business plan here to resurrect shows that died too soon but have strong fan bases like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Tony-resurgent The Scottsboro Boys.
Thank God it’s a Friday theater news update!
- What do you do after you’ve been nominate for your first Oscar and the world is at your feet? Head to Off-Broadway. Or at least that’s what Jessie Eisenberg (The Social Network) is doing this fall. He will star in his self-penned play Asuncion, produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater starting October 12.
- The producers of The Normal Heart are extending their “30 for $30″ ticket discount for all Thursday performances in June. Grab your old college ID and some Oil of Olay and head to the box office.
We’re spanning the globe for some quick links and tidbits from the week in theater news:
- Let’s start it out like a song with the announcement of New York City Center’s Encores! upcoming season, which includes the life-in-reverse Sondheim/Furth musical Merrily We Roll Along. It should be a must-see given that the show’s score is as tuneful and heartbreaking as anything Sondheim has ever produced.
- Speaking of great performances, do you regret missing out on the divine Cate Blanchett in A Streetcar Named Desire? Learn your lesson and grab tickets for the Sydney Theater Company’s Uncle Vanya, starring the Oscar winner and making its only currently announced U.S. stop at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in August. Tickets go on sale June 1 for members and June 10 for the rest of us.
- Another movie-to-stage adaptation (this is like a free-association chain!) made news; The Pasadena Playhouse announced that it will be the home for a musical version of Sleepless in Seattle, June 2012.
- The Drama Desk Awards were handed out and the Book of Mormon, War Horse and Anything Goes juggernauts rolled on. Three surprises worth noting: Norbert Leo Butz took Outstanding Actor in a Musical for Catch Me If You Can, Bobby Cannavale (The Motherf—-er with the Hat) beat out the blockbuster competition for Outstanding Actor in a Play and a limited-run Off-Broadway show, See Rock City, shockingly took the prize for Outstanding Book of a Musical from those seemingly unstoppable Mormon boys.
Photo by Joan Marcus.
The producers of the acclaimed revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart are offering a special, one-night-only discount to younger audience members for this Thursday night’s performance. Theatergoers born in 1980 or after can purchase tickets from the box office for just $30. In addition, there will be an exclusive talk-back after the show featuring cast members (hosted by NY1’s theatre producer and reporter Frank DiLella and Playbill Magazine editor-in-chief Blake Ross), focusing on the impact of the AIDS crisis and those who may not be as aware of the history.
The offer follows a volatile give and take between the always-incendiary Larry Kramer and young gay rights activists over comments Kramer has made about the apathy of subsequent generations of gay men. At times, the response has been just as fiery but it is exactly Kramer’s ability to incite people into action that makes him and his play indispensable. This evening promises to be an amazing chance for constructive dialogue and, just as importantly, a way to engage younger patrons who may not be able to afford Broadway prices but would love the chance to see one of the best productions of the year.
"The Importance of Being Earnest". Photo by Joan Marcus.
In the olden days (you know, like maybe five years ago), the only way you could see the latest Broadway hit at the movies was in a high class adaptation, opened up to make it feel less stage-bound and cast with big stars on an Oscar hunt. Now, thanks to the Metropolitan Opera’s innovative and highly successful The Met: Live in HD program, theater producers are packaging special screenings of plays and musicals, filmed live and then shown for very limited engagements at movie theaters. Tickets cost a fraction of Broadway seats and the quality of the filming is highly accomplished; a friend of mine actually called a recent screening of Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein, “live” from the National Theatre in London, his favorite theater experience of the year so far. So, ignore that slightly dubious feeling and grab your tickets now for these three blockbuster “stage to screen” engagements, currently scheduled for June:
- The Tony-nominated revival of The Importance of Being Earnest, starring the glorious Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell, quips its way into digital movie theaters beginning June 2. Tossing in a little added value with the bon mots, the screenings will feature behind-the-scenes footage hosted by David Hyde Pierce and an expert’s take on Oscar Wilde during intermission.
"The Cherry Orchard". Photo by Jim Naughten.
Did you get tickets to the star-crammed concert version of Company at the New York Philharmonic this spring? Neither did I. But now you can see Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert, Patti LuPone and more on the big screen and feel sorry/grateful for yourself. Sondheim’s boundary-pushing look at marriage and “being alive” beams into select movie theaters starting June 15.
- London’s calling again with screenings of the National Theatre’s The Cherry Orchard beginning June 30. Starring Zoe Wanamaker in a new adaptation by Andrew Upton (that’s Mr. Cate Blanchett to cinema buffs), this production is sure to be worth a look.
"The Normal Heart". Photo by Joan Marcus.
As a revival of Larry Kramer’s fiery The Normal Heart rages on Broadway, a personal storm over the film version of the play has been blazing through the headlines as well. This past weekend, Entertainment Weekly filed a report detailing Kramer’s accusations that Barbra Streisand held the rights to direct a movie of his play for a decade but, because she was unhappy with his screenplay, it was never made. He suggested that the legendary singer/actress/director wanted the script rewritten to pump up her role and marginalize the gay characters.
Yesterday, Ms. Streisand finally responded to these attacks with a long post on her personal website. It begins:
“I’ve endured Larry Kramer’s outbursts in the past, not wishing to dignify them with a response. But at a time when we are all pulling together to achieve such giant steps toward gay equality, it is anguishing to me to have my devotion to this cause so distorted.”
People who need people, indeed.
Fear not; a film version of the drama about the early days of the AIDS crisis is still being talked about given the universal acclaim and Tony nods for the Broadway revival–with Babs involved as an actress. An update to the ew.com report states, “The Oscar winner says she would consider playing Brookner [a fictionalized version of Dr. Linda Laubenstein, a physician who saw some of the earliest HIV cases in New York's gay community] in Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s planned adaptation starring Mark Ruffalo.”