PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 22-28: Sting Will Sail The Last Ship and a Wickedly Long Wait for a Movie

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 22-28: Sting Will Sail The Last Ship and a Wickedly Long Wait for a Movie
 
Well, this could be fun.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren Photo by Johan Persson

We already know who will be playing Queen Elizabeth II when Peter Morgan’s play The Audience — about the long-reigning monarch’s relationship with her many Prime Ministers — when it comes to Broadway this February. That’s Helen Mirren.

But we didn’t know who were going to play the various PMs. Now that list is starting to shape up.

Playing two PMs that modern audiences probably don’t remember very well any more are Michael Elwyn as Anthony Eden and Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson; and Rufus Wright as the current head of state, David Cameron.

For the more high-profile, modern PMs, the producers have brought out a couple of big guns. Esteemed veteran character actor Dylan Baker will play the colorless, ineffectual John Major, and Tony Award winner Judith Ivey will play the "Iron Lady" herself, Margaret Thatcher.

That leaves the two Prime Ministers who are arguably the only real competition to Thatcher in fame: Winston Churchill, who was PM at the dawn of Elizabeth’s reign; and Tony Blair. Morgan has shown in his past work to be pretty well-obsessed with Blair, so expect a lulu piece of casting.

Two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, An Inspector Calls) will again direct. Previews will begin Feb. 17, 2015, prior to an official opening March 8.

Sting
Sting

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Sting is going to step into the cast of his flagging Broadway musical The Last Ship. He will appear in it from Dec. 9 to Jan. 10, 2015.

The news has already had an effect. On Monday, when he appeared on “Today” to announce the news, the show sold $250,000 worth of tickets.

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Eve Ensler needs a new leading lady.

Academy Award-winning actress Melissa Leo has bowed out of the American Repertory Theater's world premiere of Ensler's O.P.C., which begins performances Nov. 28 in Cambridge, MA.

Pesha Rudnick directs the new work, short for "Obsessive Political Correctness" (which may be an even worse play title than O.P.C.). It centers on a political candidate whose daughter is a dumpster-diving squatter. It officially opens Dec. 3 for a run through Jan. 4, 2015.

A reason was not provided for Leo's departure from the production. She will be succeeded by actress Kate Mulligan.

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Waiting anxiously for that film version of Wicked? Keep waiting.

Producer Marc Platt, a creative force behind the megahit Broadway musical is in no hurry to transfer Wicked to the big screen.

In an interview with ComingSoon.net, Platt said, "The movie of Wicked is still a number of years down the line… We've just started its development, because the show's still so strong with eight or nine companies around the world. That's coming in the future. That's why I haven't been in a hurry, because it works so well on stage and audiences are enjoying it."

Stephen Rea
Stephen Rea Photo by Matthew Murphy

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The U.S. premiere of A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations), a new take on the classic Greek tragedy exploring destiny and fate, by Sam Shepard, officially opened at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Nov. 23.

Nancy Meckler directs a cast that includes Stephen Rea, who plays the canonical central role.

The New York Post found Shepard’s Grand Guignol approach engaging, if confusing: “This mix of brutality, humor and fatality stamps the whole evening, with Shepard drawing parallels between the violence of Greek tragedy and that of modern America. That’s just one possible interpretation, because the show is less than straightforward.”

The Hollywood Reporter was less charmed, saying "This oblique intellectual exercise is likely to prove off-putting to all but the most adventurous audiences, although Shepard completists will no doubt want to catch the latest offering from the playwright's ever-restless imagination."

The New York Times stated the situation aptly when it said, “This makes it must-see viewing for students and hard-core fans of Mr. Shepard, whose singular imagination produced the American masterpieces Buried Child and True West. Others are likely to leave Particle bothered and bewildered.”

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