PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 30-Feb. 5: OMG! LCT3 ETA 2011!

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 30-Feb. 5: OMG! LCT3 ETA 2011!
 
The new LCT3 home was introduced to the public this week. No, not by Steve Jobs or NASA. The techie-esque acronym refers the new-works initiative which will soon get a new theatre on the campus of Lincoln Center Theater.
David Mamet
David Mamet Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The theatre will sit atop the Vivian Beaumont Theater, LCT's flagship Broadway house. The intimate new space will serve as the home of LCT3, which gives voice to new works and emerging writers. Hugh Hardy, New York theatredom's fave architect, is designing the $41 million, two-story addition, which will crown the Beaumont with a glass-ensconced 131-seat theatre, as well as rehearsal and office space, and an outdoor terrace.

The venue will be named the Claire Tow Theater, in honor of the wife of LCT board member Leonard Tow. This means that all three of Lincoln Center's theatres — the Beaumont, Tow and Mitzi E. Newhouse — will be named after women. (Mitzi, Clare and Vivian — sounds like they should be having lunch at Le Grenouille, doesn't it?) Construction will begin this spring with completion expected in late 2011 to early 2012. Performances in the Beaumont will continue during construction. However, if Beaumont patrons hear a strange pounding on the ceiling during some performances...

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Though Jeffrey Richards' past Broadway forays in the David Mamet canon has come with a bit of heartache attached — Speed-the-Plow lost its star; November wasn't exactly embraced by critics — the man apparently can't get enough of the New England recluse who doesn't give interviews.

Richards and his producing partners will this fall give Mamet's early two-hander A Life in the Theatre its Broadway debut. Neil Pepe, artistic director of Atlantic Theater Company, will direct. No casting has been announced, but you can bet, given the public's relative unfamiliarity with the title, that one of the two roles — Robert, an older, experienced performer; and John, a relative newcomer — will be taken up by a name star. ***

Last fall, there had been some scuttlebutt that the acclaimed Sydney Theatre Company production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett, would transfer to Broadway.

No dice.

As mentioned in previous articles, one of the problems with the Blanchett plan was that producer Stephen C. Byrd, who produced the 2008 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof starring James Earl Jones, held the Broadway rights to the property. Byrd has opted to not be the kind stanger Blanche was always looking for, but to present his own multi-racial production of the drama in spring 2011.

Byrd had previously discussed his concept for the Streetcar revival in an interview with the Times during the 2008 run of A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which later transferred to the West End.

According to a representative for the producer, Byrd is now in talks with prospective directors and cast members for his Streetcar.

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When you don't have stars in your cast, a star producer can only help.

The producers of Fela! learned this when they drafted Jay-Z and Will Smith as celebrity backers. Next Fall, Geoffrey Nauffts' new Broadway comedy-drama that explores questions of love, sexuality, religion and family, has just as many name actors in its cast as Fela! does: none. And so, please meet Elton John and his life partner, David Furnish, who joined the producing team this week. A rare case of a producer providing the marquee value.

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Complete casting for the first Broadway revival of the musical Promises, Promises was unveiled Feb. 4. Tony Award winner Dick Latessa is among those who will join the already announced Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, Brooks Ashmanskas, Katie Finneran and Tony Goldwyn at the Broadway Theater.

Also announced were Peter Benson as Mr. Kirkeby, Sean Martin Hingston as Mr. Eichelberger and Ken Land as Jesse Vanderhof.

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The theatre group 13P was formed in 2004 with a nifty, original mission. A collective of 13 playwrights, it vowed to produce one work by each of its member writers, thus avoiding the workshop mill that so dogs down dramatists in the American nonprofit theatre.

The first show came in March 2004, Anne Washburn's The Internationalist. Another show was produced in the fall of that year. Then things kinda slowed down, even though the group won an Obie Award in 2005. 13P managed to put up one new production a year, which you could call a "season," if you were the generous sort.

The company received a needed money injection this week, in the form of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. With that funding, it will be able to produce plays by the four as-yet-unrepresented playwrights in the group, with two productions in 2010 and two in 2011. One of those plays will be by Sarah Ruhl, who, since the founding of the collective, has become 13P's most famous member by a country mile. The other three plays will be by Madeleine George, Young Jean Lee and Erin Courtney.

So, do they start over after that, or what? No, they promised from the start. The group will disband.

Cotter Smith, Patrick Breen, Connie Ray, producer Barbara Manocherian, playwright Geoffrey Nauffts, producer Richard Willis, director Sheryl Kaller, producer Anthony Barrile, Patrick Heusinger, Maddie Corman and Sean Dugan.
Cotter Smith, Patrick Breen, Connie Ray, producer Barbara Manocherian, playwright Geoffrey Nauffts, producer Richard Willis, director Sheryl Kaller, producer Anthony Barrile, Patrick Heusinger, Maddie Corman and Sean Dugan.
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