PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 25-31: Laid Off

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 25-31: Laid Off The recession must really be bad when even fictional working stiffs can't keep their jobs.
9 to 5 stars Megan Hilty, Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block
9 to 5 stars Megan Hilty, Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block Photo by Joan Marcus

The marquee value of songwriter Dolly Parton plus 9 to 5 was not enough to keep the new musical version of the popular 1980 movie alive on Broadway. The show will close Sept. 6, it was announced this week to little surprise from the press and theatre community.

By close, the Broadway run of 9 to 5 will have played 148 performances and 24 previews. It's safe to say that more was expected of a musical composed by Parton and directed by whiz Joe Mantello. But critics were lukewarm about the show, saying that Parton, Mantello and bookwriter Patricia Resnick had not done enough to reinvent the filmwork — about three secretaries who rebel against their bullying, sexist boss — and that the 30-year-old material was a little dated for 2009. (The action remained set in 1980.)

This isn't the last you'll see of the show. As is usually the case, a national tour is in the works. It will launch the week of Sept. 20, 2010, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville. Dollywood country. Should have an audience there, dontcha think?

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It's been a while since we've heard from composer Frank Wildhorn, the Broadway Zelig of the late 1990s. But now here's fresh news of one of the dozen Wildhorn projects that have been announced over the past decade. The Frank Wildhorn-Nilo Cruz-Jack Murphy musical Havana is described as having a Broadway future. (There's no such thing as a Wildhorn musical that's not "Broadway-bound.") The producers confirmed on July 29 that Jersey Boys choreographer Sergio Trujillo will make his Broadway directing debut with the show; he'll also choreograph. The original musical (not based on the film of the same name — thank God!) was seen in a private industry presentation in Manhattan on July 30. Producers are aiming Havana toward the 2010-11 Broadway season following a regional world premiere in June 2010 (Pasadena Playhouse had already announced the show; negotiations for that continue). ***

While we're on the subject of choreographer-caterpillars blossoming into director-butterflies, let's talk about Rob Ashford, who's mainly a dance man on Broadway, but is known as a rising stage jockey in London.

This week, Ashford opened his production of A Streetcar Names Desire at the Donmar Warehouse. (Hey, that's not even a musical! Somebody's stretching.) Film star Rachel Weisz played Blanche DuBois (more stretching), against a cast which features Elliot Cowan (as Stanley) and Ruth Wilson (as Stella).

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Finally, a little news on Shakespearean supporting casts.

Basking in the glorious handsomeness of Jude Law's upcoming Broadway Hamlet — transferring this fall from the Donmar Warehouse (them again!) — will be Geraldine James (Gertrude), Gwilym Lee (Laertes), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Ophelia), Kevin R. McNally (Claudius) and Matt Ryan (Horatio). Gugu?

Hamlet is currently playing at Wyndham's Theatre in London's West End, where it completes its sold out run on Aug. 22. It then travels to Kronberg Castle, Elsinore, for a sold out run from Aug. 25-30, prior to Broadway. Elsinore? Where have I heard that name, before?

In the world of Yankee Shakespeare, additional casting was announced for the Public Theater production of Othello, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz, which will begin performances Sept. 12. Drafted are Julian Acosta as Roderigo, Jessica Chastain as Desdemona, Liza Colon-Zayas as Emilia, and LeRoy McClain as Cassio.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jude Law in <i>Hamlet</i>; John Ortiz and Philip Seymour Hoffman in <i>Othello</i>
Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jude Law in Hamlet; John Ortiz and Philip Seymour Hoffman in Othello Photo by Johan Persson; Armin Bardel