PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 10-16: Starry Cast Set for Edward Albee Revival and Miss Saigon’s Helicopter May Land on Broadway

As much as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee's brittle and elegant play of existential unease, A Delicate Balance, always commands a 40-karat cast.

John Lithgow
John Lithgow

The original 1966 Broadway premiere featured the inimitable Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, with sturdy support by Marian Seldes (who won a Tony for her work) and Rosemary Murphy. The first Broadway revival of the play, in 1996, starred George Grizzard and Rosemary Harris as the central married couple, Elaine Stritch as Harris' sister and Mary Beth Hurt as their daughter. Even the smaller parts were played by notable actors: Elizabeth Wilson and John Carter. It was that production, which won a Tony, that was largely responsible for restoring the drama's reputation as one of Albee's finest. (The original had been rather damned with faint praise.)

Now, nearly two decades since that mounting, A Delicate Balance is coming back. And damn if the cast isn't another whopper in terms of fame and talent! Glenn Close and John Lithgow top the bill, followed by Lindsay Duncan, Bob Balaban, Clare Higgins and Martha Plimpton. The producer is Scott Rudin, who does not deal in small potatoes.

Pam MacKinnon, who earned a Tony Award for the 2012 Broadway revival of Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, will stage A Delicate Balance, which begins previews Oct. 20 at the Golden Theatre.

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When you think about it, mega-producer Cameron Mackintosh really only has a handful of plays. But he keeps bringing them back again and again. He's already sent  Les Misérables back to Broadway twice following its initial long Broadway run. And he's stage d Oliver! twice in the West End, in 1994 and 2009, and once on Broadway, in 1984. Now, the showman plans to bring the new London production of one of his biggest hits, Miss Saigon to Broadway in 2015, if the reviews are strong in Britain and a suitable theatre becomes available in New York.

The New York Times reported that two theatre executives spoke about Mackintosh's plans, although the news of a Broadway transfer has been buzzed about since the announcement of the London return. The official opening night in the West End is set for May 21, with a American high-schooler named Eva Noblezada in the central role of Kim.

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The complete cast for the Park Avenue Armory production of Macbeth, starring Kenneth Branagh, has been announced. Performances of the immersive production begin May 31 in the Armory's expansive Wade Thompson Drill Hall.

Beth Malone

Directed by Branagh and that Atlantic-jumping-regular Rob Ashford, the production stars Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth. Macbeth was originally mounted in Manchester, and the majority of the cast will reprise their roles, with the additions of Richard Coyle as Macduff and Scarlett Strallen as Lady Macduff, among others.

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Beth Malone, who was recently seen in the award-winning Public Theater musical Fun Home, has landed the title role in the "refreshed" version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which will begin performances Sept. 12 at the Denver Center Theatre Company.

Why should we care? Well, the staging will be directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall and has been rewritten by Dick Scanlan (he's the "refresher"). Scanlan is the scribe who recast the wacky 1960s film Thoroughly Modern Millie a decade ago as a stage work and helped it become a Broadway hit. Marshall, well, she directs and choreographs all sort of Broadway fare ( Anything Goes, Nice Work If You Can Get It, etc.), much of it successful. So it's a good bet this production will travel.

The Unsinkable Molly Brown, the work of Meredith " The Music Man" Willson, was a hit back in 1960, with Tammy Grimes in the lead. But since then the title has kind of, well, sunk from sight. Perhaps this production will cause it to resurface.  ***

Do you like Tony Awards? Do you have $2,500? Well, does the American Theatre Wing have a deal for you!

Or, rather it did. You see, individuals who invest in productions that win the Best Play, Best Musical and respective Best Revival categories currently have the option to purchase their own Tony Award statuette for the price of $2,500. Investors, mind you, not producers. And we all know how many investors it takes to produce a show on Broadway these days — roughly about the size of my high school graduating class.

So, that's a lot of Tony Awards floating around. And a lot of potential for the diluting of the "brand," as marketing executives like to say. In an effort to maintain the prestige of the Tony Award, the American Theatre Wing may begin offering an alternative award to the ever-growing list of producers who invest in Broadway productions, according to the New York Times.

Typically, the two lead producers who oversee a Tony-winning production receive their statuettes at no cost. The remaining group of investors have the option to purchase their own award, thereby making them "Tony Award-winning producers," which has caused concern among industry leaders who feel it diminishes the honor.

The Tony Awards and the Broadway League would need to finalize any proposals from the Wing before the new measure would go into effect. But lauded designer William Ivey Long, who is the chairman of the American Theatre Wing, has already begun drafting sketches of what the separate honor will look like for those who invest in Tony-winning productions.

If Long, who has won six Tonys of his own over the years, is designing it, the thing may actually end up better-looking that the actual award. Maybe people will want it instead.