In Case You Missed It: An Act of God Earns Praise and Harold Prince Will Reign in Tokyo

News   In Case You Missed It: An Act of God Earns Praise and Harold Prince Will Reign in Tokyo
 
The new Broadway comedy An Act of God, which opened on Broadway this week, is a kind of throwback to that old theatre tradition, the star vehicle. You’ve never heard of the playwright, David Javerbaum (he writes for "The Daily Show" and runs the popular and very funny, satirical Twitter account @TheTweetOfGod.). Given that, it’s a mystery why A-list director Joe Mantello is at the helm. But the fog clears when you learn that TV megastar Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) appears in the role of God. This is precisely why the play is on Broadway at Studio 54.

The work is billed as "a 90-minute comedy where the Almighty and His devoted angels answer some of the deepest questions that have plagued mankind since Creation. He's finally arrived to set the record straight…and He's not holding back!"

Sounds hilarious, no? Well, yes and no, according to the critics. "How funny is the guy?" asked the Times, which answered itself: "He's Jon Stewart funny, plus Stephen Colbert funny. (Mr. Javerbaum has written for both.) More obviously, it might be said that Mr. Parsons as Mr. Javerbaum's tell-it-like-it-is God is, yes, divinely funny."

AP, however, wasn’t chuckling. "Javerbaum is obviously pretty good at droll, bite-sized humor. Not so much with a 90-minute play. This one seems more like a lounge act cooked up by someone who thinks his Facebook updates are totally hilarious."

The Hollywood Reporter was laughing, and also impressed: "Jim Parsons would not be the first person to come to mind for the role of God. But the actor proves a surprisingly authoritative Supreme Being in David Javerbaum's hilarious comedy... The script...is both outrageously irreverent and deeply thoughtful in its exploration of religious issues."

On the whole, the faithful outnumbered the heretics. Time Out declared, "In this divine visitation from the Unmoved Mover, the always charming Jim Parsons will make a disbeliever out of you." Most critics loved the choice of Parsons at the Almighty, and everyone singled out the play’s rewriting of the Ten Commandments as the play’s highlight.

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The Prince of Broadway, the stage project that will take audiences through the numerous award-winning productions created by the ridiculously prolific director-producer Harold Prince, is going to start rehearsals in New York this September, it was announced. It will be co-directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman and feature a book by David Thompson.

And then it will have its world premiere at...Japan's Theatre Orb in Tokyo Oct. 23.

http://cdn-gd.playbill.com/images/cache/remote/http_cdn-images.playbill.com/ee_assets/princeofbroadwaylogo460.jpg

OK, then. There is no current word on plans for a New York production.

The show once had New York plans. Prince has been working on The Prince of Broadway for several years. The show was first announced for a fall 2012 start on Broadway, followed by a goal of fall 2013. Issues with capitalization for the nearly $10 million musical delayed the production's Broadway arrival. But Prince is apparently "big in Japan," as they say, for Japanese producers are now financing the musical, according to a 2013 report in The New York Post.

The website lists the cast as including Shuler Hensley, Ramin Karimloo, Nancy Opel, Reon Yuzuki, Takarazuka Revue and Kaley Ann Voorhees. In a touch of weirdness almost as strange as the name of the theatre (is it really an orb, and does that mean in-the-round seating?), Prince, via an Al Hirschfeld-esque hologram, will narrate the musical. ***

Jessica Lange
Jessica Lange Photo by Frank Ockenfels

Jessica Lange played Mary Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night in 2000 in London. She’s had 15 years to think about the experience since then, and has come to the conclusion that she’d like to play the part again — this time on Broadway.

Roundabout Theatre Company, in association with Ryan Murphy, will produce the revival, which will begin previews March 31, 2016, at the American Airlines Theatre.

Directed by Jonathan Kent, it will also star Gabriel Byrne as James Tyrone and John Gallagher Jr. as Edmund Tyrone. Casting for the role of James Tyrone Jr. will be announced later.

The play was last seen on Broadway in 2003, in a production that starred Brian Dennehy, Vanessa Redgrave, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robert Sean Leonard, and won nearly every award in the book.

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