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The New Normal? ‘Dot’ Delivers at Vineyard Theatre

February 29th, 2016 Comments off

Dot Vineyard Theatre

Colman Domingo’s new play, Dot, now playing at the Vineyard Theatre, has vestiges of a familiar kitchen sink drama. In fact, Allen Moyer’s realistic Act I set features functioning appliances—including an actual kitchen sink. While the water runs from the faucet and the stove sizzles scrambled eggs, matriarch Dotty Shealy (Marjorie Johnson) is starting to show signs of frayed wiring. She’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and we see her in the early stages when she’s cognitive enough to realize that life, as she knows it, is starting to slip away.

The third play in Domingo’s trilogy set in West Philly, Dotty is surrounded by her three children; Shelly (Sharon Washington), Donnie (Stephen Conrad Moore), and Averie (Libya V. Pugh). Each has his or her own way of coping (or not) with Dotty’s diagnosis, and as the play unfolds the audience becomes privy to family dynamics that will seem familiar to anyone with siblings.

Sharon Washington, Marjorie Johnson, and Finnerty Steeves in 'Dot' (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Sharon Washington, Marjorie Johnson, and Finnerty Steeves in ‘Dot’ (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

At the play’s epicenter, Johnson takes command of Domingo’s script, shifting between razor sharp banter with her children, as well as recently returned neighbor, Jackie (Finnerty Steeves), who at one point dated Donnie before he came out as gay. Add Donnie’s husband, Adam (Colin Hanlon) to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for high-decibel drama with plenty of wisecracks to keep things moving along.

Domingo’s script offers juicy bites for the talented ensemble as he weaves together an array of conflicts that function on both a personal as well as societal level. It’s not often that theatergoers are treated to a middle class, African American slice of life—and though references are made to the rough neighborhood beyond the Shealy household’s barred windows, it feels as if this particular family has risen a few rungs up the economic ladder.

It’s also refreshing to see a bi-racial gay relationship that is part of a bigger story—an angle that Domingo captures without smothering the play’s through line. Other themes that he touches upon include the obsession with reality television, pregnancy out of wedlock, and immigration in the form of Dotty’s informally trained caregiver, Fidel (Michael Rosen), a soft-spoken 20-something from Kazakhstan. It’s only in the second act when a game forces Donnie to step into the shoes of what it must feel like to have Alzheimer’s that the play feels a bit contrived.

Stephen Conrad Moore and Colin Hanlon in 'Dot.' (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Stephen Conrad Moore and Colin Hanlon in ‘Dot.’ (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

Dot delivers plenty on the page as well as the stage, Domingo’s visceral bite coming through at every turn, but director Susan Stroman occasionally  undermines the strength of the source material. The pair worked together on the critically acclaimed The Scottsboro Boys, in which Domingo performed and received a Tony award nomination. Stroman’s career—primarily in musical theater—spans nearly 25 years, but her work here feels heavy handed: instead of restraint, Stroman turns up the dial with little reprieve, ending Act I with a misplaced “musical theater button” that you’d expect to see at the end of The Producers and an over choreographed sequence in Act II.

In spite of these misgivings, Dot delivers an often heart-wrenching drama as one family, in its own imperfect way, tries to navigate the inevitable. Alzheimer’s is a cruel, ruthless disease. Domingo respects his enemy, crafting a play that will tug at your emotions and inspire you to clutch your loved ones just a little bit tighter. His approach to the human condition—both inside the walls of one’s home and how social forces impact us beyond our control—is worth keeping an eye on.

Dot
Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street, NYC
Through March 20

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo

Three to See: February

February 3rd, 2016 Comments off

It’s been a mild winter but things are heating up Off Broadway. Take a look at our top picks of the month!

Company XIV's 'Snow White' (Photo: Steven Trumon via The Broadway Blog.)

Company XIV’s ‘Snow White’ (Photo: Steven Trumon via The Broadway Blog.)

Company XIV’s Snow White
Artistic director Austin McCormick is back with another voluptuous, adult-only fairly tale inspired by the Brothers Grimm. Expect a dark, dangerous and decadent evening of circus, opera, dance, theatre, music, high fashion and lavish design. The show contains partial nudity—16 and over admitted.

