PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 1-7: Hal David, Willy Wonka, Flashdance on Broadway

By Robert Simonson
07 Sep 2012



Also opening along the Thames will be the first full London revival of A Chorus Line since the original Broadway production transferred to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1976, where it ran for three years (a far shorter stay than the Broadway incarnation).

It will now begin performances at the London Palladium Feb. 2, 2013, prior to an official opening Feb. 19, for a limited season that is booking through June 29. The production will be directed by Bob Avian, Michael Bennett's long-term collaborator and his co-choreographer on the original production. He was also responsible for directing the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line. Since composer Marvin Hamlisch died in August, Avian is the only major creative figure connected to the original staging who is still living.

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Finding talented tots is hard, apparently.

Producers of A Christmas Story, The Musical! are still searching for a young actor to star as Ralphie in the Broadway production of the beloved holiday film that will begin previews Nov. 5 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

"This is a bona fide national search. We are in the final two weeks of auditions for the right Ralphie who could be Broadway's next sensation," said Peter Billingsly, none other than the original Ralphie from the movie. Billingsly has a doubly-vested interest, since is also among the musical's producers.

Billingsly better hurry up and find the right boy. Rehearsals begin Oct. 1. Submissions for the role will be accepted through Sept. 12 at noon. The casting notice says the show is "looking for a boy who is a regular kid, with enormous talent." (Good luck with that.)

Meanwhile, producers of Matilda The Musical have announced that they are seeking just the right young girl to star in the title role of the production, which will arrive on Broadway this spring.

An open casting call for the title role will be held Sept. 30 at Pearl Studios beginning at 10 AM in midtown Manhattan. Producers are seeking girls ages 8-10 years old, who are 4'4" or under. No previous experience is required. Like the Broadway production of Billy Elliot, several young actors will rotate in the leading role at various performances. The London production of Matilda employed four young actresses.

Perhaps when A Christmas Story finds its Ralphie, the little actor might give the Matilda producers a few tips on where to find a good Matilda or two.

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Finally, Hal David, the pop, movie and musical theatre lyricist who wrote words to composer Burt Bacharach's music in the Broadway musical Promises, Promises, as well as dozens of hit songs, died Sept. 1. He was 91.

You have to have lived under a rock for the past 50 years not to have been familiar with at least a dozen or so of David's compositions. They included such undying, infectious and curiously timeless ditties as "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," "The Look of Love," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Don't Make Me Over," "Walk on By," "What the World Needs Now is Love," "One Less Bell to Answer" and "Close to You." Many were first recorded by Dionne Warwick. David and Bacharach's syncopated compositions were sophisticated, mixing adult sentiments with artful melodies. The were complex both in melody and message, and represented a 1960s bridge between the Tin Pan Alley and rock music eras. That the two men wrote a hit Broadway musical came as no surprise. That they never wrote another did. They did, however, write songs for a 1973 flop film musical called "Lost Horizon." It led to their breakup. The two men wrote so many songs, however — and so many enduring songs — that their partnership seemed to go on decades longer than it actually did.