By Robert Simonson
03 Jan 2010
It seems producers are picking them younger and younger these days. Whether they're seasoned enough to hit the Broadway stage does not seem to be a consideration. It's youth. Youth reigns supreme. If you weren't born in the 1980s, you're old news, past your prime.
No, I'm not talking about the actors. I'm talking about the plays chosen for revival. This past fall, we had new Broadway productions of Oleanna and Brighton Beach Memoirs, whose original mountings were still fresh in many theatregoers' memories. Before that we had new versions of Sight Unseen, The American Plan and A Chorus Line which followed the closings of their world premieres by less than 20 years.
|photo by John Russo|
You think 12 years between Broadway revival is a short time? Try six! Jerry Herman's La Cage Aux Folles was here only in 2004, but it will return April 6, 2010, at the Longacre. One of the reasons, surely, is that Kelsey Grammer is playing Georges. Terry Johnson directs the production, which also stars Douglas Hodge and transfers from the Menier Chocolate Factory, the hot London theatre of the moment.
Playwright Donald Margulies has been a beneficiary of the current inclination to revive young plays. Manhattan Theatre Club brought back his Sight Unseen a couple years back. Now, it's giving his 1997 two-hander Collected Stories, about a novelist and her perfidious protege, another look, previewing it from April 6 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Lynne Meadow will pilot Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson.
NEW, AFTER ALL
Valerie Harper (forever TV's "Rhoda," but also a fearless stage actress) will play boozy star Tallulah Bankhead in Matthew Lombardo's new comedy Looped, directed by Rob Ruggiero at the Lyceum starting Feb. 19 prior to a March 14 opening. In it, the celebrated and troubled actress is called into a sound studio in 1965 to re-record (or "loop") one line of dialogue for what would be her last film. She spars with the sound engineer.
|photo by Manuel Harlan|
The second-most anticipated new play of the coming months is A Behanding in Spokane. As you might guess from the gory, location-specific title, it's a new play from Martin McDonagh.(Remember when McDonagh was saying he had written his last play? Well, he apparently had second thoughts.) This new work is the first to be set in America and will star Christopher Walken, Zoe Kazan, Anthony Mackie and Sam Rockwell. John Crowley directs. Who loses the hand? You'll have to wait until Feb. 15, when previews begin at the Schoenfeld.
|photo by Carol Rosegg|
Among the other play revivals heading for Broadway in the coming months are: Present Laughter, the Noel Coward classic about a vain actor and his travails, opening Jan. 21 at the American Airlines Theatre with Victor Garber in the lead; a new production of the William Gibson evergreen, The Miracle Worker, with Alison Pill as Annie Sullivan and Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine") as Helen Keller, beginning Feb. 12 at Circle in the Square; and a double-bill (how often do you see that format on Broadway anymore?) of O'Neill's Hughie and Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, the latest effort from the team of director Robert Falls and actor Brian Dennehy, beginning April 12.
SAY IT WITH MUSIC
|photo by Joan Marcus|
The other big new musical of the season, should it happen — and that's an "if" the size of the Empire State Building — is the star-crossed Spider-man, Turn Off the Dark. Suffering from a mountain of bad word-of-mouth and backstage gossip about its future, the latest word from the Julie Taymor-directed, Bono-The Edge-scored mega-musical is that it would open in "2010" (the previous start date was more specific, Feb. 25) and that Reeve Carney would star in the title role. Also announced was Michael Cohl. Cohl's not an actor, he's the new lead producer of the show. It's highly unusual for a production to switch producers mid-stream and the move is indicative of the stress the high-budgeted show has undergone over the last year. Stay tuned.
Other coming attractions include: All About Me, a pairing of blowsy Aussie diva Dame Edna and concert and cabaret star Michael Feinstein, beginning Feb. 19 at Henry Miller's Theatre (Casey Nicholaw directs); Million Dollar Quartet, a transfer of the Chicago musical by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux centering on Sun Records recording artists Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley; and Sondheim on Sondheim, a new revue of the music of Guess Who?, starring Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams and Leslie Kritzer. It will mark 82-year-old, Broadway legend Cook's first non-concert, non-benefit show on Broadway in nearly 40 years.
IN THE WINGS FOR SPRING?
Waiting in the wings, perhaps for spring 2010, is the well-reviewed American Idiot, the new rock musical by punk group Green Day and Tony Award-winning director Michael Mayer. No dates have been announced, but producers Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman are said to be craving a certain Broadway venue. The dark-hued musical borrows songs from the punk album of the same name, plus numbers from Green Day's latest album, "21st Century Breakdown."
The show, which world-premiered at Berkeley Rep in California in fall 2009, "follows working-class characters from the suburbs to the city to the Middle East, as they seek redemption in a world filled with frustration — an exhilarating journey borne along by Green Day's electrifying songs." (It ain't The Addams Family.)
Also expected (but not yet officially announced) for spring 2010 is Twyla Tharp's new Frank Sinatra-infused music-dance show, Come Fly With Me. With the blessing of Frank Sinatra Enterprises and the Sinatra family, the show, which played a well-reviewed tryout at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, is to feature original masters of Sinatra's voice, backed by a live on-stage band.