WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 30-Feb. 6: Falsettos and Allegiance Are Heading to Broadway; Hamilton Extends

News   WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 30-Feb. 6: Falsettos and Allegiance Are Heading to Broadway; Hamilton Extends
 
More than two decades after its initial Broadway run, the William Finn and James Lapine Tony-winning musical Falsettos will return to Broadway in spring 2016. And, it will be directed once more by the guy who staged it then: Lapine himself. Because nobody directs William Finn musicals in New York City but Mr. Lapine. And with pretty good reason, too, since he’s usually the guy writing the libretti to Finn works.

Producer Jordan Roth, in a statement, told a pretty dramatic tale of how the project came about: “I was seated next to James at a dinner,” Roth said, “and in the middle of our great conversation he stopped, looked me straight in the eye, and asked, ‘What is your bucket list show?’ I said, ‘I can’t believe you’re asking me this because it’s yours, and it’s Falsettos.’ Then and there we agreed we would do this together. I am part of a large club of theater lovers who were changed by this show, who passionately believe that Falsettos is ‘our show.’ I can’t wait to have our show on Broadway again.”

The musical, which largely made Finn’s reputation, is about the neurotic, stressed-out Marvin as he struggles to create a family of sorts out of his eclectic array of core relationships: his ex-wife, new boyfriend, adolescent son, psychiatrist and neighbors. The show is actually a pairing of two Finn one-act musicals March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland. By turns comedic and dramatic, candid and sentimental, it was already a bit of a period piece by the time it first played Broadway, depicting situations and attitudes common to the time depicted (late-‘70s, early ‘80s). How it will play in 2016 will be interesting to see.

George Takei
George Takei Photo by Henry DiRocco

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There has been talk for some time of Allegiance, a new musical starring George Takei, coming to Broadway—a lot of it coming from Takei himself—but now it seems like it’s actually happening. Producers Lorenzo Thione and Andrew Treagus announced Feb. 5 that the show will open on Broadway next season at a Shubert theatre to be announced. Previews are set to begin on Broadway Oct. 6 with an official opening Nov. 8.

Takei, still and forever best known as Mr. Sulu from “Star Trek,” starred in the world premiere, record-breaking engagement at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. He will also head the cast of the Broadway production. Takei is in the show for good reason: The production was inspired by his real-life childhood, when his family fell victim to U.S. government’s internment of Japanese–Americans during World War II. Allegiance has a book by Marc Acito with music and lyrics by Jay Kuo. Helming the production is Stafford Arima.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda in <i>Hamilton</i>
Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton Photo by Joan Marcus

Hamilton, the highly anticipated new musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda about Mr. Ten-Dollar-Bill himself, has extended again at Off-Broadway's The Public Theater.

The show tells the story of Alexander Hamilton—the nation’s first Treasury Secretary and one of the main shapers of the nation’s political and financial framework—and the early days of America through contemporary musical forms like hip-hop. Characters include all the Founding Father biggies: Washington, Jefferson, as well as that dastard, Aaron Burr. It has been in the works for half a decade. That long wait—as well as the cachet of having had its first written song debut in 2010 at the White House before President Obama—has led to the biggest publicity build-up for any show this season. Just this past week, Hamilton was the subject of large articles in both The New York Times and The New Yorker. Even The Economist has written something about it. The Economist!

The show has also gotten an unusual amount of attention from the Beltway. Former Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner has attended a preview. And MSNBC pundit Chris Hayes—an old schoolmate of Miranda’s—can’t stop Tweeting about it.

The Off-Broadway production at the Public's Newman Theater will now run an additional four weeks through May 3. The extended engagement was originally scheduled through April 5. Talk of a Broadway transfer continues.

*** Politically tinged shows seem to be in the ether these days. Down in D.C., Arena Stage will present the world premiere of the drama The Originalist, about conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Performances of John Strand’s new play begin March 6 and continue through April 26. Edward Gero will play Scalia in the drama, which also features, as characters, a young clerk who becomes a sparring partner for Scalia, and an eager Scalia devotee.

The title refers to the Constitutional theory of Originalism, which advocated court rulings that hew close to the original intentions of the drafters of the Constitution—a theory by which Scalia holds fast and one that informs his often narrow rulings.

Dramas about Supreme Court Justices are not unheard of. Len Cariou portrayed Justice William O. Douglas in Mountain Off-Broadway in 1990. And Laurence Fishburne played Thurgood Marshall in Thurgood on Broadway in 2008. But this may be the first show about a sitting Justice—and a controversial one at that.

Will as many Beltway types attend The Originalist as have seen Hamilton?

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If a Happy Days stage production can be a thing, then why not one based on “Hee Haw”?

Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, a production featuring country music songs inspired by the corny, long-running television series, which played harmlessly off the stereotypes of rural Southern America, will receive its world premiere at the Dallas Theater Center.

The musical, which features a book by Robert Horn and a score by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally, will begin Sept. 2 and continue through Oct. 11. Gary Griffin, a leading light in Chicago theatre and occasional Broadway pilot, will direct.

The show will apparently not be a ditto of the series, which strung together dozens of comedy sketches and songs. Instead it will tell the story of “Misty Mae, the ultimate hometown girl, who heads out to follow her dreams in the big city of... Tampa. When she returns home to introduce her slick city-boy beau to her friends and family, everything goes haywire!”

Ok, fine. But will there be any pickin’ and grinnin’?

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