PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 30-June 6: Fading to Grey

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 30-June 6: Fading to Grey
 
The cast of Broadway's Grey Gardens can now plan their Hamptons vacations.

Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens
Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens Photo by Joan Marcus

Producers of the Tony-winning show about mother and daughter Beale — perhaps East Hampton's most unconventional citizens ever — announced the show would shutter July 29. The news came only days after one of the show's Tony-winning stars, Mary Louise Wilson's decision to leave the production on the same date was revealed.

The show will have played 307 performances and 33 previews, a respectable run though not long enough to have earned a profit. That's not to say the show hasn't profited some. Wilson finally got her Tony after decades of stage service. Lyricist Michael Korie and composer Scott Frankel now have street cred as a musical team. (That street being Broadway.) And Christine Ebersole — who has endured as many downs as ups in her sometimes star-crossed career — wowed the critics playing "Big Edie" in the first act and "Little Edie" in the second, and secured herself a place in the Broadway pantheon of great musical theatre performances.

Nor will this be the last we hear of the show. The tale of the Beales and Grey Gardens will end its journey the way it began: as a documentary. The original 1975 film was made by David Maysles and Albert Maysles. Albert will soon come out with a follow-up documentary about the making of the musical. How's that for closure?

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Lois Smith won the best reviews of her career and a half-dozen awards for her lauded 2005 Off-Broadway performance at the Signature Theatre Company as the yearning mama in Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful. There was talk at the time that the show might transfer to Broadway, but nothing happened, and that seemed to be that. Well, not quite. In an unique development, Smith will repeat her triumph in 2008 at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, which is holding a Foote festival next year. The show will have the same director, Harris Yulin (an old acting mate of Smith's), and the same cast, according to Smith.

The move is unusual in a number of ways. Usually, regional productions find their way to New York, not the other way around. It is also rare that an Off-Broadway mounting (as opposed to a Broadway one) finds a life outside the city. Finally, Smith has a history in Chicago, but with the city's other major theatre company, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, not the Goodman.

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The cast of the Central Park staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream is coming together. This week, Martha Plimpton, a 2007 Tony Award nominee for her performance in the Tony-winning The Coast of Utopia, climbed aboard the Daniel Sullivan-directed piece.

Also in the cast are Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Flute), Herb Foster (Philostrate), George Morfogen (Egeus), Jason Antoon (Snout), Keith David (Oberon), Mireille Enos (Hermia), Jon Michael Hill (Puck), Austin Lysy (Lysander), Tim Blake Nelson (Quince), Daniel Oreskes (Theseus), Laila Robins (Titania), Jay O. Sanders (Bottom) and Elliot Villar (Demetrius).

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Playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman is returning to the theatre scene after a lengthy break. His new work Things We Want, will open the upcoming season at The New Group. As usual with Sherman, he's got a nifty cast (Peter Dinklage, Josh Hamilton) and an even niftier director (Ethan Hawke).

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Finally, one of the more endearing oddities of the Broadway real estate world came to an end recently. For years now, the Shubert Organization has been able to point to itself as the largest owner of Broadway theatres, laying claim to 16-and-a half houses.

That's right. The Shuberts never owned the entirety of The Music Box Theatre, the W. 45th Street theatre which was built in 1921 by producer Sam H. Harris — of the Shubert Organization — and famed composer Irving Berlin. Since the songwriter's death, the late composer's estate co-owned the theatre with the Shubert Organization. But The New York Post reported that Berlin's three daughters — Mary Ellin Barrett, Linda Emmett and Elizabeth Peters — recently sold their portion of the Music Box to the Shuberts. So, that's 17, boys. Just one word of friendly advice: if you ever think of renaming the theatre, the "Irving Berlin" might be a good choice.

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