PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 28-Oct. 4: Kinky Boots Stands Strong and Chita Rivera Hints at a Visit to Broadway
By Robert Simonson
Two Broadway hits enjoyed palpable evidence of their popularity this week.
Who says Kinky Boots is a hit? Well, the Tony voters do. They gave the new show the Best Musical prize. Theatregoers do. The attraction has been selling out ever since June. And now there's this further proof: Producers announced Oct. 3 that the musical has recouped its initial investment of $13.5 million in just 30 weeks. In Broadway time, where shows can run for years and never make their money back, that's mighty fast.
Meanwhile, the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, which opened Sept. 26, has extended its Broadway run into Feb. 2014. Tony Award winner Cherry Jones, Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger and Zachary Quinto star.
Trouble in development when mounting a new musical is not uncommon. But to clear the decks and start completely from scratch — well, that's something else.
A revised production of Finding Neverland, directed by Diane Paulus, will receive a 2014 workshop in New York City, according to an Equity casting notice this week. The workshop will be a completely new version of the musical about J. M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, and will feature not just a new director in Paulus, but a new book and songwriting team.
The musical premiered in 2012 at the U.K.'s Curve Theatre, with a score by Grey Gardens writers Scott Frankel (music) and Michael Korie (lyrics) and a book by Allan Knee, based on his play The Man Who Was Peter Pan. Rob Ashford staged the $10 million premiere, which received mixed notices.
Earlier this year, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein brought on board U.K. pop songwriters Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy to pen a new score for Finding Neverland, which now has a book by James Graham.
The government shutdown was the big political story of the week, and it has affected every American, in both small and large ways. It also has impacted at least one theatre.
The Ford's Theatre Society, named for the Washington D.C. landmark where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, canceled performances of The Laramie Project through Oct. 6. The Society was told Oct. 1 that it could not perform in Ford's Theatre during the government shutdown, "even though we are a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that does not use any federal funding or federal employees for our programming," Ford's Theatre Society director Paul R. Tetreault said in a statement.
The Society will present two free performances of the play at the First Congregational United Church of Christ while Ford's Theatre is closed during the shutdown.
The Visit, the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical about love and revenge, which has threatened to storm Broadway for more than a decade, may finally get there.
The show, based on a grim morality play by Dürrenmatt, may have a future life at the Williamstown Theatre Festival prior to a long-awaited Broadway bow, Chita Rivera revealed in an interview with Playbill.com. Rivera starred in the show in its first production at the Goodman Theatre in 2001. It was supposed to proceed to Broadway then, but got middling reviews and lost momentum. It was then announced as a production at The Public Theater, but that plan deflated after investors pulled out. A 2008 production at Virginia's Signature Theatre did indeed come to fruition, with Rivera reprising her role as the ruthless Claire Zachanassian, a millionaire determined to get revenge on every person from her hometown who did her wrong when she was a young girl.
Williamstown would not confirm the booking. However, in recent years, the summer festival has gotten in the habit of developing new musicals, such as Far From Heaven and The Bridges of Madison County, both of which set New York debuts within a year of their premieres there.
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