PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 9-15: Busy Bees

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 9-15: Busy Bees
 
Only now, as the 2005-06 season has come fully into focus, has it become apparent how industrious some of our scribes have been in recent days. Playwrights Richard Greenberg and Terrence McNally, who have apparently hit a sweet little groove, will have four premieres apiece in the next 12 months.
Terrence McNally
Terrence McNally Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Back in spring 2003, following a productive period that culminated in Take Me Out and The Violet Hour, Greenberg told Playbill.com "You know what. I'm finally tapped out for a while." Guess the tap's running again. The writer's crowded season will begin Sept. 9 with the New York premiere of A Naked Girl on the Appian Way at the American Airlines Theatre. After a brief break, it's off to Chicago, where the Steppenwolf Theatre Company will present the premiere of The Well-Appointed Room Jan. 12-March 12, 2006. Terry Kinney, who did a nice job with Greenberg's Violet Hour, will direct.

After that, Theatre J of Washington, D.C., will give the premiere April 5-May 21, 2006, of Bal Masque, Greenberg's take on Truman Capote's famous Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel in 1966. A quick trip on the Metroliner will bring the dramatist back to Manhattan, where The House in Town will get its world premiere at Lincoln Center Theatre on May 11 for a June 8 opening.

While Amtrak whizzes from D.C. to NYC, Greenberg can wave out his train window to Terrence McNally, who around that time will be opening his "gay history play with music," Some Men, at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. It runs May 12-June 11. That will be the finale to McNally's fraught season, which is beginning as we speak with Dedication, or The Stuff of Dreams, now in rehearsal for a July 26 start at Primary Stages. Act Two consists of the Sept. 10-Oct. 23 Old Globe Theatre premiere of The Dancer's Life, the show he's written for theatre legend Chita Rivera. If all goes well, that show will have a December opening at a Shubert theatre on Broadway. But not before McNally tends to the world premiere of his Crucifixion at the New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco Sept. 28-Nov. 6.

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Playwrights are not the only people who can stay busy. Jill Clayburgh spent little time hanging around Broadway during the past couple decades. But she's making up for it now. She will star in the aforementioned A Naked Girl on the Appian Way in the fall and then follow it up with a turn in the spring Broadway revival of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park. Maybe she just wants to stay close to her daughter, Lily Rabe, now in Steel Magnolias; Lily has been cast in MCC Theatre's Off-Broadway season opener, Colder Than Here, which runs Sept. 7-Oct. 15 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Jill's hubby and Lily's pop, playwright David Rabe better hurry up and get New York staging of one of his titles cooking if he wants to see anything of his family this autumn. ***

In upstate New York, The Barrington Stage Company of the Berkshires has stumbled into the biggest hit of its history with its production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, which closes July 16. The staging—directed by Julianne Boyd and headlined by Leslie Denniston (Phyllis), Jeff McCarthy (Ben), Kim Crosby (Sally), Lara Teeter (Buddy) as the two central couples—won a stack of rave reviews and has inspired a spike in traffic between Manhattan and Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the staging, which began on June 23, cannot extend, due to the July 21 opening of Barrington's next show, The Importance of Being Earnest.

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On Broadway this week, Primo, Antony Sher's austere and moving adaptation of Primo Levi's Holocaust memoir, "If This Is a Man," opened July 11 to admiring reviews, many from critics who welcomed his restrained and unsensational approach to the raw material.

One day later, As You Like It opened in Central Park to a reception considerably less enthusiastic. The show's Jacques, Brian Bedford, however, was universally praised—which was about as surprising as a florist's business picking up around Valentine's Day.

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