THIS WEEK @ JK's TheatreScene

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Well, my "little vacation" ended up lasting two and a half years... funny how life steers your life in directions you weren't planning on. I'll start off with occasional posts, but I fully plan to resume this blog to full speed by the new year.

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, December 5, 2010

TheatreScene: November 29 - December 5

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

LINKS TO WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEK:
LOGOS/MEDIA: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
POLL RESULTS: Giving November Thanks
Broadway Boys: Mr. December 2010: Sebastian Arcelus
25 Years Later: The Mystery of Edwin Drood
And the Grammy Goes to...
Looking Forward to Winter 2010-2011

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?  BECOME A FOLLOWER!

November 29
HISTORY:


  • 1956: Bells Are Ringing introduced the classic "The Party's Over" to the world, earned Judy Holliday a Tony, and marked a collaboration in choreography between Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse.  After 924 performances the show closed at the Shubert Theatre.
  • 2006: 50 years later, the acclaimed revival of Company opened at the Barrymore Theatre, played 246 performances, robbed Raul Esparza of a Tony, but won Best Revival of a Musical.
NEWS:


  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark had to have set a record for biggest news coverage of a PREVIEW performance.  It was everywhere!  Online, in the papers and even the Today Show, including a blade sharpening snark fest with Michael Reidel, who managed to review the show without reviewing it anyway.  He may be right.  He may be wrong.  But he takes such pleasure out of being a douche bag...
TOPS AND BOTTOMS (November 22 - 28):
  • Top Attendance: The Merchant of Venice (102.6%)
  • Top Gross: Wicked ($2.1M!!)
  • Bottom Attendance: A Free Man of Color (45%)
  • Bottom Gross: The Pitmen Painters ($127K)
  • For the record: Spider-Man grossed over $200K and had just 5 empty seats for its one preview of the week.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Hinton Battle, Actor (Miss Saigon)

November 30
HISTORY:


  • 2000: Kevin Chamberlin cemented his place as a Broadway star as Horton the Elephant in Seussical, a flop which was still better than everyone said it was.  Rosie O'Donnel, Aaron Carter and Cathy Rigby were all brought in to breathe life into the show before it closed at the Richard Rodgers Theatre after 198 performances.
NEWS:

  • In what I thought would be the big news of the day, American Idiot announces that Billie Joe Armstrong will be back for 50 performances to help the show get through the rough months of January and February.  The last time he was in as St. Jimmy, the BO went to SRO and they made a zillion dollars.
  • Then, I thought this might be the biggest news of the day: Spider-Man with the help of the media, I'm sure - bad press is better than no press - sold a whopping $1M in tickets in the day following the infamous preview.  With that much money and ticket inventory changing hands, it can't all be the idiots at the BWW message board running there to see what they are sure will be the biggest flop (and they will do everything they can to make that happen, including buy more tickets...fools) ever.

  • Sadly, the biggest news of the day ended up being that the producers of The Scottsboro Boys are closing the show on December 12!  Couldn't they get through the holidays?  Man, this is a sad day for Broadway.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Mandy Patinkin, Actor (The Wild Party, Evita, Sunday in the Park with George)

December 1 - World AIDS Day
HISTORY:
  • 1956: Candide opened at the Martin Beck Theatre, earned 5 Tony nods, and at a mere 73 performances delivered Barbara Cook yet another flop...
  • 1958: Flower Drum Song introduced the world to "I Enjoy Being a Girl" and being a drag queen has never been the same. 600 performances is a small run for Rodgers and Hammerstein, but still respectable.  Directed by the great Gene Kelly, the show played at the St. James Theatre.


  • 1968: Promises, Promises starring Tony winner Jerry Orbach played 1,281 performances at the Shubert Theatre.  It was nominated for 8 Tonys, won 2, and earned 2 Theatre World Awards.
  • 1971: Two Gentlemen of Verona, by the guys that brought you Hair opened at the St. James, played 614 performances and shocked the world at large by winning the Tony for Best Musical over Follies, Jesus Christ Superstar and Grease.
  • 2005: The Oprah Winfrey Show The Color Purple opened at the Broadway Theatre, was nominated for 11 Tonys, won one for La Chanze, and ran 910 performances.  In a rare thing, Fantasia Barrino won a Theatre World Award in 2007 for her replacement performance.
NEWS:

  • They are dropping like flies!  And it is sad.  I don't know that I can take much more of this...  Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson announces a January 2 closing date.  See it while you still can...
  • And the body isn't even in the coffin yet and That Championship Season will take the Jacobs, where BBAJ is taking its last breaths.
  • Halle Berry confirms today that she is Broadway-bound in The Mountaintop, with Samuel L. Jackson, no less.  Aiming for fall 2011, this casting has been rumored for months.  A lot can happen in a year, though.
  • Good news for off-Broadway's Angels in America.  It got extended again, but now with a new cast, including Michael Urie.
  • Trouble for the incoming Unchain My Heart: the lead producer is suing the primary investor...
  • It isn't closing, producers insist, but the cast of Time Stands Still will depart January 30.  No new casting has been announced, and the 30th date represents a 1 week extension by the cast already.
  • And in The Scottsboro Boys-related news: it was 55 years ago today that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, getting an $14 fine, and never paying it. 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Bette Midler, Actor (Fiddler on the Roof)

December 2
HISTORY:
  • 1985: Click link above to read all about The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which opened on this date at the Imperial Theatre.
  • 1999:  With about the same expectation level (and, unfortunately, the same acclaim) as Women on the Verge, Michael John LaChuisa's Marie Christine opened at the Vivian Beaumont.  After 39 previews and 42 performances (most without star Audra McDonald), the show called it quits.
NEWS:
  • Great news for next to normal fans.  Actor/director Rob Reiner has made very public his desire to bring the show to the big screen.  I think he's a great fit - witty and fun, but with a definitely serious edge.  He'll find the balance between raw honesty and sweet emotions.

