Sunday, October 24, 2010

TheatreScene: October 18 - 24




  • 1858: The Oldest and Most Historically Relevant Opening:  Our American Husband opened at Laura Keene's Theatre, where it ran for an unknown period of time.  I'd have to guess that the show was a hit, big enough to have a National Tour.  It was the touring production of this melodrama that starred John Wilkes Booth, and played Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. that fateful night when Lincoln was assassinated.
  • 1966: The Apple Tree opens at the Shubert Theatre, starring Alan Alda, and Tony winner Barbara Harris.  The show would run for 463 performances.
  • 1990: Once on This Island opens at the Booth Theatre, and makes LaChanze a one-named Broadway star.  She won the Theatre World Award for her performance as Ti Moune.

  • 2001: Mamma Mia! the International Sensation, opens on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre.  As of 10/18/2010, the show has played 3,729 performances.
  • In what might be seen as a pre-Broadway announcement, Stephen Sondheim's Road Show will play London's Menier Chocolate Factory, starting point for La Cage aux Folles, A Little Night Music, and the likely transfer of Aspects of Love.

Playwright Larry Kramer
 and Normal Heart director Joel Grey 
  • A benefit for Friends in Deed and the Actor's Fund, a star-filled reading of The Normal Heart directed by Joel Grey, was held at the Walter Kerr Theatre tonight.  Amongst the cast are Glenn Close, Joe Mantello, Patrick Wilson and Victor Garber.
  • "Cheno" fans rejoice!  It turns out that she will be playing Fran in Promises, Promises this week, after all!
  • A possible revival of That Champion Season directed by Gregory Mosher looks Broadway bound for the Spring of 2011.
  • Is Robin Williams going to return to Broadway in a play?  So reports, who says he is on his way in the spring of 2011 in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.  I guess we shall see!
  • Wicked was the top in attendance (100%) and gross sales ($1.5M+) for last week.
  • American Idiot had the lowest attendance (53%) and Lombardi had the lowest gross, $170K, for 8 previews.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Ntozake Shange, Playwright/Actor (for colored girls...)

  • 1987: The revival of Anything Goes opened during a stock market crash unheard of since the Great Depression.  It was an enormous hit at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, running 784 performances, earning 10 Tony nominations and winning 3, including Best Revival.  This is not the last time Patti LuPone, Anything Goes and financial ruin have converged on Broadway at the same time.  It is happening as we speak this season.  Coincidence?
  • 2009: Memphis opened 1 year ago.  The little show that could has steadily gained an audience and won the Tony for Best Musical along the way!
  • Is a revival of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia on its way to Broadway?  Rumor has it that it will, and it will be directed by David Leveaux (Fiddler on the Roof).  Look for it in the late spring or early fall of 2011.
  • Broadway/TV legend Florence Henderson danced her last on Dancing with the Stars.  She was voted off in a somewhat shocking vote that looked like Bristol Palin would be sent packing.
  • RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles and The Merchant of Venice begin previews tonight on Broadway.
(Photo by Joan Marcus)
  • Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, currently in Toronto and Broadway bound, releases some great production photos!

  • Tom Bosley, Tony winner for Fiorello!, and most recently on Broadway in the original cast of Beauty and the Beast and also in the revival of Cabaret passed away at the age of 83 today.  Most people know him from such TV shows as Happy Days, Murder, She Wrote, and The Father Dowling Mysteries.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jennifer Holliday, Actor/Singer (Original Dreamgirls, Chicago)


  • 1954: Peter Pan, the musical version made its debut at the Winter Garden Theatre, starring Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard, winning Tonys for both.  Surprisingly, this now classic and sure-hit was a flop, running only 152 performances.  The production would be seem by a much larger audience, though, after it was broadcast live on NBC.  A color version, featuring most of the original cast, was broadcast annually also by NBC.

  • 1977: The only version of Bram Stoker's most famous character to be a hit (so far) opened on this date at the Martin Beck Theatre.  Dracula, a revival of the play, starred Tony winner Frank Langella, and was famous for its sets, designed by Tony winner Edward Gorey.
  • 2005: Maybe the most gossiped about flop of the 21st Century so far, In My Life opened at the Music Box Theatre.  Like so many shows, it wasn't nearly as bad as the gossip said it was.  It wasn't all that great, either.
  • Go purple! The NOH8 Campaign is in full swing in support of anti-bullying initiatives.
  • Love Never Dies apparently will be taking a short rest in London when it closes for 4 days in November to out in some changes.
  • John Larroquette will be making his Broadway debut as J.B. Bigley in the Daniel Radcliffe - Rob Ashford revival of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying!  The multiple Emmy winner will be with the show when it begins previews on February 26, and opens March 27, 2011.
  • What is it with Lincoln Center shows this season?  For the second time already this season, a show they are producing, A Free Man of Color, is delaying previews due to the technical demands of the show.  Of course, look at all the free press that other show has gotten because of it.

