Kevin Gray has donned the mantle of King of Siam in the opulent remounting of The King and I at the Neil Simon Theatre. Gray succeeds Lou Diamond Phillips, who had a lengthy one-year-plus run with the show.
Across the street at the Virginia, Billy Porter has departed the long-running revue Smokey Joe's Cafe. Bobby Daye is Porter's replacement.
Gregory Jbara, currently on hiatus from Victor/Victoria, is in rehearsals to fill in (for 9 weeks) for Tony-winner James Naughton in the musical smash Chicago. June 24 will mark not only Jbara's first performance as slick legal consul Billy Flynn in the Kander and Ebb revival, but also Marilu Henner's as celebrity murderess Roxie Hart. Henner's widely-reported replacement of Ann Reinking (who is off to choreograph a myriad of international and touring companies) won't come with an official press opening, according to a publicist for the show.
Meanwhile at the Marquis, Tom Sardinia is subbing for Jbara in the role of closeted-but-otherwise-perfect bodyguard Squash. The other major cast change in the cross-dressing Mancini/Bricusse/Edwards musical is of course the arrival of Raquel Welch as the show's eponymous hero/heroine. Welch, who gets a new Act 1 closing song - "Who Can I Tell", replacing the much-loved "Crazy World" - is on track for a June 26 press opening.
As a matter of pure trivia, I'd like to highlight the dizzying number of Off- Broadway productions featuring music and/or sound design by David Van Tieghem. In the past 12 months, Van Tieghem has worked on the current As Bees in Honey Drown, Baby Anger, How I Learned to Drive, as well as A Question of Mercy, The Devils, Good as New, The Beekeeper's Daughter, The Gravity of Means, Hate Mail, Tooth of Crime, God's Heart, Henry V, The Santaland Diaries, and Under a Western Sky. -- By Andrew Ku