PLAYBILL THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 4-10: Kenny Lonergan's New Play; Clybourne Confirmed; Stick Fly Swatted

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10 Feb 2012

Kenneth Lonergan
Kenneth Lonergan
Aubrey Reuben
Here's one I didn't see coming.

Kenneth Lonergan, the respected writer of thoughtful, wry, witty plays about the tribulations and worries of everyday citizens of the modern world, has a new script.

This in itself is news, as Lonergan's productivity has slowed to a snail's pace over the past decade. His one new play (The Starry Messenger) and one new film ("Margaret) during that period were continually delayed by rewrites and production setbacks.

But then there's the plot of the new Medieval Play, which does not sound like any other previous Lonergan work, or anything you'd expect to have come from Lonergan's mind.

The Signature Theatre Company, which will produce the work, described it as so: "Two French mercenary knights set out on a quest for relative moral redemption against the classic comic background of late 14th-century ecclesiastical politics. A story of friendship, love, noble feats of arms, indiscriminate brutality, the progressive refinement of medieval table manners and the general decline of the chivalric ideal at the onset of the Great Papal Schism of 1378. A new and meandering comedy with no contemporary parallels worth noting by Kenneth Lonergan."



Knights. Table manners. Late 14th-century ecclesiastical politics. Oh, yeah. That kind of play.

Lonergan himself will direct. Which is a good thing, since Lonergan is probably the only guy who knows what he had in mind with this one. But, as I said, it's good to have him back. The production will begin performances May 15 and open June 7 at The End Stage Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center.

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Apparently when producer Scott Rudin leaves a Broadway-bound production, the production doesn't necessarily leave with him.

The future of Bruce Norris' play Clybourne Park was cast in doubt last week when a spat between the writer and producer led to Rudin abandoning the show. But Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn Theaters, quickly stepped in to make sure he wouldn't lose the booking at his Walter Kerr Theatre.

Roth announced Feb. 8 that the play will begin previews at the Kerr March 26 with an official opening April 19. The production will play a limited 16-week engagement. 

This is good new not only for Norris, but the cast, which is currently doing the play in L.A. with the knowledge that it would then play Broadway. The actors include Crystal A. Dickinson, Brendan Griffin, Damon Gupton, Christina Kirk, Annie Parisse, Jeremy Shamos and Frank Wood.

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The white smoke you saw coming out of the chimney of the Shubert Theatre on Feb. 9 indicated that Tony Awards Administration Committee had assembled for the second time this season to weigh in on the eligibility of 13 Broadway productions for the 2012 American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards, presented by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing.

The 13 productions discussed included Man and Boy; The Mountaintop; Relatively Speaking; Chinglish; Other Desert Cities; Godspell; Venus in Fur; Private Lives; Seminar; Bonnie & Clyde; Stick Fly; On A Clear Day You Can See Forever and Lysistrata Jones.

The juiciest decisions: Judith Light and Thomas Sadoski will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress/Actor in a Featured Role in a Play categories respectively for their performances in Other Desert Cities; Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy will be considered eligible in the Best Performance by an Actress/Actor in a Leading Role in a Play categories respectively for their performances in Venus in Fur; Peter Parnell will be considered eligible in the category of Best Book of a Musical for the revised book he wrote for the old musical On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.

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One of the plays considered by the Tony committee, Lydia R. Diamond's Stick Fly, announced this week that it was throwing in the towel. It will play its final performance at Broadway's Cort Theatre Feb. 26 following 24 previews and 92 regular performances. There is talk that another work will sneak into the Cort before the current season's Tony eligibility cut-off in April.

Stick Fly arrived on Broadway following recent regional engagements at the Huntington Theatre Company and Arena Stage. Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Dule Hill, Condola Rashad and Mekhi Phifer starred in the new comedy that officially opened Dec. 8.

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The Atlantic Theater Company said its premiere production of Gabe McKinley's play about a journalism scandal, CQ/CX, directed by David Leveaux, would extend by one week in advance of officially opening Feb. 15. Performances now play to March 11 at the Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street. 

The cast of actors, playing characters patterned after some who once worked at a certain New York broadsheet, include Larry Bryggman, Peter Jay Fernandez, Tim Hopper, Arliss Howard, Kobi Libii, David Pittu, Steve Rosen and Sheila Tapia.