PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 5-11: Letts Party!

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 5-11: Letts Party! This site last week made the not-too-risky prediction that author Tracy Letts' August: Osage County would win the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the first title with a colon to win since 1993's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. The playwright, as well as his producers, were not willing to comment on the play's chances of winning prior to the announcement, but you can bet they'll be yakking up the news from now on!

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The hard-working cast will soon get a chance to celebrate their good fortune. August will offer its last performance at its current home, the Imperial Theatre, April 20 at 3 PM. Beginning April 29, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company production will begin performances at Broadway's Music Box Theatre.

The Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalists (announced April 7, as was the winner) were Yellow Face by David Henry Hwang and Dying City by Christopher Shinn.

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No doubt, the August camp has its eyes on future prizes, none more so than that almighty Tony Award. Regarding that, the Tony Awards Administration Committee assembled for the third time this season to discuss the eligibility of seven Broadway productions for the 2008 Tony Awards.

Perhaps the most significant decision was that the score to The Little Mermaid — many of the songs of which first appeared in the animated film — will be eligible for nomination in the Best Score category because more than 50 percent of the Alan Menken-Howard Ashman-Glenn Slater score was composed for Broadway. Interestingly, the computer-imagery-spangled revival of Sunday in the Park With George's projection designer Timothy Bird & The Knifedge Creative Network and set designer David Farley will be considered jointly in the Scenic Design of a Musical category.

The Administration Committee is scheduled for one additional meeting this season.

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The Andrew Lloyd Webber sequel to The Phantom of the Opera is coming, some day, and it now has a librettist.

Ben Elton, the playwright, librettist and screenwriter who has worked with Lloyd Webber on The Beautiful Game, is the man. Lloyd Webber had been working solo on the book prior to this. He joins busy Glenn Slater, the project's lyricist, and Jack O'Brien, the director. No production dates or casting have been announced, although a 2009 launch has been mentioned.

In the Phantom sequel, the title character travels to Coney Island around 1900 (!) and is reunited with soprano Christine. The show is not based on source material. I see it now: A set design with a working version of the Cyclone rollercoaster.

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Everyone wants to produce David Mamet on Broadway these days. The latest such venture is a new production of his 1976 classic, American Buffalo. It will return to Broadway this fall at a theatre to be announced. Variety reports that Robert Falls will direct the production, which will star John Leguizamo.

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Finally, director Philip Seymour Hoffman and playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis unveiled their latest collaboration, The Little Flower of East Orange, starring Ellen Burstyn, April 6 at the Public Theater. Critics, while saying the play's story and structure were significantly flawed, still found power and vitality in the story of a troubled brother and sister struggling to come to terms with their ailing mother and their shared history.

Philip Seymour Hoffman with Ellen Burstyn and Sidney Williams in rehearsal.
Philip Seymour Hoffman with Ellen Burstyn and Sidney Williams in rehearsal. Photo by Monique Carboni
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