The comedian, actress, talk show hostess, magazine figurehead and all-around public personality positioned herself at the forefront of the project when she first announced her intention to bring the Boy George musical over from London. And at the front she has remained. The theatre press was quick to notify her that producers, no matter how famous, don't sell shows on Broadway. However, that same press has yet to cease in reporting on O'Donnell's every movement, vis a vis, Taboo—perhaps reasoning that, while her name won't sell a musical, it sells plenty of newspapers.
It does appear that there is enough going backstage at the Plymouth Theatre to warrant the constant coverage—the marketing campaign was overhauled; choreographer Jeff Calhoun was brought in to fix up the footwork; and Christopher Ashley has reportedly been sounded out for directorial doctoring. Still, one could accuse the press corps of manufacturing a feeding frenzy. That is, until this week, when—with spectacular bad timing—O'Donnell began her defense in an ugly trial over the fate of her defunct magazine, called Rosie. The producer's face now appears to be permanently affixed to the front pages of the New York tabloids. Taboo star Boy George felt compelled to write to the New York Post not once, but twice in one week—the first time to complain about the paper's reporting of the trial, the second time to address the paper's reporting of his musical. The show remains due to open Nov. 13.
The word so far on the new revival of Wonderful Town, meanwhile, has been good. That is, aside from Nov. 6, one day after the musical opened for business, when the show was canceled due to star Donna Murphy's illness, the flu. The big Broadway opening of the week was Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour, which made it to opening night two original cast members short, in a production that several critics agreed was not up to the quality of the play itself.
In this space last week, the travails of several imperiled musicals were detailed. The plots of two of those stories have thickened, or, rather, congealed, since then. The Tony Award-winning hit musical comedy, Urinetown, which faced an uncertain future due to the imminent nonexistence of its home, the Henry Miller Theatre, decided to close up on Jan. 18, 2004, rather than search for a new venue. And Bounce, the new Stephen Sondheim, which was waiting in Washington, DC, for reviews which would possibly dictate its future, did not appear to get anything like free pass to Broadway from critics. (No official decision regarding the musical's trajectory has been announced.) One show set to come to Broadway is Match, a new play by Stephen Belber (Tape). The Araca Group will produce and Ray Liotta will star. Spring is the arrival time.
George S. Kaufman said that satire is what closes on Saturday night. And though it will close on a Sunday—Nov. 30—and will have taken a couple months about it, the maxim seems to fit Off-Broadway's Omnium Gatherum, the fevered absurdist drama by Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros where pundits and plutocrats dine while the world burns. New York has not been kind to 9/11-themed plays; this is the third to open and close this fall. Finally, on Nov. 4 The Producers released the biggest piece of small information in the theatre. The date when tickets go on sale for Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick's Dec. 30 return to the musical was announced. It is Nov. 16. Sales begin at noon. They may end at 12:05.