Company XIV’s work is a unique mash up of classical texts, Baroque choreography, eclectic music, pop culture, opera, burlesque, ballet, gender bending, high fashion, theatrical staging and sumptuous design that has wowed both audiences and critics. Taking his cue from theatre/dance/opera under the reign of Louis XIV, director/choreographer Austin McCormick creates a compelling 360-degree experience for audiences. The players of Company XIV are theatrical libertines, who tempt, delight and fully immerse their audiences in the experience of their performances, inviting them to be seduced and liberated!

Snow White
Minetta Lane Theatre
18-22 Minetta Lane, NYC
Opening night: February 3
Through March 12

(l to r) Bill Irwin, Shaina Taub, and David Shiner in 'Old Hats.' (Photo: Kevin Berne from the ACT production in San Francisco.)

(l to r) Bill Irwin, Shaina Taub, and David Shiner in ‘Old Hats.’ (Photo: Kevin Berne from the ACT production in San Francisco.)


Old Hats

What’s old is new again at Signature Theatre Company, where Bill Irwin and David Shiner bring their whimsical theatrical combination of music, technology and movement back to the state. This production reunites the clowns with original director Tina Landau and introduces their new songstress and comic foil Shaina Taub, hailed as “a young Judy Garland meets grown-up Lisa Simpson” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

Old Hats
Signature Theatre Company
The Pershing Square Signature Theatre
480 West 42nd Street, NYC
Opening night: February 18
Through April 3

Dot Vineyard Theatre

Dot
Susan Stroman momentarily puts her dancing shoes aside and sidesteps from musical theater to helm Dot, a new play by Colman Domingo. The holidays are always a wild family affair at the Shealy house. But this year, Dotty and her three grown children gather with more than exchanging presents on their minds. As Dotty struggles to hold on to her memory, her children must fight to balance care for their mother and care for themselves. This twisted and hilarious new play grapples unflinchingly with aging parents, midlife crises, and the heart of a West Philly neighborhood.

Domingo (Wild With Happy) reunites with Stroman at The Vineyard following his solo show A Boy And His Soul and his Tony Award-nominated performance in The Scottsboro Boys, also directed by Stroman.

Dot
The Vineyard Theatre
108 East 15th Street, NYC
Opening night: February 23
Through March 20

Review: “Bullets Over Broadway” — Caught in the Crossfire?

May 14th, 2014 Comments off
The cast of "Bullets Over Broadway" (photo: Paul Kolnik) via The Broadway Blog.

The cast of “Bullets Over Broadway” (photo: Paul Kolnik) via The Broadway Blog.

Murder. Mayhem. Showgirls and tap dancing gangsters. What more could you ask for?

Bullets Over Broadway, currently playing at the St. James Theatre, is a fast-paced musical theater gem that has eluded some critics, but here at the Broadway Blog, we think its wit and charm fire off like a Thompson submachine gun. Directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman with a script by Woody Allen (based on his 1994 film co-written with Douglas McGrath), Bullets packs in a stacked deck of character-driven performances set against the backdrop of 1920s New York.

Zach Braff and Marin Mazzie in "Bullets Over Broadway" (photo: Paul Kolnik) via The Broadway Blog.

Zach Braff and Marin Mazzie in “Bullets Over Broadway” (photo: Paul Kolnik) via The Broadway Blog.

Young playwright David (Zach Braff) has the opportunity to have his play produced on Broadway, but only if he succumbs to mobster investor Nick Valenti (Vincent Pastore), his shrill girlfriend, Olive (Heléne Yorke), who aspires to become a star, and her bodyguard, Cheech (Nick Cordero). Along for the ride are diva Helen Sinclair (Marin Mazzie), compulsive eater Warner Purcell (Brooks Ashmanskas) and ditsy dog lover Eden Brent (Karen Ziemba). As the play within the musical progresses, it’s clear that David’s script needs more than a bit of tinkering, and before we know it, thug Cheech reveals himself as a more astute wordsmith than the playwright.

Stroman is back in her element after a clunky attempt at another movie-to-musical adaptation (Big Fish) earlier this season. Here Stroman nails the style and humor of 1920s New York City with some flashy help from costume designer William Ivey Long and set designer Santo Loquasto, who collectively deliver some of the most lush and period-perfect designs of the season. Deservedly, both are nominated for Tony Awards.

