PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, May 3-9: Fun Home Eyes Transfer Uptown and Hugh Jackman Will Star in The River

The New York Drama Critics Circle (yes, it still exists, though dramatic critics are dropping like flies these days) announced its 2014 Awards May 5.

Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas and Alexandra Socha
Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas and Alexandra Socha (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The Circle gave top honors to the Jeanine Tesori- Lisa Kron musical Fun Home, as well as Robert Schenkkan's All The Way and the American premiere of Conor McPherson's  The Night Alive. 

Special citations were also awarded to The Shakespeare's Globe productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III, seen on Broadway earlier this season; as well as playwright-director Richard Nelson and the company of The Apple Family Plays, which were presented at the Public Theater last fall.

The day before, the Lucille Lortel Awards, which honors Off-Broadway, were presented at the Skirball Center. Fun Home was a winner there, too, taking home the prize for Outstanding Musical.

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Fun Home just won't stop attracting attention. The show, which dramatizes lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel's coming-of-age and her relationship with her closeted gay father, opened to acclaim Oct. 22, 2013, at the Public. It managed to extend four times, and many thought it a leading contender for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (which eventually went to The Flick).

Some producers finally got the hint. The New York Times reported this week that Fun Home is aiming for a Broadway arrival next spring.

Fun Home producers, including Mike Isaacson, are planning to move the modestly budgeted $5-6 million musical to Broadway in spring 2015.

Kristin Caskey, who is also among the producers attached to Fun Home, told Playbill.com, "We're working to make it happen; we want it to happen, but nothing is set yet."

The Off-Broadway production was directed by Sam Gold. The original Off-Broadway cast featured Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, Alexandra Socha, Michael Cerveris, Bruce Bechdel and Judy Kuhn.

Robert Lopez
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

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Also coming to Broadway next season is The River, a new play by the British dramatist Jez Butterworth. Butterworth's Jerusalem, with Mark Rylance, was a hit a couple seasons ago.

But let's get to the excited part (at least where producers, theatre owners and theatregoers are concerned) — Hugh Jackman will star! And he will draw crowds and make money because he always does.

The 13-week limited engagement will begin Oct. 31 at Circle in the Square. Ian Rickson will direct.

According to producers, the play is about "A remote cabin on the cliffs, a man and a woman, and a moonless night." So, no lighting designer, then?

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Songwriter Robert Lopez made a name for himself as the co-writer of Avenue Q. He showed he wasn't a one-trick pony when he made himself a millionaire with The Book of Mormon. But it wasn't until his success with the score of "Frozen" — the most popular animated movie in the history of the planet, thank you very much — and his charming appearance with his writing and life partner, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, as the two accepted their Oscar for the hit song "Let It Go," that he became a star. Well, as big a star as a composer can become these days, anyway.

One can only imagine the Up Here, the duo's new musical, was a pretty easy sell to the La Jolla Playhouse, which announced this week that it would present the show in 2015. Alex Timbers will direct.

What's it all about? Well, don't expect this hint from Lopez to give you any clues: "It's kind of like 'Annie Hall' meets Cirque du Soleil. It's a romantic comedy, with a huge theatrical twist." Uh, yeah. Like that.