PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 20-26: Sondheim Gets His Due

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 20-26: Sondheim Gets His Due
 
Composer Stephen Sondheim has seen a lot of nice things come his way with his 80th birthday this month. A celebratory concert, a new Broadway show — and tons of ink. But I'm guessing his favorite present came this week, when it was announced that the Henry Miller's Theatre on West 43rd Street will be renamed The Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
James Lapine watches Stephen Sondheim react to news of his namesake theater.
James Lapine watches Stephen Sondheim react to news of his namesake theater. Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Sondheim's doing pretty well. Few living American theatre artists get to see their name on a marquee, especially a Broadway marquee. Broadway's track record has been curious. They name theatres after press agents, theatre executives and caricaturists, but folks like Tennessee Williams, Oscar Hammerstein II, Arthur Miller and Cole Porter remained unhonored. So Steve should feel pretty special.

The physical renaming of the Henry Miller's Theatre, which is operated by the Roundabout Theatre Company, will happen after the limited engagement of All About Me ends at the Henry Miller's. All About Me is scheduled through July 18.

Added plus for proofreaders: You won't have to deal with the pesky apostrophe in Henry Miller's Theatre anymore.

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Also getting some respect this week was the New York Drama Critics' Circle. The critical body — whose fortunes have not been in recent years what they were in its heyday, when its annual Best Play and Best Musical awards were as anticipated at the Tonys — received the ultimate insult last summer when The Broadway League kicked it — along with every other critic, editor and reporter — out of the Tony voting pool.

Journalists howled in indignation, but the League, it seemed, remained deaf to their cries.

Well, not entirely. The League announced that members of the Circle were being reinstated as Tony voters — all 20 of them.

On behalf of Tony Award Productions, Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, and Howard Sherman, executive director of the American Theatre Wing, said in a statement, "We recognize that the recent decision to rescind the votes of the press was perceived as a slight against journalists, and in particular the working theatre critics. The Tony Awards maintain a profound respect for the media community as partners in advocating for the value of live theatre and we deeply regret if offense was inadvertently given. We believe that the selection of the New York Drama Critics' Circle is consistent with our policy of authorizing independent theatrical organizations (including labor unions and creative guilds) to determine which members of their professional constituency may vote. We are very pleased that the Drama Critics' Circle has accepted this offer." (One could ask why this offer was not made of other "independent theatrical organizations" like the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle, but...)

Adam Feldman, president of the New York Drama Critics' Circle, added, "We are very pleased that the Tonys have reconsidered their decision, and look forward to continuing our dialogue with them about the role of the press in the theatre community." That role, as everyone knows, has been seriously diminished in recent years, as publications have eliminated critics' posts.

As for the rest of the journalists who were kicked to the curb last year, you still have your health.

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What artist was the lynchpin to making the Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart happen? Turns out is was star Megan Mullally. Because on March 25, a day after it was revealed that Mullally had bolted the production, artistic director Todd Haimes announced the show would be "postponed." And with the posters already up at the American Airline Theatre and everything.

Megan Mullally

Mullally, who was to play the role of Chloe Haddock, has made no public statement about why she left the four-person ensemble comedy directed by Joe Mantello. The cast also included David Wilson Barnes as Chloe's husband John Haddock, Patton Oswalt as Sam Truman (Chloe's brother) and Lili Taylor as Sally Truman. Previews were to begin April 9 toward an April 29 opening. The New York Times, citing anonymous sources close to the situation, reported that Mullally was not happy with the work of theatrical newcomer Oswalt, and that Mullally and Mantello squabbled over it.

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The 2010-11 season of The Public Theater was revealed this week.

As previously announced, the season of the famed downtown not-for-profit will also include the New York City premiere of Tony Kushner's (deep breath now) The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures, directed by Michael Greif, plus Rinne Groff's Compulsion, directed by Public artistic director Oskar Eustis.

The season will also include the highest-profile berth yet for Gatz, Elevator Repair Service's six-plus-hours-long stage adaptation of the entire text of "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatz will be presented as a marathon theatrical event, with two intermissions and a dinner break, four times per week.

Also present will be In the Wake, the New York premiere of a new play by Lisa Kron of Well, directed by Leigh Silverman. The work is called "a witty, passionate and intellectually charged meditation on love and country." (Currently at the Kirk Douglas Theater in L.A., the play there is called The Wake.)

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Come Fly Away, the new Twyla Tharp dance musical from the Tony-winning choreographer that moves to the music and voice of the late Frank Sinatra, officially opened on Broadway March 25. Did critics think it was another Movin' Out or another The Times They Are A-Changin'?

Well, perhaps somewhere in the middle. The reviews weren't across-the-board good like they were for Movin' Out, but they were good enough, with a rave from the Times ("dazzling new dance musical") leading the bunch.

A new revival of Tennessee Williams' famed memory play, The Glass Menagerie, at Off-Broadway's Laura Pels Theatre, opened March 24 to mostly high marks from the critics, who praised director Gordon Edelstein for abandoning the gauzy gentility often associated with the place for a grittier, unvarnished view of the Wingfield family, which is staged in the hotel room of son Tom as he types out the play that would make Williams famous. The New York Times said star Judith Ivey was giving "the performance of her career" as more-grating-than-usual mother Amanda.

Keith Roberts and Karine Plantadit (center) and company
Keith Roberts and Karine Plantadit (center) and company
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