PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 24-30: A Quiet Week

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 24-30: A Quiet Week It was a quiet week along the Rialto as most of the awards shows had made their stand and the theatre community had little to do but wait impatiently for Tony night to arrive (still two weeks away). There wasn't even a major Off-Broadway opening to get all hot and bothered about.
Lauren Kennedy and Jason Robert Brown
Lauren Kennedy and Jason Robert Brown Photo by Aubrey Reuben

What little news there way concerned some upcoming Broadway attractions. Lauren Kennedy, Sarah Stiles and Anneliese van der Pol (a mouthful to match Anne Maria Alberghetti, as stage names go!) were cast as the three friends — and onetime cheerleaders — who evolve over 25 years in Vanities, A New Musical, which is playing Pasadena Playhouse Aug. 22-Sept. 28, prior to an expected Broadway bow.

With book by Jack Heifner and music and lyrics by David Kirshenbaum, she show is being directed by Judith Ivey.

The new musical penned by Jason Robert Brown, 13, meanwhile, will arrive at Broadway's Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre Sept. 16, according to a casting notice. Bob Boyett and Tim Levy will produce the production, which features a score by Brown and a book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn. Jeremy Sams directs.

13 is now playing Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT; that production is also directed by Sams. The musical, revised since its 2007 Los Angeles premiere at the Mark Taper Forum concerns "coming of age, teen traumas and high school survival," and will play Goodspeed's Norma Terris through June 8.

*** August: Osage County is the odds-on favorite to win the Tony Award for Best Play on June 15. But it looks like June 17 will be another significant day in the Tracy Letts play's Broadway history. A couple actors will leave the cast and a couple more will take their places. Stage and screen star Robert Foxworth — perhaps best known for his seven-year stint on CBS' "Falcon Crest" — will join the cast in the role of Charlie on June 17. That day will also mark the first performance of Jim True-Frost as Little Charles.

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An important opening occurred in the Washington, DC, area as the Signature Theatre hosted the opening of a new version of the long-in-development John Kander, Fred Ebb and Terrence McNally musical The Visit, directed by Frank Galati and choreographed by Ann Reinking. As she did the Chicago premiere in 2001, Chita Rivera stars as Claire Zachanassian, the vengeful millionaire who returns to her hometown with an unspeakable and irresistible offer. As in Chicago, the reception was mixed for the reworked version of the project. The Washington Post found it admirable, but lacking in a consistent tone and dance opportunities for Rivera. Variety, however, found it "deliciously dark" and "fluid."

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Finally, are you lonesome for the works of Tom Stoppard now that Rock 'n' Roll has closed on Broadway? Well The Bridge Project — works produced by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Old Vic and Neal Street Productions — is here to help. It will present a double-bill of a new version of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard penned by Stoppard and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale at several venues in 2009. And both productions will feature actors who have starred in nearly every Broadway Stoppard play of the past decade.

Sam Mendes
photo by Aubrey Reuben

Directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, the shows will star the previously announced Simon Russell Beale (Jumpers on Broadway) as Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard and Leontes in The Winter's Tale, Sinead Cusack (Rock 'n' Roll) as Madame Ranevskaya and Paulina, Richard Easton (The Invention of Love) as Firs and Old Shepherd/Time, Josh Hamilton (The Coast of Utopia) as Yasha and Polixenes, and Ethan Hawke (also Utopia) as Trofimov and Autolycus. Rehearsals for the inaugural season of the Bridge Project will begin in Brooklyn in October. The plays will be seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music January-March 2009 before heading to the DBS Arts Centre in Singapore (March 26-29, 2009), the EDGE in Auckland (April 2-12), Teatro Español in Madrid (April 23-May 2), Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen in Germany (May 7-16) and London's Old Vic (May-August).

During the breaks in between the gigs, the cast will perform Arcadia on the plane for fun.