Bullets Over Broadway has been nominated for a total of six Tony Awards, six Drama Desk Awards, and won three Outer Critic Circle Awards, but missed a coveted Tony award nomination for Best Musical. Perhaps some feel that the show didn’t warrant the accolade due to the fact that the score is comprised of period songs (smartly arranged by Andy Einhorn), but After Midnight does the same with the music of Duke Ellington and if we scroll back the clock to 2000, another Stroman creation, Contact, won Best Musical without an original score or live music. But fretting over such details is like trying to fish a waterlogged body out of the East River.

Vincent Pastore and Heléne Yorke in "Bullets Over Broadway" (photo: Paul Kolnik) via The Broadway Blog.

Vincent Pastore and Heléne Yorke in “Bullets Over Broadway” (photo: Paul Kolnik) via The Broadway Blog.

At its best, Bullets delivers boisterous humor, athletic dancing and comedic one-liners that exemplify Woody Allen’s craftsmanship. Missing from the Tony roll call are Heléne Yorke and Marin Mazzie, who both deliver spot-on humor and big vocals. Also looked over is Brooks Ashmanskas, whose doughnut-binging performance literally bounces around the stage. Less successful is Zach Braff. Though he carries the plotline, he doesn’t carry the show and occasionally resorts to Woody-isms that include hunched shoulders and a vocal affectation that doesn’t suit him. Overall though, he’s a charmer and manages to keep up with his more seasoned co-stars. Karen Ziemba, impossibly tasked with creating a role originated on film by the brilliantly quirky Tracy Ullman, also misses the mark.

Minor discrepancies aside, Stroman keeps the ensemble on its feet through countless incarnations and characterizations. They are true triple threats and create a dynamic framework for the ensuing shenanigans. I hope Bullets Over Broadway finds its audience and doesn’t end up an early casualty of the season.

Bullets Over Broadway
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street
Open-ended run

Three to See: April

April 8th, 2014 Comments off

From The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew WexlerApril showers bring a super storm of Broadway heavyweights hitting the boards this month. From a hilarious musical romp to the latest play from heart-tugger Harvey Fierstein, the season is in full swing as Tony-eligible productions must open before the April 24 cut-off date. Head below 14th Street for an immersive theatrical experience following the trials and tribulations of Imelda Marcos. Shoes not included.

The cast of "Bullets Over Broadway" (photo: Jason Bell) via The Broadway Blog.

The cast of “Bullets Over Broadway” (photo: Jason Bell) via The Broadway Blog.

Bullets Over Broadway
Five time Tony Award® winning director and choreographer Susan Stroman brings this new musical to the stage with a team of Broadway veterans. Adapted by Woddy Allen from the award-winning film, Bullets Over Broadway tells the story of an aspiring young playwright (Zach Braff) newly arrived on Broadway in 1920’s New York who is forced to cast a mobster’s talentless girlfriend in his latest drama in order to get it produced.

Let’s hope that Stroman has better luck with this material than her first screen-to-stage adaptation of the season, Big Fish, which closed after a disappointing 98 performances. Our bets are on Bullets with a star turn from Marin Mazzie in the role so deliciously portrayed on screen by Dianne Wiest…. “Don’t speak.”

Bullets Over Broadway
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street
Opening night: April 10

Casa Valentina
Guess who’s back in the house? Four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (Kinky BootsNewsies, La Cage aux Folles) comes Casa Valentina, his first play in almost 30 years and his first-ever collaboration with Manhattan Theatre Club. Two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Wicked) directs this world premiere based on actual events.

Back in 1962, most men went to the Catskill Mountains to escape the summer heat, but others took the two-hour drive to escape something else entirely: being men. Nestled in the land of dirty dancing and borscht belt comedy sat an inconspicuous bungalow colony that catered to a very special clientele: heterosexual men whose favorite pastime was dressing and acting as women. It was paradise for these men—white-collar professionals with families—to spend their weekends discreetly and safely inhabiting their chosen female alter egos. But when faced with the opportunity to become an official organization, these “self-made women” had to decide whether public recognition would help them gain a place in open society or spell their own personal disaster.

Infused with Fierstein’s trademark wit, this new play offers a glimpse into the lives of a group of unforgettable characters as they search for acceptance and happiness in their very own Garden of Eden.

Casa Valentina
Manhattan Theatre Club
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th Street
Opening night: April 24

The cast of "Casa Valentina," a new play by Harvey Fierstein  (photo: Henry Leutwyler) via The Broadway Blog.

