PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 15-21: Big Fish in Chicago; Newsies and Glengarry Recoup; Amy Herzog Has a Hit
By Robert Simonson
Big Fish will have to settle for Lake Michigan for its initial trawling waters.
The new musical by that name, based on the film of the same title, will premiere at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, the producers announced on Dec. 18. The show has songs by Andrew Lippa and will two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz. The dates of its world-premiere pre-Broadway tryout are April 2-May 5, 2013.
The musical has a book by screenwriter John August and direction and choreography by five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman. Newly added to the team are scenic designer Julian Crouch (The Addams Family, Shockheaded Peter), who will doubtless give the production an appropriately outlandish look (the story's protagonist tells a lot of tall tales); costume designer William Ivey Long, who can be counted on for plenty of color and wit; lighting designer Donald Holder; sound designer Jon Weston; and projection designer Benjamin Pearcy. The exact Broadway opening has not been announced yet, but it's expected to be in the 2013-14 season.
Amy Herzog is fairly well assured of a future as one of her generation's leading playwrights. Her breakout work, 4,000 Miles, was a long-running hit for Lincoln Center Theater and helped put the theatre's developmental program, LCT3, on the map. And now her The Great God Pan has opened at Playwrights Horizons to an equal amount of acclaim. "Herzog is an exciting theatrical voice, a writer who excels at stories of quiet urgency," wrote The Daily News, in a typical notice. What's more, the New York Times review that called God "haunting" also tipped its hand as to how the reviewer, Charles Isherwood, felt about Herzog's next play, Belleville, due at at New York Theater Workshop this spring. He called it "sensational." (The staff at NYTW will be resting easy this holiday season.)
God, about a Brooklyn journalist recovering memories of possible past sexual abuse, has already received a second extension, and will now play to Jan. 13, 2013.
The cast features Becky Ann Baker, Peter Friedman, Sarah Goldberg, Keith Nobbs, Jeremy Strong, Joyce Van Patten and Erin Wilhelmi.
The two lead roles in Jason Robert Brown's autobiographical memory musical are tough assignments. And Second Stage thinks they have found the duo for the job.
Acting out the emotionally powerful story of two twenty-something New Yorkers whose marriage is undone by ambition, neglect and unevenly distributed success, will be Adam Kantor (Mark in the final Broadway cast of Rent) and Betsy Wolfe, who is currently the main damsel in distress at The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The two-character musical will be directed by Brown himself, for an Off-Broadway run beginning March 7, 2013.
Take that, unimpressed reviewers!
The Broadway revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, which didn't send many critics swooning when it opened on Dec. 8, has recouped its entire initial investment, according to the show's producers.
Also recouping this week was Newsies, the hit musical that has brought Disney's theatrical arm back to life. Read all about it.
A blow was struck in the name of the U., S. of A. this week.
For years, the tally of the all-time longest-running Broadway shows has been an embarrassment to Yankee pride. The top three slots were held by two British musicals — The Phantom of the Opera and Cats — and a French-English hybrid, Les Misérables. Meanwhile, American musicals like A Chorus Line and Rent were knocked further and further down the ladder.
Well, this week a show of 100 percent American invention, Chicago, moved up to the number three spot, sending Les Miz down a peg. Should Chicago continue to run, it will overtake the No. 2 man, Cats, in about two years. There is little chance of overtaking the top dog, however. That is Phantom, which is still on the boards. (The masked man's 25th anniversary on Broadway comes in January.)
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