PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 7-13: American Psycho and Heathers Slash Their Ways to the Stage and NBC Will Hear the Sound of More Musicals

By Robert Simonson
December 13, 2013

It turns out the producers of Eric Coble's The Velocity of Autumn meant it earlier this year when they said the new play would be coming to Broadway.



The show, which ran at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., last fall, will play a limited engagement at Broadway's Booth Theatre beginning April 1, 2014, prior to an official opening April 21. Molly Smith will direct.

The production will mark the Broadway debut of the relatively unknown Coble, whose best-known credit is the Off-Broadway play Bright Ideas. It will also represent the first time Estelle Parsons has been handed a leading role on Broadway since the 1990 revival of Miss Margarida's Way.

The play is about Alexandra, a 79-year-old artist in a showdown with her family over where to spend her remaining years. As press notes state, "In Alexandra's corner are her wit, her volcanic passion and the fact that she's barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block." There's a senior that prizes her independence.

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The world-premiere production of American Psycho, the musical by composer Duncan Sheik and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa based on the controversial 1991 Bret Easton Ellis novel, officially opens Dec. 12 at London's Almeida Theatre.

The musical thriller, set during the height of the 1980's era of Wall Street greed, is directed by Rupert Goold and stars Matt Smith as serial killer Patrick Bateman.

Critics were divided mainly, it seemed, on whether they liked Goold's super-slick, surfacey approach to Bateman's slick, surfacey world.

Matt Smith
Photo by Manuel Harlan
"It sounds improbable: a musical thriller about a serial killer," began the review in The Guardian, voicing the thought on everyone's mind. "But Sondheim did it in Sweeney Todd. And, although this version of Bret Easton Ellis' notorious 1991 bestseller, is a very different bucket of blood, it works superbly thanks to Rupert Goold's stylish production, Duncan Sheik's music and lyrics and Matt Smith's beautifully defined performance as the deluded hero."

The Independent called the show "diabolically slick," adding "this witty, almost terminally knowing show tackles [its improbable subject] with deadpan cheek."

The Mirror was less enthused. "Turning the bloody tale into this highly stylish musical makes it much funnier but no less dark," it wrote. "This is also an entertaining tribute to the 80s which any child of the decade will love. Still, this show will only hold great appeal for fans of the book and movie version."

Variety, meanwhile, cared for it even less, saying that, "beneath the highly polished surface there’s little drama or, crucially, danger. In a serial-killer thriller, that’s not just a problem, it’s an indictment."

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Speaking of musicals about psychopaths, Heathers — the new Laurence O'Keefe-Kevin Murphy musical based on the dark 1988 film comedy about a clique of domineering high school girls and the outsider girl and boy who decided to rub them out one by one — will arrive Off-Broadway in 2014. It was seen earlier this fall in Los Angeles, CA.

Andy Fickman directed the sold-out stage premiere that played the Hudson Backstage Theatre. He will repeat his work for New York audiences. Choreography will be by Marguerite Derricks.

Heathers will begin March 17, 2014, towards a March 31 opening night at New World Stages.

Hey, hungry theatre composers, "Taxi Driver" is still out there. Get on it!

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Linda Lavin

Actress Linda Lavin and playwright Nicky Silver are in a relationship.

Artistic relationship, that is. Lavin, who had a success starring in Silver's The Lyons — both Off-Broadway and on — will return to the Vineyard Theatre in 2014 to star in the playwright's next outing, Too Much Sun.

Directed by Mark Brokaw, previews will begin May 1, 2014, prior to an official opening May 20.

Silver's caustic, comic plays have long offered meaty roles for veteran stage actresses (Kelly Bishop in Pterodactyls, Jean Smart in Fit to Be Tied, Betty Buckley in The Eros Trilogy, Penny Fuller in Beautiful Child), but Lavin is Silver's first repeat interpreter. In Too Much Sun, she plays Audrey Langham, a celebrated actress whose life unravels while preparing for a new production of Medea, causing her to retreat her married daughter's summer house by the sea.

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Reviews may have been mixed for The Sound of Music Live!, but the telecast's excellent ratings spoke louder to NBC. The network announced this week that it has committed to airing another family-friendly musical during the 2014 holiday season. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will again produce.

In addition, NBC will rebroadcast The Sound of Music Live! Dec. 14 at 8 PM.

Given NBC's good mood over the special, they probably took the comments of Francoise von Trapp, the daughter Maria von Trapp's stepson Rupert, in stride. "For all of you who clamored for public apologies for criticizing Carrie Underwood, I'm sorry to disappoint you, because you're not going to get one," she wrote on her blog. "I stand by what I said in last year's post. She's a talented country music star, but she is not an actress. And I think she proved that to the world last night. She kicked-ass on Lonely Goatherd — yes the girl can yodel. But beyond that I found the overall production to be completely underwhelming and mediocre at best. I kept wondering why NBC would settle for a community theater quality production."

Not one of her favorite things, I guess.