The cast of “Casa Valentina,” a new play by Harvey Fierstein
(photo: Henry Leutwyler) via The Broadway Blog.

Hey, that’s only two! Take the jump for our last pick of the month.

Read more…

Big Lies in Murky Waters

November 26th, 2013 Comments off

Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler reviews Big Fish and Lies My Father Told Me.

Kate Baldwin and Norbert Leo Butz in "Big Fish." (photo: Paul Kolnik)

Kate Baldwin and Norbert Leo Butz in “Big Fish.” (photo: Paul Kolnik)

An unusual theme appears on the New York stage this fall as two musicals, each in its own way, tackles the subjects of fatherhood and deception. Big Fish, a new musical based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and subsequent film, is a splashy hodgepodge of forgettable music by Andrew Lippa set against the backdrop of a fantastical world created by scenic designer Julian Crouch and costume designer William Ivey Long (with some blurry projections by 59 Productions). The story brings to life the bigger-than-life tales of Edward Bloom as recounted to his son. Downtown, you can catch Lies My Father Told Me (based on the works of Ted Allan and film by the same name), a memory play with music that follows the musings of lead character David as he recalls his tender relationship with his grandfather and the volatile verbal abuses of his father. Neither show manages to find its emotional core, despite moments of honest theatricality that occasionally bubble to the surface.

There were big expectations for Big Fish, which opened in early October and has already posted its closing notice. (Its last performance is scheduled for December 29.) With Tony winners Susan Stroman as director/choreographer and Norbert Leo Butz taking on the lead role, it seemed like a sure-fire hit. But Broadway overflows with rough waters and Big Fish never found its audience. As Edward Bloom, Butz pulls out all the stops and may well be one of the hardest working men on Broadway right now as he attempts to carry the show along. I rooted for Bloom as he tackled the mammoth tales of a life fully lived, trying time and again to impart his wide-eyed enthusiasm on his son before it’s too late.

But Andrew Lippa’s uninspired score doesn’t do him any favors. Co-stars Kate Baldwin as his dedicated wife, Sandra, and Bobby Steggert as his beleaguered son, Will, create a compelling and conflicted family unit, but the show’s ensemble appears to be floating in the nether regions of someone’s imagination and none are tethered to the same reality.  During the particular performance that I saw, they appeared vacant and detached (with the exception of cameos from the ever boisterous Brad Oscar and Broadway newcomer Ciara Renée).

Stroman, who achieved astronomical commercial success with The Producers and critical acclaim with The Scottsboro Boys, is overshadowed by the production’s “wow factor.” I knew I was in trouble when the visually engineered trees blowing in the upper reaches of the set enraptured me. The subtlety and intelligence of Stroman’s choreography is lost in The Neil Simon Theatre and a sea of yellow daffodils. Big Fish is a big disappointment and a harrowing reminder that a Broadway hit is a tough fish to catch.

Jonathan Hadley, Russel Arden Koplin and Jonathan Raviv  in "Lies My Father Told Me." (photo: Michael Priest)

Jonathan Hadley, Russel Arden Koplin and Jonathan Raviv in “Lies My Father Told Me.” (photo: Michael Priest)

Unlike Big Fish, the National Yiddish Theatre’s production of Lies My Father Told Me relies on more traditional storytelling and fares marginally better than its uptown counterpart. The story follows the memories of David as he recounts his childhood in an immigrant community in early 20th century Montreal. As older David, Joe Paparella is tasked with the nearly impossible task of narrating a series of scenes that individually resonate but cumulatively doesn’t offer much dramatic arc.

At the center of the conflict is David’s father Harry (Jonathan Raviv), an angry wannabe inventor who is constantly borrowing money and making empty promises. Young David finds solace in his relationship with his grandfather Zaida (Chuck Karel). This is “Tevye-light” and Karel exhibits the mannerisms and anecdotes you’d expect to see in a production of Fiddler on the Roof but without the fire in his belly. Add the grumpy neighbor Mrs. Tanner (overzealously played by Renée Bang Allen), young David’s beaten down mother Annie (Russel Arden Koplin) and uncle (Jonathan Hadley) and a handful of locals and you’ve got yourself a Canadian Street Scene.