  • The National Tour of next to normal has its cast.  Joining Alice Ripley are: Asa Somers (Dan), Emma Hunton (Natalie), Curt Hansen (Gabe), Preston K. Sadlier (Henry), and Jeremy Kushnier (Dr. Fine/Dr. Madden).  Somers, Hunton and Hansen all have ties to the Broadway production.  Already tongues are wagging because some feel Asa Somers looks too young to be Dan, making Diana a cougar.  Hmmm...isn't that the least of her problems?
  • Speaking of being too young, some are questioning the casting of Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman in the forthcoming revival of Death of a Salesman to be directed by Mike Nichols.  seems the script calls for Loman to be in his 60's.  Producers are quick to point out that the only actor to be in his 60's and play the role on Broadway was Brian Dennehy.  I say Hoffman is a brilliant actor.  He should be awesome!
  • Add this to my list of "wish I could be there" events: Career Transition for Dancers' 25th Anniversary Silver Jubilee: A Star-Studded Retrospective  looks to be a legendary evening.  Hosted by Angela Lansbury, the show will boast performances by Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking, Chita Rivera, Karen Ziemba and Charlotte d'Amboise!
  • Baby, It's You! the Broadway-bound (aiming for Spring 2011) musical about the Shirelles, now has producers and book writers.  The book will be by Million Dollar Quartet's Floyd Matux and Colin Escott, and the show will be co-directed by Matux and Sheldon Epps.  I hope this is better than MDQ.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jerry Orbach, Late Actor (42nd Street, The Fantasticks, Promises, Promises)

  • 1897: The Funniest Title of the Week: La Poupee opened at the Lyric Theatre for a poopy 14 performances.

  • 1999: Saturday Night Fever first a film then a musical opened at the Minskoff Theatre to critical pans, but a somewhat long life - 501 performances.  That cast was full of folks thought of very highly today: James Carpinello, Orfeh, Michael Balderama, Andy Blankenbeuhler, Richard H. Blake, Bryan Batt, Casey Nicholaw, Sean Palmer and Andre Ward.  Since then, Blankenbeuhler became a Tony winner and Nicholaw has 3 Tony nominations!

  • Lombardi opens tonight!
  • Talk about stunt casting!  Porn star and dreamer of being on Broadway, Jenna Jameson is in talks to join the cast of Rock of Ages.  She is apparently up for the role of the strip joint owner/fairy god mother-ish figure.

  • Legend Chita Rivera has made the news twice this week!  She will be given the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women.  The award will be presented to her by her own daughter, Lisa Mordente.
  • And Avenue Q set another milestone turned 1 year old at New World Stages!
  • Allegiance, the musical about those held in Japanese Internment camps during WWII, is Broadway-bound and is getting a reading directed by Stafford Armina.  The cast is a doozey!  Lea Salonga, George Takei, Telley Leung, Jason Tam and Allie Trimm head the cast.  This one sounds interesting and rich with possibilities.  What do you think?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Carrie Fisher, Actor (Wishful Drinking)


  • 1998: My goodness, was it really 12 years ago that Footloose was unleashed as a musical?  Based on the wildly successful Kevin Bacon film, the show starred Dee Hoty, Jeremy Kushnier and Jennifer Laura Thompson.  The cast boasted no fewer than 16 folks making their Broadway debuts!
  • 2009: This time last year, After Miss Julie opened, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Sienna Miller.
  • First, it was Jerry Seinfeld directing Colin Quinn. Then it was Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger. Now comes the announcement that comedian Chris Rock will be making his Broadway debut in Motherf**ker with the Hat. The new play by Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, will also star Bobby Canavale and Annabella Sciorra, and will play a limited engagement (of course) this spring.
  • Looks like Brief Encounter's stay won't be as brief as first thought. Roundabout Theater Company announced its extension by an additional month!
  • Colin Quinn: Long Story Short begins previews today.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Tony Roberts, Actor (Xanadu, The Royal Family)

  • 1963: Neil Simon had his second big Broadway success with a play called Barefoot in the Park.  Starring Elizabeth Ashley and soon-to-be movie star/icon Robert Redford, the play opened at the Biltmore Theatre and ran an amazing 1503 performances.

It was the "Manson Trio" section of "Glory" that
Made the TV ad for Pippin so hot.  It sold a lot of tickets!

  • 1972: The first show to really use television commercials to sell itself, the dance heavy, provocative Bob Fosse show Pippin opened at the Imperial Theatre.  Making Ben Vereen and John Rubenstein stars, the show ran 1,944 performances.  "Magic to Do," indeed!
  • A Free Man of Color, the delayed Lincoln Center Production, begins previews today at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Michael Rupert, Actor (Pippin, Sweet Charity (1986), Legally Blonde)

  • 1905: Fans of the new musical Wonderland might be surprised to find out that a show by that name opened on this date at the Majestic Theatre.   It ran for 74 performances and featured a cast of 50.  It was not, however, about Alice and company.  Frank Wildhorn must have karma connected to this day because...
  • 1910: Fans of the musical version may be surprised to find out that a play version of The Scarlet Pimpernel opened on this date at the Knickerbocker Theatre, where it ran for 40 performances.
  • 1974: Equus opened at the Plymouth Theatre where it shocked and amazed audiences for 1,209 performances.  Talk about your star-studded cast: Peter Firth, Anthony Hopkins, Marian Seldes and Frances Sternhagen were all in the opening night cast.

  • 2002:  The Twyla Tharp-Billy Joel dance musical Movin' Out opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.  This multi-Tony winning production starred Elizabeth Parkinson, John Selya, Ashley Tuttle and Scott Wise and ran 1,303 performances.
  • Wings starring Tony nominee Jan Maxwell, and directed by Tony winner John Doyle, opens today at off-Broadway's Second Stage.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: F. Murray Abraham, Actor (Angels in America, Triumph of Love)

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