PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 14-20: Trump That

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 14-20: Trump That Around the middle of the week, America's favorite egomaniacal busybody Donald Trump held a press conference in the lobby of his Trump Tower.
Donald Trump
Donald Trump Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Though not asked to by any city, state or national figure, he took it upon himself to solve the old World-Trade-Center-site conundrum. Scrap that crummy Liebskind design, he advised. Instead, just rebuild the Twin Towers exactly as they were (with one floor added). To aid those not directly hooked into his blinding vision, he stood before a seven-foot model of the buildings. (We'd forgotten what they looked like, right?)

Then, two days later, it was announced that theatrical producers Barry and Fran Weissler and TV producer Mark Burnett would team with Trump on a new stage musical based on Trump's hit reality series "The Apprentice"—the hugely popular show that made the world think that the Donald coined the phrase "You're fired."

So, which, do you think, is the more improbable proposition?

"The Apprentice," of course, is the reality series where MBA ladder climbers compete for a corner office at the glorious Trump Organization; a sort of mean-spirited How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying where everybody is J. Pierpont Finch, only less lovable. At the close of each program, Trump tells one of the contestants "You're fired!"—two words which will no doubt be the title of the first song composed for the new musical.

Composed by whom? Good question. No songwriters have been named for the project. Ditto, librettist. Whoever they are, they'll have to follow this plot, outlined by Burnett: "I had a vision for a dramatic story within 'The Apprentice' that I knew would work on a Broadway stage. This is not a spoof or a satire, it is a love story set to 'The Apprentice' as a backdrop." As for that creative team, perhaps they want to look up David Yazbek. After all, the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels composer already has that musical's grubby little schemer Freddy belt an ode to The Donald nightly: "I'm tired of being a chump/I want to be like Trump/Two hundred pounds of caviar in one gigantic lump." They'll have to get him working soon, however. The show's estimated arrival of spring 2006 means we will see the show in exactly one year.

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Over in Merry Olde England, things were very merry indeed. The recent opening of Billy Elliot — The Musical set critics a-buzzin' that the West End had come up with the best musical in the history of English theatre, which was rather like trumpeting the arrival of the primo film in the annals of Bulgarian cinema.

Nevertheless, best is best, and U.S. producers took immediate notice. According to reports, showmen will be flying over to take a look as soon as the Tonys are out of the way. This, despite the show's creators expressing reservations that the entertainment is perhaps too English to travel well. The show is a stage adaptation of the successful 2000 film about a boy who learns ballet against the wishes of his father and brother. It has a score by Elton John, who previously composed the songs for Disney’s The Lion King and Aida, neither of which had anyone saying that Elton had created the best anything. Stephen Daldry, who directed the film, staged the show.

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The Public Theater is getting into its coming 50th anniversary season in a big way. The nonprofit had also announced a reading series that would revisit such past glories as The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, The Colored Museum, FOB, Short Eyes and for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. Now comes word that the Central Park staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream has been replaced by a revival of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the John Guare-Mel Shapiro-Galt MacDermot musical adaptation that was the Public's first Broadway transfer back in 1971. The musical will play Aug. 16-Sept. 11 and be directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall—her first major assignment since winning a Tony Award for her choreography of Wonderful Town. According to the Public, the show "will be re-imagined by the original creative team." I'll say it will. The original made references to things like Vietnam and psychoanalysis.

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