PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 3-9: Christopher Durang Is Back, Dubuque Is a Hit, Spidey Wants a Worldwide Web

ICYMI   PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 3-9: Christopher Durang Is Back, Dubuque Is a Hit, Spidey Wants a Worldwide Web Lincoln Center Theater announced new productions of plays by Clifford Odets — with whose work they've had some recent success — and Christopher Durang — with whom they have shared one famous disaster.

Bartlett Sher
Bartlett Sher Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

LCT resident director Bartlett Sher scored a distinct win with a 2006 revival of Odets' Awake and Sing! He will now turn to the playwright's Golden Boy, in which a sensitive young man turns from artistic violin-playing to lucrative boxing with disastrous results. Previews will begin Nov. 8 toward a Dec. 3 opening at a Broadway theatre to be announced.

Durang's play is a Chekhov satire called, with characteristic daffiness, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. It "takes characters and themes from Chekhov, mixes them up and pours them into a blender; and the result is his latest play set in present-day Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Vanya and his stepsister Sonia have lived their entire lives in their family's farmhouse. While they stayed home to take care of their ailing parents, their sister Masha has been gallivanting around the world as a successful actress and movie star, leaving Vanya and Sonia to feel trapped and regretful."

It will first premiere at the McCarter Theater Sept. 7-Oct. 7, then be staged at LCT's Off-Broadway space, the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, beginning Oct. 25. Frequent Durang collaborator Nicholas Martin directs.

Durang and LCT last worked together on the spectacular 1996 failure Sex and Longing, which starred Sigourney Weaver and ran a couple months on Broadway.

*** Decades after the death of prolific playwright Tennessee Williams, his work keeps turning up — old plays of his that nobody ever knew about, let alone produced.

Producers Victor Syrmis, Carl Rumbaugh and Susan Batson, along with Culture Project have gotten their hot little hands on one such property. It's purportedly the final full-length play Williams ever wrote, and its title, In Masks Outrageous and Austere, sounds like something the playwright came up with after his third Daiquiri.

The story? That's not clear. But press materials say it has something to do with "the impenetrability of the human heart, the futility and hypocrisy of denying or displacing physical attraction, the power of love and its tyranny — while employing the dramaturgical freedom and aesthetic daring [Williams] discovered in his later plays."

The good news is that veteran actress Shirley Knight, who worked with Williams, will star as Babe Foxworth. (Now, there's a Tennessee Williams name!) David Schweizer will direct. Previews will begin April 6 with an official opening April 16 at Culture Project at 45 Bleecker Street.

***

Casey Nicholaw
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The stage musical adaptation of Tuck Everlasting, based on Natalie Babbitt's popular 1975 children's novel, will have its pre-Broadway world premiere at Boston's Colonial Theatre in June 2013, producers announced March 5.

Many shows wishfully state they are "Broadway-bound." But attention must be paid in this case, since the pilot is non other than Book of Mormon co-director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw. One would imagine he wouldn't hitch his star to an empty cart.

The musical is about a young a girl who befriends a unique family that has gained eternal life by drinking from a spring that flows from a tree in the woods. It has a score by Burnt Part Boys songwriters Chris Miller (music) and Nathan Tysen (lyrics) and a book by Claudia Shear. Nicholaw also oversaw two New York workshops of the property last year.

***

Off-Broadway, Signature Theatre Company opened a new production of Edward Albee's not-seen-since-it-crashed-and-burned-on-Broadway-in-1980 play The Lady From Dubuque. This time, the play will burn brightly — and longer. The revival, starring Jane Alexander as a very elegant stranger who might be Death, was widely praised by critics as a rediscovery and quickly extended a second time to April 15.

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Also opening this week was New York Theatre Workshop's New York City premiere of actor Denis O'Hare and director Lisa Peterson's Homer-inspired one-man play An Iliad. (What? They couldn't find any full-time playwrights to write the thing?) The show got two opening nights this week. Why? Because O'Hare and Stephen Spinella appear in the play in rotating rep, with the former opening on March 6 and the latter on March 7. Critics for the most part found the production thrilling, with the actors giving tour de force performances.

***

Finally, the world may not be ready for Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, but Spider-Man is ready for the world.

The New York Post reports that producers of the musical plan to open the production in London and Hamburg, Germany. The much-in-the-news $80 million musical will likely play large arenas rather than more traditional theatres, according to the New York daily. A spokesperson for the production told Playbill.com, "We have no further comment on the matter, but to confirm that [producers] Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris are en route to Europe to scout theatres."

The cast of <i>The Lady From Dubuque</i>.
The cast of The Lady From Dubuque. Photo by Joan Marcus
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