"Death Takes a Holiday". Photo by Joan Marcus.
It’s so hot out there, I thought it might be time for a super cool round-up of theater news.
- The new Maury Yeston-Peter Stone-Thomas Meehan musical Death Takes a Holiday opened last night with one major thing missing: Death himself. According to playbill.com, the titular leading man Julian Ovenden had to bow out of the performance due to laryngitis. It seems he took the title a little too much to heart…damn method actors. All ironies aside, we wish him a speedy recovery; it must be heartbreaking to miss out on your big moment.
Andrew Rannells. Photo by Joan Marcus.
In a rare crossover between the music theater and comic book geek worlds (other than that Spider-Man show), the producers of The Book of Mormon are offering the chance to win free tickets to the show to fans visiting the South Park Experience at San Diego’s Comic Con today and tomorrow. Stop by and try your luck (and while you’re at it, enjoy a South Park-themed sno-cone named by yours truly…Papa’s got to pay the bills and he does it by working as a writer at Comedy Central).
- Hold onto your hats (which I hope are lovely, wide-brimmed sunhats); this week was stuffed with big Broadway casting announcements. Hollywood website Deadline.com scooped word that Glee‘s Darren Criss is in final talks to take over for Daniel Radcliffe when he exits How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in January. I guess the folks at the Al Hirschfeld Theater won’t have to remove the swooning couches after all.
- For us actress lovers, the news got even more interesting. Look for Tony-winner Cynthia Nixon to go for a repeat in the Broadway premiere of Wit. I loved Emma Thompson in the filmed version but this casting is also prickly perfection.
- The line-up has fallen into place, as well, for Other Desert Cities to make its move to the Great White Way after a successful Lincoln Center run earlier this year. Entertainment Weekly reports that talented Aussie Rachel Griffiths (Brothers and Sisters) will make her Broadway debut in the role Elizabeth Marvel played and Judith Light (sure Who’s the Boss, but also a Tony-nominee this year for Lombardi) will take over for Linda Lavin. And ready for the spooky factoid to tie it all together: Judith Light starred in the Off-Broadway and touring productions of Wit. Ooh. Ahh.
- Finally, I know for a theater blog we’ve done marriage equality news out the ying yang but I’ve got two more quick bites as we prepare for the big wedding weekend. As our sistah blog Global Cocktails reported, gay puppets Rod and Ricky from Avenue Q will be among the couples tying the knot at City Hall. (They’re here. They’re felt. Get used to it.) In addition, one of our favorite stage divas (and twitterers) Audra McDonald announced via tweet the following, “Gonna sing at the celebration of the first gay marriage officiated by Mayor Bloomberg this weekend. So honored and excited!” And, get ready for some goosebumps, Audra McDonald was also in the movie of Wit. Dang, I’m good.
Photo by Joan Marcus.
The 2010-2011 awards season is beginning to take shape with the announcement of the Outer Critics Circle Award nominations today. On the musical side, the biggest news is the field-best tally of nine nominations for Sister Act (beating out the six nominations for perceived steamroller The Book of Mormon), as well as a surprisingly strong showing for the much maligned Women on the Verge of Nervous Breakdown (Laura Benanti’s performance was a true wonder so I’m glad she’s still in the mix.) On the play side, the best actor category is a blockbuster with four performances, Al Pacino (The Merchant of Venice), Mark Rylance (Jerusalem), Joe Mantello (The Normal Heart) and Bobby Cannavale (The Mother… With the Hat), that would all seem to be clear winners in other years. On the other end of the spectrum, the acclaimed revival of Arcadia was completely snubbed, receiving no nominations.
One note: The Outer Critics mix Broadway and Off-Broadway so the list can be a bit skewed. Shows like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson weren’t eligible here because of prior Off-Broadway runs, but they will be eligible for Tonys. However, one can’t help but notice that this season is stuffed with quality shows in categories that are often sparse; this could be an unusually exciting race.
April’s review round-up continues with two Broadway shows that shine a light on the relationship between stars and their fans.
Photo by Ari Mintz.
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING
Danielle Radcliffe aka Harry Potter hits the Great White Way as a singing/dancing corporate climber in this 50th Anniversary musical revival directed by Rob Ashford.
“That makes Mr. Radcliffe the only reason to see the show, and contrary to what the title suggests, this young actor really, really tries.” New York Times
“Welcome to the wonderful world of musicals, Daniel. We hope you’ll stick with it.” New York Post
“… a fairly exhilarating demonstration of how a well-run musical, like a well-run company, adapts itself to the peculiar talents of its personnel…” New York Magazine
“…director-choreographer Rob Ashford and lead producers Broadway Across America and Craig Zadan/Neil Meron take a clear step forward with this bright and irresistible revival…” Variety
Mizer’s Two Cents: If you like your musicals straight up, no twist, then you’ll enjoy this brisk and freshly scrubbed production of what can be an unexpectedly biting corporate satire. (Did 1960′s theater party ladies get their panties in a twist over a hero that is rewarded for lying and cheating?) I was drawn to the more dangerous aspects flirting around the edges of the production. Utility performer and soap star Michael Park is wonderfully two-faced in the supporting role of Bert Bratt. And what can I say about Tammy Blanchard as bombshell Hedy La Rue? With an open-mouthed, sideways grin and a teetering stance, she gives a fearlessly funny performance that suggests a woman who has the brain power to handle only one thing at a time: walking, talking or thinking. Sly and willing to sacrifice the hard sell on a joke for the sake of committing to her character, Blanchard is endearingly, gloriously odd in a Broadway world that often prizes the safe choice. As for Radcliffe, we’ll get to that after…
Photo by Ari Mintz
The always-charming Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter and Fill in the Blank) brought some movie star magic to Broadway last night for the official opening of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. I’ll be catching the show soon—I can’t wait to see the wonderous Tammy Blanchard (Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows)—and will be sure to give a full round-up in next week’s “To See or Not to See” column.
Until then, the return of this 50 year old musical got me thinking about the business of revivals and which show should be given another chance at the spotlight. For years, I always said Little Shop of Horrors, one of the two or three scores that made me want to be a writer, but its big revival finally arrived in 2003—along with some complaints that it just didn’t belong in a large theater. Recapturing the magic of a classic piece can be a dangerous business.
So, let’s play a little Revival Roulette; which musical or play do you think has what it takes to make a winning return to Broadway? My vote is City of Angels: witty score by Cy Coleman and David Zippel, hilarious book by comic genius Larry Gelbart and a clever conceit–just think what they could do with projections to make the film noir sequences come to life.