First came the announcement that Twyla Tharp's latest dance-theatre-musical piece, Come Fly Away would be taking up the prime real estate of the Marquis Theatre. A piece in the same vein as her previous two outings, Movin' Out and The Times They Are A-Changin', though, I am sure, as vastly different from the first two was they were from each other. Featuring the sings of Frank Sinatra, and, apparently, his vocals, but with a live orchestra, the show centers around friends and strangers at a nightcub, exploring the possibilities or romance and seduction. Aside from the great Ms. Tharp, another common thread is John Selya, who figured prominently in both of her previos outings. Think Selya is to Tharp as Verdon was to Fosse.
Then yesterday, the notice we've all been waiting for: Green Day's American Idiot will be premiering on Broadway this March, taking up the St. James Theatre, soon to be vacated by Finian's Rainbow. No casting has been announced as of yet, but I'd be shocked if most if not all of the Berkley Rep cast moved on with it. There, roles were played by Tony winner John Gallagher, Jr., Mary Faber, Matt Caplan and Tony Vincent, among others. The show, should Gallagher, Jr. remain in the cast, will reunite him with Spring Awakening director Michael Mayer. Among the collaborators is Tony winner Tom Kitt, who here provides orchestrations and musical arrangements.
With this announcement, the possibilities for Best Musical are now 7: Memphis, Fela!, Million Dollar Quartet, The Addams Family, Sondheim on Sondheim, American Idiot and Come Fly Away. There could, of course, be an 8th should Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark actually make it in this season. (Remember, their end if 2009 announcement only said that the show was on track to open in 2010, not necessarily the 2009-2010 season.) And just this week, stock holders approved the acquisition of Marvel by Disney. I smell a major announcement soon...
Also, the addition of the two new titles represents, I think, a serious development in the bringing Broadway up-to-date saga. Sinatra tunes certainly lean toward old-school, while Green Day literally brings the Broadway musical into the 21st Century mentality once and for all. It owes a huge debt of gratitude to shows that helped inch Broadway to the almost modern: Spring Awakening, In the Heights, next to normal are just recent examples. And one can't forget the influence of jukebox musicals which have proven that popular music can fit a Broadway musical just as much as Broadway musicals used influence popular music. Ironically, Tharp's Movin' Out in particular probably paved the way (like Mamma Mia and Jersey Boys) for artists and producers to even think a Green Day/Broadway connection could work. Audiences are primed for just this kind of advancement. I just hope that producers of American Idiot don't forget that their target audience - college age and younger teens - are not going to be able to fork out $136 a ticket, and getting mom and dad to see the show could prove tricky, too. I can't wait to see how they market this one!
And just last week, I was lamenting to friends that this season was turning out to be the antithesis of last season.
What do you think? I'd really love to hear from you on this topic!
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(Photos: Tharp: Getty Images; Come Fly Away by Greg Mooney; Green Day: Phil Mucci; and American Idiot by mellopix.com)