PLAYBILL.COM’S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 18-24: Pajama Party

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24 Feb 2006

Kelli O'Hara and Harry Connick, Jr. in <i>The Pajama Game</I>.
Kelli O'Hara and Harry Connick, Jr. in The Pajama Game.
Joan Marcus

A pajama party is what they’re having over at the Roundabout Theatre Company this week, in the wake of the unexpectedly rhapsodic reviews that greeted its current production of the musical The Pajama Game . Though the show featured the exciting presence of crooner-composer-actor Harry Connick, Jr. , as well as talented Broadway musical actress Kelli O’Hara , and is directed by the dependable Kathleen Marshall , it could safely be said that, during previews, the theatre world and its press corps was not exactly tingling with anticipation about the revival.

But steam heat is what rose off the stage of the American Airlines Theatre on opening night Feb. 23. Connick was called a born star and a revelation and he and O’Hara were repeatedly termed a sexy pairing. When was the last time any Broadway musical was called sexy? (Moreover, is sexiness allowed at the Roundabout?) And so, Broadway has a new, unanticipated hit.

But them Roundabout folks had lots to be happy about this week. Their newly announced season has some toothsome attractions, not the least of which is a new revival of the Harvey Schmidt, Tom Jones and N. Richard Nash musical 110 in the Shade , starring Audra McDonald who, bless her heart, never leaves Broadway behind for long. She’ll play unloved spinster Lizzie Curry (better glam down, Audra) in the Lonny Price -directed piece.

The season will also feature Philip Bosco ’s return to Shaw. He’ll star in Heartbreak House in 2007. In the late '70s and '80s, Shaw and Bosco were constant companions, with the actor appearing in everything from Major Barbara to Man and Superman (mostly at the late, lamented Circle in the Square). He even did Heartbreak House back in 1983. This time around, he’ll play Captain Shotover.

Also part of the line-up are Joe Dowling ’s staging of the American premiere of The Home Place by Brian Friel and another U.S. premiere, Patrick Marber 's Howard Katz .



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Those who like attending theatre, but don’t like watching the news, can catch up on current events at the Public Theater, where, beginning March 28, David Hare 's acclaimed political drama Stuff Happens will begin previews. The full cast was announced this week. Byron Jennings will play British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Jay O. Sanders is President George W. Bush. Also in the cast are Jeffrey DeMunn as Donald Rumsfeld, Zach Grenier as Dick Cheney, Peter Francis James as Colin Powell, Gloria Reuben as Condoleezza Rice and Brenda Wehle as Laura Bush. Previous reviews have indicated that Powell functions as the sort of moral hero of the play. Apparently, the rest battle it out for the title of villain. (Talk about competition!)

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Tony Award winner Matthew Bourne 's Edward Scissorhands — currently on a tour of the U.K. following its world premiere at Sadler's Wells in London — has cut out a place for itself at Los Angeles's Ahmanson Theatre in December. The dance theatre take on the 1990 Tim Burton fairy tale film will play Dec. 12-31. Bourne has indicated in the past that Broadway is a possibility, as is a stop at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

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Finally, every dog has its day and Off-Broadway's Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead saw its last Feb. 20. This was a week earlier than the Feb. 26 close date that was recently announced. But that was not surprising because—speaking of dogs—The New York Post has been like a dog with a bone with its string of stories about Dog producer Dede Harris and a lawsuit filed by fellow producers that charged that Harris made "sexual overtures to one or more cast members of the show," accusing the producer of "fraudulent, reckless and grossly negligent behavior." Harris denied all the charges, which is perhaps a sign of the times. In the earlier days of New York theatre, your average theatrical producer would have worn such charges as a badge of honor.