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TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: 2012 Fall Preview, The Plays

September 12th, 2012 Comments off

Steppenwolf's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?". Photo by Michael Brosilow.

If the fall season’s crop of musicals is a sparse and eccentrically planted lot, the roster of plays is lush with big ideas, big stars and must-see events (if a few too many “didn’t we just see that” revivals). So let’s dig into the harvest feast…

"Grace". Image via O+M Co.

An Enemy of the People (September 27): Henrik Ibsen’s sturdy study of personal pressure and politics kicks things off just in time for election season. Class acts Boyd Gaines and Richard Thomas play brothers, a mayor and a doctor, on opposite sides of an environmental disaster in the making. (Yeah, this was written when?)

Grace (October 4): As I’ve said before…Paul Rudd. I lerve him. Toss in the always magnetic Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) and my interest is more than peaked for this surreal comedy-drama about a couple’s plans for religious-themed motels and their less than faithful neighbor.

Running on Empty (October 9): Comedian and professional ranter Lewis Black brings his stand-up to Broadway for a week of performances.

Cyrano de Bergerac (October 11): The French war horse (no, not that one) gets trotted out for another display of witty banter, actorly showmanship and much-needed rhinoplasty. Tony-winner Douglas Hodge (La Cage aux Folles) takes on the title role in a Roundabout Theatre revival.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (October 13): The revelatory Steppenwolf production starring playwright (and seriously accomplished actor) Tracy Letts and the incomparable Amy Morton finally makes it to Broadway. Check my review from when I saw it at Arena Stage last year and tell me you aren’t a wee bit excited to see the Albee classic again.

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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.