In Case You Missed It: A Tony Winner Has Gone to the Dogs and Waitress Announces Its Staff

News   In Case You Missed It: A Tony Winner Has Gone to the Dogs and Waitress Announces Its Staff You’ve won a Tony Award, Annaleigh Ashford! Congratulations! You’re on your way up. For your next big role, you’ll be playing, uh, a dog.

Well, not just any dog. Arguably the most famous dog in playwriting history. Ashford, who won her Tony for playing the charmingly ditzy, dance-obsessed Essie in the recent revival of You Can't Take It With You, will return to Broadway playing the title pooch in A.R. Gurney’s comedy Sylvia. It which will begin previews Sept. 25 prior to an official opening Oct. 15 at the Cort Theatre. Her co-stars will be Julie White and Robert Sella. Daniel Sullivan will direct.

Annaleigh Ashford
Annaleigh Ashford Photo by Heather Wines/CBS

Unlike Sandy in Annie, Sylvia is a talking dog (well, we can hear her, anyway) played by an actor. None other than pre-"Sex and the City" Sarah Jessica Parker created the role back in 1995, when the comedy was a surprise hit at Manhattan Theatre Club.

It's proved one of Gurney’s most durable plays ever since, but has never been produced on Broadway. (Gurney rarely is produced on Broadway in general. Prior to the recent, short-lived revival of Love Letters, his most recent play on Broadway was, um, Love Letters, back in 1989.)

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If your surname is Mueller, your name was in the news this week. Principal casting was announced for the American Repertory Theater's upcoming production of the world premiere of Waitress, the new Sara Bareilles musical that will play the Massachusetts venue Aug. 2-Sept. 27.

Jessie Mueller, who won a Tony Award for playing Carole King in Beautiful, will play the title character (an actress as a waitress — imagine that!) in what will be her first important role since becoming a full-fledged, bankable, musical-theatre star.

Adrienne Shelly wrote and directed the movie about a small-town waitress stuck in a dead-end job and marriage, who finds she has a talent for baking. The new musical has a book by Jessie Nelson and music and lyrics by Bareilles.

Jessie Mueller
Jessie Mueller Photo by Nathan Johnson

Directing will be Tony winner Diane Paulus, who usually knows a winner when she sees one, with choreography by Chase Brock. Also in the cast will be Jeanna de Waal as Dawn, Drew Gehling as Dr. Pomatter, Dakin Matthews as Joe, Keala Settle as Becky and Joe Tippett as Earl.

That none of of those above names are overly familiar leaves little doubt that Waitress will probably end up being seen as a Mueller vehicle.

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And what about Beautiful, the show that made Mueller a star, but no longer has Mueller to help sell tickets? Well, if you can’t get Jessie, go for the next best thing — her sister!

Producers announced this week that Abby Mueller will star in the title role of the national tour of Beautiful, which launches Sept. 15 at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Rhode Island.

Abby isn’t just Jessie’s sister who needs a summer job. She’s an actress as well, who has appeared in Broadway’s Kinky Boots. The Mueller family is, in fact, lousy with actors. There are two brothers as well, both thespians. And the parents of the four, of course, are performers. No word on if the brothers might be willing to don drag and step into the King role once Abby departs.

Abby Mueller
Abby Mueller Photo by Nathan Johnson

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For a while there, it seemed like nothing could go wrong for Hamilton. It was going to be critical praise and sold-out houses and loving press all the way to Broadway. But then fate finally threw the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton a curve ball. The Department of the Treasury — which obviously does not read Variety — announced this week that the U.S. government is responding to a recent public campaign to put the face of a woman of one of the nation’s pieces of currency. Most of the talk over the past few months has been that Andrew Jackson, who is on the $20 bill, was going to get the ax. But, no. It is Hamilton, who has owned property on the $10 bill for nearly a century, who must make way. (Ironic that the Treasury Department should give the boot to the only Secretary of the Treasury ever to grace the face of American money.)

That puts quite a wrench in the works for the show, whose opening number talks about "the ten-dollar founding father." Doesn’t Treasury Secretary Jack Lew known that Hamilton will begin performances at the Richard Rodgers Theatre July 13? Doesn’t he care about the show’s investors?

Hamilton won’t actually completely vanish. Hamilton's face will remain, but be joined by the image of a yet-to-be-chosen female. That woman will be chosen by the end of 2015.

None of that, of course, made Miranda any happier. On Twitter, he protested, "But Jackson stays? The MURDEROUS Andrew Jackson is still money?"

Somewhere, the creators of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson are laughing and laughing.

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