DIVA TALK: A Diva Fall Season Preview

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23 Aug 2013

Betty Buckley
Betty Buckley
Photo by Myriam Santos

News, views and reviews about the multi-talented women of the musical theatre and the concert/cabaret stage.

For this diva-loving writer, the diva season kicked off on an exciting note, albeit a non-musical one, earlier this week with the first preview of Horton Foote's The Old Friends, a world premiere that will officially open Sept. 12 on the Irene Diamond Stage of the Pershing Square Signature Center. The stellar cast boasts Tony winner Betty Buckley in a rare non-musical New York theatrical outing as well as Tony nominee Hallie Foote and Tony-nominated veteran Lois Smith. The play, which continues through Sept. 29, concerns "old friends on opposing sides [who] must confront the issues surrounding legacy, loyalty, and the meaning of happiness that have hounded them for generations." While in residence at the Signature, Olivier nominee Buckley will offer Betty Buckley: Signature Songs Sept. 30, a fundraiser to support Signature's Legacy Program in honor of late playwright Foote; the evening will begin with cocktails at 6:30 PM followed by the 7:30 PM concert.

The fall musical season, which began with First Date and Soul Doctor, will continue in September with the Broadway premiere of the new musical Big Fish, based on both the 1998 novel by Daniel Wallace and the 2003 Columbia Pictures film written by John August. Directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman, Big Fish features music and lyrics by Grammy and Tony nominee Andrew Lippa with a book by Grammy and BAFTA Award nominee August; previews will begin at the Neil Simon Theatre Sept. 5 prior to an Oct. 6 opening. The cast is headed by two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz, Tony nominee Kate Baldwin and Tony nominee Bobby Steggert.

A Night With Janis Joplin, which has played acclaimed engagements at Portland Center Stage, Cleveland Play House, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, Pasadena Playhouse and Milwaukee Repertory Theater, commences Broadway previews Sept. 20 at the Lyceum Theatre prior to an official opening Oct. 10. Written and directed by Randy Johnson, the production casts Mary Bridget Davies, who received the 2013 Cleveland Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in a Musical and was nominated for a 2013 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Resident Musical, in the role of the late rock singer who exploded onto the music scene in 1967.

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, a new musical by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, arrives at the Walter Kerr Theatre Oct. 22 prior to a Nov. 17 opening night. Directed by Darko Tresnjak and choreographed by Peggy Hickey, the musical features Tony winner Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife) in eight different roles. The cast of this frisky romp about a line of heirs, family money and homicide also includes Bryce Pinkham (Love's Labour's Lost, Ghost) and Lisa O'Hare. The musical arrives in New York following critically acclaimed premiere engagements at Hartford Stage and Old Globe Theatre.

One of the most tantalizing prospects of the fall season is the chance to see star-in-the-making Jessie Mueller play Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which will arrive on Broadway — following an out-of-town engagement at San Francisco's Curran Theatre — Nov. 21 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre towards a Jan. 12, 2014, opening night. Mueller, who made her Broadway debut opposite Harry Connick, Jr. in the 2011 revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, has also appeared in the Broadway productions of Nice Work If You Can Get It and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the New York Philharmonic mounting of Carousel and Shakespeare in the Park's staging of Into the Woods, but this high-profile musical could catapult the singing actress into a new stratosphere. The cast will also feature Jake Epstein ("Degrassi," Spider-Man) as Gerry Goffin, Anika Larsen (Xanadu, Avenue Q) as Cynthia Weil and Jarrod Spector (Jersey Boys) as Barry Mann with Jeb Brown as producer/publisher Don Kirshner and Liz Larsen as King's mother, Genie Klein.


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