PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 28-July 4: No Strike for Summer

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 28-July 4: No Strike for Summer Broadway actors and Broadway producers are in harmony.
The picket lines during the recent stagehands strike.
The picket lines during the recent stagehands strike. Photo by Matthew Blank

After two and a half months of talks, the Broadway League and Actors' Equity Association reached a tentative agreement for a new contract this week. The deal will include an 11.25 percent increase in overall compensation over 39 months.

An interesting part of the agreement, which still has to be approved by the union rank and file, is that it "expands the terms of how taped content from shows can be used in publicity, particularly on the Internet," according to the New York Times. The tight rules on how much of a show can be used in televised advertising has always been a thorn in the side of producers. In recent years, those producers have begun to recognize the power of images on the Internet to get word of their attractions out. Equity members will receive some compensation for such promotion. How much, it was not said.

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Americans like to have their movies turned into musicals. The British like to have movies turned into plays. The Graduate, When Harry Met Sally, 39 Steps, All About My Mother and Festen have all seen the London stage in no-dancing, no-singing versions.

Now comes Rain Man, a stage version of the 1988 film forever associated with co-stars Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. The play will feature Josh Hartnett in the Cruise role of a shallow young go-getter who discovers he has an older autistic brother, played by Adam Godley. It will begin performances at the Apollo Theatre Aug. 28 prior to an official opening Sept. 9. The move has been "re-imagined" (that word!) by writer Dan Gordon and director David Grindley for the stage, and is reset in the present day. ***

Ian Rickson's production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, has chosen the Walter Kerr Theatre as its New York home, starting in September. The production, which features a new translation (as opposed to a re-imagination) by playwright Christopher Hampton, will star Kristin Scott Thomas, who will reprise her Olivier Award-winning performance as Arkadina. She will be joined onstage by Peter Sarsgaard, who will also be making his Broadway debut, as Trigorin.

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Other Broadway news. The world premiere Broadway production of Nick Whitby's To Be Or Not To Be, based on the 1942 movie comedy about a theatre troupe that fools the Nazis, will star Peter Benson, Craig Bierko and Jan Maxwell. Bierko and Maxwell will play the husband and wife acting team at the center of the story.

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The international phenomenon that is the stage version of the movie Dirty Dancing will finally touch down in the United States in September. Chicago will be the lucky city to first receive the story of Baby, a summer resort patron in the Catskills, and Johnny, the dance instructor there who changes her life. Josef Brown, of the London production, will be Johnny and Amanda Leigh Cobb will be Baby.

The show is called Broadway-bound, but no New York dates have been announced, though future tour markets include Boston and Los Angeles. The musical will sit down for two months at Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre.

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The New York Theatre Workshop announced its 2008-2009 season and it will include new works by playwright Michael Weller and director Peter Brook — two artists that aren't seen that often on New York stages.

Weller's new play, The Beast, is billed as a "blood-red road adventure [in which] two Iraqi War veterans — badly mutilated but as fiercely patriotic as ever — make their way home from a military hospital in Germany. Their marauding adventure across America takes them to Crawford, TX, where they meet up with their Commander-in-Chief and offer a surefire solution to all his problems." And just before Mr. Bush exits the White House, too! Jo Bonney will direct.

Brook, meanwhile, will direct The Grand Inquisitor, Marie-Hélène Estienne's adaptation of the "Inquisitor" section in Dostoyevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov." The Centre for International Theatre Creations/Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord staging will be a co-presentation with Theatre for a New Audience.

Josef Brown as Johnny with Nadia Coote and ensemble from London's <i>Dirty Dancing.</i>.
Josef Brown as Johnny with Nadia Coote and ensemble from London's Dirty Dancing.. Photo by David Scheinmann