THIS WEEK @ JK's TheatreScene

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Summertime...Took a little vacation! Three reviews coming soon! Amazing Grace, Hand to God and Mamma Mia!

I hope you'll come back for frequent visits, to see new reviews, to share opinions, to take a survey (or two), and to celebrate the shows and show people that have made the TheatreScene!

Jeff

Sunday, October 3, 2010

TheatreScene: September 27 - October 3

DON'T FORGET TO VOTE IN THIS MONTH'S NEW POLL!

 
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEK:
LOGOS: Brief Encounter
REVIEW: Wicked (Fall 2010 Cast)
From Ireland to Broadway and Back Again: 1916: The Musical
Guest Blogger: St. Jimmy, St. Jimmy, St. Jimmy
Mr. Broadway October 2010: Benjamin Walker
Broadway Crossword by Blog: The New Season, Part III

 
SEPTEMBER 27:
HISTORY: 
  • The Oldest Opening of the Week:  On this date in 1847 (163 years ago), Used Up opened at the Broadway Theatre (not the same theatre as today's Broadway Theatre).  The play starred John Lester, but little else is known aside from that and the opening date.
NEWS:

 
Billie Joe Armstrong
  • File this one under "appropriate stunt casting."  More in the league of the master of casting, Chicago, and less in the desperate guest star vein of REO Speedwagon doing a few songs after Rock of Ages or Lesley no-show Gore at Million Dollar Quartet, American Idiot throws its hat in the casting ring by having Green Day's own Billie Joe Armstrong jumping into the role of St. Jimmy (usually played by the superb Tony Vincent or his equally awesome understudy, Andrew Call) for this week only, September 28 - October 3.  I hope this gives the show a bump at the BO...it needs it.  But it sure isn't for a lack of trying.  I can't remember a show that continues to contribute to the publicity mill like American Idiot.  Whoever does their publicity is not getting paid what they are worth.  It's a shame that producers can't seem to get that they need to DRASTICALLY cut prices in order for their target audience to afford seeing a Broadway show...

 
James Stovall
  • Actor James Stovall, an actor who made his Broadway debut in Bob Fosse's Big Deal, and went on to appear in the 1986 revival of Sweet Charity, passed away on September 26.  His age and cause of death were not known at the time of the press release.  He also took over the role of  Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in the original Ragtime, a part he also played on the national tour.  Other Broadway appearances included The Life and Once on This Island.  His last Broadway role was as a preacher and "Begat" singer in the 2009 revival of Finian's Rainbow.  Rest in peace, Mr. Stovall.
WELCOME TO BROADWAY:
  • REO Speedwagon will perform at the end of Rock of Ages today!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Shaun Cassidy, Actor (Blood Brothers)

 
SEPTEMBER 28:
HISTORY:
  • This week the play's the thing!  The play version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes opened in 1926, playing 199 performances at the Times Square Theatre.
NEWS:

 

 
  • BC/EFA announces that The 24th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction raised $476,917 this year.  I did my part - I left with 8 windowcards (including a collectible Lend Me a Tenor Opening Night poster), 2 calendars (the Yank! one is HOT...PLEASE theatre gods make that show happen on Broadway...), and the bargain of the day, courtesy of the American Idiot table... I got the Spring Awakening: In the Flesh coffee table book for a mere $10.00!

 
  • The New Broadway Cast Recording of La Cage aux Folles is released today, promising a more complete representation of the score and a lavish booklet including full lyrics.
BEGINNINGS:
  • Brief Encounter  opens today for a limited run through December 5 at Roundabout Theatre Company's Studio 54 space.
  • Stephen R. Buntrock begins performances as Fredrik in A Little Night Music, with the departure of Tony nominee Alexander Hanson.
  • Billie Joe Armstrong begins a one-week stint as St. Jimmy in American Idiot, taking over the role from Tony Vincent.  (See above.)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Gregory Jbara, Actor (Billy Elliot)

 
SEPTEMBER 29:
HISTORY:
  • 1934: Like I said, the play's the thing this week!  The play version of Merrily We Roll Along by Kaufman and Hart opened at the Music Box Theatre.  It was a much bigger success as a play, even though, like the musical, the story moved backwards through time, running 155 performances.
  • 2009: A Steady Rain, with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
NEWS:

 
Aaron Tveit, center, from the pre-Broadway
production of Catch Me If You Can
  • As I guessed/hoped last week, Catch Me If You Can  has announced that it will, indeed, be taking the Neil Simon Theatre.  Previews are scheduled to begin March 7, with an opening of April 10, 2011.  A 2009 production of the show had Norbert Leo Butz and Aaron Tveit starring, though a current cast has not been announced.  The Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman show will play the same stage as their last smash hit, Hairspray.  Though previously announced for the space and now homeless, Love Never Dies  has not officially cancelled, as of today.
  • For me, Women on the Verge are close to giving ME a nervous breakdown.  Today, they announced another postponement for the start of previews - to October 8.  I will now be seeing the 2nd preview... ugh.

