PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 10-16: Talk and Talk

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 10-16: Talk and Talk The Broadway debut of Eric Bogosian's 20-year-old play Talk Radio took place on March 11 and created more of a stir than anyone expected. The show had experienced a delay and the production had not been setting the box office on fire. But when the curtain went up, critics were reminded how much they liked actor Liev Schreiber and went out of their way to remind the public (again) that this was one of the best dramatic stage actors we have, if not the best. The reception lent the show some needed buzz and spurred tickets sales at the Longacre.

Liev Schreiber in Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio.
Liev Schreiber in Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio. Photo by Joan Marcus

Otherwise, the big talk this week was about a piece of Broadway casting that might happen. The New York Post reported that Hollywood "It" girl Scarlett Johansson may make her Broadway debut in Lincoln Center Theater's upcoming revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. People have been wondering who would be tapped for Nellie Forbush since the revival was announced, with all sorts of names being bandied about. Johansson has been making producers salivate for a while now with her purported interest in doing a stage turn. She was gal Andrew Lloyd Webber originally wanted for his London The Sound of Music (Scarlett likes her some Rodgers and Hammerstein). When he didn't get her, he was forced to go and create a reality show to find a replacement. Another name on the list is supposedly Kelli O'Hara, a proven stage talent who can sing, command the Vivian Beaumont (The Light in the Piazza) and seems able to play about anything. Less box office, perhaps, but fewer worries.

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Robert Falls, who directed Talk Radio, will be back in town in May. He'll be mounting Beyond Glory, which was written by Stephen Lang, who will also star. It replaces the planned run of Brian Friel's The Home Place for the Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway season. Theatrically adapted from the book, "Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words," Beyond Glory presents the stories of eight veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

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The actress selected to play Juliet in Central Park this summer is well-suited to the part as she has lots of experience with death. She's Lauren Ambrose of "Six Feet Under" fame. She'll play opposite the Romeo of Oscar Isaac, who previously graced the Delacorte in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Camryn Manheim, a stage-bred actress absent from the New York theatre for some time now, will play the Nurse. ***

Casting keeps on coming for Xanadu, the new musical based on the camp classic move which has been reeling a bit since intended star Jane Krakowski revealed she wouldn't be able to do the show. Jackie Hoffman and Mary Testa have joined a troupe that already includes Tony Roberts and Kerry Butler. Testa will play the role of Melpomeny, the evil muse of tragedy, while Hoffman will be Calliope, the muse of epic. Yeah, I can see that.

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Hey, Broadway producers, think you've got a great show, with a great cast and great effect? Yeah, sure you do. But do you have a 20-member onstage choir performing Handel's "Messiah" every night, backed by a seven-piece chamber orchestra?

Didn't think so. Well, The Coram Boy — the London import about the sad state of child welfare in 18th-century England — does. The choir's not just there for show, but is weaved into the story, as is Mr. Handel, who will be played by Quentin Maré. If the show sticks around until Christmas, what a selling point that will make.