PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 8-14: Prized Pinter

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 8-14: Prized Pinter It's always a surprise when a playwright wins the Nobel Prize for Literature—we in the theatre are so inured by now to the world's rating dramatic writing below the work of novelist and poets.
Harold Pinter
Harold Pinter

And so we were again thrown for a loop when the Swedish body decided to honor British dramatist Harold Pinter. Pinter hadn't even entered into the press' guessing games about possible victors. And the writer himself confessed to being totally taken aback.

Of course, once the announcement was made, all agreed that the man was doubtless worthy of the accolade. There are few theatre writers in the world who had built up a reputation close to that of Pinter; who have produced steadily for nearly 50 years; whose style is so singular, it has birthed an adjective: Pinteresque.

The Nobel folks may have been nudged along in their decision by Pinter's March revelation that he was retiring from playwriting. But whether they intended it or not, a Nobel Prize makes a nice little capper to a writing career. Anyone in New York looking to refresh their knowledge of Pinter's work can do so soon: the Atlantic Theatre Company is opening a double bill of Pinter one-acts The Room and Celebration on Nov. 16.

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Latinologues, a collection of monologues about the Latino experience in America, was the only Broadway opening this week. The production — created and written by Rick Najera — comes to Broadway after touring the country the past few years. It's engagement is limited to 12 weeks, but, judging from their response, critics seemed intent on limiting it even further. In other Broadway news, Jujamcyn Theaters president Rocco Landesman announced that the late August Wilson's final play, Golf Radio, will follow the path of eight of his previous works and come to Broadway during the 2006-07 season. Radio Golf debuted at Yale Repertory Theatre and has also played at the Center Theatre Group's Mark Taper Forum. The work will also be staged by Seattle Repertory Theatre and Baltimore's Centerstage with plans for Chicago's Goodman Theatre, and a possible Boston run—tracing the usual multi-city journey taken by Wilson's works.

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The Drama Dept. showed signs of life this week. Once a robust force Off-Broadway, it lost its home at The Greenwich House a couple years back and its production schedule dwindled. Now, the company has received two shots in the arm. One is in the form of a new base, the Zipper Theatre in midtown Manhattan, where it will present a new full production of Patrick Hamilton's Rope, the 1929 melodrama inspired by the Leopold and Loeb murder case, beginning Nov. 21. Two other Drama Dept./Zipper co-productions are promised. The other, potentially bigger boost is artistic director Douglas Carter Beane's new musical with Douglas J. Cohen, The Big Time, the long aborning project which earned some admiring notices and played to sold out houses recently in the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Drama Dept. executive director Michael S. Rosenberg said the show is aiming for a regional tryout and then Broadway.

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The latest in a series of seemingly endless, and always fruitless attempts to lure Tommy Tune out of his limbo of quasi-retirement comes from the producers of the recently sidetracked national tour of Doctor Dolittle. Everyone in the industry—except the Doolittle crowd, of course—is talking about how the tall, tan tapper is being wooed to not only re-stage but star in a remount of the troubled show. The slow-to sell musical closed Oct. 2 in Hershey, PA, after only nine weeks on tour. Tom Hewitt played the doctor and Glenn Casale directed.

Apart from a song-and-dance show Off-Broadway a few seasons back, Tune has been absent from the New York stage scene since the failure of The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public in 1994. That show, along with Busker Alley, a musical which collapsed out of town, ended a nealy 15-year winning streak which included such shows as My One and Only, Nine, Grand Hotel and The Will Rogers Follies. The Dolittle producers certainly have their work cut out for them coaxing the stage-shy Tune out of his cocoon. But, if they succeed in getting that titanic talent back to work, well, as the song goes, "What a neat achievement that would be."