Sunday, January 16, 2011

TheatreScene: January 10 - 16




CASTING: How to Succeed...
What If Broadway Fans Were Like Football Fans?
What's Next After Normal
RANT: Of Previews, Postponements and Patrons' Rights
Ms. Broadway January 2011: De'Adre Aziza


January 10

  • Joseph Kesselring's only play, Arsenic and Old Lace, opened in 1941 at the Fulton Theatre.  The now classic ran an amazing 1,444 performances.
  • Finian's Rainbow opened at the 46th Street Theatre in 1947.  It played 725 performances.

  • Most shows would be a hit with 685 performances.  Not so for Disney's The Little Mermaid, which opened in 2008.  Three years ago, already?

  • Actually, this was news yesterday... but ABC is planning a miniseries based on the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.  This should be interesting...imagine a nation filled with terrified little girls and oversensitive drag queens when the book version hits the screen.  Oz is one ugly hell hole in THAT version, and pretty scary, too.  Here's my prediction: it'll get watered down to nearly the musical version to keep the little ones viewing, but with just enough grown-up stuff to make it controversial and newsworthy.  Casting will be very interesting...  OH!  And night two, when people realize it ISN"T the musical version, ratings will tank.  Call me Master Morrible!


  • STOP THIS SHOW BEFORE SOMEONE GETS KILLED!  No, I'm not talking Spider-Man!  I'm talking about Broadway-bound Bring It On: The Musical.  Previews don't even start in Atlanta until Saturday, and already the injuries are mounting up!  Actors playing collegiate level cheerleaders is an invitation to injury!  And here we are, lead actress Helene York has been replaced by Amanda LaVergne because York BROKE HER FOOT doing a cheer stunt!  Shut it down!  Shut it down!  (This moment of ridiculousness is a tip of my hat to all the dumbass chatroom rats...)  Personally, I can't wait to see BIO:TMJeff Whitty, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amanda Green, Tom Kitt and Andy Blankenbeuhler are the A-Team in my book.  With them in charge, it can't lose.
  • Color me embarrassed:  Rock of Ages will re-open at the Helen Hayes Theatre on March 24.  I've got my lighter all ready to go!

TOPS AND BOTTOMS (January 3 - 9):
  • Top Attendance: The Merchant of Venice (102.5%)
  • Top Gross: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ($1.58M - just $58.00 more than Wicked)
  • Bottom Attendance: Time Stands Still (65%)
  • Bottom Gross: Colin Quinn: Long Story Short ($217K)
  • The Millionaire's Club: In the Heights, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, The Merchant of Venice, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Wicked
  • SRO Club: In the Heights, The Merchant of Venice, next to normal, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Wicked
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sal Mineo, Late Actor (The King and I, The Rose Tattoo)


January 11

  • Funniest Title Opening of the Week: Piggy, a musical which opened at thr Royale Theatre in 1927.  I guess the name isn't that funny.  But when you consider that it ran a mere 79 performances and STILL changed its official title, it is at least giggle-worthy.  The new title didn't work, either - I Told You So.
  • 1976: Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures opened at the Winter Garden Theatre.  Despite its short 193 performance run, it still earned 10 Tony nominations, winning two in technical categories.

  • The Belasco Theatre's curse continued in 2000, with a cast as star-studded as Women on the Verge.  Yes, with a cast that included Christopher Walken, Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner, Blair Brown, Sally ann Howes, Stephen Spinella and Daisy Eagan how could James Joyce's The Dead lose?  Well, it did win the Best Book of a Musical Tony, but 120 performances ain't much all things considered.

The Original off-Broadway Logo...HOT!
  • The biggest news is from off-Broadway today.  A revival of Hello, Again, Michael John LaChuisa's musicalized La Ronde has an amazing cast, including Elizabeth Stanley (Company, Cry-Baby) , Max von Essen (Dance of the Vampires, Xanadu tour), Blake Daniel (Spring Awakening), Alan Campbell (Sunset Boulevard), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge), Bob Stillman (Grey Gardens) and Robert Lenzi (South Pacific).  It will be presented by the Transport Group in March.  This is an awesome show - at least it was in 1993 at Lincoln Center.  I have no doubt this will be pretty cool, too!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Stanley Tucci, Actor (Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune), Director (Lend Me a Tenor)


January 12

  • The last show to open on Broadway on this date was in 1988 - a Special Theatrical Event: Virsky's Ukranian State Dance Company.  It played a limited engagement at the Mark Hellinger Theatre.

