PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 12-18: Musical Chairs

News   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 12-18: Musical Chairs Mama Morton, make room: Mama Rose needs a theatre.

Mama Morton, make room: Mama Rose needs a theatre.

As expected, the heavy duty revival of Gypsy has laid claim to what is arguably Broadway's most prestigious house, the Shubert, turning Chicago into a gypsy production once again. This is the second time the Tony-winning revival has had to pick up and pack out. The revival began its long tenure on Broadway in 1996 at the Richard Rodgers. After only three months, it decamped to the Shubert (to make room for that hot property, Steel Pier), where it has been ever since.

The show has had a surprisingly long life, and producers Barry and Fran Weissler can't be happy about the move to the Ambassador Theatre. But what is one to do when Bernadette Peters, director Sam Mendes, composer Stephen Sondheim, librettist and professional antagonist Arthur Laurents and Shubert Organization head Gerald Schoenfeld come knocking at your door and ask how long you'll be staying?

Gypsy, which has no cast beyond Peters, will begin previews on March 24, 2003, and open a month later, April 24, 2003, making the show eligible for 2003 Tony Award nominations.

In the meantime, there are plenty other Broadway musicals to consume our attention. Flower Drum Song, the David Henry Hwang reworking of one of the lesser jewels in the Rodgers and Hammerstein crown, opened on Oct. 17, just one day after the first performance of the Jim Steinman musical starring Michael Crawford, Dance of the Vampires, and three days before the American premiere of Amour, the French musical by Michel Legrand and directed by James Lapine. La Bohème, that fizzy Baz Luhrmann Puccini hybrid got all of San Francisco hot and bothered when it opened there this week (Oct. 15). The tryout, while a success, had been marked by set challenges which prompted Luhrman to make curtain speeches to the audience. The delay of the first Broadway preview, from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29, will give the director time to "choreograph the scenery"—just the sort of excuse one would expect from an auteur so associated with the spectacular and fantastical.

Up in Boston, and a likely candidate for a Broadway future, was Marty, the musical version of the Paddy Chayefsky-penned 1955 film starring Ernest Borgnine, which began previews at the Huntington Theatre Company, Oct. 18. The Charles Strouse Lee Adams Rupert Holmes musical is set for performances through Nov. 24. John C. Reilly stars in the title role.

One of the more impressive partnerships in theatrical history was recently cemented—all for the sake of bringing an excessively cheery, flying British governess to legitimate life. Disney Theatricals and Cameron Mackintosh—a teaming of powers enough to make anyone tremble—will co-produce a stage musical version of Mary Poppins. It's a necessary arrangement (why else would it happen?), since Disney holds the rights to the film's classic songs, while Mackintosh has the rights to the original book penned by P. L. Travers.

One more musical item: Composer Jerry Herman revealed that he is currently looking at Off Broadway's Harold Clurman Theatre and Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre to transfer the new revue of his music, Showtune, which is currently playing Nyack's Helen Hayes Theatre Company. If this story strikes anyone as familiar, it may be because ol' Jer' blessed New York with a revue of his oeuvre just four years ago, when An Evening with Jerry Herman played one month at the Booth.

That Sondheim Celebration thing at the Kennedy Center seemed to go sorta well, so the giant DC arts facility has decided to spend a summer paying tribute to another theatre great: Tennessee Williams. It looks as though the event will happen during 2004. Like the Sondheim affair, it will include productions of several works and feature a few different directors.

Al Pacino has a lot of pull in the theatre. You can tell by the projects he deigns to appear in. It's a good guess producers were not fighting over who'd snag the rights to the next big production of The Resistible Rise or Arturo Ui. But cast Al in the central role and Brecht is suddenly hot again and ticket prices hit an all time Off Broadway high. And New York's next major mounting of Oedipus Rex would likely be years off still if the man had not decided that the star crossing Theban king was a part he just had to play. Pacino's interest was enough to boot the long-running whatchamacallit De La Guarda out of the Daryl Roth Theatre, where the Greek tragedy will open sometime within the year. Oedipus Rex will play in repertory with yet another piece of box office catnip: Oscar Wilde’s Salomé.

Finally, Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologue, one of the most unlikely hits in theatre history, will close Jan. 5, 2003, following more than three years of performances. Since early 2000, when writer performer Ensler left the show, her words have been entrusted to a seemingly endless parade of actress trios, who took the stage for short stints throughout the rest of the run. The closing night party, an intimate affair for former cast members only, will be held at the Javits Center.

—By Robert Simonson