In Case You Missed It: May 7-13

Week in Review   In Case You Missed It: May 7-13 Cats announces all casting but one, Anastasia gets off to a bumpy start and Matthew Perry the playwright.
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Cats Monica Simoes

Those who will don cat costumes and whiskers this coming summer were revealed this week, as casting was announced for The Shubert Organization and The Nederlander Organization’s upcoming Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats, which will begin previews July 14 prior to an official opening July 31 at the Neil Simon Theatre.

The announcement was a fresh reminder of the ridiculous names that all the kitties have. The company will include Giuseppe Bausilio as Carbucketty, Quentin Earl Darrington as Old Deuteronomy, Jeremy Davis as Skimbleshanks, Kim Faure as Demeter, Sara Jean Ford as Jellylorum, Daniel Gaymon as Macavity, Shonica Gooden as Rumpleteazer, Tyler Hanes as Rum Tum Tugger, Andy Huntington Jones as Munkustrap—oh, it goes on and on.

The one piece of cat casting that wasn’t announced was for the one role that everybody knows: the coveted part of Grizabella, the role created in London by Elaine Paige and on Broadway Betty Buckley. Grizabella is the cat who sings “Memory,” the show’s big hit.

Nicole Scherzinger had played Grizabella in the London revival of Cats, and had agreed to repeat her performance in the upcoming Broadway revival. But weeks before rehearsals were scheduled to begin for the Broadway production, the former Pussycat Doll singer called Lloyd Webber and said she had decided to return to X Factor, which would make her unavailable for the New York staging.

That didn’t sit well. In an interview with radio.economist.com, Lloyd Webber said, “I mean, she’s crazy. But the American producers just took a view, ‘Well, fine, we’ll get somebody else,’ because she’s actually not very well known in America, amazingly. She’s much better known here.”

The award-winning composer added, “I’m furious because I really believe she’s the most fantastically talented girl, and I went out on a limb to get her for the London Palladium here, and it makes me look like an absolute t*** with them all. But never mind, there’ll be another girl on Broadway and Nicole will not get her Tony Award.”

Meow!

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Put the names Jane Fonda and Anne Archer in a theater press release and you get folks attention.

Mind you, both actresses won’t be appearing in the same show. Archer will be playing Fonda.

The show is Terry Jastrow’s The Trial of Jane Fonda that, and it will begin performances July 13 at London's Park Theatre.

Anne Archer, the Oscar-nominated star of Fatal Attraction, is to be joined by musical theatre star Alex Gaumond (Legally Blonde, Matilda, etc.).

The play, which Archer previously performed in at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, revolves around the true story of Jane Fonda’s controversial efforts to end the Vietnam War. The actress was very vocal in her opposition to the Vietnam War, and took a notorious trip to the capital city of North Vietnam, Hanoi, in 1972. During that visit she made radio broadcasts denouncing as a war crime the U.S. use of antipersonnel bombs banned by the Hague Convention, and visited US POWs. This activity by Fonda caused enormous controversy and galvanized a huge hate campaign against the actress.

The play focuses on a little-known event which occurred in Waterbury, CT June 18, 1988, where Fonda confronted a room full of hostile war veteran’s intent on boycotting the filming of her movie Stanley & Iris.

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Brenda Braxton, B.J. Crosby, DeLee Lively and Pattie Darcy Jones in <i>Smokey Joe's Cafe</i> HR
Brenda Braxton, B.J. Crosby, DeLee Lively and Pattie Darcy Jones in <i>Smokey Joe's Cafe</i> HR Joan Marcus

Smokey Joe's Café is the 1990s smash that few remember. But it made a lot of people a lot of money during its five years on Broadway.

The musical revue, which features the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, is now coming back to Broadway. It was initially announced for this summer, but is still “coming together” according to producers. No dates have been confirmed.

The folks who brought the show to you the first time are the ones bringing it back: producers Richard Frankel, Steve Baruch, Tom Viertel and Marc Routh, and veteran director Jerry Zaks, whose counts Smokey as his biggest hit.

An inquiry by Playbill.com brought this response from the producers: “All of the components are coming together and we hope to make an announcement in the near future about the production.”

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Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty

Anastasia, the new musical from the Tony-winning team of Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and playwright Terrence McNally, is off to a bumpy start at Hartford Stage. This week, the Broadway-bound production canceled its first preview on May 12 due to technical demands.

“Given the large scope of all elements of design for this show, we want to ensure that we have adequate technical rehearsal time for the safety of our cast and crew prior to a public performance,” ran the statement.

Tony Award winner Darko Tresnjak directs the new musical that will officially open May 27.

The musical, which is based on the animated movie musical of the same name, continues through June 19, and will arrive on Broadway at a Shubert theatre-to-be-announced during the 2016-17 Broadway season.

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Matthew Perry and Lindsay Posner
Matthew Perry and Lindsay Posner

Friends star Matthew Perry has taken the Jesse Eisenberg and Zach Braff career route and begun writing plays.

His first effort, The End of Longing, with direction by Lindsay Posner, will have its New York debut at MCC Theater this coming season. As was the case with Eisenberg and Braff, Perry will be performing in his own work.

The play made its world premiere at the Playhouse Theatre in London earlier this year. Performances are set to run through June 24.

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