PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 1-7: Fiddler's Got Its Tevye and Closure of Cafe Edison Inspires Uproar

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 1-7: Fiddler's Got Its Tevye and Closure of Cafe Edison Inspires Uproar Is Danny Burstein a Broadway leading man?

Danny Burstein
Danny Burstein

The world will find out next fall when Broadway gets its fifth revival of Fiddler on the Roof, with Burstein as Tevye.

Burstein has been on a near unprecedented tear on the New York stage over the past several years, racking up five Tony nominations over eight years and winning acclaim for almost every role he touches. Still, for all his success, he has mainly thrived as a supporting player or member of an ensemble. Fiddler will be his first bonafide starring Broadway part.

Bartlett Sher, who directed Burstein to two of those Tony nominations (for South Pacific and Golden Boy), is to helm the fall 2015 revival, which will be produced by Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel. Sher has a special way with a time-worn classic, so don't expect a rote Fiddler, as has often been the case with past Broadway revivals of the classic.

However, the revival will be based on the original conception and choreography of Jerome Robbins, and will feature choreography by Israeli-born artist Hofesh Shechter. (Shows once directed by Robbins rarely, if ever, escape the great man's shadow completely, for better or worse.)

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The first Broadway revival of Wendy Wasserstein's Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Heidi Chronicles, featuring "Mad Men" star Elisabeth Moss in the title role, has set its dates. It will begin performances Feb. 23, 2015, at the Music Box Theatre.

The production, which will also feature Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder) and "American Pie" actor Jason Biggs, will officially open March 19.

John Cameron Mitchell
John Cameron Mitchell Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Pam MacKinnon, who won a 2013 Tony Award for her revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and who's getting all the choice Broadway revival assignments of late, will direct.

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John Cameron Mitchell, the writer and original star of the 1998 Off-Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, may perform in the Broadway production, the New York Post reported.

The show got off to a great start last season, regularly selling out, but it has been suffering at the box office ever since original star Neil Patrick Harris left. Neither of his replacements, Andrew Rannells or Michael C. Hall, have been able to match Harris' numbers.

Whether Mitchell — a sort of alt-theatre legend in stage circles, but not widely known otherwise — could change that is an open question. However, Mitchell did star as Hedwig in a 2001 film version he directed.

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Director Alex Timbers and composer Michael Friedman sure like their Presidential history.

The duo that created Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson are going to try to do what they did for "Old Hickory" for that most dour and uninspiring of past Presidents, Herbert Hoover.

The two will present their political satire Here's Hoover! The Historic Herbert Hoover 2014 Comeback Special this December at the Abrons Arts Center. Les Freres Corbusier, which comprises Timbers, Friedman and Sean Cunningham, created the work that will run Dec. 5-21. Timbers directs the production that is written by Cunningham with music by Friedman.

According to Abrons, "After stewing for 80 years in political disgrace (and presumed death), Herbert Hoover takes the stage one more time to reclaim his legacy and save America in the process. Elvis Presley's iconic 1968 'Comeback Special' serves as direct inspiration for Hoover's own interactive, bad ass concert resurrection. Herbert's tanned, rested, and ready to rock your balls off!"

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Like a unblinking automaton that can only move forward, trampling everything between it and an ever-receding dollar sign, Times Square took one more step this week toward completing its transformation from raffish, pulsating nexus of urbanity and creativity to personality-free, glass-and-steel mall-like canyon of commerce.

Cafe Edison — aka The Polish Tea Room, decades-long haunt of theatre types from the richest producer to the lowly  bit player — announced it would close at the end of the month. It was no longer welcome in the Hotel Edison, the family-owned diner announced. The hotel honchos wanted the eatery out so they could install a "white-tablecloth" restaurant with a "name chef." (The owner of the hotel did not return reporters' phone calls. Folks who know they're doing something indefensible never do.)

The old-school diner, known for its blintzes and matzo ball soup, was run for many years by Harry and Frances Edelstein, who previously ran a diner in the old Piccadilly Hotel on W. 45th Street. Since their deaths, its been run by their son-in-law Conrad Stahl. Despite its humble bill of fare, it was a popular meeting place for producers and theatre owners, who hashed out deals in a small "VIP" section signified only by a single velvet cordon. August Wilson favored the joint, writing notes for new plays while seated at the counter. Neil Simon wrote a play about it titled 45 Seconds From Broadway. No one seemed to have a good word to say about the hotel's decision, from theatre people to food critics. Mimi Sheraton, former New York Times restaurant critic, said the idea of a white-tablecloth restaurant replacing the cafe "is sad, one less reason to go to that neighborhood. Now the theater district is just fake. I thought it was better when they had the prostitutes there."

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