PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 26, 2009-Jan. 1, 2010: Zaks' Showbiz!

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 26, 2009-Jan. 1, 2010: Zaks' Showbiz!
 
It's been a roller-coaster week for director Jerry Zaks, with the ubiquitous Broadway insider dropping one show and picking up another.
Jerry Zaks
Jerry Zaks Photo by Aubrey Reuben

First came news that the producers of the new musical The Addams Family had hired Zaks as a creative consultant who will work with the entire creative team over the next three months as they prepare for an April 8 opening at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. He's not a surprising choice, given his long relationship with the show's star Nathan Lane. The two have worked together on Guys and Dolls, A Funny Thing Happened..., The Man Who Came to Dinner and Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Zaks will assist directors-of-record Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch who, according to reviewers of the musical's Chicago tryout, were long on design but a bit lacking in direction.

But, problem: Zaks was already contracted to pilot the new Dame Edna-Michael Feinstein Broadway show, All About Me. Problem solved: he was released from that production to work on The Addams Family. (An odd move, when you think of it, abandoning a title-page assignment for a gig as a show doctor. But who ever said Broadway made sense?)

Replacing Zaks on the Dame Edna front is Tony-nominated director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw. And so the game of musical chairs for this week ended.

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The big movie musical of the holiday season, Rob Marshall's starry film adaptation of Maury Yeston's Tony-winning musical Nine, had its nationwide release Christmas weekend. The film boasts an all-star cast including Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson and Sophia Loren. But, unlike Marshall's previous musical screen effect, "Chicago," it did not spark the moviegoing public's imagination. In its first weekend of wide release, "Nine" grossed only $5.5 million and ranked No. 8, according to Variety. The film musical, which played on 1,412 screens, also saw an eight percent decline at the box office nationwide and in New York as the weekend progressed. Critical response to the film was mixed.

In comparison, Marshall's hit film version of the Kander and Ebb musical "Chicago" took in $10.7 million for the weekend when it hit wide release in February 2003, on 1,841 screens across the country.

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If one were dating the Broadway musical Ragtime, one might be justified in saying the show was sending mixed signals.

On Dec. 25, there was a big article about how the revival was desperately fighting the public impression that the production was closing soon, even though producers had never announced an end date. Then, on Dec. 28, the producer did announce an end date: Jan. 3. Then, producers said on Dec. 30 that the show would run an extra week, and close Jan. 10.

Tease.

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Kate Baldwin and Cheyenne Jackson in Finian's Rainbow
photo by Joan Marcus

They'll be no pot of gold at the end of the critically-acclaimed new Broadway production of Finian's Rainbow. The show will close on Jan. 17, 2010, it was announced late Dec. 30. By close, the production will have played 22 previews and 92 performances. A cast album from PS Classics will be released on Feb. 2. Finian's Rainbow opened Oct. 29, 2009, at Broadway's St. James Theatre to some of the best reviews of the season. The producers stated, "Despite the rave reviews and extraordinarily positive audience reception, the economic realities of Broadway today do not allow us to play at the St. James as long as we would have hoped."

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Believe it or not, there's a demand in New York for seeing a six-hour word-for-word performance of F. Scott Fitzgerald's iconic 1925 novel, "The Great Gatsby." And, finally, that demand's going to be satisfied.

The show in question, Gatz incorporates every word of Fitzgerald's novel, without a single word added. The production, which has played here and there over the last two years, is set to begin at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA, Jan. 7, 2010. John Collins stages Gatz through Feb. 7, 2010, at A.R.T.

The New York Times reports that Elevator Repair Service has received approval from the F. Scott Fitzgerald estate to bring the production to New York after its Boston debut, possibly as early as fall 2010.

Previously, the Fitzgerald estate had restricted the New York premiere of Gatz because producers of Gatsby, Simon Levy's play adapted from the book, held the stage rights to the original novel. Levy's Gatsby played the Guthrie Theater in Minnesota. The Public Theater, New York Theater Workshop and St. Ann's Warehouse have all expressed interest in presenting Gatz.

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