PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 28-Sept. 3: Yank!, Brendan Fraser, Denis O'Hare and RSC's Second Act

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 28-Sept. 3: Yank!, Brendan Fraser, Denis O'Hare and RSC's Second Act
 
It's Labor Day weekend. The last hurrah of summer is upon us, and most theatre folk are less bent on practicing the business of show than they are squeezing whatever remaining hours of relaxation that Hurricane Earl will permit them. (Precious few, I'm guessing, if they are owners of Long Island beach properties. On the plus side, traffic to the Hamptons should be light this weekend.)

Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser

And yet, deals were made and shows were booked. One last-minute addition to the fall Broadway season is Simon Bent's Elling, a British import which will star movie actor Brendan Fraser, in his Broadway debut, and Denis O'Hare, in about his 100th Broadway show, as mismatched roommates. Strangely enough, O'Hare, not box-office-bait Fraser, plays the title role, an obsessive/compulsive character just made for O'Hare's barnstorming style. Fraser plays Kjell, called a "wildly enthusiastic gentle giant."

Richard Easton and Jennifer Coolidge provide support. Directing is Doug Hughes. The play will be mounted in New York at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Previews will begin Nov. 2 with an official opening scheduled for Nov. 21.

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Meanwhile, a couple other planned Broadway shows got the (temporary) hook.

Yank! A WWII Love Story, which ended its extended run at the York Theatre Company April 4, will not arrive on Broadway this season, as previously annouced. The new musical, which will be directed by David Cromer, is now aiming for a fall 2011 bow. The decision to postpone will allow the creators more time to overhaul the musical's book. Both director Cromer and Bobby Steggert, the Tony-nominated performer who starred Off-Broadway, remain committed to the production. Also delayed is the Broadway revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman's You Can't Take It with You, which had been scheduled to open on Broadway in November. It has been postponed until spring 2011. Anna Shapiro, who won a Tony Award for her direction of a very different eccentric family in August: Osage County, will direct. The production had been scheduled to originate at Boston's Huntington Theatre Company, but that staging was canceled. When the Huntington production fell through, director Shapiro took on other projects that make a fall Broadway arrival for You Can't Take It with You impossible.

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Director Doug Hughes
photo by Aubrey Reuben

The Broadway season of which Elling is now a part, and Yank! isn't, officially gets underway with the Sept. 3 first preview of Shaw's perennial Mrs. Warren's Profession at the Roundabout Theatre Company. Tony Award winner Cherry Jones plays the scandalous lady in question. Sally Hawkins plays her daughter, Vivie. The above-mentioned Hughes, who directed Jones in Doubt — the production that largely made Hughes' reputation as a Broadway director — is at the helm.

The 2009-10 Off-Broadway season, too, is a real thing. The world premiere of Lucy Thurber's Bottom of the World, a play about a woman's grief over her dead novelist sister, begins Sept. 3 prior to a Sept. 14 opening at the Atlantic Theater Company's Atlantic Stage 2 on West 16th Street.

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In England, as well, they are getting ready for the new season.

The Donmar Warehouse will stage the U.K. premiere of William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin's Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee next February, it was announced, alongside revivals of Pinter's Moonlight and Schiller's Luise Miller as part of its spring 2011 season.

Jamie Lloyd, currently directing Passion to open at the Donmar (Sept. 10-Nov. 27), will direct the Finn piece, which had a long run on Broadway.

Even bigger news came from The Royal Shakespeare Company, which announced that it will reopen its doors to the public to the refurbished Royal Shakespeare Theatre and adjoining Swan Theatre in its hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon on Nov. 24. Both venues have been shut for five years as part of a £112.8 million rebuilding and refurbishment program.

The mainhouse Royal Shakespeare Theatre has been reconceived as a brand-new 1,000-seat thrust stage auditorium, and now shares a common entrance and foyer spaces with the Swan Theatre, to which it was previously unconnected. There are also new restaurants, including the Rooftop Restaurant and Riverside Cafe and terrace.

 

The inaugural season will include a series of preview events and activities that are designed to help test the spaces, before the current RSC ensemble will perform the first productions on the new RST stage, bringing their current productions of King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, respectively directed by David Farr and Rupert Goold, to the theatre after their winter seasons at London's Round House.

Front: Jessica Love, Kristin Griffith, Peter Maloney and Crystal A. Dickinson<br>
Standing: Brandon J. Dirden, Brendan Griffin, Caitriona McLaughlin, Lucy Thurber, Audrey Dollar and K.K. Moggie
Front: Jessica Love, Kristin Griffith, Peter Maloney and Crystal A. Dickinson
Standing: Brandon J. Dirden, Brendan Griffin, Caitriona McLaughlin, Lucy Thurber, Audrey Dollar and K.K. Moggie
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