PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 13-19: The Bible Arena Show, Lily Rabe, Hugh Dancy, Paula Vogel

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 13-19: The Bible Arena Show, Lily Rabe, Hugh Dancy, Paula Vogel
 
Theresa Rebeck's new Broadway play — her second to grace that big stage — has netted a couple of great actors to support its already-announced greater star, Alan Rickman.

Lily Rabe
Lily Rabe Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Lily Rabe, a fabulous actress with a rising name, and Hamish Linklater, another thesp who has made a name for himself in recent years, will be part of the the world premiere of Seminar. Sam Gold directs the production, which will begin previews Oct. 27 at The Golden Theatre.

In Seminar, four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing classes with Leonard, an international literary figure played by Rickman. Rabe and Linklater are among the students. Can you imagine having Severus Snape as your writing teacher? Not surprisingly, some of the pupils don't come out of this scenario unscathed.

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What mountains are left to climb for a director after he has finished trying to rebuild and save a train wreck/media spectacle like Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark? Well, how about The Bible?

Philip William McKinley
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Philip William McKinley — the man who stepped in when Julie Taymor was shown at the door — will next tackle nothing less than The Old Testament in the new musical The Bible: The Beginning. The director is producing the project with Spider-Man's Michael Cohl, another man who apparently relishes a challenge. The Bible, according to reports, is described as "a live show scaled for arena-sized venues that will use music, dialogue, tumblers, jugglers, singers, aerialists and fighters to re-enact the Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah's Ark, Moses and his clash with the Pharaoh, the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea, all culminating in the delivery of The Ten Commandments. The musical will be narrated by Gabriel the Messenger; Raphael the Healer; and Michael, Leader of God."

I think Michelle Bachmann has found her new favorite musical! The show is aiming for an arena launch in late 2012 or early 2013.

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Ben Vereen, who received his first taste of fame playing Judas in the Broadway premiere of Jesus Christ Superstar, returns to the iconic rock musical in a new role beginning Aug. 19 at the Musical Theatre of Houston.

Vereen is not the show's central anti-hero this time around, but one of its villains. He will play Pilate. Vereen headlines the two-performance engagement of Superstar Aug. 19-20 at the Wortham Brown Theatre.

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Hugh Dancy
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Hugh Dancy, seen on Broadway in Journey's End, will square off with Nina Arianda in Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway premiere of David Ives' Off-Broadway hit two-hander Venus in Fur. The role was played by Wes Bentley when it premiered in 2010.

Directed by Walter Bobbie, the production will begin previews Oct. 13 at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The production will play a limited ten-week engagement with tickets on sale through Dec. 18 only.

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Elevator Repair Service is back with another novel.

The experimental troupe dazzled New York audiences last season — and won its best notices ever — with Gatz, its treatment of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic "The Great Gatsby." It returns Aug. 19 with The Select (The Sun Also Rises), arguably the best known novel by Fitzgerald's contemporary and frenemy, Ernest Hemingway.

This won't be an all-day, eight-hour affair, as Gatz was. The text does not feature every single word in the book, but pares the novel down largely to Hemingway's dialogue. ERS founder John Collins is thus able to stage the piece at a comparatively breakneck three hours and fifteen minutes. The Select will officially open Sept. 11 for a run through Oct. 9 at the New York Theatre Workshop.

The ensemble includes Frank Boyd, Mike Iveson, Vin Knight, Kate Scelsa, Kaneza Schaal, Pete Simpson, Susie Sokol, Lucy Taylor, Matt Tierney and Ben Williams.

The Select is the final work in ERS trilogy that also includes an adaptation of William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, which debuted at NYTW in 2008.

Sorry, John Dos Passos. You didn't make the cut.

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In her posts as director of playwright programs at Brown University and then the Yale School of Drama, Paula Vogel has probably directly inspired more young playwrights than any other living American dramatist. This week, it was announced that Vogel will exit her position at Yale at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year.

Vogel, who is also the playwright-in-residence at the Yale Repertory Theatre, is stepping down from her official academic duties one year earlier than outlined in her five-year contract with the school, but will remain as part of the faculty. She will focus on two upcoming projects, including One Hundred Years of Vengeance, a co-commission from Yale Rep and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the coming Second Stage Theatre Off-Broadway revival of her play How I Learned to Drive, which will return to New York in 2012.

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