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

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07 Sep 2012

The film "Flashdance," about the aspirations of a sexy, dancing, female welder who can't afford a decent sweatshirt, came out in 1983 and proceeded to stun the world by grossing over $150 million and yielding a Grammy Award-winning soundtrack album full of hits, thanks to exposure on the then-fledging MTV network. Since then it's been the subject of endless parody and derision, with about a million satiric buckets of water poured over a million unlikely figures, in movies, television shows, commercials and cartoons. Few hit films have been so mercilessly skewered over so many decades. And the property dances on.

Now comes confirmation that "Maniac" and all the rest will be heard from a Broadway stage. Flashdance—The Musical, a stage adaptation, will arrive on Broadway in August 2013, producers announced this week. The show had previously hit the Theater Royal in Plymouth, England, in 2008 and then the West End in early 2011. Since then, the musical has been substantially rewritten and restaged.

Flashdance will launch a separate national touring company in January 2013 at the Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, the steel town that serves as the musical's setting. That production will play over 25 markets in North America. The show features a book by Tom Hedley (co-writer of the original screenplay with the notorious Hollywood screenwriter Joe "Basic Instinct" Eszterhas) and Robert Cary, music by Robbie Roth, lyrics by Cary and Roth and direction and choreography by Sergio Trujillo. There will be 16 new songs in the score.


Another new musical based on a film, Big Fish, will have its pre-Broadway world premiere at Chicago's Oriental Theatre in spring 2013. It will be directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by John August, who wrote the 2003 film.

The production will star two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz as Edward Bloom, whose impossible stories of his epic adventures frustrate his son Will, causing him to try to unravel the mystery of who his father really is. It will begin performances April 2, 2013, and play through May 5. Broadway dates have not been revealed, but expect a 2013-14 season launch if critics and audiences take the bait.


In London, the busy Douglas Hodge — who won a Tony Award for Leading Actor in a Musical for his starring role in La Cage aux Folles and will star in Cyrano de Bergerac this fall on Broadway — has been cast as fantastical and slightly sociopathic candy maker Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The new musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's book will begin performances at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, as previously reported, May 18, 2013, prior to an official opening in June. It will be directed by Sam Mendes, with a book by David Greig and new songs from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

According to a story in the U.K.'s Daily Mail, Hodge had been toying with the possibility of portraying showman P.T. Barnum in a projected U.K. revival of the musical Barnum, but opted instead to play Wonka. Same kind guys, really, Barnum and Wonka. Except Wonka's scarier.


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