Sunday, October 17, 2010

TheatreScene: October 11 - 17


THEATRE BOOK REVIEW: Spring Awakening: In the Flesh
THEATRE LEGEND: Theoni V. Aldredge
LOGOS: La Bete
Ms. Broadway October 2010: Leigh Zimmerman
Broadway Crossword by Blog #3, Clues, Part V



From the Original Broadway Playbill
  • 1984:  August Wilson's first play to open on Broadway did just that.  Ma Rainey's Black Bottom opened on this date at the Cort Theatre, earning 3 Tony nominations, including Best Play and one for Charles S. Dutton.
  • 2009: The controversial play Oleanna opened a year ago, starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles.  Audiences stayed away...
  • Dee Snider, lead singer of Twisted Sister, makes his Broadway debut in Rock of Ages as the club owner.  Rock on, Dee!
  • Brent Barrett, perhaps the most underrated Broadway talent in recent years, returns to Chicago as Billy Flynn.  The man has a great voice and presence.  Have you heard him on the Cast Recording of Grand Hotel: The Musical?  Amazing.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jane Krakowski, Actor (Grand Hotel: The Musical, Nine)


Ben Vereen in Jesus Christ Superstar
  • 1971: Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice's first collaboration to reach Broadway, Jesus Christ Superstar, opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, turning the Great White Way on its ear.  Rife with controversy and a pretty popular concept album, the establishement was still shocked.  By today's standards, it sseems pretty tame.  The original production ran 268 performances, and earned Webber/Ride their first Tony nod, and brought Ben Vereen much attention.  He was Tony nominated for this, but would go on to greater glory the following season in a little show called Pippin.
  • 1995: My Patti LuPone streak continues!  Her one woman show, Patti LuPone on Broadway opened for a limited run at the Kerr Theatre.  It was pretty awesome!
  • A Life in the Theatre opens today.  Starring Patrick Stewart and TR Knight, the David Mamet play runs at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre through January 2, 2011.
  • Love Never Dies is reborn!  News that the show will be re-vamped by Lord Vader Lloyd Webber and rebuilt by a new Australian creative team should come as a surprise to no one.  Will this be the version that makes it to Broadway in a few years?  Who knows?  But this is not without precedent.  Sunset Boulevard received similar treatment, when the revamped LA version was a critical and popular (if not financial) success on Broadway.  The newer version soon replaced the older on the West End.
  • Broadway's best friend, Gregory Jbara, announces that he will be staying with Billy Elliot through June 2011!  His Tony winning performance gets better with age.  If you get the chance to see it with him, take it!  You won't be sorry.
  • Speaking of Billy Elliot, I forgot (shame on me) to talk about one of my favorite Broadway divas, Emily Skinner, who joined the cast on October 2nd as Mrs. Wilkinson.  She comes to the Broadway company directly from the First National Touring Company.

  • And finally... even though it is probably the new musical I am looking forward to the least, the casting news announced to day does make Wonderland. A New Alice. A New Musical a little more interesting.  Janet Decal of In the Heights fame heads that cast as the grown-up Alice.  Joining her are: Darren Ritchie (Little Shop of Horrors, Thoroughly Modern Millie) as White Knight/Jack/Lewid Carroll, Tituss Burgess (Jersey Boys, Little Mermaid) as Caterpillar, Jose Llana (Spelling Bee, Flower Drum Song) as El Gato, Karen Mason (Hairspray, Mamma Mia!) as The Queen of Hearts, Kate Shindle (Legally Blonde, Cabaret, Jekyll and Hyde) as Mad Hatter and Edward Staudenmayer (Spamalot, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me) as White Rabbit.  The ensemble will include: April Berry, Sae La Chin, Dan Domenech, Mallauri Esquibel, Derek Ferguson, Lauren Lim Jackson, Morgan James, Stefan Raulston, Julius Anthony Rubio and Danny StilesThe show is the first production of the Broadway Genesis Project, an initiative by the Straz Center for the Performing Arts to develop and prepare new musical theatre for Broadway. From a show's inception to final staging, the Project "provides a safe and nourishing environment in a state-of-the-art complex with artistic, technical and administrative resources."  Wonderland begins previews at the Marquis Theatre on March 21,2011.
  • Wicked was the top grossing show last week, with $1.6M; Jersey Boys had the top attendance at 99.5%
  • The Scottsboro Boys was the lowest grossing show last week, with just under $175K (6 previews); American Idiot was the least attended show at 55.6%.
  • Memphis joins the millionaire's club this week, grossing over $1M for the first time this week at the B.O.
  • Ryan Jesse begins performances as Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys.  He replaces Sebastian Arcelus, who is Elf - bound.  
  • Molly Shannon makes her Broadway debut as Marge MacDougal in Promises, Promises.
  • Priscilla: Queen of the Desert begins its pre-Broadway engagement in Toronto.  Keep your pretty fingernailed fingers crossed...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Hugh Jackman, Actor (The Boy from Oz, A Steady Rain)

