In Case You Missed It: Hamilton's Already Breaking Records, While Groundhog Day and Cats Announce Broadway Plans

News   In Case You Missed It: Hamilton's Already Breaking Records, While Groundhog Day and Cats Announce Broadway Plans
 
The Broadway revival of David Hare’s Skylight — the first-ever Broadway revival of any Hare play — starring Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy and Matthew Beard recreating their acclaimed London performances (this is the second time Nighy has played his role) — officially opened April 2 at the John Golden Theatre. The show is directed by perennial golden boy Stephen Daldry.

Nighy, Mulligan and Daldry are all critical darlings (as is, to a certain extent, Hare), so it was hard to imagine to imagine the critics wouldn’t like something about the show. And indeed they did.

The New York Times said Nighy and Mulligan gave “two of the most expert stage performances you're likely to see for many seasons…in Stephen Daldry's exquisitely balanced London-born production...you can't help thinking that on some profound level these two were made to be together...The great achievement of this production from Mr. Daldry.”

Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan
Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan

“The actor has a peerless way with Hare's caustic dialogue; he's magnetic in sardonic mode, when feigning indifference, in sputtering moments of rage, or letting down his guard to show his creeping desperation,” said Variety of Nighy. “If restless physicality and verbal dexterity are the signature traits of Nighy's performance, it's Mulligan's stillness and emotional transparency, battling with pride and anger, that distinguish her fine work, even navigating some of Hare's speechier passages with naturalness. Daldry has drawn three exquisite performances from his cast, and they lock together both in sharp contrast and in melancholy harmony with one another.”

Time Out New York saw more to like than just the performances, observing, “Society looms large in the Stephen Daldry's charged revival,” pointing out “Bob Crowley’s set...never lets you forget the wider world beyond Kyra's drab, barely heated flat. No matter how bitterly personal — or airily abstract — things get between these ex-lovers, you cannot ignore the unseen lives going on behind so many strangers' panes.”

And Deadline praised just about everyone, writing, “Nighy and co-star Carey Mulligan have a brilliant vehicle worthy of their complementary talents. Piloted with exceptional sensitivity by Stephen Daldry and beautifully designed by Bob Crowley and Natasha Katz, this revival is as fine as the original — while being utterly different in texture, tone and impact… Skylight is a keeper and this revival is one for the ages.” ***

The new musical Honeymoon in Vegas threw in the towel this week. It will play its final performance at Broadway's Nederlander Theater April 5, the show's producers announced March 31.

Honeymoon is one of the big mysteries of the 2014-15 season. The show got good reviews out at the Paper Mill Playhouse and good reviews on Broadway. It had a recognizable title — it’s based on the film comedy of the same name. It even had a star of sorts in Tony Danza.

But it could never muster up a following. Ticketbuyers declined to be charmed. Even after the notices came out, the show stubbornly refused to sell out, or even come anywhere near.

***

People have been talking about making a musical out of the 1993 existential comedy Groundhog Day for what seems like forever. Now, it seems, fans of the film will no longer feel like they’re living through the same dashed hopes again and again. It’s finally happening.

According to the New York Post, producer Scott Rudin is bringing the show to Broadway. The musical is being created by the team behind Matilda the Musical, composer Tim Minchin and director Matthew Warchus. Danny Rubin, who wrote the movie’s script with the late Harold Ramis, is writing the book.

Tim Minchin
Tim Minchin

“Warchus staged a workshop a few weeks ago in London,” said the Post, planning to open there first. “But the workshop went so well, the producers decided to head straight to Broadway. Previews are set to start Jan. 23, 2017, with a theater and cast yet to be determined.”

The movie — which over the past 20 years went from popular hit to cult classic and is now widely regarded as a comic masterpiece — starred Bill Murray as an ego-centric television weatherman who is forced to endure the same day over and over again, slowly undergoing a transformation in how he goes about living life. It has been embraced as a profound philosophical allegory by everyone from Buddhists to Catholics. The title has become shorthand for a repeated, unchanging situation.

