PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 7-13: Spider-Man Commits

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 7-13: Spider-Man Commits
 
Some solid information from the Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark camp constitutes the major theatre news of this quiet week in August. Having recently actually begun rehearsal, the Julie Taymor show has finally announced some new opening dates. It will begin previews on Broadway Nov. 14 with a 3 PM matinee, with an official opening scheduled for Dec. 21. That's five-and-a-half weeks of previews, which is nothing compared to the 16 weeks of rehearsal.

Patrick Page and Jennifer Damiano
Patrick Page and Jennifer Damiano

Of course, to rehearse you need a cast. Spider-Man has lost its share of actors this year, retaining only Reeve Carney, who will star as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Now he has colleagues. He will be joined by Next to Normal Tony nominee Jennifer Damiano as Mary Jane Watson and Broadway veteran Patrick Page — the Grinch himself! — as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin. Seems Page is forever reaching for the container of green make-up. The rest of the cast should be known, well, any minute now, since the full company is scheduled to begin rehearsals Aug. 16.

More news. Tickets to the show, which has new music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge, will go on sale exclusively to American Express card members Aug. 14 at 10 AM; the general public will be able to purchase tickets in September.

But perhaps the most entertaining bit of Spider-Man news of all is that it will no longer be playing at the Hilton Theatre, because that 42nd Street house has gotten yet another name change. It's now called the Foxwoods Theatre, after the well-known casino, and a name no doubt familiar to many of the tourists who visit Times Square. The barn began life in 1998 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. It's housed only eight shows since then.

At this rate the theatre will have had more names than productions.

***

George Wendt
photo by Aubrey Reuben

In another fall Broadway attraction, Beth Leavel, Mark Jacoby and George Wendt have been cast in the holiday engagement of the Broadway musical Elf, which will begin performances Nov. 2 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Leavel will play Emily opposite Jacoby as Walter and Wendt as Santa. The central roles of the orphaned "elf" Buddy (originally played by Will Ferrell in the 2003 film) and his love interest Jovie have not been announced.

***

A.R. Gurney continues to live his double life — comfortable, harmless old éminence grise playwright by night; provoking political firebrand by, uh, other nights.

Gurney's tender memory play about Broadway actress Katharine Cornell, The Grand Manner, recently wrapped up its run at Lincoln Center Theater. And now the writer is preparing for the world premiere of his Office Hours at downtown's Flea Theatre. Like Gurney's other Flea productions (Mrs. Farnsworth, Screenplay, etc.), this play has a social bent, taking a look at the political climate across U.S. colleges in the 1970s.

Jim Simpson will direct the work, which will feature two rotating casts. Performances will begin Sept. 18 and the production will officially open Sept. 30. The run will continue through Oct. 24.

***

Jan Maxwell — who had perhaps the best season of her career last year, as a two-time Tony Award nominee in 2010 for her work in The Royal Family and Lend Me a Tenor — will star as the stroke-stricken onetime wing-walker in Second Stage's fall revival of Arthur Kopit's 1978 play Wings.

John Doyle — best known for his work on the musicals Sweeney Todd and Company — will direct a cast that also includes Michael Warner.

Previews begin Oct. 5 toward an Oct. 24 opening. Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre is at 305 W. 43rd Street.

***

Fela!, the Broadway show that explores the life of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, did not win the Tony Award for Best Musical, though many critics thought it should have. And so it will close on Jan. 2, 2011, it was announced this week. But not before pop legend Patti LaBelle drops into the cast. The singing actress will succeed Lillias White in the role of Fela's mother, Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti, beginning Sept. 14. She will stay with the production through its closing.

Today’s Most Popular News: