By Robert Simonson
21 Jun 2013
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
Maggie Gyllenhaal was announced as the star of the American premiere of Penelope Skinner's The Village Bike, which will be part of MCC Theater's 2013-14 season. The play, about a restless pregnant woman, received its premiere at London's Royal Court in 2011 to critical acclaim. Sam Gold will direct.
Also part of the MCC season will be the return of Robert Askins' irreverent puppet comedy Hand to God, which bowed at Ensemble Studio Theatre last year to high praise. Director Moritz von Stuelpnagel will again helm the production that features original star Steven Boyer as a devout young man whose sock puppet takes on a shocking, foul-mouthed personality.
Not yet open at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, the world premiere of The Jungle Book is already a popular hit. Originally scheduled to play through Aug. 4, performances have been extended to Aug. 11. The production will then transfer to Boston's Huntington Theatre Company, running Sept. 7-Oct. 6.
Based on Rudyard Kipling's 1893 collection of stories set in the Indian jungle and Walt Disney's 1967 animated film, the musical is directed by Mary Zimmerman. Aside from ten-year-old Akash Chopra, who playes Mowgli, a "man cub" lost in the jungle, most of the cast will — Lion King-like — all play animals, including a panther, a wolf, a bear, a snake, an orangutan and a tiger.
The Jungle Book is produced by special arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, which is providing financial support, creative consultation and access to song material never before heard onstage. Richard M. Sherman is collaborating on this production, providing music director Doug Peck with access and permission to adapt songs that Sherman and his late brother, Robert, wrote for the film and unused songs written for the film, plus new lyrics written for this production.
Three-time Tony Award winner Frank Langella will ascend an acting Everest this fall when he stars in the Chichester Festival Theatre production of King Lear. American audiences will get to see how high he climbs when the production comes to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in early 2014.