PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 5-11: Meet the New Boss

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 5-11: Meet the New Boss Every power broker on Broadway felt just a little bit older this week as the news broke that Jordan Roth had been named to replace newly appointed NEA chief Rocco Landesman as president of Jujamcyn Theatres, which owns and operates five Broadway theatres, and produces numerous shows every season.
Jordan Roth
Jordan Roth Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Roth is 33.

The appointment was not necessarily a surprise. Roth, the son of producer Daryl Roth and billionaire real estate mogul Steven Roth, joined Jujamcyn Theaters in 2005 as resident producer and became vice president the following year. Prior to that, his sole Broadway producing credit was the 2000 Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show. When he was hired, many in the Broadway community saw him as being groomed to succeed Landesman one day. However, that day came a little sooner than expected, as Landesman was unexpectedly plucked by the Obama adminstration to lead the Endowment.

Roth backed up his promotion with a good deal of money. Simultaneously with becoming president, he has also acquired a 50 percent ownership interest in the privately held company. Jack Viertel, Jujamcyn's creative director, and Paul Libin, producing director and vice president, will remain in their current positions.

The New York Times thought the news big enough that they ran an exclusive story, accompanied by some remarkable photography of Roth looking remarkably confident. He was identified in the article as associated with such forward-looking Jujamcyn projects as Spring Awakening, Grey Gardens and the revival of Hair, as well as the upcoming musical Fela! "I am a different person than we've had in this kind of position in our business," said Roth in the article. "Let's just state the obvious: my age provides for a different perspective, a different way of looking at the world."

Buried in the Times article was a detail that might mean that such Broadway watering holes as Sardi's, Joe Allen and Angus McIndoe have a new competitor. Roth was interviewed "at his favorite booth at Bond 45, the Midtown restaurant where his name — as well as those of his mother, the producer Daryl Roth, and Mr. Landesman — are engraved on gold nameplates." So, if you want to deal with Roth, you might want to get to know the maitre d' at Bond 45. ***

Hair unexpectedly caught fire on Broadway this year. So why not strike a match to Woodstock?

Michael Lang, one of the producers of the famed original Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in upstate New York, is currently at work on a Broadway musical that will utilize elements of his memoir, "The Road to Woodstock." Lang, who is also featured in the new film "Taking Woodstock" — he is portrayed by Spring Awakening's Jonathan Groff — told the New York Times, "We've been thinking about a Broadway version of the experience for years, but writing the memoir really brought it into focus for me."

How times change. My guess is that Lang has little use for stodgy old Broadway back in 1969.

Lang expects the musical will feature the work of many of those who performed at Woodstock, so we're possibly looking at Jukebox Musical Land here. The untitled musical is aiming for a bow during the 2010-11 Broadway season. Samuel G. Nappi, the chief executive of Alliance Energy in New York, will co-produce the work with Lang.

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The world premiere of A.R. Gurney's The Grand Manner will arrive Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater May 27, 2010. Mark Lamos, artistic director of the Westport Country Playhouse, will stage the theatrical valentine.

The play will reportedly serve to remind the public who Katharine Cornell was. "In 1948, playwright A.R. Gurney," press notes read, "then a young boarding school student, traveled to New York where he attended a performance of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, going backstage afterwards to meet the production's star, the great stage actress Katharine Cornell, who was dubbed 'The First Lady of the American Stage' by the legendary critic Alexander Woollcott. A mix of remembrance and imagination, The Grand Manner is a love letter to this fabled actress and a heartfelt look back at the glorious heyday of the Broadway theatre."

Casting will be announced at a later date. It will be interesting to see who, among today's actresses, is considered sufficiently Cornellian.

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Directors have been named for the upcoming City Center Encores! season.

Tony winner Jerry Zaks will helm Girl Crazy, which will kick off the season Nov. 19. Marc Bruni, who was the associate director of Legally Blonde, will direct Fanny, which will play the famed Manhattan venue beginning Feb. 4, 2010. And, The Drowsy Chaperone's Casey Nicholaw will direct and choreograph Anyone Can Whistle by Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents (whose careers are both in desperate need of recuperation).

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Finally, the hottest play on Broadway is back from vacation. The starry cast of Yasmina Reza's Tony-winning comedy God of Carnage returned for another round of parental battles Sept. 8 at the Jacobs Theatre. Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis began a summer hiatus July 27 in order to allow the cast time to fulfill previous commitments. A new yet-to-be-announced company will take over the production in mid-November.

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