PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 13-19: Exports and Imports

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 13-19: Exports and Imports All good things must come to an end. And though the producers of the hit revival of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge tried to find a way to keep their show going, it could not be done, what with the film commitments of star Scarlett Johansson. It will not extend beyond its originally announced 14-week engagement. The drama, which stars Liev Schreiber, will end April 4 as originally planned, and pass into happy memory.
A View From the Bridge stars Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber
A View From the Bridge stars Scarlett Johansson and Liev Schreiber Photo by Joan Marcus

Also announcing a closing date, but after a much longer run, is the Tony Award-winning revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, which will play its final performance at the Vivian Beaumont Theater Aug. 22. When it closes, the acclaimed production will have played 37 previews and the nice round number of 1,000 regular performances. The current South Pacific national tour will continue through the 2010-11 season, and plans are underway for mountings of the production in London and Australia.

The original South Pacific, for the record, ran almost exactly twice as long.

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The exit of South Pacific finally frees up the Vivian Beaumont, allowing Lincoln Center Theater to announce its new tenant. That will be the latest by John Guare, whose work is no stranger to the Beaumont; productions of his The House of Blue Leaves and Six Degrees of Separation helped to establish LCT as a powerhouse nonprofit back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A Free Man of Color, the new play, will be directed by George C. Wolfe. Previews begin Oct. 21 toward a Nov. 18 opening at the Beaumont. The play is billed as "a freewheeling epic set in 1802 New Orleans," where "Jacques Cornet, the title character, is a new world Don Juan and the wealthiest inhabitant of this sexually charged and racially progressive city. Jacques thinks all is well in his paradise until history intervenes, setting off a chain of events which no one, much less this free man of color, realizes is about to splinter the world."

A Free Man of Color was originally slated to by a Public Theater production, but The Public's artistic director Oskar Eustis cancelled its planned early 2009 production, blaming the poor economic climate. LCT also borrowed another of its upcoming productions from a different theatre. It will host the American premiere of the acclaimed British play War Horse, which premiered at London's National Theatre in fall 2007 and moved to the West End in 2009. LCT will team with the National Theatre, in association with Bob Boyett, to present the work, which is based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo and adapted by Nick Stafford, with direction by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris. It will begin performances at the Vivian Beaumont March 17, 2011, with an opening night scheduled for April 14, 2011.

Finally, LCT will present the new musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which will launch the season with a first preview of Oct. 2. The show will play Broadway's Belasco Theatre, a favorite off-campus venue of LCT. The theatre on West 44th Street is currently being renovated.

The musical is inspired by the 1988 film by Pedro Almodóvar, the filmmaker whose oeuvre is becoming quite a wellspring for new theatre shows. The show has a book by Jeffrey Lane, music and lyrics by David Yazbek and direction by Bartlett Sher. The musical "is set in late 20th-century Madrid and tells the story of the intertwining lives of a group of women whose relationships with men lead to a tumultuous 48 hours of love, confusion and passion."

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Brian Bedford

The Roundabout Theatre Company, too, is drawing its new productions from elsewhere. Tony Award winner Brian Bedford, who directed Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest — and starred in it as Lady Bracknell — for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in 2009, will repeat his duties for Broadway in 2011, the Roundabout announced.

"The design will certainly be adjusted to fit the American Airlines Theatre, but we plan to keep it largely intact," Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes said of the Stratford production. "Many of the cast members, though not all, will remain from the production at Stratford."

The censorious Bracknell has sometimes been played by a man Off-Broadway and elsewhere, but this will be the first time the trick will be pulled off on Broadway. All seven previous Broadway Bracknells have been women.

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The New Group's revival of Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind, directed by Ethan Hawke and starring Keith Carradine, Laurie Metcalf and Josh Hamilton, officially opened Off-Broadway Feb. 18 at the Acorn Theatre. Critics found it just as powerful, if not more so, than is had been at its premiere 25 years ago, and that Hawke had enlisted a host of fine, full performances from the sprawling work about two warring families.

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