PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 17-23: Jesus Christ Superstar, Uncle Vanya, Christina Ricci and Jack Klugman

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 17-23: Jesus Christ Superstar, Uncle Vanya, Christina Ricci and Jack Klugman
It's almost Christmas, so I'll begin this column with the casting of the upcoming Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. (No one will accuse this reporter of taking part in the mysterious "undeclared war on Christmas" I keep hearing about.)

Josh Young as Judas
Josh Young as Judas Photo by David Hou

Many of the players in the original Stratford Festival will repeat their work in the Broadway production of the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice rock opera, which will begin previews March 1, 2012, at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Directed by Des McAnuff, the cast will feature Paul Nolan as Jesus Christ, Josh Young as Judas Iscariot, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene, Tom Hewitt as Pontius Pilate, Bruce Dow as King Herod, Marcus Nance as Caiaphas and Aaron Walpole as Annas.

So, that's the buzz. That's what's happening.


Film actress Christina Ricci—who is currently enjoyed a career resurgence due to her role in the 1960 jet-set series "Pan Am"—is coming to Off-Broadway. She will join Bebe Neuwirth in Classic Stage Company's upcoming production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dreamthus giving the staging an unintentional Addams Family there—Neuwirth starred in the Broadway musical about the creepy, kooky cartoon clan, and Ricci appear in the Addams films as Wednesday.

Ricci made her Broadway debut last season in Donald Margulies' Tony-nominated Time Stands Still.


Rosie Perez and David Hyde Pierce in Close Up Space.
photo by Joan Marcus

Molly Smith Metzler's new comedy, Close Up Space, starring David Hyde Pierce as a harried book editor on a major deadline (drama!), opened at Manhattan Theatre Club's home at New York City Center Stage I.

The reception was as chilly as Hyde's officious, obtuse, blunt editor. The Times reviewer had a hard time getting himself to care about the story, calling it a "nonworking," "wan comedy." The Daily News and others found the absurdist whimsy of the plot contrived, saying "these characters and situations are wacky just for wackiness’ sake and get wearying." Others thought the central character intriguing, but not enough so that even an actor as good as Pierce could rescue him from being an irritant.


The Sydney Theatre Company's production of Uncle Vanya will play a limited engagement in Manhattan in summer 2012. And, when the STC comes to town, Cate Blanchett comes with it.

Blanchett will play (who else?) the beloved and sought-after Yelena. Also in the cast are John Bell as Serebryakov, Sandy Gore as Maria, Hayley McElhinney as Sonya, Anthony Phelan as Telegin, Richard Roxburgh as Vanya, Andrew Tighe as a laborer, Jacki Weaver as Marina and Hugo Weaving as Astrov.

This adaptation of the Chekhov classic was penned by Andrew Upton. The production premiered in Australia at Sydney Theatre in November 2010.


The image of actor Richard Griffiths, round and rotund, and Danny DeVito, bald and diminutive, facing off is funny to begin with. So, the upcoming London revival of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys already has a lot going for it.

The play about a former comedy duo, which will be produced by Sonia Friedman, is aiming for an April 2012 opening. Thea Sharrock will direct. Griffiths is set to play level-headed Al Lewis with DeVito as the more argumentative Willy Clark.


Elizabeth Marvel and Stacy Keach in Other Desert Cities.
photo by Joan Marcus

Elizabeth Marvel is coming home.

The actress will join the Lincoln Center Theater Broadway production of Other Desert Cities on March 6, replacing Rachel Griffiths as Brooke Wyeth. Marvel played Brooke in the original Off-Broadway production.

Marvel will join a cast that will include Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach, Judith Light and Justin Kirk.


The Roundabout Theatre Company is going to produce a revival of Simon Gray's tale of collegiate disillusionment, The Common Pursuit, May 4-July 29, 2012, as part of its Off-Broadway season at the Laura Pels Theatre. Moises Kaufman will direct.

One of the late Gray's biggest hits on this side of the pond, The Common Pursuit ran for a year Off-Broadway beginning in 1986. The original production featured the young Dylan Baker, Nathan Lane and Peter Friedman in one of their first significant stage roles.


Jack Klugman was one of the stars of the original 1957 movie version of Twelve Angry Men. Now, more than a half a century later, he will return to the material, starring in the stage adaptation of the landmark courtroom drama at the George Street Playhouse, beginning March 13, 2012.

Klugman originated the role of Juror 5, a working-class man with knowledge of how a knife is wielded in a street fight. At George Street, he will play Juror 9, the oldest juror in the play, and the first to switch sides and join Juror 8, the lone man to doubt the unseen defendant's guilt.

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