***

A couple of Broadway plans were cemented this week.

Citing strong box office for his London revival of Cats, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber says he is now "leaning toward" fall 2016 for the previously-announced Broadway production.

In February Lloyd Webber appeared on BBC's "The Chris Evans Breakfast Show" to share a first-listen of Nicole Scherzinger's single for "Memory." At that time, he said, "We are going to be taking Cats to Broadway. I just hope and pray that [Scherzinger's] gonna agree to do it there. Because I think she'd take America by storm.”

Meanwhile, dates are now firm for Al Pacino’s return to Broadway in China Doll, the new play that David Mamet wrote for him. China Doll is a two-character play that follows a billionaire named Mickey Ross, who has just bought an airplane for his young fiancée as he prepares to go into semi-retirement. It will begin previews Oct. 20 at the Schoenfeld Theatre ahead of a Nov. 19 opening.

Al Pacino
Al Pacino

***

The legal battle over the parodic play 3C was settled this week in the favor of the playwright, David Adjmi.

Adjmi has been locked for nearly three years in a fight with DLT Entertainment over his Off-Broadway play. DLT claimed Adjmi's dark comedy infringed on their copyright by taking too liberal a page from their 1970s sitcom "Three's Company." The play was a critical and popular hit in 2014 but has been in production limbo since the suit was filed.

In a 56-page decision handed down this week, Judge Loretta A. Preska, Chief United States District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York, wrote, "Adjmi wishes to authorize publication of '3C' and licensing of the play for further production and therefore brings this action seeking a declaration that '3C' does not infringe DLT’s copyright in Three’s Company. Adjmi’s motion is GRANTED…” Judge Preska's decision affirmed that parody constitutes a fair use of copyrighted material under existing laws: “There is no question that '3C' copies the plot premise, characters, sets and certain scenes from 'Three’s Company.' But it is well recognized that '[p]arody needs to mimic an original to make its point, and so has some claim to use the creation of its victim’s. . .imagination.' Campbell, 510 U.S. at 581. The 'purpose and character' analysis assumes that the alleged parody will take from the original; the pertinent inquiry is how the alleged parody uses that original material.”

So, theatre companies, if you want to produce Adjmi’s play, come on and knock on his door.

***

Nominations for the 30th annual Lucille Lortel Awards, recognizing the best in Off-Broadway theatre, were announced this week, and — here’s a surprise — Hamilton did well.

The critically-acclaimed, Broadway-bound Lin-Manuel Miranda musical led the pack with 12 nominations, including Outstanding Musical, setting a new record for Lortel nominations going to a single show.

Hamilton's nominations well outdistanced the closest contenders for the May 10 awards. Roundabout’s revival of Into the Woods was next with seven, and Atlantic Theater Company’s production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play Between Riverside and Crazy came in third with six.

*** What would it take to get Tommy Tune to come back to Broadway?

Give him a Tony Award, that’s what!

Nine-time Tony Award winning director-choreographer-actor-dancer Tune will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement honor June 7. Tune, 76, is being cited for “outstanding dedication to theater and iconic achievements over the span of his more than 50 years in the business,” according to a Tony Awards statement. He won his nine Tonys in four different categories: Best Director of a Musical, Best Choreography, Best Actor in a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

Tune first appeared on Broadway in 1962 as a performer in Baker Street. He hasn’t offered a show on Broadway, however, since 1994, when Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public closed after two weeks. He returned briefly to Off-Broadway in 2002 in Tommy Tune: White Tie and Tails, but has since stayed well clear of New York, only returning earlier this year for a part in the Encores! production of Lady, Be Good!.

***

The new Broadway musical Doctor Zhivago was forced to cancel its April 2 evening performance after leading man Tam Mutu — the guy who plays the doctor — fell ill.

Insert joke headline here.

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