PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 11-17: What Turns Around, Comes Around

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 11-17: What Turns Around, Comes Around New shows just can't get a break. A Broadway theatre opens up at a time when producers are loudly bemoaning how long-runners are causing a real-estate logjam, and what act books the place? Les Miserables! One of those long-runners!—and one that’s already had an extra long run to boot!
A scene from the current London production of Les Miserables.
A scene from the current London production of Les Miserables. Photo by Michael Le Poer Trench

Cameron Mackintosh announced Feb. 16 that the turntable that kept on going and going throughout the '90s, until finally winding down in May 2003, would return to the Broadhurst on Oct. 21 for another six-month spin. Why? Well, to celebrate becoming "the longest-running musical in the world," of course. According to Mackintosh, in October, Les Miz will "pass the 21 year old record of Cats in London to become the longest-running musical ever on the West End or Broadway with 8,372 performances; a run nearly three years longer than Broadway's record-holder The Phantom of the Opera." This last one just celebrated becoming Number One on the Broadway long-run list in grand style last month. Cameron likes his landmarks, that's for sure.

Jean Valjean and Javert follow the limited run of Alan Bennett's The History Boys, set to begin its run at the Broadhurst April 14.

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Speaking of limited runs, Sarah Jones' Bridge & Tunnel isn't so limited anymore. Due to shut down March 12, it's penned itself in all the way until July 9. Which means Jay Johnson and his puppet friends, who were supposed to move in to the Helen Hayes after Sarah, will have time to take advantage of spring break. (That's the positive spin, folks.)

But it was a bad week for puppets all around. The Las Vegas run of the 2004 Tony Award-winning musical Avenue Q, which created a bit of a furor when it opted to plant itself in Las Vegas rather than tour the nation, will have in the end spent less than a year in that desert town. It will end May 28, after a nine-month run, to make way for the transformation of the Broadway Theatre into the Grail Theatre for the 2005 Tony winner Monty Python's Spamalot. Back on the Rialto, Neil Simon reminded everyone for the second time this season how hitmaking was done back in the mid '60s. Providing a nice bookend for the smasheroo revival of The Odd Couple is that other odd-couple comedy, Barefoot in the Park, which opened at the Cort on Feb. 16. Patrick Wilson returned to Broadway as stuffed shirt newlywed Paul Bratter and, as his flighty wife Corie, Amanda Peet currently makes the worst martini in New York nightly. Tony Roberts and Jill Clayburgh provided support. Unfortunately, critics thought Scott Elliott's production about as crisp as that misborn, vermouth-heavy libation. Also opening this week was the new musical I Love You Because. Sad to say, most critics didn't say "I Love You" back.

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Twyla Tharp's The Times They Are A-Changin' opened last week in San Diego and, though the notices, once collected, weren’t that encouraging (More dancing! Less circus!), producers proudly announced Feb. 16 that the show would storm New York in the fall. Where? When? Wait a minute, will ya! Let the Tharp work.

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Finally, Chita Rivera's autobiographical show The Dancer's Life won’t go down in history is one of the great star’s biggest successes. It announced a closing date of Feb. 19 this week. It will have played 20 previews and 72 regular performances. This means the Schoenfeld is now accepting all offers. No takers yet, but it can’t be long.

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