  • 1834: The Oldest Opening of the Week: Mathews at Home!/The Comic Annual opened at the Park Theatre.  Subtitled "A Lecture on Men, Manners and Peculiarities", the show lasted 18 days.  Sounds like a show about some guys I know...
  • 1962: The now classic Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened at the Billy Rose Theatre, where it ran for 664 performances.  It starred Uta Hagen and George Grizzard.  It was notable for two other reasons: it had an entirely different cast for matinee performances, and it cost a then whopping $42,000.00!
  • Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson opens tonight at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre.  The off-Broadway transfer is the first new musical to open this season.  If rumors are to be believed, it might not last too long.  I hope it makes it to the 23rd...I have great seats...
  • Rumors were confirmed today as it was officially announced that James Lapine would be directing the 2012 revival of Annie.


Priscilla meets the North American Press!
  • And people wonder why the gays love her so much... today, Bette Midler was announced as a co-producer of the Broadway mounting of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.

The Current Jersey Boys
  • The 8 PM performance of Jersey Boys will mark a new record for the history of the August Wilson Theatre.  It will be the longest-running show to ever play that space with 2,037 performances.  The previous record holder, Smokey Joe's Cafe, closed after 2,036 performances.  Interestingly, Matt Bogart will have been in both performances.  He was in the closing night company of Smokey Joe's Cafe, and he is currently playing Nick Massi in Jersey Boys.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Marie Osmond, Singer/Actor (The King and I)

  • 1929: Could this be a play from today?  The Nut Farm  opened at the Biltmore, lasting just 40 performances.


  • 1961: How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying! opened at the 46th Street Theatre, starring eventual Tony winners Robert Morse and Charles Nelson Reilly.  The show itself eventually won 7 Tony awards, including Best Musical, and the Pulitzer Prize.

  • La Bete opens at the Music Box Theatre for a limited engagement through January 11, 2011.

  • The stars of this year's Best Musical, Memphis, Chad Kimball and Montego Glover, have extended their stay through September 2011.  Talk about loyalty...and job security!
  • Mary McColl was named Executive Director of Actors Equity.  Her term begins in the new year.
  • As the Witch warns in Into the Woods, "be careful the things you say..." Xanadu and Wicked star Marty Thomas filed papers in court to expose the name of "bwayanonymous" on Twitter for defamation charges.  Seems this tool idiot individual thought it would be fun to start some gossip about Thomas and "a star of Avenue Q" and an STD!  You know, it is one thing to criticize an actor's work on the Internet, another entirely to personally attack them.  It is amazing that we don't hear about more of this... even more amazing is the fact that certain message boards are allowed to continue for doing this and worse to people.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Lillian Gish, Late Actor and Usher Raymond, Singer/Actor (Chicago)...better known to music fans by just his first name.

  • 1938: Abe Lincoln in Illinois opened at the Plymouth Theatre.  The Pulitzer Prize winning play starred Raymond Massey, and lasted 472 performances.
  • 1953: Another Pulitzer Prize (and Tony Award - Best Play), The Teahouse of the August Moon opened at the Matin Beck Theatre and ran an impressive 1,027 performances.  John Forsythe and David Wayne were in the original cast.
  • 2009: A star-filled revival of Bye Bye Birdie re-opened the newly re-constructed Henry Miller's Theatre.  It seems so long ago, doesn't it?


  • The Scottsboro Boys television commercial makes its debut.  It is exciting and spectacular...more in a later blog!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Gavin Lee, Actor (Mary Poppins)

  • 1939: The classic comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner debutes at the Music Box Theatre, where it ran for 739 performances.
  • 1967: Rosencrantz and Guildendstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard's avante-garde play opened at the Alvin Theatre, running 420 performances, earning 8 Tony nods, and winning 4, including Best Play.


  • 1997: The cult favorite musical that made Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner tops on the Broadway divas list, Side Show opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, lasting a mere 91 performances.
  • The Chicago engagement of Billy Elliot is ipulling up stakes a little earlier than anticipated, closing at the end of November.  I bet little Billy is doing the Angry Dance and Michael is raiding his sister's closet in anticipation of the move.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Angela Lansbury, Actor (Mame, Sweeney Todd)

  • 1965: The musical On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever  opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, running 208 performances, and earning John Cullum a Theatre World Award.
  • 1972: 6 Rms Riv Vu, a constant regional and community theatre staple, opened at the old Helen Hayes Theatre, starring Jane Alexander and Jerry Orbach.  The play ran 247 performances.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Rob Marshall, Actor (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Choreographer (Victor/Victoria, Damn Yankees), Director (Cabaret (co), Little Me)

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