PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 16-22: Divas, Past, Present and Future

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 16-22: Divas, Past, Present and Future
 
Is Elizabeth Ashley going to be the next Kathleen Turner or the next Tovah Feldshuh?
Elizabeth Ashley
Elizabeth Ashley

On Jan. 8, Ashley will participate in a reading about the original hard-living stage diva, Tallulah Bankhead. Matthew Lombardo's new two-character play Looped will be held at New World Stages.John Tillinger directs. The play, according to press notes, is loosely based "on an actual event that took place in the summer of 1965 when a 63-year old Bankhead entered a Los Angeles recording studio in an effort to re-record (or 'loop') one line from the film 'Die, Die My Darling!' The session was only to have lasted a mere five minutes. It instead took well over eight hours."

Bankhead has been a favorite subject for seasoned actresses, including Feldshuh, who starred in not one but two pieces about the actress over the last decade, and Turner, who toured in a play called Tallulah back in 2000-01, before making the very Tallulah-like career move to appear naked in the stage play The Graduate.

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Manhattan Theatre Club has to go all the way to Starfleet Command to find the leading lady for its upcoming production of Charles Busch's Our Leading Lady, which will begin performances at City Center – Stage II Feb. 22, 2007. Kate Mulgrew, known to the world as space-trucking "Star Trek: Voyager" Captain Kathryn Janeway, will play Laura Keene, the 19th-century American stage diva who was the star attraction when Abe Lincoln paid a fateful visit to Ford's Theatre to see something called Our American Cousin.

*** Following up his success in the Broadway revival of Awake and Sing!, Pablo Schreiber will star in Christopher Shinn's two-character play Dying City in its American premiere at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater beginning Feb. 15, 2007. Pablo's brother Liev will begin previews in the Broadway revival of Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio a week prior, on Feb. 9.

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Newly minted UK TV star Andrew Lloyd Webber is at it again. Flush with the success of "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?— the television program that cast Connie Fisher as Maria in his current West End revival of The Sound of Music—he has decided to cast the lead of his upcoming London revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat the same way. Graham Norton, who hosted "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, will host the upcoming program as well, which is titled "Any Dream Will Do," a song title from Joseph. And he's not only looking for Joseph, but also the Narrator, the Pharoah and a choir. Said Lord Webber: "The success of 'How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?' this summer was a real boost for musical theatre in Britain and I was particularly thrilled with the reaction from schoolchildren up and down the country."

I heard the show also contributed to world peace.

And speaking of peace, I wish you a peaceful and joyous holiday.

(Robert Simonson is senior correspondent for Playbill.com.)

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