Spider Women: Mendoza and Olivo
  • Producers confirmed that at the November 28 preview of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Natalie Mendoza, who plays Arachne, was injured at that performance when she was struck by a rope.  She has a concussion, and will be out for an undetermined amount of time.  Her understudy, America Olivo will go on in her place.  I hope Ms. Mendoza gets better fast!  And not to minimize her troubles, but why was this NATIONAL news?  Does CNN report every time an Ozian breaks an ankle or ruptures a disc on that severely raked stage at Wicked?  Both shows have "dangerous" sets... more of the "let's be sure it fails" campaign?
  • In the same vein, The National Enquirer  The New York Times felt it necessary to spin a story about the new owners the Foxwoods Theatre reaching out to producers of incoming shows to "keep our theatre in mind as you bring the show in."  The article implied by its title and opening paragraphs that the owners have so little confidence in Spider-Man that they are already looking for a new tenant.  The truth is - and the only substantiated facts in the article itself - that new owners and old frequently "reach out" to introduce themselves to the community, always with the invite to use their space.  Who wouldn't do that?  This is yet another example of the smear campaign against a show that fewer than 5,000 people have seen and is weeks from opening as a finished product. The implications of the article resemble the tactic used by Michael Reidel of The New York Post who attended the first preview and has been attacking the show ever since.  He reported on that heckler, who went on to her own feature article in later editions of the rag, um, news paper, who let her thoughts be known during that fateful preview.  He implied that it was another in a series of audience unrest events, but never once mentioned that the audience as a whole booed the woman, showing their displeasure at her unbelievably poor behavior.  I don't see how Reidel can even consider a formal review.  He is clearly not objective.  I rarely like what he has to say - he revels in the misery of others - but at least until now, I've thought of him as accurate.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Actor (RENT)

December 3
HISTORY:
  • 1750:  THE OLDEST OPENING OF THE WEEK:  We were still more than a quarter century from being an actual nation, but The Beggar's Opera opened on this date at the Nassau Street Theatre.  Get this - it played 5 performances, but didn't close until May 1751.  In fact, the 5 performances dates are even on record: 12/3/50, 1/15/51, 1/21/51 and 5/13/51!


  • 1960: 210 years later, Camelot opened at the Majestic Theatre, playing 873 performances and winning a Tony for Richard Burton.  It was NOT nominated for Best Musical, and despite its run and profit, it is still considered a failure as a follow up to Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady.
  • 2003:  Best Play Tony winner and Pulitzer Prize winner I Am My Own Wife was a one man show starring Jefferson Mays.  It closed after 360 performances at the Lyceum Theatre, which has not had a hit since.
NEWS:

  • Tony winner and brilliant actress Tyne Daly will be bringing her critically huzzahed performance in Master Class after all.  This May, the Manhattan Theatre Club will produce the revival at the Friedman Theatre.  The London companies of the original production starred Patti LuPone, who was also one of Zoe Caldwell's replacements on Broadway:-)
  • Oscar nominated Precious director Lee Daniels is looking to bring The Scottsboro Boys to the big screen.  This is happy news, indeed, which, should it come to pass, means that the grittier aspects of the story won't be given short-shrift.  I really hope this happens!
  • A reason to add The House of Blue Leaves revival to my must-see list: Jennifer Jason Leigh has joined the cast.  I saw her as Sally Bowles in the Cabaret revival and she was smashing!
  • Self-professed Gleek Katie Couric will appear in the February 6th (post Super Bowl) episode of Glee. No word on whether she will sing and/or dance.  And no word on if she took Lea Michele to task for those GQ photos!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Brendan Fraser, Actor (Elling)

December 4
HISTORY:
  • 1909: MOST CONTROVERSIAL TITLE OF THE WEEK: The Nigger would probably not make it to the marquee or in the NYT Listings, but it debuted on Broadway at the New Theatre in 1909, playing 24 performances.
  • 1933: One of the longest running plays ever (and it got horrendous reviews) Tobacco Road opened on this date at the Theatre Masque.  It played 3,182 performances.


  • 1986: The third in the "BB" trilogy by Neil Simon, Broadway Bound opened at the Broadhurst Theatre, winning Tonys for Linda Lavin and the late John Randolph.  It played 756 performances, including a stint with Joan Rivers as the mother.  She got decent reviews, too.
  • 2007: August: Osage County all 3+ hours of it took Broadway by storm, opening at the Imperial Theatre, moving later to the Music Box, and winning every award in sight (including the Pulitzer Prize).  648 performances later, it closed.
NEWS:
  • When I wrote this, it was still speculation, so I'm not sure how factual this is... but flying around the Internet is the rumor that Rock of Ages will be closing at the Broooks Atkinson Theatre on January 9, and re-opening at the Helen Hayes in March.  I think the show could be closing.  I think a move to a smaller theatre would benefit many shows.  But a three month gap leaves me a bit suspicious that a re-opening will happen.  If there is a major film announcement, maybe...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Marisa Tomei, Actor (Top Girls, Wait Until Dark)

December 5
HISTORY:


  • 1966: I Do!  I Do! opened at the 46th Street Theatre, directed by Gower Champion, earning 7 Tony nominations (Robert Preston won, Mary Martin did not), and playing 560 performances.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Larry Kert, Late Actor (Original Cast West Side Story, Company)


Comments?  Please leave one here, email me at jkstheatrescene@yahoo.com or Tweet me!
Jeff
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