PBOL'S THEATER WEEK IN REVIEW, June 19-25: Getting Their Ducks in a Row

News   PBOL'S THEATER WEEK IN REVIEW, June 19-25: Getting Their Ducks in a Row Broadway this week tinkered with the seating chart for the big dinner party known as the 2004-05 season, making sure everyone had a place to sit and knew what time to arrive.

The fall Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles will not be returning to its Broadway birthplace, the Palace — a much-speculated idea — but will fill the Marquis Theatre (where Thoroughly Modern Millie ended its two-year run on June 20), starting previews Nov. 7 toward a Dec. 9 opening. This meant that All Shook Up, the new original musical comedy with a score made up of tunes Elvis Presley made famous, had to swivel over to the Palace, where it will start previews Feb. 20, 2005.

Brooklyn, the five-person musical that premiered at the New Denver Civic Theatre in May 2003, will begin previews at Broadway's Plymouth Theatre in September. Actor-comedian Billy Crystal, as expected, will make his Broadway debut this season in his solo work 700 Sundays. The place will be the Broadhurst Theatre, starting Nov. 12.

Dracula, The Musical, meanwhile, will begin previews at Broadway's Belasco Theatre on July 26 rather than the previously planned July 19, the producers announced. And Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the new musical comedy about con-men who romance rich women, will move into the Imperial Theatre on Broadway, beginning previews on Feb. 14, 2005. The Imperial is free because the producers of The Boy From Oz decided to close on Sept. 12, when star Hugh Jackman leaves, giving up for good the idea of replacing the actor.

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The Roundabout Theatre Company found ten of its Twelve Angry Men. The familiar jury-room drama will be enacted an ensemble of solid and solidly American character actors, including Philip Bosco, Tom Aldredge, Larry Bryggman, Robert Clohessy, Boyd Gaines, Kevin Geer, Dan Hedaya, Michael Mastro, John Pankow and James Rebhorn. Boyd will be the hold-out with doubts about convicting the defendant. Bosco is his hot-tempered, bullying nemesis. Rebhorn will be foreman. ***

Jimmy Smits, as the cocky Benedick, and Kristen Johnston, as the stubborn Beatrice, began to butt heads in Central Park's Delacorte Theater beginning June 22, as the Public Theater revival of the Swan of Avon's Much Ado About Nothing got underway. On that same day, Nathan Lane leaped into the Vivian Beaumont as the star and librettist of The Frogs, Susan Stroman ambitious expansion of Stephen Sondheim's 1974 musical oddity.

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De La Guarda, the aerial performance piece created in Argentina which has stirred up the air and splattered the floor at the Daryl Roth Theatre for the past six years, will be grounded Sept. 12, after 2,475 performances. The show actually halted the construction of the proposed 499-seat, Off-Broadway theatre in fall 1997. De La Guarda was searching for a space where the unique show could unfold and the empty, spacious former bank seemed just right. Whether Roth will now install seats is unclear.

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Elsewhere Off-Broadway, Sam Shepard will make an unusual stage appearance this fall as the star of Caryl Churchill's A Number, which will play New York Theatre Workshop beginning Nov. 16. Shepard is known for his occasional acting jobs in Hollywood, but in New York, his work has been almost entirely behind the scenes, as the author of such classics as True West and Fool for Love.

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Finally, there is still no resolution to the contract negotiations between the Actors' Equity Association and the Broadway producers. A media blackout has been in effect since June 16. The pact expires on Sunday, June 27, at midnight. Major issues continue to be the proliferation of non-union national tours, and the related matter of Equity's struggle with soaring health insurance costs. And no one has forgotten the strike of 2003 or its impact on the industry. Hold your breath.

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