In Case You Missed It: May 28-June 3

Week in Review   In Case You Missed It: May 28-June 3 Angela Lansbury will return to Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda will reportedly leave it and Bright Star refuses to bid goodbye.
Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury Monica Simoes

Arguably, only a stage actor of Angela Lansbury’s stature and drawing power could get a Broadway producer to stage a revival of an old, forgotten chestnut like The Chalk Garden.

A new production of the Enid Bagnold play will bring Lansbury back to Broadway during 2017-2018 season. Scott Rudin will produce.

Once upon a time, The Chalk Garden was one of those titles about which everyone in the theatre knew. Critic Kenneth Tynan hailed it as “the finest artificial comedy to have flowed from an English (as opposed to an Irish) pen since the death of Congreve."

The mystical comedy is set in Sussex, England, and centers on wealthy and eccentric Mrs. St. Maugham, who is raising her spoiled teen-aged granddaughter with the help of an ex-convict butler. A mysterious new governess, Miss Madrigal, shakes things up as she coaxes flowers in a sterile garden to grow, and urges the granddaughter to bloom, too. This production will mark its first Broadway revival.

It opened on Broadway in 1955 with a bang-up cast of then and future stars, including Gladys Cooper, Siobhan McKenna, Marian Seldes, Betsy van Fursterberg and Fritz Weaver. It ran for half a year and received five Tony nominations, including Best Play. It was the biggest theatre success for writer-socialite Bagnold, who was best known for the novel National Velvet.

Lansbury, 90, has long wished to star in the play, she told Playbill.com in an exclusive interview. (Very likely, she saw the original production.) Casting for the other roles has not yet begun. “We need some really hot actors for it,” she said. She’ll likely get them.

Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda has filled the title role in his own musical Hamilton since its very start back in January 2015. But it looks like he’s ready to finally say goodbye to the part, and just be a composer for a while.

The actor has set July 9 as his final performance, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter.

The magazine cites unnamed “confidants” as sources for the report, and quoted a statement from the producers saying they had “no comment.” (Miranda's personal representative told Playbill, ”There is nothing to confirm at this time.”)

Contracts for the entire original cast reportedly run out on the same date. The Reporter also indicated that other original cast members will leave, as well, unless they get raises in their new contracts.

Miranda and Hamilton chalked up another theatre first this week when Miranda’s picture graces this week's cover of Rolling Stone, a magazine hardly known for its coverage of the theatre.

Miranda has plenty to keep him busy. He has been writing music for the animated Disney musical film Moana, which opens this fall. And it was recently announced that he will co-star with Emily Blunt in another Disney project, a sequel to Mary Poppins called Mary Poppins Returns.

It was also reported that The Weinstein Co. has decided to move ahead with a long-delayed film adaptation of Miranda's Tony-winning musical In the Heights.

Playwright Jon Robin Baitz, who had his biggest critical and commercial hit with 2011’s Other Desert Cities, finally has a follow-up ready to go.

The Center Theatre Group announced the company’s 2016-2017 season would feature the world premiere of Vicuña by Baitz. It will be directed by Robert Egan.

The play, according to press notes, “delves beneath the overstitching, through the weave and into the true power of the power suit. A suit may or may not make the man but it definitely reveals him—offering the world a glimpse of his taste, judgement and intelligence. Influenced by the evolving political landscape, Baitz’s new play focuses on a brash candidate on the rise and the world-renowned tailor who just might have the final piece needed to clinch the election.”

Brash candidate? Well, the current election surely has one or two of those. But well-dressed? Not so much. Trump doesn't even bother to button his suit jacket.

The show is set to begin October 23, just a couple weeks before Election Day.

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Steve Martin and Edie Brickell Opening Night Curtain Call Joseph Marzullo/WENN

If you’ve been wondering how the meagerly attended Broadway musical Bright Star is still playing at the Cort, you only need look at its authors.

Co-creators Steve Martin and Edie Brickell—as well as Brickell's husband, Paul Simon—are not people without money. And they have poured more than $1 million of it into the new musical, according to the New York Post.

The trio want to keep the show open at least until the June 12 Tony Awards, where they hope a performance on the broadcast will help boost sales at the box office.

In addition to financial help, actor-musician Martin has also been making surprise appearances at the Cort Theatre, where he has joined the onstage band.

National Theatre
National Theatre Aurelien Guichard

London's National Theatre announced this week that its upcoming productions in the summer and fall will include a new production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, and the world premiere of David Hare's The Red Barn.

Amadeus received its world premiere at the National in 1979. It will return beginning performances October 19. Michael Longhurst directs a cast that will be led by Lucian Msamati as Salieri.

The Red Barn, a new play by David Hare, based on Georges Simenon's novel, La Main, will begin performances in the Lyttelton Theatre October 6.

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