The British mega-musical has opened on Broadway three separate times since the late 80s, and now it will have closed three times. Cameron Mackintosh, the show's now-and-future-producer, announced Dec. 2 that his current production of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil's show will end its run Sept. 4, 2016, at the Imperial Theatre. That's quite a long lead time, and gives fans of the show plenty of time to buy tickets (as well as the opportunity of Mackintosh to extend the production if he sees fit.) A new U.S. tour of the musical will launch in 2017.
This new production of the musical will have given 1,026 performances over two-and-a-half years. That's a better show than Les Miz 2.0 of 2006 which clocked only 463 performance, but far short of the original 1987 mounting, which, at 6,680 performances, will probably never be bested by any further Broadway visitation of the show.
Mackintosh recently announced that his new London mounting of Miss Saigon will come to Broadway this spring. So, for a few months next summer, with both Les Miz and Saigon on the boards, New Yorkers can all imagine it's 1991 all over again.
The requisite Hamilton story of the week is a bit snazzier than usual. It was learned Nov. 30 that Lin-Manuel Miranda, author and star of the Broadway phenomenon, had a hand in another upcoming artist juggernaut, the film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." In an appearance on the NBC-TV talk show "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon," "Star Wars" director J.J. Abrams said that he collaborated with Miranda on music for an updated version of the iconic cantina scene from the very first "Star Wars" movie. You know, the scene where Luke and Obi-Wan hire Han Solo in a bar peopled by all the dastardly aliens passing through the "hive of scum and villainy," Mos Eisley.
Abrams said the scene will take place in a "watering hole" on the planet of Takodana, run by alien pirate Maz Kanata. The alien customers will be created by the Disney-owned The Muppets Studio, whose predecessor, The Jim Henson Company, created both The Muppets and the Stars Wars character Yoda. Miranda supplied the music the various creatures are dancing to in that scene.
Progress on the Sheryl Crow musicalization of the movie "Diner" continues. The show, which debuted at the Signature Theatre in Virginia, unveiled a new incarnation Dec. 2. The new production is tucked away at the Delaware Theatre Company. Derek Klena and Matthew James Thomas, who starred in the Signature world premiere, are again in the cast. Diner is directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, who also helmed the Signature premiere.
The Signature launch was greeted with positive reviews from critics and sold out its entire run. Nonetheless, additional work has been done on the musical over the past year. Diner has a book by the movie's screenwriter and director Barry Levinson and an original score by Crow.
Given how the fast-diminishing world of theatre journalism is no longer producing notable careers, the retirement of anybody who has managed to sustain a life in that line of work must count as notable news.
Frank Rizzo is a name recognized by anyone who followed theatre in New England. He has served as a full-time theatre writer at the Hartford Courant for nearly 34 years, and has also long contributed reviews to Variety. Rizzo announced Nov. 29 that he had accepted a buyout from the Courant and would be leaving his position to "pursue other cool projects." He posted a farewell letter to his readers in his column "Behind the Curtain," saying, "It's been a hell of a theatrical run… I couldn't have had a better audience of smart, discriminating and engaged readers who kept me on my toes, told me what they thought, and was an endless source of encouragement and inspiration."
He added that he would continue to write about theatre in Connecticut, and beyond.