PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 6-July 12: Branagh's Macbeth Broadway Bound?, Silence! Goes Silent and Bountiful's Trip Extends

Did no one tell Kenneth Branagh that we had a Macbeth on Broadway this season (Alan Cumming's still-running version) and that we're expected another production of the Shakespeare tragedy next season (with Ethan Hawke), so we don't really need another rendition?

Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

Apparently not.

The Macbeth starring Branagh, as part of the United Kingdom's Manchester International Festival, has sparked speculation of a Broadway transfer of the production, according to Variety. Co-directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford, the American director-choreographer who works as much in the UK as he does in the U.S., the production has received positive reviews from the international press.

Along with the possibility of too many Macbeths, the question of a venue would also factor into the play's transfer. Branagh's production is performed in a 300-seat deconsecrated church in Manchester. Last time anyone checked, there are no deconstructed, 300-seat churches among Broadway's few dozen theaters. The smallest, the Helen Hayes, has just under 600 seats.

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Cicely Tyson
photo by Joan Marcus

The new Broadway production of Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful, featuring Tony winner Cicely Tyson, hasn't been doing outstanding business. But the business it is doing must be good enough to cover costs, for the staging has again extended its run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The production, which officially opened April 23, had been scheduled for a 14-week limited engagement through July 7. It first extended an additional eight weeks through Sept. 1; the play will now conclude Oct. 9.

The revival has already bested the original run of the play, which lasted only 39 performances in 1953. If it does indeed last until Oct. 9, it will leave that old record in the Texas dust.

Tyson won the Tony Award for her performance as Mrs. Carrie Watts, as well as the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award.

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Silence! The Musical played its final performance at Off-Broadway's Elektra Theatre July 7 at 5 PM.

The production played a total of 529 performances and eight previews. Before transferring to its current venue, the show originally opened at Theatre 80 July 9, 2011.

That number easily makes Silence! the second-most successful show to have been spawned by the New York International Fringe Festival. The first, of course, was Urinetown, another musical spoof, which spent two and a half years on Broadway.

Hunter Bell
Photo by Monica Simoes

The show's producer, Theater Mogul, is currently negotiating licensing deals for future Silence! productions to open during the 2013-14 season around the country and world.

Silence! has a book by Hunter Bell, music and lyrics by Jon and Al Kaplan. With its two-year run, Silence! is also Bell's longest-running project by far, though his [title of show] has received more attention.

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Conor McPherson's best-known play, The Weir, is a hit all over again.

The Donmar Warehouse's recent revival is to transfer to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre, beginning performances Jan. 16, 2014 prior to an official opening Jan. 22. The production is directed by the Donmar's artistic director Josie Rourke. It's a feather in her new cap, as it marks the first West End transfer for the theatre under her tenure. The full original cast of the Donmar production that comprises Brian Cox, Ardal O'Hanlon, Risterd Cooper, Dervla Kirwan and Peter McDonald, who will reprise their roles in the West End.

McPherson's new play The Night Alive is currently running at the Donmar Warehouse through July 27. The Weir first bowed in 1997.

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20th Century Fox is following the footsteps of many other movie studios with large film libraries and getting into the musical business. And it's hired producer Kevin McCollum, filmmaker John Davis and Tom McGrath to do it. The trio have signed a deal to develop stage productions based on the 20th Century Fox film catalogue.

Specific titles in the pipeline were not announced, however McCollum is currently attached to the new stage musical Ever After, based on the 1998 Cinderella-esque 20th Century Fox film of the same title that starred Drew Barrymore.

Fox also tapped New York Musical Theatre Festival executive director and producer Isaac Robert Hurwitz to consult on the development of the theatrical projects.

At least nine musicals are planned for development within the next several years, with the potential goal to return the stage properties back to film in their new musical form. And so the circle goes round and round...