PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 27-April 2: Movin' On Up

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, March 27-April 2: Movin' On Up A couple Off-Broadway shows got the news this week that every Off-Broadway show wants to hear: You're going to Broadway!
The Scottsboro Boys stars Rodney Hicks, John Cullum and Brandon Victor Dixon
The Scottsboro Boys stars Rodney Hicks, John Cullum and Brandon Victor Dixon Photo by Carol Rosegg

The Scottsboro Boys, the acclaimed new musical by John Kander, Fred Ebb and David Thompson that takes a flashpoint in American Civil Rights history and tells the story in the form of a minstrel show, bowing Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre, hopes to transfer to Broadway next season.

Producer Barry Weissler — who is most most famous for backing the still-running revival of Kander and Ebb's Chicago — told the New York Times that neither Circle in the Square Theater or the Henry Miller's Theater, which will both be vacant shortly, are a good fit for the production. And so the show will wait. Thompson said something similar to Playbill.com earlier in the week, but expressed the belief that the show would move uptown in the fall. That would make the Scottsboro the second new Kander and Ebb musical (aftr Curtains) to reach Broadway since Ebb's death in 2004.

The fact-inspired show, about nine black teenagers accused of a crime against white women — a crime they didn't commit — in 1931 Alabama, was recently extended by two weeks to April 18.

Less expected than the Scottboro news was the announcement that the new musical Yank! A WWII Love Story, which was recently extended through April 4 at The York Theatre Company, is heading to Broadway.

Co-producers Maren Berthelsen, Pamela Koslow, Stuart Wilk, Matt Schicker, Hugh Hayes, Jim Kierstead, Sondra Healy, Shidan Majidi and Karl Held will bring the acclaimed musical to midtown during the 2010-11 season. The Broadway mounting will cost approximately $5 million. The York — which has only sent two other productions to Broadway during its long history: the 1989 revival of Sweeney Todd, and Souvenir— will not be one of the producers. Neither casting nor theatre has been announced.

Yank! A WWII Love Story has music by Joseph Zellnik with book and lyrics by David Zellnik (the two men are brothers). According to the producers, the musical chronicles the relationship between two servicemen long before 'Don't-ask-don't-tell' was part of the national discussion.

Seems like contentious, real-life events make for auspicious musical fare lately.

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Patrick Stewart

Would you believe Patrick Stewart as a washed-up, envious, pathetic old actor? Well, you can judge for yourself when the British thesp takes on the role of Robert in the upcoming Broadway production of David Mamet's two-character A Life in the Theatre. Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler will usher in the earlier Mamet work from 1977, which will make its Broadway debut in the fall at a theatre to be named.

The producers aren't exactly rolling the dice in casting Stewart. He played Robert in a well-reviewed 2005 production A Life in the Theatre at London's Apollo Theatre.

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The Broadway opening of the week was British import Red by John Logan, starring Alfred Molina as Abstract Expressionist painter Mark Rothko. Critics echoed the raves the show received on the other side of the ocean, called the work intelligent, exciting, and enthralling and, if a bit talky, full of great talk. Highlighting all was Molina's performance as the tortured, eccentric artist.

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Two months still until the Tonys, but awards season — which, like the basketball season, gets longer every year — is already upon us.

Nominations for the 25th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards, celebrating excellence in the 2009-10 Off-Broadway season, were announced April 1 in anticipation of the May 2 awards ceremony. Roundabout Theatre Company's current The Glass Menagerie, MCC's The Pride and Lincoln Center Theater's current When the Rain Stops Falling each received six nominations.

The Outstanding Director category includes a two-time Lortel winner, David Cromer, who triumphed in 2008 and 2009. Will he take three, and become the Lortel's version of perpetual Tony-winner Audra McDonald? Also nominated are the previously mentioned Scottsboro and Yank!.

Special awards include: for Outstanding Body of Work will go to Lincoln Center Theater; and, Lifetime Achievement Award, to producer Daryl Roth. Roth is perhaps the most deft Pulitzer collector in the producing world, having back Three Tall Woman, Wit, Proof, Anna in the Tropics and August: Osage County. Many of these moved to Broadway. Her most successful Broadway transfer, however, is perhaps son Jordan Roth, who grew up to become president of Jujamcyn Theatres.

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Speaking of Lincoln Center, that prosperous nonprofit has had for 25 years the most unorthodox ticket program in New York. When Gregory Mosher became artistic director in the mid-'80s, instead of going for the standard subscription set-up, he installed a membership program, in which members would play a flat fee, and then have the choice to purchase only tickets, at a discounted rate, to shows they were interested in. No one thought it would work, but it's been a great success since the word go.

Still, strangely, no one has followed LCT's example. Until now. The Public Theater announced this week that it is forgoing the standard theatre practice of selling theatregoers full-season subscriptions, and opting for a new membership program for the 2010-11 season. The new memberships, priced at $55, will allow patrons the chance to purchase tickets only for the shows they want — at a discounted rate of $40 — prior to the on-sale date to the general public. Tickets to the New York premiere of Tony Kushner's The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key To The Scriptures will be available for $20.

Kathleen Chalfant, Stephen Spinella, Linda Emond and Michael Cristofer
Kathleen Chalfant, Stephen Spinella, Linda Emond and Michael Cristofer
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