 
Arthur Penn
  • For the second time this week, Broadway mourns the loss of another family member.  Director Arthur Penn passed away September 28, one day after his 88th birthday.  He has been ill for some time.  He is the rare director to find success on both coasts.  On Broadway, his career in the 50's and 60's included Two for the Seesaw, the star-making show An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and arguably, his most important work, the original production of The Miracle Worker.  That last title also brought him much success in Hollywood, as helmed the Oscar winning film version.  His most iconic film, though, has to be Bonnie and Clyde.  Late in his career, he returned to Broadway in 2002 with Fortune's Fool, which won Frank Langella a Tony award.  In 2004, he directed his final production, a revival of Sly Fox, where he famously encouraged the cast to go off book to explore whatever they found funny at the moment before returning to the printed text.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Roger Bart, Actor (The Producers, Young Frankenstein)

 
SEPTEMBER 30:
HISTORY:
  • 1938:  The Most Apt Title of the Year: 30 Days Hath September opened at the Hudson Theatre.  Alas, it did not last 30 days, running a mere 16 performances.
NEWS:
  • The New York Times is reporting that Dee Snider, of 80's hairband Twisted Sister fame, will be joining the cast of Rock of Ages for an 11-week run, beginning later this month.  He will be playing night club owner Dennis and hosting a series of talk backs during his run.  I guess we have Chicago  to thank for all of this stunt casting - Patti LaBelle in Fela!, Billie Joe Armstrong in American Idiot, and recent "guest appearances" by Jerry Lee Lewis (Million Dollar Quartet) and REO Speedwagon (Rock of Ages).  Just as with Chicago, I can only assume it will increase ticket sales, and that the quality of the set of performances will be uneven at best.

 
 
  • A more sure thing is the casting of theatre legend Joel Grey (Cabaret, George M!, Chicago, Wicked) in the 2011 revival of Anything Goes.  He plays Moonface Martin opposite Sutton Foster as Reno Sweeney.  No word on the rest of the cast, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a hot, um,  a talented Billy Crocker.  Last time around, a pre-Phantom Howard McGillin played that role opposite the Reno Sweeney of Patti LuPone.  (I have to mention her at least once a week, right?)
  • A new revival of House of Blue Leaves looks to be Broadway-bound with Edie Falco and Ben Stiller heading the cast.  Once again, it looks like a limited engagement.  At least Ms. Falco is a stage regular.  Still this won't quiet the growing outcry against movie/TV star casting and limited runs with huge ticket prices...
  • And congratulations, Bernadette Peters!  Everyone's favorite diva has been named the 2011 recipient of the Stephen Sondheim Award given annually by the Tony winning regional theater, Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.  The 2010 honoree was Angela Lansbury.
BEGINNINGS:

 

 
  • The Pitmen Painters opens for a limited subscription run at the Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel Friedman Theatre today.
  • The National Tour of West Side Story begins its run starting to day in Detroit.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Eric Stoltz, Actor (Our Town, Sly Fox)

 
OCTOBER 1:
HISTORY:
  • 1995: Ken Ludwig's Moon Over Buffalo starring Carol Burnett and Phillip Bosco opened at the Martin Beck Theatre.  The comedy ran 309 performances, and ended its run with the late Lynn Redgrave and Robert Goulet in the lead roles.
  • 2009:  Tracy Lett's follow up to August: Osage County, Superior Donuts opened at the Music Box Theatre.
NEWS:
  • Speaking of Tracy Letts, news broke today of the negotiations going on to get Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts (Oscar winners, both) to star in a film version of August: Osage County.  Sounds great to me!  Don't know about sitting for three and a half hours with no intermissions, though.  I bet the movie will be shorter...

 
 
  • Shall we file this under "no duh"?  Love Never Dies will not be opening at the Neil Simon Theatre or any other Broadway theatre this spring.  No worries, the Phantom may never die at the Majestic Theatre, either.
BEGINNINGS:
  • That one singular sensation, A Chorus Line, is gearing up for another national tour, directed by the original Connie Wong, Baayork Lee.  Good for her (and great for us) that she is keeping the Michael Bennet flame burning!  The National Tour starts today in New Haven, CT.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Julie Andrews, Actor (Camelot, My Fair Lady, Victor/Victoria)

 
OCTOBER 2:
HISTORY:
  • 1893: The farce, Charley's Aunt opened at the Standard Theatre.  This comedy, which years later was the basis for the musical version, Where's Charley?, is still a widely produced play throughout the United States.
  • 1958:  Eugene O'Neill's play A Touch of the Poet opened at the old Helen Hayes Theatre.  The play actually starred Helen Hayes and Kim Stanley.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sting, Writer/Composer (Rock 'N Roll!  The First 5,000 Years), Actor (3Penny Opera)

 
OCTOBER 3:
HISTORY:

 

 
  • 1968: The Great White Hope opened at the Alvin (now Neil Simon) Theatre, where it ran a remarkable 546 performances.  Equally remarkable was the 60+ member cast, led by James Earl Jones, Jane Alexander and a young Hector Elizondo.
BEGINNINGS:
  • The Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Mrs. Warren's Profession, starring Cherry Jones opens for a limited engagement today.
  • The pre-Broadway try-out of Leap of Faith starring Raul Esparza and Brooke Shields opens today in Los Angeles.
ENDINGS:
  • The much ballyhooed regional production of Chess closes today at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Gore Vidal, Writer (The Best Man, A Visit to a Small Planet)

 

 
Comments?  Leave one here or Tweet me or email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com.
Jeff
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