Saturday, October 9, 2021

B'way Update: Buffalo, Funny Girl, Pal Joey

Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell
and Darren Criss will star in
American Buffalo
Credit: Matthew Murphy
With recent announcements of firm openings, casting and theaters, the 2021-22 Broadway season appears to be solidly set. American Buffalo and Funny Girl have solidified their locations and performance dates. That leaves only Sing Street dangling. The musical had announced a Broadway transfer from its New York Theater Workshop run before the pandemic, but that doesn't seem likely now since almost all of the theaters have been snapped up. Many shows have reopened and a few new ones have opened their doors. There have been bumps on the road--Aladdin had to suspend performances due to a breakthrough outbreak of COVID in the company and Lackawanna Blues cancelled a few shows due to the back injury of Rueben Santiago-Hudson, the playwright and sole performer. But, Broadway is definitely back and open for business.

American Buffalo, David Mamet's gut-punch of a play about three petty thieves planning a burglary of a rare coin collection, had been in rehearsals when COVID shut down all the theaters. The show, directed by Neil Pepe, will now begin previews at the Circle In the Square (currently the home of Chicken and Biscuits) the week of March 22, 2022 and open on April 14. Tony and Emmy winner Laurence Fishburne, Oscar winner Sam Rockwell, and Emmy winner Darren Criss will star. 

Buffalo premiered on Broadway with Robert Duvall, Kenneth MacMillan and John Savage in 1977 and has been revived in 1983 with Al Pacino and in 2008 with John Leguizamo, Cedric the Entertainer and Haley Joel Osmet. There was a 2000 Off-Broadway revival, also directed by Pepe, starring WH Macy.

The much-anticipated first Broadway revival of Funny Girl has announced its dates, theater and further casting beyond Beanie Feldstein as Fanny Brice. Ramin Karimloo (Les Miserables) will play romantic lead Nickie Arnstein, Emmy winner Jane Lynch (Glee, Hollywood Game Night) is Fanny's mother, and Jared Grimes is cast as Eddie Ryan, Fanny's dancer friend and confidante. Previews begin March 26 at the August Wilson Theater (currently hosting Pass Over, followed by a limited return engagement of Slave Play). The opening is set for April 24.  

Ramin Karimloo and Jane Lynch
will star in Funny Girl
Looking ahead to 2022-23, a new revival of the Rodgers and Hart favorite Pal Joey is in the works. The musical based on John O'Hara's short stories about an attractive cad running a nightclub will be helmed by a pair of unusual co-directors: actor Tony Goldwyn (last seen on Broadway in Ivo van Hove's adaptation of Network) and Tony-winning dancer-choreographer Savion Glover. In this revisal, the action will be set in an African-American community in the 1940s (rather than the 1930s of the original) with a new book by Richard LaGravenese. In addition to the evergreen score which featured "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "I Could Write a Book," and "Zip," additional Rodgers and Hart favorites such as "The Lady Is a Tramp," "It Never Entered My Mind," and "There's a Small Hotel" will be interpolated.

This is not the first time the show has been rewritten. The original production made a star of Gene Kelly in 1940 but received mixed reviews. A 1952 revival featured changes and won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical. The 1957 movie version starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak also had major changes, altering the title character from a heel to a nice guy. City Center staged three separate versions, one headlined by Bob Fosse. In 1976, Circle in the Square mounted a revival which was beset with casting problems. Ballet superstar Edward Villella and movie queen Eleanor Parker were replaced during previews by Christopher Chadman and Joan Copeland. Similar difficulties beset the 2008 revival. Lead Christian Hoff who had won a Tony Award for Jersey Boys dropped out and understudy Matthew Risch took over before opening night. This production boasted a brand-new book by Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out), and was met with indifference by critics.
Vivienne Segal and Gene Kelly in the 
original production of Pal Joey.

Calendar of 2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Shows
Oct. 9--Gazillion Bubbles Show (New World Stages)
Oct. 10--Chicken and Biscuits (Circle In the Square)
Oct. 11--Is This A Room (Lyceum)
Oct. 13--Thoughts of a Colored Man (Golden); Girl from the North Country (Belasco)
Oct. 14--The Lehman Trilogy (Nederlander)
Oct. 16--Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial)
Oct. 17--Dana H. (Lyceum)
Oct. 21--Jagged Little Pill (Broadhurst); The Woman in Black (McKittrick Hotel)
Oct. 22--Phantom of the Opera (Majestic)
Oct. 24--Fairycakes (Greenwich House Theater)
Oct. 27--Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)
Nov. 3--Morning Sun (MTC/City Center)
Nov. 4--The Visitor (Public); Morning's at Seven (Theater at St. Clement's)
Nov. 5--The Book of Mormon (Eugene O'Neill)
Nov. 12--Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Lyric)
Nov. 14--Assassins (CSC)
Nov. 15--Jersey Boys (New World Stages)
Nov. 17--Diana (Longacre); Cullud Wattah (Public)
Nov. 18--Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/AA)
Nov. 22--Clyde's (Second Stage/Hayes)
Dec. 2--Slave Play (August Wilson)
Dec. 5--Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim)
Dec. 8--Kimberly Akimbo (Atlantic Theater Company)
Dec. 9--Company (Bernard B. Jacobs)
Dec. 11--Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box)
Dec. 13--Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
Jan. 12, 2022--Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Jan. 27--Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
Feb. 1--MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon)
Feb. 10--The Music Man (Winter Garden)
Feb. 14--Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)
March 20--Paradise Square (Barrymore)
March 28--Plaza Suite (Hudson)
April 4--Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)
April 7--The Minutes (Studio 54)
April 8--Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)
April 10--Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)
April 13--Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)
April 14--American Buffalo (Circle In the Square); To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)
April 19--How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
April 24--Funny Girl (August Wilson)
April 25--The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)
April 28--Macbeth (Lyceum)
May 17--Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

Spring 2022 (dates TBA)
Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)

No Dates Yet
(New Shows)
Sing Street

Fall 2022
1776 (Roundabout/AA)
Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Piano Lesson, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Dancin', Pal Joey, Square One

2023 and Beyond
Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future--Our Town; Death of a Salesman; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; A Strange Loop; The Who's Tommy

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:
New Plays
Birthday Candles
Chicken and Biscuits
Dana H. (transfer from Off-Broadway)
Is This A Room (transfer from Off-Broadway)
The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)
The Minutes
Pass Over (previously presented Off-Broadway)
Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)
Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals
American Buffalo
How I Learned to Drive
Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)
Plaza Suite
The Skin of Our Teeth
Slave Play (return engagement)
Take Me Out
Trouble in Mind

New Musicals
Flying Over Sunset
Mrs. Doubtfire
Paradise Square
Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn (possibly)
Sing Street (transfer from Off-Broadway, possibly)

Musical Revivals
Beetlejuice (return engagement)
Caroline or Change
Funny Girl 
Waitress (return engagement)

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)
David Bryne's American Utopia (return engagement)
Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

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