PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 10-16: Bloody on Broadway, a New Life for Clear Day

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 10-16: Bloody on Broadway, a New Life for Clear Day
 
The Public Theater and producers Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, partners on bringing the Central Park production of Hair to Broadway, are teaming up again.
Benjamin Walker (center) and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson cast members
Benjamin Walker (center) and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson cast members Photo by Joan Marcus

The "emo-rock" musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which got some bloody, bloody fine reviews during its debut downtown, will begin performances Sept. 21 at Broadway's the Bernard Jacobs Theatre. Bloody was extended three times during its Public run.

Bloody, which takes an irreverent look at the life of seventh U.S. President, the populist roughneck Andrew Jackson, and his rocky legacy. (That's the wild-haired man on the $20 bill, for you non-history buffs.) Benjamin Walker, who embodied Jackson as an electrifying rock star in the world premiere of the musical at Center Theatre Group in L.A. in 2008 and Off-Broadway at the Public, will re-create his performance for Broadway. Alex Timbers, who directed the Off-Broadway run (and is set for the Broadway bow), authored the book, which features music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.

It will be an interesting musical landscape on Broadway this coming season. Joining Bloody will be the musical version of Pedro Almodóvar's film Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Kander and Ebb's edgy political musical The Scottsboro Boys.

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Michael Mayer, the director and bookwriter behind one of last season's most adventurous musicals, American Idiot, will be singing a markedly different tune soon. After a concert presentation in Poughkeepsie, NY, this summer, Mayer's new take on the Alan Jay Lerner-Burton Lane reincarnation-themed musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever will get a full production at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre in early 2011.

Michael Mayer

The show is one of the kookier in musical history. It's got one of those plots, like Finian's Rainbow, that is hard to explain and harder to believe ever made it to the stage. The 1965 musical is about a psychiatrist who treats a chainsmoker and uncovers her paranormal gifts — and past lives, which are fully enacted in lavish production numbers. (Lerner was heavily into psychoanalysis.) Musical buffs refuse to consign it to the dustheap because it's one of Lane's only full scores and contains such gems as "Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here," "Come Back to Me," "What Did I Have That I Don't Have" and the title song. A film version that starred Barbra Streisand served up freshly written numbers, some of which are expected to be in the new stage show. Peter Parnell is the new book writer on this revised take on the material. Casting and additional creative team for On a Clear Day are to be announced. Brian d'Arcy James and Anika Noni Rose will be featured in the July 29-Aug. 1 concert at Vassar.

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News bulletins about directors and actors suddenly leaving projects are fairly common in the tumultuous world of the theatre. Departing press agencies, not so much. But such is the shaky state of the problem-plagued Julie Taymor musical Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark that the resignation of prominent New York theatrical press agency Boneau/Bryan-Brown from the show merited a news item in the New York Times. The company had handled the show for nearly three years and thus had the honor of shaping and spinning the endless avalanche of bad news and bad press that has surrounded the long-aborning production.

The much-delayed musical will now be represented by O&M, which is headed by Rick Miramontez, who declined to comment to the Times. Don't blame him.

*** American actor Harris Yulin, a veteran of many years and many roles, finally gets to play Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman — in Dublin. (He must be taking a page from the Brian Dennehy career playbook.) The new production is now at the Gate Theatre. Previews began July 15 toward a July 20 opening. Another American, David Esbjornson, will direct.

*** It takes something particularly novel for the old New York International Fringe Festival to catch a reporter's attention these days. But this did it: Actor Hinton Battle will direct and choreograph the new musical Terms of Dismemberment as part of the 14th annual shebang. The Festival has had its share of Broadway stars doing some unpaid slumming below 14th Street. But Battle must be the event's first three-time Tony Award winner.

So what's the show's nutty plot? (Because you just know it has a nutty plot.) This: "The former Princess of the Pocatello Paper Pulp Pageant finds herself with a dead, deadbeat husband, three mortgages and Mafia debts she knew nothing about. She must choose between selling off the 'assets' of her lovely daughters, body part by body part, or risk their lives." Right.

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