In Case You Missed It: Bruce Willis Snubs Woody Allen for Broadway

News   In Case You Missed It: Bruce Willis Snubs Woody Allen for Broadway
 
Movie stars were causing all sorts of fuss in the theatre world this week, in all sorts of ways, some of them quite unexpected.

The usual way cinematic celebrities shake up the stage is by announcing a coming Broadway gig. That's the route Forest Whitaker took. The star of such critically acclaimed films as "The Butler" and "The Last King of Scotland" announced that he would make his Broadway debut in a revival of Eugene O'Neill's Hughie.

Helmed by Michael Grandage, the two-hander is set to play at a Shubert Organization theatre to be announced in spring 2016. Casting for the show's other role, a night clerk, will be announced soon.

Forest Whitaker
Forest Whitaker

Within the O’Neill oeuvre, Hughie is a pet favorite, mainly because it provides a showboat role. The main character, a Times Square sport down on his luck, does almost all of the talking. O’Neill expert Jason Robards Jr. did it back in 1964. More recently, in 1996, Al Pacino made a meal of it. Whitaker’s turn would mark the first time an African-American actor had played the part on Broadway.

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Bruce Willis is scheduled to make his Broadway debut this fall in a stage adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Misery, about a celebrated author held captive by his nuttiest fan. But he’s also been offered the lead in the new, untitled Woody Allen film. Broadway observers have seen this scenario many times before and they know how it usually goes: the star abruptly exits the stage production and seizes the more lucrative and high-profile film gig.

Not this time. According to Deadline Hollywood, Willis opted to stay with Misery and passed on Woody.

Allen's new film will also star Kristen Stewart, Stephen Kunken, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Jeannie Berlin, Corey Stoll, Ken Stott, Anna Camp, Sari Lennick and Paul Schneider. The filming, in New York and Los Angeles, would have conflicted with the run of Misery, which will begin previews Oct. 22 and opens Nov. 15.

Well done, Willis.

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You’re a 52-year-old nonprofit theatre with a national standing and many great productions to your credit. What does it take to break all your box-office records?

One degree of separation from Kevin Bacon, that’s what.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Bacon would star in a stage version of Rear Window at Hartford Stage this season. That news propelled the theatre to its highest single-day box-office take on Aug. 26.

"It was our highest sales day in our 52-year history," marketing director David Henderson told touch.CTnow.com. "We expect to completely sell out the run in just a few days, and that will leave us holding nothing but seats for our education program with Capital Community College, seats for new subscribers, and contractual house seats."

Kevin Bacon
Kevin Bacon Photo by Michael Lavine

Based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder" (also the source material for the 1954 Hitchcock classic), the new Rear Window was written by Keith Reddin and will be directed by Darko Tresnjak. The story centers on a man laid up in a wheelchair who finds out more than he bargained for when he begins casually spying on the lives of the neighbors in his Greenwich Village courtyard.

You can bet your binoculars that Broadway producers took note of Bacon’s box-office clout.

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On the Town is set to close soon. But it got one more burst of headlines this week when Misty Copeland, the ballerina who was promoted in June to principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre — the first African-American actress to make that leap — joined the Broadway cast, stepping into the role of aspiring ballet dancer Ivy Smith, the show's elusive Miss Turnstiles.

She will dance the role for the final two weeks of the show's run, Aug. 25-Sept. 6, at the Lyric Theatre.

She may be back, though. The New York Times liked what they saw, saying, "her Ivy has vulnerability and moxie. She lit up the stage of the Lyric Theater — enough to make you wonder: Is Ms. Copeland’s home on Broadway? Here, she finally looked like a star, more fresh and free than she’s appeared in ages."

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The late movie critic Roger Ebert’s cultural afterlife continues.

Chicago's Black Ensemble Theatre has cast Kevin Pollack to play the role of Ebert in the new musical The Black/White Love Play (The Story of Chaz and Roger Ebert).

As the title suggests, the show is about Ebert and African-American trial attorney Chaz Hammelsmith, whom he married in 1992.

Jackie Taylor is director and co-writer of the show with Chaz Ebert. Previews begin Sept. 19, and the opening is planned for Sept. 27. Pollack is currently playing singer Joe Cocker in BET’s production of Men of Soul. The role of Chaz is yet to be cast.

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