PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 3-9: Glee for "Glee"

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 3-9: Glee for "Glee"
 
Every now and then, the theatre community embraces a television show as a kindred spirit.
Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele
Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele Photo by Joe Viles/FOX

For the past year, that show has been "Glee" on FOX. The series, which follows the adventures of a high school show choir in Lima, OH, plucks at the heartstrings and mines the nostalgia of every born theatre geek out there — a good 75 percent of whom (caution: broad generalization ahead) very likely participated in some sort of socially ostracizing music or drama club during their formative years.

Burgeoning the appeal of the show among its fans is that some of its stars are recognized by stage devotees as members of their own circle. "Glee" has made national names out of Light in the Piazza actor Matthew Morrison and Spring Awakening actress Lea Michele. Room has also been made for guest actors such as John Lloyd Young (Jersey Boys), Neil Patrick Harris (Assassins), Idina Menzel (Wicked) and Kristin Chenoweth (Promises, Promises), as well as veterans like Victor Garber and Debra Monk.

"Glee" lovers had reason to be gleeful this week, as the show was nominated for 19 Emmy Awards, including one for Outstanding Comedy Series. The new series also received a slew of other nominations, including acting nominations for Morrison (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series), Michele (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series), Jane Lynch (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series), Chris Colfer (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series), Mike O'Malley (Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series), Neil Patrick Harris (Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series) and Kristin Chenoweth (Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series).

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The Tony Awards, which have been presented at Radio City Music Hall for over a decade, may be moving far uptown next year. See, Radio City Music Hall is booked for June 2011. (Why that venue would do that, knowing that the Tony returns every year at the same time, is an interesting question). So new digs were needed. The New York Post reports that the likely venue for the 2011 Tony Awards will be the United Palace Theatre, which is located at Broadway and 175th Street, an intersection in the Washington Heights neighborhood that I doubt many Broadway producers have ever seen.

In the Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda must be ecstatic.

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Unchain My Heart, the Ray Charles musical that had been scheduled to begin previews Oct. 8 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, will now open on Broadway in spring 2011 at a Shubert theatre to be announced.

The principal cast is expected to stay with the production, among them Brandon Victor Dixon as Ray Charles.

For the new show, Dixon apparently gave up the chance to repeat his leading role in the Off-Broadway-to-Broadway transfer of Kander and Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys, which will open on Broadway Oct. 31 at the Lyceum Theatre. Cast in his role is Joshua Henry, who created the "Favorite Son" military hero in Broadway's American Idiot.

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Jerry Zaks will helm the new musical Sister Act when the tuner arrives on Broadway in spring 2011, it was announced.

Zaks, who recently stepped in to work on the Broadway musical The Addams Family, will take the reins of the musical, which is based on the 1992 film same title. Peter Schneider staged the original West End premiere of Sister Act. Anthony van Laast, who choreographed in London, will repeat his duties for Broadway. The Broadway incarnation will begin rehearsals in early 2011 in anticipation of a spring opening at a theatre-to-be-announced. Casting will begin in late July. Whoopi Goldberg and Stage Entertainment U.K. produce.

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When you picture the Stage Manager character in Thornton Wilder's play Our Town, what do you see? A crusty old Yankee? A elderly man in suspenders and wire-rim glasses?

Here's another question. When you picture the Stage Manager, do you ever see Helen Hunt?

Ticketbuyers at the long-running Off-Broadway revival of the classic play have been seeing that famous Academy Award winner play the iconic role since she joined the cast on July 6. Now, this production already broke the mold of that role when deadpan David Cromer, created the Stage Manager part as it premiered. He was young, which was different. And he was the production's director, which was very different. Since then, we've had a successful of just plain actors. But the entrance of an actress turns the character on its head again. There have been more female Hamlets than there have been female Stage Managers. (Has there ever been one in New York?) And a female movie-star Stage Manager, well, that's just something new.

Helen Hunt (center) with the cast of <i>Our Town</i>.
Helen Hunt (center) with the cast of Our Town. Photo by Carol Rosegg
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