Tuesday, October 14, 2014

B'way Update: Will 'Heidi' Take Over the Jacobs?

Will Elisabeth Moss in The Heidi Chronicles
move into the Jacobs once Once vacates?
Just felt like doing an update. Once has announced it will close at the Bernard Jacobs on Jan. 4, 2015. So what will go into that house? The only show announced for spring with no theater yet is The Heidi Chronicles with Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men. So I'd bet that revival will pounce on this desirable theater, right on 45th St....The new Birdman film starring Michael Keaton as a former action star headlining a Broadway show was filmed in the St. James. The trailer looks fascinating. Keaton had a similar real-life career track when he starred as Batman, but he has yet to tackle the Main Stem.

Updated rundown:
Oct. 14--Found (Atlantic)
Oct.16--On the Town (Lyric) 
Oct. 19--The Belle of Amherst (Westside)
Oct. 20--Billy and Ray (Vineyard)
Oct. 23--Disgraced (Lyceum) 
Oct. 26--The Last Ship (Neil Simon) 
Oct. 29--Lips Together, Teeth Apart (Second Stage)
Oct. 30--The Real Thing (American Airlines/Roundabout)
Oct.--Father Comes Home from the Wars (Public); Grand Concourse (PH); The Fortress of Solitude (Public Theatre)
Nov. 3--The Oldest Boy (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
Nov. 6--Sticks and Bones (New Group at Signature Center)
Nov. 11--Lost Lake (City Center/MTC)
Nov. 16--The River (Circle in the Square) 
Nov. 16--Our Lady of Kibeho (Signature)
Nov. 17--Side Show (St. James)
Nov. 18--By the Water (MTC/City Center Stage II)
Nov. 19--Allegro (CSC)
Nov. 20--A Delicate Balance (Golden)
Nov. 23--A Particle of Dread (Signature) 
November--Straight White Males (Public); Pocatello (PH);Punk Rock (MCC/Lortel)
Dec. 4--The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible (Marquis)
Dec. 7--The Elephant Man (Booth)
2014 (Sometime)—Dames at Sea, Liberace Musical, The Color Purple 
2015 (Sometime)--The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Jan. 13--Constellations (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Jan. 15--Honeymoon in Vegas (Nederlander)
Jan. 22--Into the Woods (Roundabout/Laura Pels)
Jan. 2015--Hamlet (CSC); Hamilton (Public)
Feb. 23--Big Love (Signature)
Feb. 24--The World of Extreme Happiness (City Center/MTC)
February 2015--Placebo (PH); The Liquid Plan (Signature); The Nether (MCC/Lortel)
March 3--John and Jen (Keene Company)
March 5--Fish in the Dark (Cort)
March 12--On the 20th Century (American Airlines/Roundabout)
March 28--The Audience (Schoenfeld)
March--The Heidi Chronicles (theater TBA); The Total Bent (Public); Iowa (PH)
April 2--Skylight (Golden)
April 8--Finding Neverland (Lunt-Fontanne)
April 9--Wolf Hall, Parts I and II (Winter Garden)
April 12--An American in Paris (Palace)
April 15--The King and I (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
April 21--Doctor Zhivago (Broadway)
April 22--Fun Home (Circle in the Square)
April 23--Airline Highway (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Spring 2015--Amazing Grace
May 21--The Sound and the Fury (Elevator Repair Service at the Public)
May 2015--Dr. Faustus (CSC); What I Did Last Summer (Signature); Permission (MCC/Lortel)
Oct. 5--On Your Feet (Marquis)
Fall 2015--Fiddler on the Roof, American Psycho
2015-16--Children of a Lesser God, Houdini, Gigi, Night Mother, Noises Off (Roundabout)
Future--Bandstand, Disney's Frozen, Soul Train, Pretty Woman. The First Wives Club, Magic Mike, Freaky Friday, King Kong, Miss Saigon 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

B'way Update: Spring is Gettin' Springier

A scene from the Royal Shakespeare Company's
production of Wolf Hall
Credit: Keith Pattison
That title comes from the Blossom Dearie song "A Fine Spring Morning." As more productions confirm their openings, the warmer months of 2015 are filling up in a race to beat the Tony deadline. So far March has three definite shows while April has seven, eight if you can the separate evenings of Wolf Hall as two. Overall, 2014-15 has 30 definite productions, far short of last season's 42. There are still a few which might be coming in such as Amazing Grace. Let's take a look at some of the recently announced candidates for Tony glory. The aforementioned Wolf Hall, a two-part historical drama about Henry VIII and his devious counselor Thomas Cromwell, is based on a best-selling series of novels and was a smash hit in London--two factors which spell automatic snob hit. Finding Neverland has been in a holding pattern for months, but the musical about the genesis of Peter Pan has been cleared for a landing at the Lunt-Fontanne once Motown vacates. The knives are out for this show since producer Harvey Weinstein forced his way onto last season's Tony Awards with an excerpt featuring Jennifer Holliday in a sparkly gown singing to a bunch of little boys in Victorian pajamas. Weinstein garnered some publicity recently by subjecting New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel to the ice bucket challenge. Doctor Zhivago is another musical which has been on the "Upcoming" list for years. The material sounds perfect for a Broadway musical--sweeping romance, epic revolutionary battles, a familiar title. Plus there has been a run on Russian shows lately with Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and the gorgeous Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. But great Slavic source material is no guarantee of success. Let's not forget the flop 1992 musical Anna Karenina which closed after only 46 performances. Fun Home was a hit Off-Broadway and may be the show to beat when it transfers to the Circle in the Square. It's subject matter of a lesbian coming to terms with her closeted gay father may be a bit much for family audiences, and Tony voters may want to go for the safer comedy of Honeymoon in Vegas or the nostalgia of An American in Paris.   

