Sunday, November 22, 2015

Roundabout to Present 'Holiday Inn' and 'Cherry Orchard'; Streaming Stars at the Drama Desk Jubilee

Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds,
Fred Astaire, and Virginia Dale, will serve
as the basis of a new Broadway musical.
Roundabout Theater Company will present a new stage version of the 1942 movie musical Holiday Inn. The score features such Irving Berlin classics as "Cheek to Cheek," "Easter Parade," and "Shakin' the Blues Away." Previews begin Sept. 1, 2016 for an Oct. 13 opening. Press materials indicate the plot will follow the original film relatively closely. The story focuses on crooner Jim who wants to quit the show-biz rat race and settle down on a Connecticut farm and only do shows during the holidays from New Year's to July 4 to Christmas. He falls in love with singer Linda (Marjorie Reynolds) but fears she will be stolen away to big bad Hollywood by his former partner Ted (Fred Astaire). How will they handle the minstrel show sequence for Abraham Lincoln's birthday? In the original film, Crosby as Jim wears blackface and forces Linda to don it also so that Ted will not recognize her (Ted showed up on New Year's Eve and danced with her but was so drunk he didn't find out her name, but he would remember her face). This leads to a whole production number with Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds and the entire white chorus in blackface singing the praises of Lincoln while offstage the housekeeper Louise Beavers joins in. It's pretty offensive and indicative of the casual racism of the era. When they would show the movie on TV when I was growing up, the local Phila. station would usually cut the offending number. They'll probably cut the whole thing. This production premiered at Goodspeed in 2014.

Just a few days earlier, Roundabout will present a new version of The Cherry Orchard adapted by Stephen Karam (The Humans) at the American Airlines with previews beginning on Sept. 8 and the opening set for Oct. 6. Speaking of Karam, I met him at the Drama Desk's Jubilee celebrating its 65th birthday last week on Nov. 16.

Patrick Christiano, Judith Light and me at the Drama Desk Jubilee
(Photo by Barry Gordin)
It was a lot of fun with Drama Desk members mingling with past winners and nominees including Robert Cuccioli, Judith Light, Jefferson Mays, Robert Sella, Annaleigh Ashford, Reed Birney, Tonya Pinkins, A.R. Gurney, John Cullum, Joan Copeland, and many others. Many of the actors I chatted with had streaming TV projects. Lynn Cohen has a recurring role on Master of None, Aziz Ansari's hit sitcom on Netflix; John Cullum and Jefferson Mays were both featured in "Daddy's Boy" a parody of movie musicals on Tina Fey's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and were lined up for another segment; and Judith Light told me the second season of Transparent would be "dropping" on Amazon in December. I told her she should have been nominated for an Emmy for her performance as the ex-wife of Jeffrey Tambor's transgender character. Also I said that I didn't like the end-season cliffhanger of the record-producer son discovering he had a son of his own (This was after a drink or two so I felt I could be honest.) But she said I would love will how creator-producer Jill Soloway handles it. 

Here's a rundown of the rest of the current season, plus 2016-17:Nov. 23--Important Hats of the 20th Century (MTC/City Center Stage II)Dec. 2--Invisible Thread (Second Stage)
Dec. 3--Gigantic (Vineyard/Acorn)
Dec. 4--China Doll (Gerald Schoenfeld)
Dec. 6--School of Rock (Winter Garden)
Dec. 7--Lazarus (NYTW)
Dec. 10--The Color Purple (Jacobs)
Dec. 14--Marjorie Prime (Playwrights Horizons)
Dec. 17--Fiddler on the Roof (Broadway)
December--These Paper Bullets (Atlantic); Mother Courage and Her Children (CSC)
Jan. 14, 2016--Noises Off (Roundabout)
Jan. 20--Our Mother's Brief Affair (Friedman/MTC)
January--Dot (Vineyard); Smart People (Second Stage)
2015-16--Children of a Lesser God, Houdini, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Gotta Dance
Feb. 9--Prodigal Son (MTC/City Center Stage I)
Feb. 25--Hughie (Booth)
February--Angel Reapers (Signature); Buried Child (New Group/Signature); Pericles (TFANA); Familiar (Playwrights Horizons)
March 6--Eclipsed (Golden)
March 8--Disaster! (Nederlander)
March 10--Blackbird (Belasco)
March 13--The Robber Bridegroom (Laura Pels/Roundabout)
March 17--She Loves Me (Roundabout/Studio 54)
March 31--Bright Star (Shubert theatre TBA)
March TBA--American Psycho (Schoenfeld)
March--Nathan the Wise (CSC); Dry Powder, Head of Passes (Public); Antilla Pneumatica (Playwrights Horizons)
April 7--The Crucible (Walter Kerr)
April 12--The Father (MTC/Friedman)
April 17--Tuck Everlasting (Broadhurst)
April 19--Long Day's Journey Into Night (Roundabout/American Airlines)
April 21--Shuffle Along or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed (Music Box)
April 24--Waitress (Brooks Atkinson)
April 25--Fully Committed (Lyceum)
Spring 2016--The Humans (transfer from Off-Broadway, Theater TBA)
May--The Total Bent (Public); Peer Gynt (CSC); Indian Summer (Playwrights Horizons)
May 25--Cirque du Soleil's Paramour (Lyric)
2016-17--The Bandstand, The SpongeBob Musical, The Wiz, Camp David, Falsettos
Oct. 6--The Cherry Orchard (American Airlines/Roundabout)
Oct. 13--Holiday Inn, the New Irving Berlin Musical (Studio 54/Roundabout)
March 9, 2017--Groundhog Day
2017--Sherlock Holmes
Future--Anastasia, Archie, Disney's Frozen, Soul Train, Pretty Woman, The First Wives Club, Magic Mike, Freaky Friday, King Kong, Miss Saigon, The Visitor, Bombshell 

2015-16 Broadway Season
New Plays
China Doll
Eclipsed (transfer from Off-Broadway)
The Father
The Humans (transfer from Off-Broadway)
King Charles III
Our Mother's Brief Affair
Therese Raquin

New Musicals
Amazing Grace
American Psycho
Bright Star
Disaster! (previously presented Off-Broadway)
Hamilton (transfer from Off-Broadway)
On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan
School of Rock
Shuffle Along or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed 
Tuck Everlasting

Play Revivals
The Crucible
Fool for Love
Fully Committed
The Gin Game
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Noises Off
Old Times
A View from the Bridge

Musical Revivals
The Color Purple
Dames at Sea
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Spring Awakening

Special Attractions
The Illusionists: Live on Broadway
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games
Penn and Teller

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