In Case You Missed It: It's a Good Week for Directors!

News   In Case You Missed It: It's a Good Week for Directors!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory finds a top director to add to it's golden creative team for its Broadway bow, and Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre names a new artistic director.
Director Jack O'Brien.
Director Jack O'Brien. Photo by Photo by Aubrey Reuben


It'll be like old times when Charlie and the Chocolate Factory eventually opens on Broadway in spring 2017. Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman and Jack O’Brien all worked together on the hit Hairspray. Also part of the Broadway team, according to London's Daily Mail, will be choreographer Joshua Bergasse, who earned a Tony nomination for his work in On the Town.

The show about the mad sweets-maker Willy Wonka and his protege Charlie has already bowed in London. Sam Mendes, the once high-brow British director whose become quite the pop-culture maven lately (he directed the last two James Bond films) directed the musical's London 2013 debut, which featured choreography by Peter Darling. Typically, when a London show transfers to Broadway, the creative team comes with it. But Mendes' schedule is reportedly too busy to allow him to repeat his work for Broadway, and Darling will be occupied with another new musical, Groundhog Day, which will arrive at the Old Vic later in the year. Tony and Olivier winner Douglas Hodge (La Cage aux Folles, Cyrano de Bergerac) originated the role of Willy Wonka in the stage production.


Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures is not stopping with Misery, the Broadway production of William Goldman’s adaptation of the film of the same name, starring Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf. The company has announced that it has tapped playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis (Between Riverside and Crazy, among many other gritty urban dramas) to write a new play based on the iconic, 1975, New York City-set flick Dog Day Afternoon.

Like Misery, Dog Day Afternoon is a cinematic property well known to the public. The Sidney Lumet-directed film starred Al Pacino and John Cazale as crazed, inept bank robbers whose heist of a Brooklyn bank quickly goes south. The movie, which was a hit and has since become a classic, was based on a real-life bank robbery.

A timetable for the stage production of Dog Day Afternoon has not been announced.

In London, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures is currently represented by the above-mentioned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is currently in its third year at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.


Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre announced this week that Paige Evans will be its new artistic director beginning July 1. With Evans' arrival, the lauded Signature’s number of artistic directors during is quarter-century history climbs to a grand total of: 2.

The first and founding artistic director is, of course, James Houghton, who has ferried the nonprofit in its long, steady climb from a scrappy Off-Broadway company dedicated to playwrights, and working out of a black box on Bond Street in lower Manhattan, to an artistic mega-force housed in the most modern and sprawling theatre complex in New York City.

Houghton’s genius idea in 1991 — which, at the time seemed hopelessly uncommercial — was to created a company dedicated to the least glamorous person involved in any stage production: the playwright. Each season was devoted to the work of one dramatist, with three of four of the writer’s works being staged.

The first honoree was Romulus Linney. Lee Blessing, Edward Albee, Horton Foote, Adrienne Kennedy, Sam Shepard, and many more followed. The Signature’s attentions had a hand in resurrecting the then-dormant careers of Albee and Foote. By the late 90s, a Signature season was such a sought-after honor that big talents like Arthur Miller and John Guare signed on.

In October 2008, Signature announced the coming of The Pershing Square Signature Center, designed by Frank Gehry. It moved in in 2012, taking command of a vast warren of theatre spaces, offices, rehearsal spaces, a store and a cafe. It no longer just produced a season of plays by one writer; it also produced new productions of plays by past playwright honorees, as well as new plays by young scribes. Thus, it's mission began to look forward as well as back.

Evans knows a lot about fostering the work of playwrights. She makes the move from another Off-Broadway institution, having served as artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater's LCT3 since its inception in 2008.


Troupers help our troupers.

Chita Rivera recently had to bow out of her January cabaret engagement at the Café Carlyle, owing to an injury.

Stepping in for her is another musical theatre legend, Tommy Tune. Tune will perform Jan. 12-22. Following Tune's show, the Carlyle will present Buster Poindexter, who returns Jan. 26-Feb. 6 for a two-week residency. Rivera's engagement has been rescheduled for April 19-30.

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