PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 25-31: Soul Doctor Moves to Broadway, Revivals Abound and Neil Patrick Harris Hosts Another Awards Show

By Robert Simonson
May 31, 2013

Broadway's seen a lot of shows, but perhaps nothing like Soul Doctor, the musical about the real-life unconventional Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, which will begin previews at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre July 17.



Never heard of Carlebach? Obviously, you haven't been to temple lately. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, who lived from 1925 to 1994 and was called "The Singing Rabbi," is considered by many to the foremost Jewish religious songwriter of the 20th century. Born into a family of rabbis, he escaped from Nazi Germany as a child and later formed an unlikely friendship with the legendary jazz singer Nina Simone, who introduced him to soul and gospel music. Very much involved in the '60s musical scene, Carlebach began his singing career in Greenwich Village, where he met figures like Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. In 1966 he moved to Berkeley. (The Village was apparently not bohemian enough.) Because of his drive to reach out to people through more traditional song forms, he often alienated the Orthodox Jewish community during his career.

Conceived by Jeremy Chess, created by David Schechter and Daniel S. Wise, with direction by Wise, Soul Doctor has a book by Wise, lyrics by Schechter and music by Shlomo Carlebach.

Soul Doctor played a brief run Off-Broadway last summer as a guest attraction at New York Theatre Workshop. Prior to that, it played engagements in Florida and New Orleans. Eric Anderson, who starred in the Off-Broadway run, will repeat his work as Carlebach in the Broadway production.

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A sure sign of summer is the first performance of Shakespeare in the Park at Central Park's Delacorte Theater. On May 28, the Public Theater's production of The Comedy of Errors began its run.

The production of the comedy, among Shakespeare's simplest and most accessible (and—no coincidence—shortest!) plays, stars Hamish Linklater and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as twins Dromio and Antipholus. Daniel Sullivan, who might as well be crowned the Delacorte's director in residence, directs the 90-minute, intermissionless staging. (I said it was short.)

 

Alan Cumming
Broadway is apparently so wanting of ideas for new shows that it has taken to reviving the only recently departed.

Les Misérables, which has already paid one false farewell to the Great White Way, closing in 2003 only to return for a 14-month run in 2006, is on its way back again!

Producer Cameron Mackintosh announced May 30 that his 25th-anniversary, re-imagined production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's musical will return to the Imperial Theatre—the show's home on Broadway for nearly 13 years of its original 16-year run—on March 1, 2014.

The new staging will feature fresh scenic and narrative elements and new orchestrations. It will be directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, with a design by Matt Kinley that was inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Les Misérables is currently playing on tour across North America.

Meanwhile, co-directors Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall have been busying themselves getting their famous, environmental revival of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret back on its feet. The production bowed on Broadway to much acclaim in 1998 and stayed there until 2004.

Mendes and Marshall have induced Alan Cumming to return as the Master of Ceremonies, a role that made the Scot famous and won him a Tony. As for Sally Bowles, ubiquitous film star Emma Stone had previously been reported as a contender. But, according to The New York Times this week, Stone will not be taking part in the venture.

(Representatives for the Roundabout Theatre Company could not confirm details of the revival, or Mendes' and Marshall's attachment, to Playbill.com.)

Christopher Lloyd
Photo by Joan Marcus
The Off-Broadway revival of Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle, starring Christopher Lloyd and featuring music by Duncan Sheik, officially opened May 30 at the Classic Stage Company.

The seldom-seen 1948 drama, featuring a play-within-a-play and touching on ideas of stewardship of the land, family, parenting and community, was giving largely admiring marks by critics, who felt the production hit the right tone of sweet cynicism, though they were split on whether Lloyd's madcap work distracted from or added to the overall quality of the show. Sheik's music was also praised.

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Why don't we dispense with the formalities of a selection process, and just agree that Neil Patrick Harris will host every award show from now on?

Harris, who is set to host the 67th Annual Tony Awards June 9 on CBS, has also been tapped to host the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, which will air Sept. 22 on the same network.

I understand that Seth MacFarlane wasn't so popular as this years Oscar host…