PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 17-23: Asked and Answered

News   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 17-23: Asked and Answered Even Broadway producers have to make a decision every now and then. So, with nothing else to do during January but speculate as to how the new revival of Fiddler on the Roof will be different from all the past revivals (Sexier? An ensemble piece? More stage time for the fiddler?), the showmen of erstwhile Longacre Square got a few of their ducks in a row this week and, in doing so, answered a lot of well-worn questions.

Who'll get the Plymouth Theatre now that Taboo is closing? Match, the new play by the commercially untested young playwright Stephen Belber. Belber and his producers, The Araca Group, will get some help at the box office from the cast, which includes Frank Langella and Ray Liotta; and by the tight scale of work (Belber likes his situations microcosmic and his casts small).

Will Audra McDonald star alongside rapper Sean Combs in A Raisin in the Sun? Yes, she will, and so will Phylicia Rashad—two strong-willed, disciplined actresses who ought to keep Combs' mind on his work. No theatre has been announced yet for the revival.

Will Jumpers, the London production of Tom Stoppard's play, retain its UK stars when it visits New York? Yes. Simon Russell Beale will repeat his turn (attention New York Times feature editor: clear some space), as will Essie Davis. Start date is April 6. This marks the first time Bob Boyett and Bill Haber take advantage of the first-look transfer deal with the Royal National Theater.

Who will play the choice leading role in the Worth Street Theatre company's Off-Broadway revival of The Normal Heart? Raul Esparza, who is soon to be sprung free from Taboo, and no longer has to worry that he wouldn't find work because they gave the part he was to play in Assassins to somebody else.

Will Harvey Fierstein ever leave Hairspray? Sad to say, yes. His final performance will be on May 2. The Tony winner has been with the show since it tried out in Seattle in May 2002. What will The Producers do after Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick leave on April 4? Perhaps enjoy another three weeks with Nate and Matt. A spokesman confirmed the duo are in talks for an extension.

Other answers were forthcoming this week—even if nobody in particular was asking the questions. What will Melissa Errico do next, you were wondering? OK, so you weren't. Nonetheless, she'll be starring as Sharon in a concert adaptation the romantic musical satire, Finian's Rainbow, presented by the Irish Repertory Theatre starting April 6. It's the second Off-Broadway gig this season (after Aunt Dan and Lemon) for Errico, whose visits to Broadway thus far (Amour, High Society, Anna Karenina) have not been extended ones.

And when will Tracy Letts bring another play to town? OK, OK—he was that guy who wrote Killer Joe, the hit of the 1998-99 Off-Broadway season. He's back with Bug, and so are his Killer Joe stars: Amanda Plummer and Michael Shannon. Performances being Feb. 21.

Finally, that was Urinetown. One of the unlikeliest hits in Broadway history cleared out of the Henry Miller Theater on Jan. 18, a couple steps ahead of developer Douglas Durst's swinging wrecking ball. Creators Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, despite their success, are apparently not going to be playing it safe in the future. Taking a page, perhaps, from "Star Wars"' George Lucas, they plan to extend the story of Urinetown into the past, making the musical the second installment in a trilogy. Said Kotis, "[This new work] is unproduceable in the same way we thought Urinetown was unproduceable. Its subject matter is absurd and risque."

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