PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 4-10: Matthew Warchus' Latest Resurrection

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 4-10: Matthew Warchus' Latest Resurrection
 
Just as he did with the forgotten sex farce Boeing Boeing, director Matthew Warchus this week reached into the mothballed section of the theatre library and blew the dust off another hit of the past.

Simon Russell Beale (top) and Jonathan Groff
Simon Russell Beale (top) and Jonathan Groff Photo by Hugo Glendinning

On Sept. 7, Warchus' new production of Deathtrap, Ira Levin's thriller about rival writers in a country house, opened in London. And by the evening, people were already talking about a transfer to Broadway. Because that's what Warchus productions do: transfer.

The show's cross-Atlantic possibilities will certainly be helped by the cast, which includes Americans Jonathan Groff and Estelle Parsons and a British stage star most New York theatregoers already known, Simon Russell Beale.

London critics were pleased, if not over the moon. Mark Shenton, who also writes for Playbill.com, wrote, to the point, "The only people with nothing to worry about are producers David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, who have another solid West End hit on their hands and a sure-fire Broadway transfer ahead." Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard said, "The comedy thriller is not exactly staple West End fare these days but Matthew Warchus's enjoyable revival of Ira Levin's 1978 play Deathtrap suggests that the genre still has legs." Even the lukewarm reviews still gave the production three stars. So, no need to rush to the West End to see the thing. Wait till 2011-12. It'll get here.


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Andrew Lloyd Webber buys and sells things with such regularity it's easy to forget he's a composer and mistake him for a run-of-the-mill mogul.

Andrew Lloyd Webber
photo by Aubrey Reuben

His Really Useful Group is in negotiation to sell four of its remaining portfolio of six theatres that it wholly owns. These include the Palace Theatre, the first theatre that Lloyd Webber bought in 1983, and where his musical Jesus Christ Superstar became his first long-running hit, running there from 1972 to 1980; the New London, where Lloyd Webber's Cats would set the record for the longest-running musical in West End history up to then (it has since been eclipsed by Les Miserables); and Her Majesty's Theatre, where Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera originated and is still running now, 24 years later. Also in the set of theatres that a sale is being negotiated for is the Cambridge Theatre, where Lloyd Webber's The Beautiful Game ran. (It must be nice to own the theatres your musicals play in.)

Lloyd Webber's interests in two more prime London theatres, the London Palladium and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, are not part of the sale deal, nor is his 50 percent share in the Adelphi.

Real estate drama is something we almost never see here in New York, where the only Broadway theatre that ever comes up for sale is that thing on 42nd Street that's currently named after a casino in Connecticut.

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Off-Broadway's The New Group has announced its 2010-11 season, and it features some names closely associated with the troupe, including Ethan Hawke, Natasha Lyonne and Wallace Shawn.

Blood from a Stone, about a troubled working-class family, will kick off the season Dec. 13 at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row. The starry cast will include Hawke, Lyonne, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Becky Ann Baker, Thomas Guiry and Gordon Clapp. Scott Elliott, artistic director of the New Group, will helm the production.

The season will continue March 3 with a revival of Shawn's marital strife play Marie and Bruce. The seldom-seen early work of Shawn's was once advertised as a part of a recent Second Stage season, but it makes sense that the New Group, which has produced several of Shawn's plays, would do it instead. The 1979 play will co-star Marisa Tomei and Frank Whaley.

The New Group season will conclude its season with Moises Kaufman's One-Arm, which is based on an unproduced Tennessee Williams screenplay and classic short story. The staging is a co-production with Kaufman's Tectonic Theatre Company. Kaufman will also direct the play, which is scheduled for a May 5-June 25 run.

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