PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 7-13: August in June

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 7-13: August in June The Tony Awards honoring the 2007-08 will be held Sunday night at Radio City Hall, and, according to the pundits, certain producers and actors will stroll down the red carpet primed for victory.
Deanna Dunagan (seated) and Amy Morton in August: Osage County.
Deanna Dunagan (seated) and Amy Morton in August: Osage County.

Perhaps the surest of the sure will be playwright Tracy Letts and the producers of August: Osage County, who are led by the ubiquitous Jeffrey Richards. In case no one noticed, if Richards does win this year, it will be the fourth year running that he has taken home a Tony, having accomplished the feat in 2005 for Glengarry Glen Ross, 2006 for The Pajama Game, and 2007 for Spring Awakening. What's more, he will have won in all four major producing categories: Best Play, Best Musical, Best Revival of a Play, Best Revival of a Musical.

Other sure shots, according to those that prognosticate (What's that? About 97 perecent of the Broadway community?), are Patti LuPone, Mama Rose of Gypsy; one of the lead actresses of AugustDeanna Dunagan or Amy Morton, take your pick; Anna Shapiro, the director of August; Bartlett Sher, the director of South Pacific; Laura Benanti, Louise in Gypsy; and South Pacific's Paulo Szot, Broadway's new heartthrob.

The battleground awards include the biggest: Best Musical. In the Heights, the feel-good, salsa-flavored tale of Barrio strivers, was the early favorite, but Stew's coming-of-age rock concert Passing Strange has surged, thanks for the vocal zealotry of its many advocates. Since this award isn't given out until the end of the show, some suspense is guaranteed up until the very end of the broadcast.

Another toss-up is Best Actor in a Play, which was thought to be a gimme for Patrick Stewart of Macbeth a few weeks ago. Stewart has never won. Neither has unlucky Macbeth, for that matter. But the inspired lunacy offered nightly by Mark Rylance in the farce Boeing-Boeing has given a lot of good-time-loving voters second thoughts. Boeing-Boeing itself also stands a chance to topple Macbeth in the Best Revival of a Play category.

*** Just in time to capitalize on their likely triumph at the Tonys, the producers of August: Osage County announced they will tour the nation beginning in San Francisco in summer 2009. Subsequent engagements will be announced shortly. No casting for the tour has been announced, but since a fair number of the Broadway cast members are leaving right after the Tonys, perhaps some of them will have rested up enough by 2009 to tackle the play all over again.

***

The biggest news of the week was Oskar Eustis's announcement of the 2008-2009 season at the Public Theater, which will include works by Stephen Sondheim and John Guare, as well as productions directed by former artistic directors George C. Wolfe and JoAnne Akalaitis. (C'mon, Oskar, George and JoAnne! Group hug!)

As previously reported, the undying Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical Bounce (boy, they named that one right) will find a home at the Public Theater in early fall. While the Public has not confirmed dates for Bounce, a casting notice has stated that the production is slated to begin Oct. 28 and continue through Nov. 30, with a possible extension through Dec. 28. John Doyle will stage the anticipated New York premiere of the musical.

After the New Year, Wolfe will direct Guare's A Free Man of Color. Featuring Topdog/Underdog cast members Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright, Guare's play "re-creates the sexually progressive New Orleans of 1802 when the landscape of race was shifting and the Louisiana Purchase could complete America's unfinished maps. Featuring a host of historical characters including Napoleon, Josephine, Jefferson, Talleyrand and others (you name 'em, they're in it), A Free Man of Color is a racially charged re-telling of America's coming of age."

Christopher Durang will provide my favorite play title of the coming season, Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them. Durang's latest comedy "tells the story of a young woman suddenly in crisis: is her new husband, whom she married when drunk, a terrorist? Or just crazy? Or both? Is her father's hobby of butterfly collecting really a cover for his involvement in a shadow government? Why does her mother enjoy going to the theatre so much? Does she seek mental escape, or is she insane?"

Theatregoers will finally see the New York premiere of Craig Lucas' The Singing Forest. The spring production reunites Lucas with his Light in the Piazza director Bartlett Sher in a decade-spanning work that travels "from today's world of Starbucks, celebrity and therapy to Freud's inner circle in 1930's Vienna and to Paris at the end of WWII. It's the story of three generations of a family whose lives are intertwined despite the secrets that have torn them apart."

And there's just no separating frequent collaborators JoAnne Akalaitis and Philip Glass. Summer arrives at the Public with a new production of The Bacchae. Glass has composed the original choral score for the Delacorte staging of Euripides' classic story.

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