PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 14-20: Here Comes Harry

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 14-20: Here Comes Harry
 
Harry Potter is coming to Broadway.
Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe

It was announced April 20 that the hit London revival of Equus — starring "Harry Potter" actor Daniel Radcliffe — which will play its final performance at London's Gielgud Theatre June 9, will be heading for Broadway in spring 2008, followed by an Australian production. Casting and dates for the New York run have yet to be announced, but London's Daily Mail reports that both Radcliffe and the big boy of English theatre, History Boys Tony-winner Richard Griffiths, have signed on.

Radcliffe's performance as Alan Strang, an English stable boy who blinded six horses with a spike, won strong reviews and created quite a stir in England, not least of all because the plays calls for him appear in the altogether.

The production is the first West End revival of the Peter Shaffer play, and the transfer will mark the first Broadway revival. The return of the Tony-winning play, however, is not the reason the show will spark the biggest ticket-buying frenzy since Julia Roberts came to town. Radcliffe will be the sorcerer behind that box-office magic.

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A funny thing happened to David Lindsay-Abaire on his way to winning the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play Rabbit Hole. He wasn't nominated for the honor. Plays that were nominated included Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert; Bulrusher by Eisa Davis; and Elliot, a Soldier's Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes — ?none of them exactly household names. But the Pulitzer Prize Board made the unusual decision to bypass the jury's three nominated finalists and give the award to a fourth play.

Apparently, the move — while safely within the Pulitzer guidelines — is without precedent in the history of the Drama prize. But, however the decision came about, it's good news for Manhattan Theatre Club, which can now boast that it has fostered three of the seven plays honored by the Pulitzers in the first decade of this century: Proof, Doubt and now Rabbit Hole.

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The Civilians, the Manhattan-based experimental theatre group, is bringing back its biggest success, Gone Missing for another run. The show has already played New York City at least two times. But this go-around will be different. For one thing, it will be a commercial mounting — ?the group's first. For another, the Michael Friedman score to the eccentric and whimsical look at the various things we lose on our way through life (car keys, virginity, sanity, etc.) has grown. In fact, the show is now called a musical. Previews begin June 14 at the Barrow Street Theatre.

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Finally, though it always seemed to everyone who met her that she would surely survive us all, theatre and society doyenne Kitty Carlisle Hart passed away this week. She was 96, and she filled each of those years to the brim. She acted on Broadway and at the Met. She starred on film opposite the Marx Brothers. She collected famous friends (Gershwin, Kaufman, Coward). She was wife to playwright Moss Hart until he died in 1961, and oversaw his estate in the years thereafter. She nurtured the arts from 1971 to 1996 as first vice-chairperson and then chairperson of the New York State Council of the Arts. And, throughout it all, she sang and entertained every chance she got.

Ms. Hart epitomized a kind of New York fame that's hard to quantify. She was a good singer and a decent actress, but she was not a master at either of these crafts. (Her own very ambitious mother told her that herself.) She cut an attractive figure, but there were faces more spellbinding than hers. But she excelled at life and was great with people. She was blessed with attributes common to a bygone generation: optimism, energy, joie de vivre. And she infected others with her enthusiasm. In her autobiography, she quoted Moss Hart's philosophy of "You can't escape from life, you escape into it." It's a tricky piece of advice, but it somehow captures her modus operandi. She was always fully enveloped in her day, the task at hand, the show on stage. She was there, and she chose to be there, and she liked being there. And now she's gone, and we're still here. God help us.

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