PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 14-20: Broadway: The New Off-Broadway

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 14-20: Broadway: The New Off-Broadway And another Off-Broadway musical decides to take a run at Broadway.
Clarke Thorell in the Off-Broadway production of Lone Star Love.
Clarke Thorell in the Off-Broadway production of Lone Star Love. Photo by Joan Marcus

Lone Star Love, the Wild West-set musical version of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, which played successfully Off-Broadway during the 2004-05 season, was announced this week as having a Broadway future. A Seattle engagement is scheduled for Sept. 8-30. The Broadway run will begin Nov. 1 at the Belasco (a rare musical offering in that often-dark house) with an official opening Dec. 3.

It follows in the footsteps of Grey Gardens, Spring Awakening and the upcoming In the Heights — musicals that, not too long ago, would have found their commercial homes Off-Broadway. But the difficult economics of Off-Broadway, the greater exposure of a Broadway berth, and a sense that Broadway is now more congenial to adventurous musical theatre, has led producers to move their shows uptown. So far, the gamble has paid off only for Spring Awakening, which won a heap of Tonys and looks as though it's on its way to a long life at the O'Neill. Grey Gardens, meanwhile, will close July 29, despite having won a couple Tonys and copious praise.

Most likely aiding the Lone Star Love producers' decision to go for the big time was the casting of film actor Randy Quaid as Colonel John Falstaff. He will be joined onstage by Broadway regulars and Tony nominees Robert Cuccioli as Frank Ford and Dee Hoty as Margaret Anne Page. Randy Skinner will direct and choreograph.

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In more Broadway news, a new Broadway-aimed production of the groundbreaking 1967 film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,, with Kenny Leon attached as director, is in the works. Late screenwriter William Rose's Academy Award-winning screenplay will be adapted for the theatre by Todd Kreidler, who is close to Leon, having served as dramaturg to the late August Wilson on both Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. The story, of course, concerned a supposedly liberal mother and father's unexpected reactions when their daughter comes home with a new boyfriend who is African-American. Producer Jeffrey Finn is hoping for a Dinner date on Broadway in fall 2008.

Leon's next Broadway gig was to have been an all-black version of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that, word had it, would have starred Audra McDonald, Forest Whitaker and Anthony Mackie. But Leon exited the project after reported disagreements with the producers over casting.

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After cropping up here and there and everywhere for the past few years, The Civilians' charming bit of mock-documentary theatre, Gone Missing, has finally settled down and become an old-fashioned commercial hit. The Barrow Street Theatre production has just announced yet another extension to its successful run. The production is now booked through January 2008.

Gone Missing takes a whimsical look at all things lost: car keys, shoes, rings, photographs innocence, memory, limbs and sanity. The cast features several downtown favorites (people not used to working more than three weeks at a time), including Emily Ackerman, Damian Baldet, Jennifer R. Morris, Stephen Plunkett, Robbie Collier Sublett and Colleen Werthmann.

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Hairspray, the hit Broadway musical inspired by the John Waters film of a young girl's dream to dance on television in 1960's Baltimore, has come full circle, making it back to the screen. The new movie musical opened wide on July 20 to mainly positive reviews. Whether that means it will become the next Chicago is yet to be seen.

Adam Shankman directs a cast which includes not a single star from the stage version, but a number of name film performers including John Travolta and Christopher Walken as Edna and Wilbur Turnblad, Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle and Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma von Tussel.

Nikki Blonsky in "Hairspray."
Nikki Blonsky in "Hairspray." Photo by New Line Cinema
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