PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 1-7: Bye Bye, Billy! Hello, Gorgeous!

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 1-7: Bye Bye, Billy! Hello, Gorgeous! If things go right this season, Broadway will truly welcome Jesus into its heart.
Josh Young as Judas
Josh Young as Judas Photo by David Hou

The environs of naughty, gaudy, bawdy, sporty 42nd Street already have one Son of God on the boards, in the massive hit The Book of Mormon — though he's a supporting player in that musical. In Godspell, he's the center of attention. Since that revival is set to begin performances on Oct. 13, a second Savior in Times Square is an absolute certainty. But both shows will have to hold on until March 1, 2012, if Broadway's going to pull off the heavenly hat trick. That's the day the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's (current) 2011 production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Des McAnuff, will transfer to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre, the Canadian festival announced this week.

Jesus Christ Superstar will open March 22, under the auspices of Dodger Properties and the Really Useful Group. The Festival's production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the pop-rock story of the final days of Jesus, opened in Stratford on June 3 and received fantastic reviews — and the seal of approval of Rice and Lloyd Webber. It will run through Nov. 6. Following that, as previously reported, it will play La Jolla Playhouse in California, Nov. 18-Dec. 31.

This new staging features Paul Nolan as Jesus, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene, Josh Young as Judas Iscariot, Tony Award winner Brent Carver as Pontius Pilate, Bruce Dow as King Herod and Mike Nadajewski as Peter. No casting for Broadway has been announced. Some holdovers are expected.

Competing with JCS for the affections of ticketbuyers will be Rice and Lloyd Webber's own Evita, which will open at the Marquis. There are worse problems for a composer and lyricist to have.

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Giuseppe Bausilio in Billy Elliot
photo by Joan Marcus

One big British-born musical arrives, another one exits.

It was announced Oct. 3 that the 2009 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Billy Elliot the Musical, will play its final performance on Broadway Jan. 8, 2012, at the Imperial Theatre.

When it closes, the production will have played 40 previews and 1,304 regular performances.

Now, that's a fine little run. But the wringing of hands that accompanied this announcement was reminiscent of the reaction to the closing of The Producers after five years. General sentiment: with those reviews, with those awards (ten Tonys), the Elton John-Lee Hall show should have run longer. In a column in the New York Post, producer Eric Fellner partially blamed himself for keeping running costs high and sparing no expense in getting the show to Broadway.

But, no one in the Billy camp is crying too hard. The show recouped a long time ago and has made millions since.

The new Broadway revival of Funny Girl will roller-skate into the Imperial come spring.

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Scott Alan

Following a September reading of the Scott Alan-Christy Hall musical Home, producers Dave Clemmons and John Styles told Playbill.com that they plan to bring the new musical to Broadway in 2012.

Home, which was previously titled Piece when it played developmental or festival runs under the auspices of NAMT, the Seattle Festival and TheatreWorks festival, is about a woman who returns to the alcoholic mother and small Texas town she escaped from nine years previous. Stepping across the threshold, she is overwhelmed by memories that come alive before her eyes. Clemmons also said that he was looking for an intimate Broadway home for the show. No director, musical director or future cast was named.

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The old trouper Joel Grey, who plays Moonface Martin in the Tony Award-winning Anything Goes, was sidelined this week when he fractured his foot. Robert Creighton, who usually plays the Purser in the show, has stepped into Grey's part until the veteran returns. Doctors expect a recovery in a few weeks.

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Forget the old saw that everybody in show business really wants to direct. I personally believe everyone secretly wants to write.

Submitted as today's evidence: "Little Did I Know," a new novel by erstwhile Broadway producer Mitchell Maxwell. The new book will be released by Prospecta Press Oct. 5.

The show is described as a coming-of-age tale in which one Sam August "finds out what it takes to live his dream to take over a summer theatre — taking on small-town prejudices, shady characters and the seductive wife of the most powerful man in town." It is based on Maxwell's first producing experience. Me, I'd rather read a novel based on his experience getting Brooklyn to Broadway.

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