Critics will be invited to see all three of the rotating casts of Broadway's La Bohème, a spokesman confirmed, but that doesn't necessarily mean all reviewers will consecutively digest triple doses of Baz Luhrmann's rich theatrical cafe au lait.
The way newspapers and critics approach the show is ultimately up to them, a La Bohème spokesman told Playbill On-Line, though "we're inviting them to see all three casts" and reviewers are welcome to see all three in the pre-opening press week if their schedules allow. Whether critics can squeeze three viewings — totaling about eight hours — into one week leading toward the Dec. 8 opening is questionable, but return trips are likely, leading to potential expanded exposure for the Italian language opera that was sold out in its recent San Francisco tryout.
Considering the unique New York Times approach to the dance-heavy Broadway musical, Movin' Out, which prompted side-by-side reviews by Times theatre and dance critics, it seems likely that the most powerful paper in town will offer its readers reviews of Bohème by its theatre and opera critics.
The Broadway staging of La Bohème begins performances Nov. 29 at the Broadway Theatre toward a Dec. 8 opening. A schedule of which of the three lead couples is performing on what days has not yet been released, but producers do want to allow theatregoers to see as many casts as they wish. When the schedule is ironed out, it will be available at the box office and by phone (although such a performance schedule is subject to change, in case of illness, detainment, etc).
It has not been announced who will perform opening night, the performance that traditionally determines Tony Award eligibility, but it seems likely the producers will petition the Tony Awards committee for a way to have all six leads made eligible. (The Tony committee has been flexible in the past: Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, playing conjoined twins in Side Show, were dubbed one actress and both nommed together as Best Actress in 1998; the singular Natasha Richardson won the prize). For the first performance at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco Oct. 1, lovers Mimi and Rodolfo were played by Russian soprano Ekaterina Solovyeva and American tenor David Miller, and later traded off with Lisa Hopkins and Jesus Garcia, and Wei Huang and Alfred Boe during the run.
No couple will perform more than three shows per week, though live theatre being what it is, the couples who rehearsed together and who appear in the print ads together may occasionally be broken up due to sickness or other circumstances.
The roles of Marcello and Musetta are also double-cast and will rotate, with no performer playing more than four shows per week. Expect Jessica Comeau and Eugene Brancoveanu or Chloe Wright and Ben Davis.
The multiple casting is necessary due to the show's vocal demands.
The American premiere of Baz Luhrmann's production of La Bohème ended its tryout run at San Francisco's Curran Theatre Nov. 10 on a high note, and not just Puccini's.
The Curran run of the classic opera was sold out three days after it earned enthusiastic reviews there, and sold about $300,000 in tickets the day the reviews appeared.
No advance box office figures are available to the press for the Broadway run that begins previews Nov. 29 at the Broadway Theatre, but observers say sales could explode once word of mouth spreads about Luhrmann and designer Catherine Martin's sensual work (they teamed on the Oscar-nominated musical film, "Moulin Rouge"). Their hip, young retelling of La Bohème was a smash in Australia in the 1990s.
The 1896 opera is being re-set from early 19th-century Paris to the Paris of 1957. The production is sung in Italian, with English supertitles.
A cast album of the opera was recorded in California. It's expected in stores Dec. 10.
Musical director Constantine Kitsopoulos conduct the orchestra. The opera has a legendary score by Giacomo Puccini — even those who avoid opera will recognize "Musetta's Waltz," if only from its interpolations in movies — and was first seen in 1896. Reviews were not good 100 years ago, but the score outlived the critics. Luhrmann's La Bohème premiered in 1990, and became the biggest hit in the history of the Sydney Opera House and a sold-out sensation. It played return engagements at the Sydney Opera House in 1993, when it was recorded for video, and in 1996.
The design staff includes "Moulin Rouge" Academy Award winners Catherine Martin (scenic design and co-costume design) and Angus Strathie (co-costume design), with Nigel Levings (lighting design) and Acme Sound Partners (sound design).
Onetime actor Luhrmann is internationally known for directing the films "Strictly Ballroom" (which he began as a play), "Romeo + Juliet" and the Academy Award nominated "Moulin Rouge." He has worked in film, opera, theatre, music and events management. With Martin he is the founder and director of Bazmark. In 1988, he created the critically acclaimed opera, Lake Lost, with composer Felix Meagher, where he first collaborated with designer Catherine Martin.
For ticket information about the run at the Broadway Theatre, call (212) 239-6200. The Broadway Theatre is at Broadway and 53rd Street.