Elan Kunin’s score has moments of great theatricality, from the opening “Rags, Clothes, Bottles” to Harry’s rage-filled “What’s With The Knees” and Annie’s wistful 11 o’clock ballad “Maybe Someday,” but the larger company numbers are undermined by choreographer Merete Muenter’s staging. Muenter seems wholly determined to have the cast of actor/singers turn, shuffle and knee-slap their way around John C. Dinning’s towering set. Their movements are often without purpose or motivation—nor do they feel inspired by the era. Director Bryna Wasserman (who also adapted the piece) is unable to take the reigns and ultimately delivers a production filled only with glimmers of truth.

Big Fish
Neil Simon Theatre
250 West 52nd Street
Through December 29

Lies My Father Told Me
Baruch Performing Arts Center
55 Lexington Avenue
Through December 15

Fresh Catch: Bobby Steggert from Broadway’s “Big Fish”

September 13th, 2013 Comments off

Broadway Blog editor Matthew Wexler chats with Bobby Steggert, co-star of the new Broadway musical, Big Fish.

Bobby Steggert (l) and the cast of "Big Fish." (photo: Paul Kolnik)

Bobby Steggert (l) and the cast of “Big Fish.” (photo: Paul Kolnik)

It has all of the ingredients to be this season’s big Broadway hit: Five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman (The Producers, The Scottsboro Boys) at the helm as director and choreographer; Andrew Lippa providing music and lyrics, two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten ScoundrelsCatch Me If You Can) and a fantastical story based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and subsequent film directed by Tim Burton. We’re talking Big Fish

Broadway’s latest heartthrob, Bobby Steggert (RagtimeGiant) stars opposite Norbert Leo Butz as a son determined to discover the truth about his father’s fantastical stories. Steggert offers the Broadway Blog an insider’s perspective as to how this bigger-than-life show has come to fruition, what makes it stand apart from the original novel and subsequent film, and what audiences can expect from this heartfelt tale.

Bobby Steggert in "Big Fish." (photo: Paul Kolnik)

Bobby Steggert in “Big Fish.” (photo: Paul Kolnik)

BB: There is big anticipation for Big Fish —how would you describe Andrew Lippa’s adaptation compared to the 2003 film?
BS: Andrew’s score expands upon the soul and romance of an already magical story, and the surprising range covers everything from Edward Bloom’s most outsized theatrical tales to a heart’s quietest moments. And while Tim Burton’s vision was often odd and mysterious, ours uses the classic conventions of theater to spark the imagination. The show somehow feels both much bigger and much more intimate than the film.

BB: Did you read the original 1998 novel by Daniel Wallace in preparation for the role of  Will? If so, what were your impressions of the character as described in the original source material?
BS: Daniel Wallace’s novel was a great source of inspiration to me, especially in his really thorough examination of the ambiguity of death. To lose someone you love is messy, confusing, and bewildering, to say the least. We never know how to handle or confront it until it appears in front of us. It is also an unexpected opportunity for change. Will wants to understand a man he regards as a stranger, and ends up learning the enormous value in his father’s ways. It’s the emotional connective tissue that the book provided and allowed me to make the bigger leaps that are inherent in musicals.

BB: Producer Bill Taylor describes the production as “a fantastic blend of humanity and imagination” — What does this mean to you and where does your character fit into the mix?
BS: Will has the human part down. He is very much of this world, very grounded. He is an investigator, a reporter by trade. He deals in facts and realities. Edward, on the other hand, is made entirely of imagination. What’s wonderful about the interplay between these two men, though, is that Edward’s stories were the ways through which Will, as a young child, grew to be curious in the first place. Edward would conjure up a mermaid or witch, and Will would want to know every detail about their plausibility in the real world. Could a mermaid actually exist? What spells could this witch cast? Will eventually realizes that it was imagination that allowed him to become the man he is today.

bigfishBB: Can you describe the audition process for the role?
BS: I have never worked harder or been more prepared for any audition in my life. I knew that Susan Stroman very much values preparation and full-on commitment. After a couple preliminary auditions, I had to wait almost two months to test out the material with Norbert Leo Butz, who was already cast to play Edward. The waiting was torturous. When we did finally meet, it was quickly clear that we made a good team, and I really credit Norbert for putting me at ease. He is always present, and his example reminded me to do the same. We fell instantly into an exciting chemistry, and I was cast the very next day.

