The show is directed by Scott Ellis, Mr. Roundabout Revival himself, who will have a novel 2006-07 season piloting new work, between the up-and-running The Little Dog Laughed and Curtains. Rob Ashford choreographs. Original stars David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba, Jason Danieley, Jill Paice and Edward Hibbert—now that's a nice cast—will reprise their turns for the Broadway run. The show is about a killing that takes place during a musical's out-of-town tryout. The producer, director, songwriters, actors and stage manager are all suspects. Perfectly plausible, since, as anyone who works in the theatre can tell you, those pros are all fully capable of murder.
Curtains adds a nice dose of traditional musical comedy—tunes, laughs, send 'em out humming—to a season thus far distinguished by the experimental and new, as in Grey Gardens and Spring Awakening. The former opened on Nov. 2 to critics who were duly impressed by the changes made by librettist Doug Wright, lyricist Michael Korie and composer Scott Frankel, along with director Michael Greif, since the show played Off-Broadway last season. That said, they still groused a bit about act one. But they also seemed to think the off-kilter show about co-dependent, blueblood shut-ins on Long Island actually belonged on Broadway. Imagine that. And again all affirmed that Christine Ebersole is the current standard bearer of musical theatre performance.
All that buzz should send people to the box office. Whether they recommend the show to their friends remains to be seen. But if there is such thing a snob hit musical, Grey Gardens is now it.
*** Actors were once again playing instruments on Broadway as of Oct. 30, the first preview of the new revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company. The production is the latest from director John Doyle, whose modus operandi is known to all by now (have guitar, will cast). Last time around, in Sweeney Todd, Patti LuPone played the tuba. This time, Raul Esparza accompanies himself on the piano. Opening is Nov. 29.
A couple of well-known musical theatre stars, Cheyenne Jackson, who starred in the Elvis Presley-inspired musical All Shook Up, and Victoria Clark, who won a Tony for The Light in the Piazza, have opted for a change of pace, taking roles in the upcoming Nicky Silver play The Agony and the Agony. To up the oddity of the ensemble, their co-star is…Nicky Silver. Perhaps they'll learn from each other.
Finally, theatre critic Richard Gilman and costume designer Florence Klotz died this past week. Both reached the peak of their crafts in 1971. That year, Gilman won the George Jean Nathan Award for Drama Criticism and Random House published his "Common and Uncommon Masks," a collection of reviews from his stints at Commonweal and Newsweek, in which, with cantankerous voice and piercing intelligence, he dissected the soul and intent of each playwright and production. Also in 1971, Klotz got the chance to display the fruits of 20 years in the business, designing the costumes for Sondheim's Follies, a feat in costuming that must rank with any in the history of the theatre. Few have done as well in Gilman and Klotz's lines since.