PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 30-Oct. 6: That Uncertain Feeling

News   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 30-Oct. 6: That Uncertain Feeling The watchword of the coming musical season continues to be "uncertainty." If I were a betting man, at this point I wouldn't even lay money on The Full Monty opening on time. (Of course, it will, and probably prove a big hit; still, no cash is leaving my person.) Barrio Babies, librettist-lyricist Luis Santeiro and composer Fernando Rivas' musical satiric take on cultural types and stereotypes, seemed a sure bet to arrive on schedule this November. But now it's been delayed until spring 2001, ostensibly so producer Eric Krebs can secure the cast he wants. On Broadway, there is talk that Seussical (a word which, in English, means "trouble out of town") will possibly delay its opening a month. This after the other delays and difficulties which I'm too tired to once again enumerate. Bells Are Ringing, conversely, solidified its plans a bit by naming the Broadway Theatre as its destination in New York. However, this revival has had so many ups and downs, it's best to just pencil that in your datebook.

Director Peter Brook; It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, which began at Crossroads; Orson Welles.
Director Peter Brook; It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, which began at Crossroads; Orson Welles. (Photo by <i>Blues</i> photo by Joan Marcus)

The watchword of the coming musical season continues to be "uncertainty." If I were a betting man, at this point I wouldn't even lay money on The Full Monty opening on time. (Of course, it will, and probably prove a big hit; still, no cash is leaving my person.) Barrio Babies, librettist-lyricist Luis Santeiro and composer Fernando Rivas' musical satiric take on cultural types and stereotypes, seemed a sure bet to arrive on schedule this November. But now it's been delayed until spring 2001, ostensibly so producer Eric Krebs can secure the cast he wants. On Broadway, there is talk that Seussical (a word which, in English, means "trouble out of town") will possibly delay its opening a month. This after the other delays and difficulties which I'm too tired to once again enumerate. Bells Are Ringing, conversely, solidified its plans a bit by naming the Broadway Theatre as its destination in New York. However, this revival has had so many ups and downs, it's best to just pencil that in your datebook.

On the west coast, meanwhile, La Jolla Playhouse's Thoroughly Modern Millie just can't get it thoroughly together. First, there was the casting problem. Kristin Chenoweth was originally scheduled to play the title flapper in the new Michael Mayer-directed musical. But she left for TV-land. Then entered Erin Dilly, who, while not (yet) on the Broadway-star level of Chenoweth, made a splash in Babes in Arms and Martin Guerre. But several production meetings later, she and the creative team determined she would not be able to continue with the show. In stepped Sutton Foster, who, name recognition-wise, is to Dilly what Dilly was to Chenoweth. But Foster seems as if she'll stay put. If only the show would open. The run was scheduled to begin Oct. 3 but has been delayed twice, on a day by day basis. If all goes well, Oct. 6 is the night the curtain goes up.

The world of plays seems a much more stable place, with titles like Proof, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife and The Dinner Party sailing to their opening dates. Add to those Broadway attractions, Marie Jones' London hit, Stones in His Pockets, which has been announced to arrive at the John Golden Theatre in March 2001. Stones tells of Charlie and Jack, two down-on-their-luck Irishmen (played by Conleth Hill and Sean Campion) working as extras on a Hollywood film being shot in the Irish countryside.

There was bad news from New Jersey this week. The 22-year-old Crossroads Theatre of New Brunswick, which won a Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1999, has canceled its 2000-2001 season, citing a budget deficit of nearly $2 million. The loss is particularly striking given that Crossroads is perhaps the premiere African-American theatre company in the country. Past productions include premieres of The Colored Museum, Jitney and It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues. The company hopes to reopen in 2001 after shutting down to reorganize.

Chita Rivera continues to keep busy. The star of Paper Mill Playhouse's Anything Goes and George Street Playhouse's upcoming Venecia will join a new national tour of Chicago at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN, Nov. 28-Dec. 3, and continue through California and Boston. Peter Brook fans on both coasts got some good news this week. The legendary director's take on Hamlet -- which originated in Paris last November -- had, until recently, a run at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in May 2001 as its only scheduled U.S. date. Now, that Windy City bow will be preceded by an April run in Seattle and a late May stop at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Also announced was the production's full cast, which numbers only eight. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not dead, but, since one actor will play both roles, at least one of them is somewhat missing.

Opening at BAM this week was director-author Anne Bogart's theatricalization of the famous Orson Welles radio broadcast, War of the Worlds, the official New York premiere of a piece Bogart and her SITI Company have been developing over the last year. The piece is the latest chapter in what seems like the artistic community's unflagging interest in the Wisconsin-born wunderkind. On stage, Welles is the pivotal figure in Austin Pendleton's drama Orson's Shadow, which has played Chicago, L.A. and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. On television, the story of "Citizen Kane" was told in "RKO 281", with Liev Schreiber as the writer-director actor-producer. Welles' infamous production of Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock, meanwhile, was the centerpiece of Tim Robbins' film of the same name. Since nearly every episode of Welles' rich and rocky life reads like a ready-made drama, don't be too surprised if you see more Orsonian theatre and film projects in the future.