BB: While Edward is this big storyteller, some might consider Will to be the naysayer or the voice of reason. Have you worried about the character being likable (or relatable?) to audiences?
BS: Much of our work during the out of town tryout in Chicago was focused on just that. We learned very quickly that we had to give Will a perspective that was not simply a rejection of his father, but quite the opposite – a desire to understand. The story we are telling here in New York is much more focused around two men who speak different languages, but who love each other dearly. And this allows the audience to relate to us both. It also doesn’t hurt that Andrew Lippa wrote an incredible song for my character in the first act that gives the audience a true insight into Will’s heart.

BB: What is the “biggest fish” story you’ve ever told?
BS: When I was an elementary school, I dreamed of being a writer, and told my friends that I had already published some very successful novels under a secret pseudonym. I’m not sure if I passed it off, but it did allow me to envision the possibilities ahead, and I guess those dreams led me here.

A Free Broadway Concert, A Cate Blanchett Return and More Theater News

September 7th, 2012 Comments off

It might be nice if they eased us into a new theater season but, no, it’s full speed ahead! So today’s news roundup is going to be a light speed round the world tour…

  • New York: The 20th Broadway on Broadway Concert is this Sunday at 11:30 am in Times Square. A right of passage for all Broadway fans (like your Mandy Patinkin phase), the event is free and set to feature musical performances from Bring It On, Newsies, Once, a sneak peek at Season 2 of Smash and more.
  • Jennifer Coolidge. Image via PlaybillVault.com.

    Los Angeles: What I wouldn’t give to be in the City of Angels this Sunday to see the 25th anniversary reading of Steel Magnolias. A benefit for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the cast includes Alexis Bledel, Frances Conroy, Elizabeth Perkins, Annie Potts and…wait for it…Jennifer Coolidge. Seriously, get me on a Virgin (flight, that is) to LAX stat ’cause Coolidge is divine.

  • Chicago: According to Playbill.com, my Tony-winning talent-crush Norbert Leo Butz is officially headlining the musical adaptation of Big Fish in the Windy City spring of 2013. The world premiere based on the 2003 Ewan McGregor (speaking of crushes) fantasy will be directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by the original screenwriter John August.
  • Detroit & Pittsburgh: Producers announced impending Broadway runs for two new musicals. Motown: The Musical, written by and based on the life of record label founder Berry Gordy, will jukebox its way into the Lunt-Fontanne on April 14, 2013. A few months later in August, that gritty film expose of steelworkers with ballet dreams Flashdance is hauling its welding tools and leg warmers onto the Great White Way. This follows a separate tour that will begin in its setting, Pittsburgh, January 2013. What a feeling, indeed
  • Richard Roxburgh & Cate Blanchett in "Uncle Vanya". Photo by Lisa Tomasetti.

  • Sydney: Speaking of hopping a Virgin, the 2013 season announcement for the Sydney Theater Company contains two flight-worthy productions. First up, an adaptation of Kate Grenville’s beautiful novel The Secret River by playwright Andrew Bovell (of Lincoln Center’s acclaimed When the Rain Stops Falling). And, building on the exquisite Uncle Vanya that came through New York a few weeks back, Cate Blanchett will be starring in Jean Genet’s The Maids opposite French icon Isabelle Huppert. Be still my film goddess-loving heart.
  • London-ish: The British smash War Horse posted a closing notice for its stateside run at Lincoln Center following a summer dip in ticket sales. You’ve got plenty of time to cry yourself silly, though; the final performance is scheduled for January 6, 2013
  • Heaven: The new Theresa Rebeck (Seminar, Smash) play Dead Accounts revealed its complete cast and I am on cloud nine. Seriously, this just shot to the top of my must see list for fall. Joining the previously announced Norbert Leo Butz (him again) and Katie Holmes (work that divorce) will be the deliriously good Jayne Houdyshell (Follies, Well), the handsome and charming Josh Hamilton (The Coast of Utopia) and, I’m giddy here, the film scene stealer Judy Greer (The Descendants).

Finally, if you’d like to make sure new and original music theater finds its way to the stage, here’s a simple and inexpensive way to play your part. This year’s NAMT Festival of New Musicals is raising money to support demo recordings for the eight new shows being presented (full disclosure: I co-wrote one of them). There’s only a day left to contribute at Rocket Hub but as little as $5 will help artists focus on the writing and allow fresh songs to be heard.