PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 1-7: Albee, All Over

News   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 1-7: Albee, All Over Well, tri-state theatregoers, have you had enough Edward Albee? Well, you're going to get more and like it! The comeback kid who just keeps coming back had a big 2000-01 season, what with Tiny Alice at Second Stage and The Play About the Baby Off Broadway (as well as an Off-Off-Broadway revival of All Over). And he's going to have an even bigger 2001-02.
Edward Albee, [sic] and the new Drama Book Shop.
Edward Albee, [sic] and the new Drama Book Shop. (Photo by Albee by Aubrey Reuben, <i>[sic]</i> by Paula Cort and Drama Book Shop by Robert Simonson)

Well, tri-state theatregoers, have you had enough Edward Albee? Well, you're going to get more and like it! The comeback kid who just keeps coming back had a big 2000-01 season, what with Tiny Alice at Second Stage and The Play About the Baby Off Broadway (as well as an Off-Off-Broadway revival of All Over). And he's going to have an even bigger 2001-02.

You've heard about The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, starring Mercedes Ruehl, which is going to open on Broadway March 3, making it Albee's first Broadway premiere in nearly two decades. Well, opening just one week before at Off-Broadway Signature Theatre Company will be another new play by Fast Eddie, The Occupant . To spike interest in the project, Anne Bancroft has been persuaded to return to the stage to play the work's central character, the late artist and Albee friend, Louise Nevelson. (The play, which replaces the previously announced I Think Back Now on Andre Gide, might well be called I Think Back Now on Louise Nevelson.) Casting agents have thus equipped both plays with Oscar and Tony-winning actresses.

Meanwhile, down in New Jersey, the McCarter Theatre is staging a major revival of All Over at roughly the same time, previews beginning Feb. 12. The cast features Rosemary Harris, Michael Learned and Myra Carter. And don't think Connecticut's to be left out of the party. Seascape will receive a big production there, beginning May 30, directed by Mark Lamos.

A few years back, Village Voice critic Michael Feingold openly wondered if Tony Kushner would ever write another full-length play. Well, it took a while, but Mr. Angels in America's latest, Homebody/Kabul, began previews at New York Theatre Workshop on Dec. 5 (and promptly extended to Feb. 10). The work is nothing if not prescient—it follows a British woman fascinated by Afghanistan, leading to the woman's husband and daughter's search to find her in the nation's capital after she has mysteriously disappeared—and should attract as much attention and controversy as Angels. Following another Kushner tradition, it's also really long: four hours, with two intermissions.

Speaking of controversy, the once endangered musical The Last Five Years, is back on track for an Off-Broadway production. The Jason Robert Brown work—announced for and then taken off the Lincoln Center Theater schedule all within the last few months —was officially slated for an Off-Broadway berth at the Minetta Lane Theatre and will open March 3. Norbert Leo Butz, who originated the male role in the two-hander last summer at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, IL, will star, with Sherie Rene Scott at his side. One-person shows are lucky on Broadway this year. With only one performance officially under its belt — after opening Dec. 2 at Broadway's Royale Theatre — John Leguizamo's new one-man work, Sexaholix... a love story extended to Feb. 10. Meanwhile, Elaine Stritch's At Liberty is sure to be a hot seller at the Neil Simon, where it begins Feb. 6.

About the Neil Simon: The Music Man will close there on Dec. 30 after a run of a year and a half. In another closing, the clock runs down on Jonathan Larson's tick,tick...BOOM! on Jan. 6.

The Goodman Theatre should change its name to Broadway West. In recent season's it has sent New York productions of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and August Wilson's King Hedley II (as well as spawning Off-Broadway's continued interest in the work of Rebecca Gilman). During the 2001-02 season, however, it hosts no less than three productions with Broadway potential: the already presented Kander and Ebb musical The Visit; the upcoming Brian Dennehy-Robert Falls revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night; and Hollywood Arms a new play by Carrie Hamilton and Carol Burnett to be directed by Harold Prince, and starring Frank Wood and Linda Lavin.

For New York's most surreal exercise in star-spotting, venture down to the dark, deserted block of Walker Street between West Broadway and Church, where Soho Rep's unexpected hit, [sic], is turning them away. This tiny black box usually sports a few Downtown stalwarts in the audience, their identities only known to fellow Downtowners and Village Voice staffers. But on a recent night at [sic], you might have sighted actors John Slattery, John Benjamin Hickey, Judy Kuhn, actor-playwright David Marshall Grant, producer Daryl Roth and a couple stray high powered agents, all bearing a slightly puzzled expression which seemed to say, "Well, how did I get here?"

Finally, when the Drama Book Shop unveiled its new digs on W. 40th Street on Dec. 3, the New York theatre community won itself a new hangout. Loitering wasn't exactly an option at the store's old, cramped quarters (though patrons tarried anyway, holing up with books in hidden corners and on windowsills). But the spacious, airy and high-ceilinged new space is made for long visits. The second floor even boasts a few opulent pieces of furniture acquired from the set of the Baz Luhrmann film "Moulin Rouge." But there is no trendy coffee bar in the back, bless the owner's heart.

—By Robert Simonson