This week, a baker's dozen of teen performers were announced for 13, the new Broadway musical about high-schoolers in Indiana. Most are making their Broadway debut, though some already have credits in such shows at Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Beauty and the Beast and Mary Poppins.
You won't know any of them, but in case you're curious, here are the names: Al Calderon, Eamon Foley, Caitlin Gann, Ariana Grande, Aaron Simon Gross, Elizabeth Gillies, Malik Hammond, Joey La Varco, Delaney Moro, Eric Nelsen, Graham Phillips, Allie Trimm and Brynn Williams as Cassie. And now you have a pretty good idea of what were popular child names in the early 1990s.
The understudies are also teens, of course, in the Jason Robert Brown-Dan Elish-Robert Horn show, which begins Sept. 16 toward an Oct. 5 opening at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. So are the musicians. The producers, meanwhile, are grown-ups — though they sometimes act like children. (Joke. Joke.)
Speaking of shows kids might like, a singing ogre and donkey took their rightful place on the Seattle stage Aug. 14 as Shrek the Musical came to life for the first time. Based on the story and characters from William Steig's "Shrek!" and the blockbuster DreamWorks Animation film of the same name, the David Lindsay-Abaire-Jeanine Tesori show is having its pre-Broadway tryout in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Jason Moore directs the redoubtable and regularly employed Brian d'Arcy James as Shrek, Chester Gregory II as Donkey, and the ever-originating-a-role Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona.
It's a little late in the day to be announcing rosters for the 2008-09 season, but artistic directors will drag their feet.
The coming season of Mark Taper Forum has a couple interesting musical revival entries: an acclaimed London production of Jason Robert Brown's Parade,; and a Pippin collaboration with Deaf West Theatre. The Taper and Deaf West had a huge hit with their version of Big River. The new Pippin, running Jan. 15-March 15, 2009, will be directed by Jeff Calhoun, the man behind the Twain tale. Parade will play Sept. 24-Nov. 15, 2009. The Tony Award-winning musical (revised in London) is directed and choreographed by choreographer Rob Ashford.
The New Group's artistic director Scott Elliott, meanwhile, will tackle Eugene O'Neill's triple-decker Greek-flavored drama sandwich, Mourning Becomes Electra (it is based on Aeschylus' The Oresteia, but set in New England). It will run Jan. 13-March 7, 2009.
Kate Burton. Elizabeth Marvel. Annette Bening. Cate Blanchett, Martha Plimpton. And now Mary-Louise Parker. We're talking Hedda Gablers, of course, and the Roundabout Theatre Company will present the latest major production of the classic, and lately popular, Ibsen play, with Parker in the trigger-happy lead. Ian Rickson will direct. January 2009 is the time frame.
The never-say-die musical about the Mizner brothers by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman — due at the Public Theater this fall — is now called Road Show. Name two of the three previous titles the show went by in the past, and win a prize.