It seems producers are picking them younger and younger these days. Whether they're seasoned enough to hit the Broadway stage does not seem to be a consideration. It's youth. Youth reigns supreme. If you weren't born in the 1980s, you're old news, past your prime.
No, I'm not talking about the actors. I'm talking about the plays chosen for revival. This past fall, we had new Broadway productions of Oleanna and Brighton Beach Memoirs, whose original mountings were still fresh in many theatregoers' memories. Before that we had new versions of Sight Unseen, The American Plan and A Chorus Line which followed the closings of their world premieres by less than 20 years.
|photo by John Russo|
Producers don't seem to be reaching too far back in their memory banks for ideas these days, and the trend continues this winter and spring. Ken Ludwig's Lend Me a Tenor was of the great comedy hits of the 1980s, bowing in 1989 to praise and a long run. Now it's back, with Tony nominee Stanley Tucci directing Anthony LaPaglia and "Monk" star Tony Shalhoub. It will begin previews March 11 at the Music Box Theatre. Speaking of LaPaglia, the play that made his name as a theatre leading man, A View From the Bridge, is also back. This is not a case of a relatively new play being revived, of course, but of an old play that was revived only recently being revived again. LaPaglia starred as conflicted longshoreman Eddie Carbone in 1997. But stars make plays go these days, and when Liev Schreiber and, more importantly, wattage-wise, Scarlett Johansson made themselves available, director Gregory Mosher and his producers had little choice but to book a theatre. Previews began Dec. 28 at the Cort for a Jan. 24 opening. You think 12 years between Broadway revival is a short time? Try six! Jerry Herman's La Cage Aux Folles was here only in 2004, but it will return April 6, 2010, at the Longacre. One of the reasons, surely, is that Kelsey Grammer is playing Georges. Terry Johnson directs the production, which also stars Douglas Hodge and transfers from the Menier Chocolate Factory, the hot London theatre of the moment.
Playwright Donald Margulies has been a beneficiary of the current inclination to revive young plays. Manhattan Theatre Club brought back his Sight Unseen a couple years back. Now, it's giving his 1997 two-hander Collected Stories, about a novelist and her perfidious protege, another look, previewing it from April 6 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Lynne Meadow will pilot Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson.
NEW, AFTER ALL
Margulies, in fact, virtually owns the Friedman Theatre in 2010. Preceding Collected Stories at the house will be his new work, Time Stands Still, directed by Hughes' spiritual brother in steady-handed productivity, Daniel Sullivan. Laura Linney, Alicia Silverstone, Brian d'Arcy James and Eric Bogosian star in the story about a war journalist and a photographer forced to return home. Previews begin Jan. 5. Valerie Harper (forever TV's "Rhoda," but also a fearless stage actress) will play boozy star Tallulah Bankhead in Matthew Lombardo's new comedy Looped, directed by Rob Ruggiero at the Lyceum starting Feb. 19 prior to a March 14 opening. In it, the celebrated and troubled actress is called into a sound studio in 1965 to re-record (or "loop") one line of dialogue for what would be her last film. She spars with the sound engineer.
|photo by Manuel Harlan|
The most anticipated new play of the season is, arguably, the London import on a very American subject, Enron, which will open April 27 at the Broadhurst. And, yes, there are characters named Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Inspired by the real-life financial scandal of 2001, Enron, which was commissioned by Headlong Theatre, premiered in summer 2009 at the Minerva Theatre Chichester, and then moved for a six-week run at the Royal Court Theatre in London, where it played through Nov. 8, 2009. The play will transfer to West End's Noel Coward Theatre in January 2010. Rupert Goold, on Broadway most recently with his Macbeth, will direct the Lucy Prebble drama. The second-most anticipated new play of the coming months is A Behanding in Spokane. As you might guess from the gory, location-specific title, it's a new play from Martin McDonagh.(Remember when McDonagh was saying he had written his last play? Well, he apparently had second thoughts.) This new work is the first to be set in America and will star Christopher Walken, Zoe Kazan, Anthony Mackie and Sam Rockwell. John Crowley directs. Who loses the hand? You'll have to wait until Feb. 15, when previews begin at the Schoenfeld.
|photo by Carol Rosegg|
Also new-ish is Next Fall, the Geoffrey Nauffts drama about a long-term relationship debuted to great reviews last year Off-Broadway. It transfers to Broadway's tiny Helen Hayes Theatre on Feb. 16, Patrick Breen, Maddie Corman, Sean Dugan, Patrick Heusinger, Connie Ray and Cotter Smith in the cast, again. Sheryl Kaller directs. Among the other play revivals heading for Broadway in the coming months are: Present Laughter, the Noel Coward classic about a vain actor and his travails, opening Jan. 21 at the American Airlines Theatre with Victor Garber in the lead; a new production of the William Gibson evergreen, The Miracle Worker, with Alison Pill as Annie Sullivan and Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine") as Helen Keller, beginning Feb. 12 at Circle in the Square; and a double-bill (how often do you see that format on Broadway anymore?) of O'Neill's Hughie and Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, the latest effort from the team of director Robert Falls and actor Brian Dennehy, beginning April 12.
SAY IT WITH MUSIC
|photo by Joan Marcus|
New musicals are few in 2010, but there's a potential whopper in The Addams Family. The Andrew Lippa, Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice musical, inspired by Charles Addams macabre characters, had a Broadway tryout in Chicago in December to encouraging, if not great, reviews, and is currently going through some rewrites. (Jerry Zaks was recently added as creative consultant.) But, given the familiar subject matter, and the failsafe stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, the show certainly has a chance to succeed on Broadway. (Especially when there's not much competition.) Spooky specialists Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (Shockheaded Peter) direct and design the piece, which begins March 4 at the Lunt-Fontanne. The other big new musical of the season, should it happen — and that's an "if" the size of the Empire State Building — is the star-crossed Spider-man, Turn Off the Dark. Suffering from a mountain of bad word-of-mouth and backstage gossip about its future, the latest word from the Julie Taymor-directed, Bono-The Edge-scored mega-musical is that it would open in "2010" (the previous start date was more specific, Feb. 25) and that Reeve Carney would star in the title role. Also announced was Michael Cohl. Cohl's not an actor, he's the new lead producer of the show. It's highly unusual for a production to switch producers mid-stream and the move is indicative of the stress the high-budgeted show has undergone over the last year. Stay tuned.
The major musical revival of the spring will be the first-ever Broadway return of the 1960s Burt Bacharach-Hal David-Neil Simon hit Promises, Promises. Directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, the New York-set tale, based on "The Apartment," stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes. (Ragtime and Finian's Rainbow, its major competition in the Tony Award revival category, will be closed, but not forgotten by Jan. 10 and Jan. 17, respectively.) Other coming attractions include: All About Me, a pairing of blowsy Aussie diva Dame Edna and concert and cabaret star Michael Feinstein, beginning Feb. 19 at Henry Miller's Theatre (Casey Nicholaw directs); Million Dollar Quartet, a transfer of the Chicago musical by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux centering on Sun Records recording artists Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley; and Sondheim on Sondheim, a new revue of the music of Guess Who?, starring Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams and Leslie Kritzer. It will mark 82-year-old, Broadway legend Cook's first non-concert, non-benefit show on Broadway in nearly 40 years.
IN THE WINGS FOR SPRING?
Waiting in the wings, perhaps for spring 2010, is the well-reviewed American Idiot, the new rock musical by punk group Green Day and Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer. No dates have been announced, but producers Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman are said to be craving a certain Broadway venue. The dark-hued musical borrows songs from the punk album of the same name, plus numbers from Green Day's latest album, "21st Century Breakdown."
The show, which world-premiered at Berkeley Rep in California in fall 2009, "follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration — an exhilarating journey borne along by Green Day's electrifying songs." (It ain't The Addams Family.)
Also expected (but not yet officially announced) for spring 2010 is Twyla Tharp's new Frank Sinatra-infused music-dance show, Come Fly With Me. With the blessing of Frank Sinatra Enterprises and the Sinatra family, the show, which played a well-reviewed tryout at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, is to feature original masters of Sinatra's voice, backed by a live on-stage band.