PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 16-22: Chris Rock & Philip Seymour Hoffman Are Broadway-Bound

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 16-22: Chris Rock & Philip Seymour Hoffman Are Broadway-Bound
 
Philip Seymour Hoffman will tackle the iconic role of downtrodden American businessman Willy Loman in the newest Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman in fall 2011, it was announced.

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Mike Nichols will stage the classic drama that will co-star Tony nominee Linda Emond as Linda Loman. Nichols is not exactly known for working on material this dark and heavy, but he did direct Hoffman in The Seagull in Central Park a number of seasons back.

Hoffman, who is 43, might initially seem like a young candidate for old, worn-out Willy—that is, until you consider that Lee J. Cobb, who originated the role in the premiere 1949 Broadway production, was only 37 when he tackled the part. The most recent actor to essay the role on Broadway, Brian Dennehy, was closer to Willy's true age, but he was also an anomaly in that respect. As with King Lear, most of the actors who play Loman are a decade or more younger than the character.

Hoffman also has a connection with Dennehy, having played his son James Tyrone, Jr. in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. No doubt they talked Miller over beers post-curtain.

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Five-time Tony nominee director David Leveaux was ubiquitous on Broadway in the early part of this decade, but has been more scarce lately. He'll return to town in 2011 with the first Broadway revival of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. Rehearsals for the production will begin early-mid 2011, according to a casting notice. The original 1995 Broadway production made a star out of Billy Crudup, who has since gone on to fame in many films and Visa commercials. Reports indicate that Crudup, who originated the role of young, arrogant Septimus Hodge, will now play the role of middle-aged, pompous Bernard Nightingale in the revival.

 

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Chris Rock

Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis will enjoy his Broadway debut in spring 2011 with his new work, The MotherF**ker With the Hat, the most newspaper-censor-torturing play title since Suzan-Lori Parks' F**king A.

The play concerns Jackie and Veronica, who have been in love since the eighth grade. But now, Jackie is on parole and living clean and sober under the guidance of his sponsor, Ralph D, while still living and loving with his the un-clean-and-sober Veronica. Trouble ensues. The limited run will open on April 11, 2011, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

How does a Stephen Adly Guirgis play get on Broadway? When it has this cast: Bobby Cannavale, Chris Rock, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Annabella Sciorra and Yul Vázquez. But mainly because of Chris Rock. The show will be directed by Anna D. Shapiro. Most of Guirgis' past premieres have been directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman, but he will probably be too busy getting into character for Death of a Salesman most of 2011.

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Lombardi, Eric Simonson's biographical sports play about famed football coach Vince Lombardi, was the sole Broadway opening of the week, bowing at Circle in the Square Theatre Oct. 21.

Critics were rather lukewarm in their reception, though there were a couple positive notices, including one from the Wall Street Journal. Reviewers applauded the performances of leading players Dan Lauria (as Lombardi) and Judith Light (as his long-suffering wife), but found the play somewhat workmanlike, and several called for more stage time for Lombardi himself, as well as additional focus on the gridiron. The New York Post posited an interesting gambit by sending both their theatre critic and sports columnist to review it. Guess who liked it better?

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Want to see what happens when a pirate wench and a mad woman get together? Then check out the upcoming London revival of Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour.

"Mad Men" star Elisabeth Moss and "Pirates of the Caribbean" star Keira Knightley will play teachers accused of being lovers by a malicious student. The show will open in the West End early in 2011. It will be helmed by Ian Rickson.

In other London news, The Menier Chocolate Factory will produce the London premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Road Show. John Doyle, a favorite director of Sondheim's, will stage the work, which has had a long, troubled history, and premiered Off-Broadway in 2008 (which was also directed by Doyle).

Bill Dawes, Keith Nobbs, Dan Lauria, Judith Light, Robert Christopher Riley and Chris Sullivan
Bill Dawes, Keith Nobbs, Dan Lauria, Judith Light, Robert Christopher Riley and Chris Sullivan
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