PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 24-30: Rocky and Aladdin Set Broadway Dates, Jessica Lange Will Journey to Broadway

By Robert Simonson
August 30, 2013

Disney Theatricals, which currently has two shows on the Broadway boards — The Lion King and Newsies — will soon have a third.



Aladdin, a new stage adaptation of the 1992 Academy Award-winning animated film musical, will open on Broadway March 20, 2014, at the company's flagship house, the New Amsterdam Theatre. Casey Nicholaw directs.

As previously reported, Aladdin will premiere Nov. 1 at Toronto's Mirvish Theatre for a run through Jan. 5, 2014. An earlier pilot version of the musical premiered at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre in the summer of 2011. While the Toronto production will reunite Nicholaw with several key members from the Seattle creative team, Disney promises a brand-new production of Aladdin that has been reshaped and redesigned since the 2011 stage premiere.

The stage production, which expands the 90-minute film into two acts, has music by Alan Menken and lyrics from the film by Tim Rice and the late Howard Ashman (whose Broadway career, thanks to Disney, continues to soldier on some 22 years after his death), as well as new book and lyrics by Chad Beguelin.

Menken previously told Playbill.com that the stage production incorporates many ideas he and Ashman conceived for the 1992 film that never made it to the screen. Among them are a trio of Aladdin's friends, Omar, Babkak and Kassim, as well as a handful of early songs including "Proud of Your Boy."

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Wietske van Tongeren and Drew Sarich starred in the German production of Rocky the Musical
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Rocky, the new stage production that will arguably (hopefully) be the final chapter in the creative life of the film that gave Sylvester Stallone a career, has a home.

The show, which will feature a score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and a book by Thomas Meehan (fine team, that), will begin previews Feb. 11, 2014 at none other than the august Winter Garden Theatre. It will officially open on Broadway March 13, 2014.

The Winter Garden's longtime tenant, the hit jukebox musical Mamma Mia!, will transfer to the Broadhurst Theatre later this year.

The musical premiered far far away from the Winter Garden, in Hamburg, Germany, last fall. The German production stars Drew Sarich, the American actor who has had a prolific career on the German stage, starring there in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. If he gets the job on Broadway, it will be a real Rocky Balboa story.

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Jessica Lange is headed back to Broadway, and, as is her wont, it will be in a classic.

The Oscar winner has confirmed she will return to Broadway in a production of Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Jessica Lange
Photo by ABC
Lange is not unfamiliar with the role. She previously played the role of Mary Tyrone in a 2000 production of Eugene O'Neill's familial drama in London, receiving an Olivier Award nomination for her performance as the long-suffering, morphine-addicted mother.

Lange made her Broadway debut in a 1992 production of A Streetcar Named Desire and returned to the stage in the 2005 revival of The Glass Menagerie.

The O'Neill classic was last done on Broadway just ten years ago, in a production starring Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Tyrone.

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It's not often that major casting news goes by the headline of "Such-and-Such's Wife to Star In…," but it's hard to begin an article about Trudie Styler starring in a new production of The Seagull without mentioning the man she's married to: Sting.

The Chekhov outing will be presented this fall by Culture Project, with direction by Max Stafford Clark. Joining Styler will be Rufus Collins, Alan Cox, Stella Feehily, Slate Holmgren, Rachel Spencer Hewitt, Ryan David O'Byrne, Amanda Quaid, Tim Ruddy and Kenneth Ryan. The production, of course, promises to be a "reappraisal" of the classic.

Previews will begin Oct. 3 prior to an official opening Oct. 13.

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Julie Harris, a towering figure of the American theatre in the decades following World War II, died on Aug. 24. She was 87. The theatre, and the world, shall never see her like again. Truly.

Harris was nearly wholly a creature of the stage, the last of a breed that once included Helen Hayes, Jessica Tandy and Katharine Cornell. She worked tirelessly, and, even late in life, toured with her shows — something few actresses of her stature rarely did. Director-writer Harold Clurman, who directed her, captured both her unglamorous persona as well as her dedication to her art when he described her as "a nun whose church is the stage."

The theatre rewarded her devotion with ten Tony Award nominations and five wins, as well a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award in 2002. She took it all in stride, seeming to care far less about the accolades than she did about the actual work. Until she was finally physically unable to, she would take roles on the smallest of stages. She was, as the New York Times aptly wrote it in its obituary, an "anti-diva."