For connoisseurs of what might be termed Rubbernecking Theatre — shows you can't not look at — there is no Off-Broadway attraction this coming year to beat Carrie, which, against all odds following its famous status as a gory commercial flop in the 1980s, is set to begin previews at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Jan. 31. The quixotic organization producing the enterprise is the trusty, respected Off-Broadway troupe MCC Theater, known for Wit, Frozen, The Other Place, Reasons to be Pretty and other dramas.
Even if you're not a regular theatregoer, the title rings a bell. Certainly as a famous Stephen King novel, and as an equally noteworthy Brian DePalma film. But the disastrous 1988 musical that emerged from the material has attained an almost equal notoriety. The show came from the minds of bookwriter Lawrence D. Cohen (who penned the original screenplay), composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford, and it crashed and burned on Broadway after only five performances, the capitalization of more than $7 million sent swirling down the drain like so much blood. The bellyflop has been the stuff of theatre legend ever since. (Author Ken Mandelbaum's book about flop shows is a fan favorite; he titled it "Not Since Carrie.")
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The creators have been reworking the musical since then, and they're ready to show the world what they've accomplished. Along for the ride are director Stafford Arima (London's Ragtime, Off-Broadway's Altar Boyz), and actresses Molly Ranson and Marin Mazzie (as the shy, unfortunate Carrie and her religious whack-job of a mother).
Anyone who likes the work of rising director Sam Gold (Circle Mirror Transformation, Tigers Be Still) will be a happy person in 2012. The busy young man has three productions in the works. First up is a new revival of Look Back in Anger at the Roundabout Theatre Company, where Gold is an associate artist. Adam Driver, Sarah Goldberg, Charlotte Parry and Matthew Rhys star in the production of John Osborne's 1956 British classic about Billy Porter and his discontented, anti-establishment generation. Opening night at the Laura Pels is Feb. 2. Next from Gold, beginning March 1 at Playwrights Horizons is The Big Meal, a Thornton Wilderesque work (1931's The Long Christmas Dinner) by Dan LeFranc tracing five generations of a modern family though a collection of strung-together dinner-table scenes at a suburban restaurant. Finally, Gold will stage a new adaptation, by Annie Baker (The Aliens), of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, playing at Soho Rep beginning June 7. Reed Birney will lead the cast.
The Signature Theatre Company, which devotes each season to one playwright in its Residency One series, is giving its inaugural season in its new Frank Gehry-designed facility — Signature Center, on West 42nd Street — to South African dramatist Athol Fugard. The line-up begins with Blood Knot. The play — about two biracial and temperamentally different South African brothers struggling with poverty and isolation — will open the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, with performances beginning Jan. 31 toward an opening night of Feb. 16. The production runs to March 11. The season also includes Fugard's My Children! My Africa! and The Train Driver. The busy Signature beehive (there are three performance spaces within the complex) will also include plays by Edward Albee (The Lady From Dubuque starring Jane Alexander), Kenneth Lonergan (a world premiere, title TBA), Will Eno (the U.S. premiere of Title and Deed) and Katori Hall (the world premiere of Hurt Village).
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