Friday, November 17, 2023

B'way Update: Tammy Faye Musical, Elton John Composes

Andrew Rannells and Katie Brayben in the
London production of
Tammy Faye.
Credit: Marc Brenner
The Almeida Theater production of the Olivier Award-nominated musical Tammy Faye, will transfer to a Nederlander Theater during the 2024-25 Broadway season. Tammy Faye features music by legendary songwriter Elton John, lyrics by Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, a book by award-winning writer James Graham (Ink, BBC’s Sherwood), and direction by Olivier Award-winner Rupert Goold (King Charles III, Ink). The show opened at London's Almeida Theater in the fall of 2022. Casting, a theater and specific dates will be announced later.

The musical follows the roller-coaster televangelical career of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker whose broadcasts reached audiences of 24 million at their peak and ended in scandal. Tammy was also the subject of the 2022 film The Eyes of Tammy Faye for which Jessica Chastain won the Best Actress Oscar, and Fall from Grace, a 1990 NBC TV film starring Bernadette Peters and Kevin Spacey. 

(Top) Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of
Tammy Faye
; (Above) Kevin Spacey and
Bernadette Peters in Fall from Grace.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

B'way Update: Queen's Gambit Musical

Anya Taylor-Joy in 
The Queen's Gambit on Netflix.
Credit: Phil Bray/Netflix
The Queen's Gambit
, Walter Tevis' best-selling novel about Beth Harmon, a female prodigy who takes on the male-dominated world of championship chess and served as the basis of a hit Netflix limited series, is in development as a Broadway musical and has just announced its creative team. 
Academy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Mitski will write the music & lyrics, playwright Eboni Booth (Primary Trust, Paris) will write the book of the musical, and Obie Award-winner Whitney White (Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, On Sugarland) will direct.  Joining Tony & Anthem Award-winning mini-studio Level Forward (POTUS, How to Dance in Ohio) on the producing team are Tony Award-winning actress and advocate Adrienne Warren (Tina), Prince Fellowship recipient Lawryn LaCroix (POTUS, Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man & The Pool), and Tony Award-winning producer Mara Isaacs (Hadestown). The Queen's Gambit was Netflix's most watched series, reaching an audience of over 62 million viewers in the fist month alone.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

B'way Update: Steve Carell as Uncle Vanya; Enemy News

Steve Carell in The Patient
Credit: Suzanne Tenner/FX
Oscar nominee Steve Carell (The Office, Foxcatcher, Little Miss Sunshine) will make his Broadway debut in the title role of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya in a new adaptation by Heidi Schreck at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater. Directed by Lila Neugebauer, previews begin April 2 in advance of an April 24 opening. Carell will be joined by Emmy nominee William Jackson Harper (The Good Place), Tony nominee Alfred Molina (Art, Red), Alison Pill (Three Tall Women), Tony winner Anika Noni Rose (Caroline or Change), Tony winner Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans), and Obie and Drama Desk winner Mia Katigbak (Awake and Sing, Henry VI). Carell plays the melancholy Vanya who runs the family estate with his niece Sonya (Pill). Their placid existence is turned upside down when her famous father (Molina) makes an extended stay with his beautiful, much younger wife (Rose). There is still one role, the neighbor Waffles, which was not included in the announcement.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

B'way/Off-B'way Update: Corruption at LCT; More Cabaret Casting; Etc.

Who will play Rupert Murdoch
in J.T. Rogers' Corruption?
Credit: Fox
Lincoln Center Theater will present Corruption, a new play by J.T. Rogers and directed by Tony winner Bartlett Sher (LCT's My Fair Lady, The King and I and South Pacific), at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater, previews beginning Feb. 15 and opening March 11. Based on Dial M for Murdoch: News Corporation and The Corruption of Britain by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman, this epic work centers on the phone hacking scandal of 2011 that involved Rupert Murdoch's media empire. Rogers' previous plays Oslo and Blood and Gifts played Lincoln Center. Oslo won the 2017 Tony, New York Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics, Drama Desk, Drama League, Lortel, and Obie awards; and was nominated for the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Play. Casting will be announced at a later date.
More Cabaret Casting: Tony and Emmy winner Bebe Neuwirth (Sweet Charity, Chicago, Cheers) and Obie winner Steven Skybell (Fiddler in Yiddish) will join the cast of the upcoming revival of Cabaret, playing Fraulein Schmidt and Herr Schultz respectively. They join the previously announced Eddie Redmayne as the Emcee, Gayle Rankin as Sally Bowles, and Ato Blankson-Wood as Cliff. Previews begin April 1 at the August Wilson Theater with an opening celebration stretching over two night starting April 20 and reviews coming out on April 21.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

B'way Update: Huey Lewis Musical

Huey Lewis and the News
Huey Lewis and the News is the latest pop group to have their song catalogue serve as the inspiration for a Broadway musical. The Heart of Rock and Roll, a romantic comedy featuring the music of the group, will begin previews at the James Earl Jones Theater on March 29, 2024 with an opening set for April 22. 

The musical was seen in a production at San Diego's Old Globe Theater in 2018. A pre-Broadway workshop was held this past summer. Gordon Greenberg who directed the show in San Diego and for the workshop returns as stager. The book is by Jonathan Abrams with the story credited to Abrams and Tyler Mitchell. The score features such News hits as the title song, "If This Is It," "Hip To Be Square," "Stuck with You," and "Power of Love, " which is also heard in this season's musical version of Back to the Future. The press release describes the plot as being about "two 30-somethings who know exactly what they want from life--until they find each other." Reviews of the San Diego production offer additional details such as the protagonist is a guy named Bobby whose failed band leads him back to a corporate job where he meets his boss Cassandra. She also traded in her dreams for a tailored suit and a secure position. Of course, they get together by the final number.

“Working on our show has been so gratifying,” said Lewis. “I’ve always been a storyteller, and it’s a thrill to see my songs woven together in service of a fantastic, new story. That it will all take place on the world’s most prestigious stage–Broadway–just makes the ride that much sweeter."

Casting and further creative personnel will be announced at a later date. 
Matt Doyle, Katie Rose Clarke and cast in
the 2018 Old Globe production of
The Heart of Rock and Roll.
Credit: Jim Cox