Friday, September 12, 2014

Directors Double--and Triple--Dip

Scott Ellis is one of three directors
 to have more than one show on Broadway this season
A former editor of mine used to say "Three times and it's a trend." So we officially have a new Broadway trend: directors having more than one show on in the same season. Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County, Of Mice and Men) staged the revival of This Is Our Youth which opened last night at the Cort to great reviews (here's my review roundup for NewYork.com) and will be helming Larry David's new comedy Fish in the Dark. Youth premiered at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company earlier this year so Shapiro has time to start planning for the Larry David piece. Pam McKinnon won a Tony for Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and gives her spin to the playwright's A Delicate Balance. She'll also be directing another revival this spring: Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles. Scott Ellis is staging You Can't Take It With You and The Elephant Man this fall, which played the Williamstown Theatre Festival two summers ago so Ellis had breathing room to work on the Kaufman and Hart classic starring James Earl Jones, Rose Bryne, Elizabeth Ashley and the always-hilarious Kristine Nielsen and Julie Halston. Ellis will be pulling triple duty this season since he'll also be directing Roundabout's revival of On the Twentieth Century opening in January 2015. It will be interesting to see who gets nominated for Tonys and for which show and if anyone will be competing against him or herself.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

B'way Update: Season Starts

Tavi Gevinson and Micahel Cera in This Is Our Youth
Photo: Michael Brosilow
As Cole Porter wrote "Another Openin', Another Show/In Philly, Boston, or Baltimo'" (Did anyone call the Maryland city Baltimo' except for Porter just for a rhyme?). Those lines from Kiss Me Kate were going through my head as I got out of the subway last night and walked to the Cort Theatre for the press preview of This Is Our Youth, the first Broadway show of the fall season which opens tomight. It's always a thrill even though I've been going to Broadway as a critic for 30 years. Recent additions to schedule include Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan in a revival of Skylight; Airline Highway by Lisa D'Amour whose Detroit was a highlight of the Off-Bway scene two years ago; The Heidi Chronicles with Elisabeth Moss, Jason Biggs, Bryce Pinkham, and Tracee Chimo; Finding Neverland which is scheduled to fly into a Nederlander theatre this coming spring--theoretically without Jennifer Hudson in the sparkly gown she wore during the number from the show at the Tony Awards. Here is an updated rundown of 2014-15 and beyond: 

Friday, August 22, 2014

More Summer Stock and TV Memories

Peggy Cass
Since my last post, I've remembered more productions seen at the long-ago-demolished Philadelphia Playhouse in the Park: Tom Poston and Marian Mercer in Lovers and Other Strangers, Jean Marsh of Upstairs, Downstairs in Twelfth Night, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Meg Wynn Owen (also of Upstairs, Downstairs) in a musical revue based on the works of James Thurber called Out on a Limb, Peggy Cass in An Almost Perfect Person, and Steve Allen and Marcia Rodd in The Wake, a play by Allen about an Irish family not unlike the actor-playwright's own in early 20th century New York.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Stock Memories

Lauren Bacall's passing reminded me I had seen her starring in a summer stock touring production of Wonderful Town at the Valley Forge Music Fair in about 1977. That type of show is pretty much gone. There are still summer stock productions, but not touring editions with stars from TV, the stage and old movies on their breaks taking out the latest hits from Broadway or old warhorses in one-week stands through the Northeast and New England. My parents used to take me to these at Valley Forge and the Playhouse in the Park in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. There we saw Maureen Stapleton in The Glass Menagerie, Sandy Dennis in The Royal Family and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Jan Sterling in The Hot L Baltimore, Lynn Redgrave in The Two of Us, a collection of one-acts, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara in The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Tovah Feldshuh in Peter Pan, James Whitmore and Audra Lyndley in a play called The New Mount Olive Motel which never made it to New York, and Paxton Whitehead as Sherlock Holmes in The Crucifer of Blood. Vacant for 12 years, the Playhouse was demolished in 1997.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thoughts on Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall
The deaths of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall so close together had a stronger impact on me than most celebrity passings. Williams' suicide was so shocking, and though Bacall was 89 and her going was not unexpected, it was still very sad because she was one of my first Broadway crushes.

As with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I had not really been aware that Williams was dealing with depression and addiction. So on Monday night it was a genuine surprise when my husband Jerry gasped as he was reading New York Times headlines on his I phone as I was driving and I said "What's the matter?" "Robin Williams died," he replied, "they think it was suicide." I had seen Williams live on two occasions, in the Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo in which he embodied the ferocious title animal in Rajiv Joseph's bizarre dreamscape of a play, and performing stand-up on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera for an HBO special. He performed for about 90 minutes without a break and was amazing. Friends I'd met on the Long Island beach that morning had an extra ticket and I gladly took it. I arrived on time, sandy and sunburnt, while they were all late (Williams called attention to their tardiness.)