PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 21-27: Snap, Snap

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 21-27: Snap, Snap
 
In a slow, post-Tony week in the theatre, it was an upcoming reading that got people excited. Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane — a comedic pairing that seems so natural it's a wonder it hasn't been tried before — will star in an August reading of The Addams Family musical. The show is scheduled for the 2009-2010 Broadway season following an out-of-town tryout.
Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane
Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The musical is penned by songwriter Andrew Lippa and Jersey Boys writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the hot bookwriting team of the moment. Adding further spice to the project are Improbable Theater founders Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, the creators of the macabre Shockheaded Peter, who will direct and design.

The show is, of course, based on the enduring work of Charles Addams, the cartoonist whose creepy and spooky sketches have captivated generations. His greatest renown was for creating the characters comprising The Addams Family, a clan of deadpan ghouls who inspired a television series and a string of films. Lane would play Gomez, the head of the family, a role embodied by John Astin and Raul Julia. Neuwirth, who has some experience playing chilly characters, would be Morticia, portrayed by Angelica Huston on screen.

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Adriane Lenox, a Tony Award winner for Doubt, will star in Manhattan Theatre Club's 2009 world premiere production of Lynn Nottage's Ruined, a co-production with the Goodman Theatre (which commissioned it) in Chicago. The drama will play New York City Center Stage I beginning Jan. 21, 2009. Prior to coming to MTC, Lenox will appear in the Goodman run of Ruined, which will open in Chicago on Nov. 17.

It will be the first major new role for Lenox since she won the Tony. Nottage, meanwhile, found her career reignited a couple years ago when she wowed critics with back-to-back, acclaimed productions of Fabulation and Intimate Apparel. Her new play is set a small mining town in civil-war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, and follows Mama Nadi (Lenox), a shrewd businesswoman who will go to great lengths to survive. Hm. Didn't Brecht write something like that? ***

Those two guys from the "Harry Potter" movies have been joined by the chick from the "Star Trek" show in the upcoming Broadway revival of Equus.

But seriously, the English transfer featuring Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths received some more star power — as if it needed it — with the entrance of Kate Mulgrew, who will play the part of Hesther Saloman. The show begins previews Sept. 5 at the Broadhurst Theatre.

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Producer Kevin McCollum and his partners are dreaming of a White Christmas. One in New York City. But it doesn't snow much in Manhattan anymore, so they've got their work cut out for them.

The showmen are hoping to bring the popular stage version of the 1954 movie musical (with songs by Irving Berlin) — which has been seen in a Walter Bobbie-directed production in San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Toronto, Los Angeles and St. Paul — into the Marquis Theatre for a limited engagement starting this fall.

McCollum told Playbill.com he's trying to create a new producing model for a large musical that will run less than ten weeks. The show would use 24 musicians and 32 people on stage. "I'm trying to get everybody on the same page," McCollum said of discussions with unions. "Is this something that we can and should be doing on Broadway?" McCollum said he's hoping there will be some flexibility for this special circumstance: a two-and-a-half-hour, large-cast, large-set show such as White Christmas, where union people will ultimately benefit from two months of work (more, with rehearsal time).

Because of the seasonal nature of White Christmas, a seven-and-a-half week run is the goal, running mid-November to early January 2009. McCollum said he's hoping to present nine performances a week (one performance more than is usual) for three weeks of the run.

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Bill T. Jones, who won a 2007 Tony Award for his Spring Awakening choreography, will both direct and choreograph Fela!, a new musical based on the life of groundbreaking African composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. It will begin a limited engagement at Off-Broadway's 37 Arts July 29.

Jones also lent a hand in the writing of the piece. Fela will feature a book by Jones and Jim Lewis and will utilize Kuti's own music performed live by Antibalas and other members of the New York Afrobeat community.

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Finally, this week the board of directors of the ambitious, Tony Award-winning Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis, MN, voted to list the theatre's headquarters for sale and to shut down the group.

The announcement was made June 22. Included in the decision is a planned significant reduction in artistic and administrative staff, effective July 31, 2008. A statement from the board president indicated that financial circumstance forced the move.

The closure is a loss for the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, which has benefited from the work of one of the nation's most prominent avant-garde theatre groups since 1978. The company was founded in by Minneapolis resident Barbra Berlovitz and Parisians Dominique Serrand and Vincent Gracieux (hence the company's name, which means Theatre of the New Moon). The three had studied together at the International Theater School of Jacques Lecoq in Paris. The shows were often movement-oriented, projection-filled and theatrically multi-disciplinary. Among popular or lauded titles were its early comedy hit Yang Zen Froggs and the nationally acclaimed Children of Paradise: Shooting a Dream. Itinerant for its first 14 years, the company bought and renovated the Allied Van Lines building in the Minneapolis warehouse district in 1992. The company won a Tony Award only three years ago as Best Regional Theatre.

A scene from Theatre de la Jeune Lune's <i>Figaro.</i>
A scene from Theatre de la Jeune Lune's Figaro. Photo by Michal Daniel
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