PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 7-13: Hair Today, On to Tomorrow

ICYMI   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 7-13: Hair Today, On to Tomorrow Everybody loves a winner and on June 9, Tony Awards night, that winner was Hairspray. The feel-good musical about people who end up feeling very good about themselves indeed won the most Tonys of any show (eight), something that probably could have been safely predicted last August when it opened.

Among the winners were stars Harvey Feirstein, Marissa Jaret Winokur and Dick Latessa, composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, librettists Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan and director Jack O'Brien.The other big winners were Take Me Out (which won three Tonys, including Best Play), Nine (two including Best Revival of a Musical) and Long Day's Journey Into Night (three, including Best Revival of a Play). All got a boost at the box office the next day, even if the show that boost them didn't pull in much a rise in the Nielsen ratings. Roughly eight million people tuned in to watch long-haired Hugh Jackman preside over the luxuriously long, three-hour program.

As for what used to be called the "losers" in more politically incorrect days, two announced closings in the wake of the ceremony: The English import The Play What I Wrote will end its run June 15, and La Boheme will close June 29. The latter will have recouped $2.5 million of its $8.5 million investment. Boheme will play the Ahmanson Theatre Los Angeles in January 2004 and London in May. The Puccini opera won Tonys for Best Lighting (Nigel Levings) and Best Scenic Design (Catherine Martin), as well as Tony Honors for its young principal cast. The opera troupe was told of the shuttering between shows on June 11.

So, if you're a producer or director, what do you do after the season's been wrapped up? Relax? No, no, no. You start auditioning for next season's potential Tony-winners. One of this year's victors, Take Me Out's Denis O'Hare, has been cast as Oscar in the upcoming workshop of the Broadway-bound revival of Sweet Charity starring Marisa Tomei. He will remain with the Richard Greenberg play while doing the Charity workshop by day.

Casting notices were also posted by director David Leveaux and choreographer Jonathan Butterell for the new Broadway look at Fiddler on the Roof.. Leveaux was one of the many Brits who piloted Broadway musical revivals this season—in his case, Nine. And Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman's long-in-development musical, Harmony, which has been actively courting a Broadway house since last fall, has begun casting for a pre-Broadway engagement in Florida. The show will play Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse beginning Oct. 21 and run until Jan. 4, 2004. The plan is to reach Broadway by winter 2004. David Warren directs.

One the nonprofit side, the Roundabout Theatre Company announced a new revival of Threepenny Opera, with the odd couple of Scott Elliott and Wallace Shawn directing and adapting, respectively. Off-Broadway, of course, doesn't stop for the Tonys. New openings began the day after the big event, beginning with Lincoln Center Theater's world premiere of Jules Feiffer's new play about his childhood as a Brooklyn Red Diaper Baby, A Bad Friend, which opened to respectful notices, including much praise for the increasingly redoubtable Jan Maxwell. And, on June 11, MCC Theatre gave a New York premiere to Kate Robin's Intrigue with Faye, the story of an urban couple so insecure in and untrusting of each other, they decide to put themselves under nonstop videotape surveillance. The production involved several sequences of up-close-and-personal film footage of the play's two actors. Luckily, the thesps involved happened to be two of the more good-looking people in show biz: Benjamin Bratt and Julianna Margulies.

Kenneth Jones contributed to this column. Robert Simonson will be on vacation next week. PBOL's Theatre Week in Review will resume June 27.

(L-R) Harvey Fierstein &amp; Marissa Jaret Winokur at the Tonys, Denis O'Hare, Julianna Margulies &amp; Benjamin Bratt in <i>Intrigue with Faye</i>.
(L-R) Harvey Fierstein & Marissa Jaret Winokur at the Tonys, Denis O'Hare, Julianna Margulies & Benjamin Bratt in Intrigue with Faye. (Photo by Fierstein/Winokur: Aubrey Reuben; <i>Intrigue</i>: Dixie Sheridan)