PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 11-17: The Denver Express

ICYMI   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 11-17: The Denver Express Well, the ice broke briefly and then sealed up tight as a drum moments later. Not on Broadway: Squonk, incredibly, remains at the Helen Hayes, and nobody else is going anywhere. No, it was Off-Broadway that saw a couple theatres come free. Hedwig and the Angry Inch, after being granted a two-month reprieve by a rave review in the New York Times, finally posted its closing notice at the Jane Street Theatre for April 9. On that same day, it was revealed, Margaret Edson's Wit would end its long run at the Union Square Theatre.

Well, the ice broke briefly and then sealed up tight as a drum moments later. Not on Broadway: Squonk, incredibly, remains at the Helen Hayes, and nobody else is going anywhere. No, it was Off-Broadway that saw a couple theatres come free. Hedwig and the Angry Inch, after being granted a two-month reprieve by a rave review in the New York Times, finally posted its closing notice at the Jane Street Theatre for April 9. On that same day, it was revealed, Margaret Edson's Wit would end its long run at the Union Square Theatre.

But, before you had time to sit back and speculate who might fill the vacancies, both the Jane Street and the Union Square were spoken for. Eric Bogosian will move into the former with his latest collection of turbulent monologues, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, beginning previews on April 24. The new tenant in the Union Square is a little more unexpected. Certainly, everyone knew Moises Kaufman's new play, The Laramie Project, would come to New York eventually, particularly after earning such good reviews at the Denver Center Theatre Company. But the suddenness with which it is being shipped East is something Federal Express might admire. The Tectonic Theater Project show, after all, is still playing in Denver, where it only opened on Feb. 26. After its final show, it will hop a plane to make its first Off-Broadway preview in late April.

The play is a fresh venture in two major ways. One, it’s Tectonic's first work since the acclaimed Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. Second, it addresses the timely issue of the Matthew Shepherd murder in Laramie, Wyoming. In Anna Deavere Smith style, the docudrama features actor-writers playing the people they personally interviewed in Laramie, following the crucifixion-style murder of gay college student Shepherd. The show addresses issues of bigotry, class, violence, homophobia and stereotyping. The New York cast will mirror Denver's.

It's looking more and more like Nicole Kidman and Kevin Spacey weren't just flukes. The number of film and television stars moonlighting on the stage increases daily. Last week, the news was that Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Natalie Portman (and, some say, "American Beauty"'s Wes Bentley) might headline a new production of The Seagull in Central Park this summer. More surprising than that piece of information was this week's word that Kelsey Grammar, television's Frasier Crane for two decades (first on "Cheers," then "Frasier"), will play Macbeth in a limited-run Broadway production. And even more eyebrow-raising than that was the rumor that film star, recording artist and special friend of Puff Daddy, Jennifer Lopez, was in talks to appear in La Jolla Playhouse's upcoming spring staging of Lorca's Blood Wedding. Latin music star, Marc Anthony, lately of The Capeman, is also considering a role. Mark Wing-Davey will direct.

Eugene O'Neill is running up a string of Broadway gigs to rival Arthur Miller's recent dominance. It began with last spring's production of The Iceman Cometh, featuring Kevin Spacey, which, despite a four-hour running time and high ticket price, was a commercial hit. This season has brought a new mounting of A Moon for the Misbegotten, starring Cherry Jones and Gabriel Byrne, due to open March 19. Now, courtesy of the Roundabout Theatre Company, the fall will feature Desire Under the Elms. David Leveaux -- who brought us Anna Christie with Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson, certainly one of the best productions of O'Neill in the past decade -- will direct. Meanwhile, around the country, season schedules are shaping up, with two houses providing the latest step for two musicals with Gotham dreams. By Jeeves, the Alan Ayckbourn-Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on the Jeeves and Wooster stories of P.G. Wodehouse, will find a home at Pittsburgh Public Theater in February 2001. The show was previously seen at the Goodspeed Opera House and almost slipped into the tail end of the 1998-99 Broadway season. Ayckbourn will direct the Pittsburgh mounting.

Meanwhile, the Henry Krieger-Bill Russell-Jeffrey Hatcher take on Hans Christian Anderson's Ugly Duckling fable, Everything's Ducky, waddles slowly but inexorably toward the East Coast, from TheatreWorks in California, where it was a hit, to Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. The co-production between the Rep and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park will open in September. A Cincinnati run will follow.

Finally, Paul Thomas Anderson better not plan on making any movies in the next few months: most of his usual actors are currently doing eight shows a week. Thomas, the film director behind "Boogie Nights," "Hard Eight" and "Magnolia," is a creature of habit and tends to cast the same self-created repertory company of thespians in each film, among them William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly. The first two are currently in American Buffalo at the Atlantic Theatre Company. The latter couple are featured in True West on Broadway. Both productions are hits; the Mamet has extended and the Shephard will likely follow suit. Just get Julianne Moore on the boards and Anderson may be forced to make his next movie a documentary about the theatre.