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Three to See: January

January 2nd, 2014 Comments off

New for 2014, The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler offers three picks at the beginning of each month: what’s opening on Broadway and beyond and why you shouldn’t miss them.

The cast of "Beautiful - the Carole King Musical." (photo: Joan Marcus)

The cast of “Beautiful – the Carole King Musical.” (photo: Joan Marcus)

BROADWAY
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

“You make me feel like a natural woman.” — at least that’s what Tony Award-nominee Jessie Mueller hopes as she takes on the iconic singer/songwriter in this latest attempt at a musical memoire. If anyone has the chops, it’s Mueller, who was the saving grace in a recent revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever as well as standout performances in Into the Woods in Central Park and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Our prediction is another Tony nomination for Mueller and if Douglas McGrath’s book holds up to the Carole King songbook, a win.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical
Opening night: January 12

Simon Russell Beale as King Lear at the National Theatre. (photo: Paul Stewart)

Simon Russell Beale as King Lear at the National Theatre. (photo: Paul Stewart)

LONDON
King Lear

For those of us stateside with a penchant for iambic pentameter, Frank Langella takes on the title role in King Lear at BAM beginning January 7, but it is the National Theatre’s production in London that has us screaming “come not between the dragon and his wrath.” The production, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Simon Russell Beale, is so hotly anticipated that you can’t even get a ticket until March. If you’re not heading across the pond this spring, mark your calendar for May 1, when the production will be broadcast live throughout the world as part of National Theatre Live.

King Lear
Opening night: January 14

 venus

BOSTON
Venus in Fur

If you didn’t catch the Broadway production of this sexually charged play by David Ives, head to Beantown where Huntington Theatre Company’s (winner of the 2013 Tony Award for best regional theater) production opens on January 8. “This savage, sexy, smart, and funny new play took my breath away. Director Daniel Goldstein set our stage on fire with God of Carnage, and I know he will make our new production the hottest date night in Boston,” says artistic director Peter Dubois. Hear what he has to say…

Venus in Fur
Opening night: January 8

 

“Harvey” Does Broadway, LuPone Does Time & More Theater News

June 15th, 2012 Comments off

Carol Kane & Jim Parsons in "Harvey". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jonesing for more star power after getting a taste of glamour at the Tonys? Need a fame injection to get you through withdrawal? Well, this week’s theater news wrap-up is glittering with full-strength big names…

  • Emmy-winner Jim Parsons and the sublime Carol Kane are the first hit of the 2012-2013 season with the Roundabout revival of Harvey. Reviews are all over the place so it looks like we may have to check this one out ourselves to get the scoop.
  • Patti LuPone. Image via PlaybillVault.com.

    You want some staaaahhh quality, you can’t go wrong with the original Evita herself, Patti LuPone, back on Broadway and joined by acclaimed film actress (and Wonder Woman’s little sister) Debra Winger in Anarchist, a new two-hander by the legendary David Mamet. Set to open November 13, the play is set in a women’s prison — though don’t expect to see a ready for Cinemax shower fight with this pedigreed team.

  • Two stars not enough to satisfy your fix? The starry revival of The Best Man is dipping into the TV well to replace four departing cast members. Cybil Shepherd (Moonlighting), John Stamos (Uncle Jesse), Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) and Elizabeth Ashley (Evening Shade) will take over for Candice Bergen, Eric McCormack, Kerri Butler and Angela Lansbury.  If this show lasts and the turnover picks up, I can’t wait to see Charo as the President of the United States. No, really, I’d love that.
  • Remember when I said that Vasser in the summer was like the cool kids’ table in the high school cafeteria? Check out who they just announced for their Powerhouse Summer Theatre: Greg Kinnear (Oscar-nominated for As Good As It Gets), Maura Tierney (ER and wonderful last summer at Williamstown) & Jennifer Westfeldt (Friends with Kids and Jon Hamm’s significant other). Yep, stars just doing a little summer theater between big gigs.
  • Finally, get out your score card, we’ve got some post-Tony openings and closings to discuss. Godspell, Other Desert Cities, Venus in Fur will shutter in the next two weeks, a Sutton Foster-less Anything Goes sails away August 5; the musical Fela is making a short return engagement to Broadway July 9 – August 4, and the Tony-winning Best Play Clybourne Park is adding an extension to its full house through September 2.

 

 

SHOW FOLK: David Ives on “Venus”, Dirty Books & Calls from Sondheim

May 9th, 2012 Comments off

Nina Arianda & Hugh Dancy in "Venus in Fur". Photo by Joan Marcus.

“There’s nothing in that.”

Those were the sage words of advice David Ives received from his father as the young playwright headed off to the Yale School of Drama. We should all have such nothing. With a career spanning influential comedies like All in the Timing and acclaimed translations of classics like the Moliere “rewrite” School for Lies, to his current Tony-nominated, Broadway hit Venus in Fur, Ives has proven those words wrong and made a life working in the theater.

During a recent discussion moderated by famed critic John Lahr at the 92nd Street Y Tribecca, Ives opened up about the highs and lows of his career in sparklingly articulate and, at times, raucously deadpan stories — from his tragically lost first play to his current much-anticipated collaboration with Stephen Sondheim.

On his unfortunate debut as a playwright: 

I got bitten by the theater bug quite early and I wrote my first play when I was nine. I took this three hundred page, sort of noir novel out of my parents’ library and I turned it into a ten minute play. For my cub scout troupe. I was going to play the lead, of course, and all my friends were going to play the secondary roles which were much smaller. But what I didn’t know is that everyone in the play has to get a copy of the script. And so I learned my lines, I passed the script on and he lost it. And it was probably my best work ever. I’m still looking for it.

On the thrill of discovering his love for theater:

The stinger really stuck in my flesh when I was seventeen and I went to see Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in A Delicate Balance. It came through Chicago. I well remember the sensation that I had sitting in the front of the balcony for $3.65 and watching Cronyn & Tandy and feeling like I was in the front car of the Cyclone in Coney Island. Because I had never seen anything like this, something so extraordinarily passionate and eloquent. I might as well have just gone home that day and written my parents a note that said, “Dear Mom & Dad, I’m going to be a playwright. Nothing can stop me.”

Read more…

A Plea to the Tony Nominators

April 27th, 2012 Comments off

With the Tony nominators meeting this weekend, I’d like to make a final plea for a few performances that I fear might be overlooked come Tuesday morning’s announcement (which I’ll be posting with my comments as they happen). We all know Newsies and Once and Death of a Salesman and Follies are likely to wrack up big nods, but please, Mr. Tony, don’t forget about:

Off-Broadway Production of "Lysistrata Jones". Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Now it’s your turn. Which long-shot Tony nomination are you pulling for?  Lobby the committee with a shout out in our comments section!

Sondheim Reveals New Show, Chita Rivera Returns & More Theater News

March 2nd, 2012 Comments off

Extra! Extra! We’ve got your quick and tasty theater news headlines for the week that was:

  • The First Lady of high kicks Chita Rivera will return to Broadway next season in the first-ever revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the choose-your-own ending Tony winner for Best Musical 1986.
  • Hollywood heat-seekers Justin Long (Going the Distance, Mac commercials) and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) will be taking over the lead roles in the hit comedy Seminar beginning April 3.
  • The King of creepy/awesome children’s literature Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is making it to Broadway as the critically-acclaimed West End adaptation of Matilda The Musical jumps across the pond for a 2013 debut.