The streets and sidewalks look clear enough
for the Mormons to do business in January 12! 
  • NYC digs out of its second snow storm this winter.
  • The Original Broadway Cast of God of Carnage will reunite for the LA engagement of the show.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Andre de Shields, Actor (The Wiz, The Full Monty)



January 13

  • Playwright David Hirson whose La Bete revival just closed, had a different play on the boards in 2000, with Wrong Mountain.  Despite a top notch cast, including Tony nominee Daniel Davis, Ron Rifkin,  and Daniel Jenkins, the show closed at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre after a dismal 28 performances.

  • The revival of The Importance of Being Earnest  opens tonight at the American Airlines Theatre.
  • Broadway history will be made when Memphis is taped live and distributed to movie theatres this spring.  This will be the first time a currently running show taped for distribution will be shown in theatres.
  • And silly me!  I thought we'd go a whole week without news from the Foxwoods Theatre.  Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will open March 15th now.  Guess who has tickets for the first show after February 7th?  ME!  LOL...

  • Looking ahead this season... a starry revival of Born Yesterday.  I remember the last revival like it was yesterday... mid-80's with Edward Asner, Madeline Kahn and future Tony winner making his Broadway debut, Gregory Jbara!
  • The founder of the legendary La MaMa Theatre off-off-Broadway, Ellen Stewart, passed away today at the age of 91.  Under her wing, she and her theatre nurtured then-new playwrights including Lanford Wilson, Sam Sheppard and Harvey Fierstein.  The Public Theater has dedicated its season to her memory.  This pioneer of American theatre will be missed.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Gwen Verdon, Late Broadway Legend (Sweet Charity, Damn Yankees, Redhead)



January 14

  • The Oldest Opening of the Week: King Lear, starring Mr. Malone, opened at the Nassau Street Theatre on this date in 1754!

  • Fosse, a dance musical celebrating the master choreographer/director's stagings, opened in 1999 at the Broadhurst Theatre, where it ran 1,093 performances.  It won the Tony Award for Best Musical and was recorded for PBS.
  • Does anyone have more irons in the fire than Casey Nicholaw?  This summer he will be staging Disney's next musical, Aladdin, with music from the film by Howard Ashman, Alan Menken and Tim Rice.  Additional lyrics to new songs by Menken, as well as the book to the show will be by Elf and The Wedding Singer's Chad Beguelin.  I, for one, am excited about the prosects for interesting staging of this show.  I bet there will be lots of magic!
  • The possible musical for this season, Baby It's You, is reportedly looking at a post Merchant of Venice Broadhurst Theatre and Tony winner Beth Leavel for its leading lady.  Will there be anything left to open next season?
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Julia Murney, Actor (Lennon, Wicked)

January 15


  • The 39 Steps, a comic staging of the Alfred Hitchcock classic film, where four actors play all the roles with almost no scenery, but dozens of props and costumes, opened at the American Airlines Theatre in 2008.  Originally a limited engagement from The Roundabout Theatre Company, the show went on to a commercial run at two more Broadway theatres (the Cort and the Helen Hayes).  Nominated for 6 Tonys, and winning two (sound and lights), the show ran a total of 771 Broadway performances.  Then the show moved off-Broadway and ran another year.  The show will close tomorrow at New World Stages.
  • Broadway isn't the only place losing shows en masse.  London's West End loses four titles today, including the critically reviled Flashdance: The Musical, and the critically-acclaimed (and rumored to be headed for Broadway) revival of Deathtrap, starring Jonathan Groff.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Andrea Martin, Actor (My Favorite Year, Young Frankenstein)


January 16

  • One of the most famous, beloved and longest-running hits in Broadway history opened at the St. James Theatre on this date in 1964.  The show: Hello, Dolly!  The run: 2,844 performances.  The stars: Carol Channing (of course), and later, Mary Martin, Phyllis Diller and Betty Grable.  The show made radical history when it re-opened with an all-black cast, lead by Pearl Bailey.  Its final Dolly was none other than Ethel Merman, in what would be her final Broadway role.

Hello, Carol, Pearl, Betty and Ethel!

  • next to normal closes following this evening's performance at the Booth Theatre.  Look for my full coverage blog next week.  I think the quote from The New York Times' Ben Brantley, from the January 14th issue, sums it up nicely.

  • The 39 Steps closes off-Broadway, three years and one day after it opened on Broadway. (See above.)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Actor/Composer/Writer (In the Heights, Bring It On: The Musical)


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