No television show is currently contributing more to the New York stage than HBO's mob family saga, "The Sopranos". Come Thanksgiving, Broadway will be hosting three of the show's stars (two of them appearing in the altogether). Edie Falco has gotten the most press, starring in the hit revival of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, which, along with Hairspray, helped to turn 2002 into one of the more commercial summers in recent Broadway history.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who portrays Meadow Soprano, daughter to Falco's Carmella, joined the cast of Beauty and the Beast on Oct. 1. In a piece of casting that even the dullest of ironists can appreciate, the mob princess plays the sweet, bookish Belle in the Disney musical.
Mother and child will be joined in Times Square by their television pop's shrink when, in November, Lorraine Bracco inherits Kathleen Turner's towel as the new Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate.
Nor is Off-Broadway bereft of the benefits visited upon the box office when "Sopranos" stars slum in the theatre. Suzanne Shepherd, who plays Mary DeAngelis in the series, will co-star with Jessica Hecht, Marin Hinkle and Alicia Goranson in the Vineyard Theatre's premiere of Januz Glowacki's The Fourth Sister, beginning Oct. 31.
As for the men of "The Sopranos," they tend to stick together. Vincent Pastore (who portrayed the "offed" Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero) and Robert Funaro (Eugene Pontecorvo) are currently starring in the With Out Papers production of the Clifford Odets' Golden Boy Off Broadway. Joining them are Maureen Van Zandt (who plays mobwife Gabriella Dante opposite her real-life husband Steve Van Zandt as Silvio). Finally, the top Soprano himself, James Gandofini, has been mentioned to replace Danny DeVito in the proposed Broadway revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet's play about a breed of men even more cutthroat than mobsters: real estate agents.
A Shakespearean soap as juicy as "The Sopranos" will come to Lincoln Center Theater in fall 2003: A one evening adaptation of both parts of Henry IV will play the Vivian Beaumont with Richard Easton in the title role and Kevin Kline as the blowsy Falstaff. The adaptation of the 1597 plays is by the respected actor and Shakespeare scholar, Dakin Matthews. The busy Jack O'Brien (Hairspray, The Invention of Love) directs. This version has a pedigree in regional theatres such as The Goodman Theater in Chicago and Old Globe Theatres in San Diego.
Also revealed this week: LCT's Mitzi E. Newhouse will house Frank McGuinness' Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme beginning in February 2003, with Nicholas Martin recreating his Williamstown Theatre Festival and Huntington Theatre Company direction of the play, set during World War I.
Say Goodnight, Gracie, the one-man show starring Frank Gorshin as George Burns, opened Oct. 10 as the first new play of the Broadway season. And Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens and Terrence McNally's show, A Man of No Importance, opened Off Broadway as one of the most anticipated new musicals of the season.
The was also one big closing notice. David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, Proof, announced it would close Jan. 5, 2003, after 16 previews and 918 performances at the Walter Kerr Theatre. With those numbers, it ranks as the longest-running Broadway play in nearly two decades.
—By Robert Simonson