WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 23-30: The Brits Are Coming to Broadway (Again)

News   WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 23-30: The Brits Are Coming to Broadway (Again)
 
That old Shakespearean Sam Waterston is using his golden years to get around to some of the Bard’s mature roles.

Sam Waterston
Sam Waterston Photo by Joan Marcus

Waterston — who starred in the famous New York Shakespeare Festival productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet in 1970s — has of late returned to the employ of the Festival to tackle some of the Shakespeare roles for which he was previously too young. In 2008, he played Polonius is a Central Park production of Hamlet. That same year, at the Public Theater, he essayed the title role in King Lear.

Now, this coming summer, in his 13th Shakespearean role at the Public, he will play Prospero in a new Delacorte Theatre staging of The Tempest.

The Tempest will be directed by Michael Greif and will play May 27-July 5. Waterston made his Delacorte debut in the 1963 production of As You Like It.

The season will continue with Cymbeline, helmed by Daniel Sullivan. It will run July 27-August 22. Sullivan, who has directed a work by the Bard in the Park every summer since 2009, has become such a presence at the Delacorte that he now lives part of the year in Belvedere Castle.

*** Until now, the closest that iconoclastic playwright Wallace Shawn has gotten to Broadway has been as a translator for an ill-fated 2006 revival of The Threepenny Opera. His probing, amorphous and socially lacerating works have been better suited to the culturally edgy environs of the Public Theater or, occasionally, abandoned buildings in the financial district (the location of the original New York production of The Designated Mourner).

That may change in 2016. Evening at the Talk House, a “new murder mystery” by Shawn (yeah, you read that right), which will be produced in the fall at London's National Theatre, is eyeing a Broadway production next year, according to the New York Post.

The Post reports that the play will be directed by Ian Rickson (The River) and is described as "a creepy short story" along the lines of The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt. (Durrenmatt’s dark morality play is certainly getting a lot of attention of late from all sorts of corners.)

The National held a reading of Evening at the Talk House last fall featuring Alex Jennings and Stephen Dillane. Both are likely to reprise their performances at the National. Producer Scott Rudin has the rights (doesn’t he always?), and a Broadway transfer is expected in spring 2016.

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Tim Pigott-Smith
Tim Pigott-Smith Photo by Johan Persson

There are other Atlantic transfers on the way as well.

King Charles III, a new play by Mike Bartlett currently in performances in London, is aiming for a Broadway transfer, the New York Times reports.

Described as a "future history play" about the U.K.'s next monarch, King Charles III would be presented by Stuart Thompson and Sonia Friedman, who know a British play that might appeal to Americans when they see one. They were the producers of recent transfers The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the double-bill of Twelfth Night/Richard III. Both made money on Broadway.

After receiving its world premiere at London's Almeida Theater, King Charles III transferred to the West End, where it plays an extended run through Jan. 31. Rupert Goold directs. The play imagines a future when Prince Charles takes over the monarchy from his mother Queen Elizabeth (who is the subject of The Audience, a play due on Broadway soon.)

The Times reports that Tim Pigott-Smith, currently starring in London, would likely star in the Broadway production.

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Larry David
Larry David

That figure is the highest advance for any spring production on Broadway and, according to the New York Times, beats the previous record for a play, $13.05 million for the 2013 revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal (also produced, naturally, by Scott Rudin).

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How much time does Idina Menzel need to prepare for singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl on Feb. 1? A week, apparently.

The Broadway musical If/Then, which stars Menzel, went dark for eight performances beginning Jan. 27 in order to accommodate the travel schedule for the actress.

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