PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 14-20: Some Casting News

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 14-20: Some Casting News I guess playwright Will Eno's stock has gone up in star circles since his Thom Paine (based on nothing) won a controversial rave from the New York Times in 2005.

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His new play, Middletown, set to open at the Vineyard Theatre on Nov. 3, is chock full of recognizable names. Film star-turned-TV-star Linus Roache and stage star-turned-TV star Heather Burns have been joined by TV star-turned-stage star Georgia Engel and soap actor Michael Park. It's a good bet that none of these actors had heard of Eno before they were sent the script to Middletown by their agent. Then again, Eno is enough of a quirky, marching-to-his-own-drummer playwright that he's probably never heard of those actors, either.

The memorably named Ken Rus Schmoll (I keep waiting for his middle name to finish itself) will direct. The play is called "a deeply moving and funny new play exploring the universe of a small American town. As a friendship develops between longtime resident John Dodge (Roache) and new arrival Mary Swanson (Burns), the lives of the inhabitants of Middletown intersect in strange and poignant ways in a journey that takes them from the local library to outer space and points between."

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Marin Ireland — one of New York theatre's go-to actresses where off-beat, Off-Broadway material is concerned — will star in the New York premiere of In the Wake, the latest work by Lisa Kron, which will begin performances at the Public Theater Oct. 19.

Leigh Silverman will direct. She piloted Kron's previous work, Well, which did fantastically at the Public, but less so when it reached Broadway. The cast will also feature Michael Chernus, Miriam F. Glover, Jenny Bacon, Deirdre O'Connell, Susan Pourfar and Danielle Skraastad. According to the Public, the play takes place on Thanksgiving of 2000 and the presidential election still has not been decided. Ellen insists that her friends and family don't understand how bad the situation really is. Ah, yes. I, for one, can remember that terrible Thanksgiving, when the disputed election was alternately avoided as a topic at dinner tables across the nation, or argued about bitterly. That was the case at my family gathering, anyway. (Life's tough when half your family is Democrat, half Republican.)

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Jerry Lee Lewis

I guess Jerry Lee Lewis isn't mad at Million Dollar Quartet anymore.

Lewis is the last surviving member of the original quartet of early rock pioneers depicted in the Broadway musical. Last spring, he had a group of lawyers look into whether the show's creators were using his likeness without permission and, according to the New York Post, ended up walking away with a piece of the show.

Now the rock legend — who is played in the show by actor Levi Kreis — will actually appear on stage at the Nederlander Theatre. "The Killer" will join the Broadway cast for a one-night-only encore Sept. 10.

The icon recently teamed up with Kreis to record (appropriately enough) the 1959 song "Money." ("Money don't get everything, it's true/What it don't get I can't use.") The duet will be included on a limited-edition release of Lewis' upcoming album "Mean Old Man." The special edition will be sold exclusively at the Nederlander. The regular album will be released Sept. 7.

 

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Maybe this time, both plays will actually open.

The Old Globe in San Diego has announced complete casting for its in-repertory productions of the related Neil Simon plays Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, to star Karen Ziemba as matriarch Kate.

Last fall, a similar pairing of the plays collapsed on Broadway, closing soon after Brighton opened, and before Bound ever saw the light of day.

Scott Schwartz directs the Cali double-header. The two plays will run in the Old Globe Theatre Sept. 14-Nov. 7. Broadway Bound previews begin Sept. 17.

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Speaking of Neil Simon, Laurie Metcalf, who starred in that ill-fated Brighton-Bound repertory act, and Amanda Peet, who made her Broadway debut in the most recent revival of Barefoot in the Park, are back. Peet will join David Duchovny in Neil LaBute's The Break of Noon, the MCC Theatre production which begins performances Oct. 28 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Jo Bonney will direct the world-premiere drama, which will officially open Nov. 15 and run through Dec. 12.

Meanwhile, Metcalf has signed to lead the cast of Sharr White's The Other Place in early 2011. Tony-winning director Joe Mantello will stage the New York premiere of the work that will play the Lortel March 10-April 24, 2011.

Karen Ziemba with (from left) Joseph Parks, Brandon Uranowitz, Austyn Myers and Sloan Grenz
Karen Ziemba with (from left) Joseph Parks, Brandon Uranowitz, Austyn Myers and Sloan Grenz Photo by The Old Globe
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