PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 13-19: LaBute Returns to Broadway, Guare in the Spotlight, Clear Day Moves

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 13-19: LaBute Returns to Broadway, Guare in the Spotlight, Clear Day Moves
 
Just one year after playwright Neil LaBute enjoyed his Broadway debut with Reasons to Be Pretty, he's coming back to the Great White Way with another. The new production is a revival of his 2004 play Fat Pig, which, along with Reasons to Be Pretty, happened to be part of LaBute's so-called "Beauty Trilogy." (The third play is The Shape of Things.)

Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Comedian Dane Cook and stage and screen star Josh Hamilton will head the cast of the Broadway debut, which is scheduled to open in spring 2011 at a theatre to be announced. Hamilton will play the role of a young man who begins a relationship with an overweight woman. His obnoxious friend will be played by Cook, who will be making his Broadway debut. Heather Provost and Aldo Scrofani will produce the Broadway run, which will be directed by playwright himself, who has said he planned to add new material to the text especially for this production. The, ahem, title role has not yet been cast.

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John Guare's A Free Man of Color had a long, hard road getting to the stage. It was commissioned by the Public Theater back in 2002, but only reached the world — at Lincoln Center Theater — this fall, in a sprawling, vivid and expensive production which opened this week.

Many critics observed that it was Guare's first new Broadway work in nearly 20 years. (Some mistakenly said it was his first new play in nearly 20 years.) And just as many noted that the work — which is set in New Orleans, Haiti and France at the turn of the 19th century — was a full-fledged example of a form the theatre rarely sees anymore: the epic. One critic observed, "They don't make 'em like this anymore... There's a reason why they don't: there's so much room to fail."

And fail is what Free Man of Color did, most reviewers agreed. They saw the work as admirably ambitious, but overstuffed, unwieldy and unfocused. It was a "a spectacular folly," "overgrown and unnavigable," "a dazzling mess," and "a spangled white elephant now rampaging at the Vivian Beaumont Theater" that did few favors to the many talents involved in its execution. George C. Wolfe directed. ***

Mark Rylance and David Hyde Pierce
photo by Joan Marcus

The Broadway revival of David Hirson's comedic verse play La Bete joined another star revival, A Life in the Theatre, in cutting short its limited run. The play, which stars Mark Rylance, David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley, will end its Broadway run Jan. 9, 2011, a month prior to its original closing date of Feb. 12, 2011.

Still, even with the announcement of its premature closing, the revival will have run longer than its original 1991 Broadway production, which lasted only 40 performances.

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On a clear day sometime this past week, the brass at the Vineyard Theatre could see all the way to next fall. And that's where they saw their new Off-Broadway production of the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever bowing — not this spring, as previously announced. Reconceived by Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer, the Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane musical, which has a new book by Peter Parnell with conception and direction by Mayer, will now arrive in fall 2011. The reason? "Unforeseen scheduling conflicts with the creative team."

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The Roundabout Theater Company continues to beef up and revitalize its artistic staff.

Sam Gold, the director of Roundabout Underground's sold-out production of Kim Rosenstock's Tigers Be Still, has been named a Roundabout associate artist, joining a group that includes Mark Brokaw, Scott Elliott, Bill Irwin, Joe Mantello, Kathleen Marshall and Theresa Rebeck.

Gold's 2009 Off-Broadway production of Circle Mirror Transformation, for Playwrights Horizons, was an extended hit and widely acclaimed. Still, that success notwithstanding, Gold — who served as the dramaturg at The Wooster Group from 2003 to 2006, and has regularly directed at the Rattlestick Theatre — will be by far the least known, and the youngest, of the company's associate artists, and his arrival injects a certain downtown strain into the nonprofit's bloodstream.

The cast of <i>A Free Man of Color</i>
The cast of A Free Man of Color
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