PLAYBILL.COM’S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 8-14: House of Usher

News   PLAYBILL.COM’S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 8-14: House of Usher Jules Feiffer. Disney.
The company as seen in DruidSynge that is currently playing at Lincoln Center Festival.
The company as seen in DruidSynge that is currently playing at Lincoln Center Festival. Photo by Keith Pattison

They're not two names you ever expected to find in the same sentence. But the theatre often makes for strange bedfellows (see Usher's casting in Chicago below), and the bitterly sardonic cartoonist and playwright has been hired by the family-oriented corporation to write the libretto for a new musical based on Feiffer's children's book "The Man in the Ceiling."

Writing the score will be The Wild Party (the Off-Broadway one) composer Andrew Lippa. This will be that rare Disney theatrical project that is not based an existing animated film. No timetable has been announced for a staged production of the work, which, according to press notes, "tells the tale of Jimmy Jibbet, a boy-cartoonist who dreams of becoming a successful artist despite the expectations of everyone around him."

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Kevin Kline wants to work. Or so it seems. Just days after it was confirmed that the often commitment-shy actor would play King Lear at the Public Theater this fall, it was announced that he would step into the role of the Cook in the upcoming summer Central Park staging of Mother Courage.

Kline is replacing Christopher Walken, who has scheduling conflicts. His co-star is, of course, Meryl Streep. The two actors stirred up a lot of press when they joined forces in The Seagull in 2001. The lines around the Delacorte should be just as long this time around. Performances begin Aug. 8. ***

Got Synge? No? Don't worry—Lincoln Center has plenty to spare. Beginning July 10, the Lincoln Center Festival began offering its seven-show run of DruidSynge, an exhaustive examination of the Irish playwright J.M. Synge's work. Each performance lasts eight-and-one-half hours, and you get all of the Irish playwright's works, including The Playboy of the Western World and five others you've probably never heard of—all directed by Tony Award winning director Garry Hynes. It's the kind of extraordinary, foreign-born enterprise that New York critics go nuts for. And they did.

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No one on Broadway beats Chicago for unorthodox casting choices. The show that gave you the Broadway debuts of Melanie Griffith, Huey Lewis, John O'Hurley, Rita Wilson, Ute Lemper, Kevin Richardson, Alan Thicke, has booked R&B star Usher for a six-week stint. Beginning Aug. 22, the Ambassador will become the House of Usher. Let's just hope no clueless theatregoers get the wrong idea and ask the superstar for an extra program.