PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 29, 2007-Jan. 4, 2008: Power Pairings

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Dec. 29, 2007-Jan. 4, 2008: Power Pairings
When two great theatre artists walk into a room, very often the result is sparks, and not the good kind. But every so often two talents gel so well that they return to collaborate again and again, and to an extent come to define each other's careers.

A couple such dynamic pairings announced new projects this week. London's National Theatre said that director Deborah Warner and her long-time collaborator, actress Fiona Shaw, will return to the National with a production of Mother Courage in 2009. Warner and Shaw can't get enough of each other. Their previous offering at the National was Beckett's Happy Days, which kicked off the National's 2007 season and arrives at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre on Jan. 8 for a four-week season.

Warner and Shaw also worked together at the National on The Powerbook (2002), and on Warner's 2000 production of Medea, with Shaw in the title role, which played both the West End and Broadway, as well as several other shows. The partnership began in 1988 and looks to go on indefinitely.

Meanwhile, Stateside, the inseparable male duo of actor Brian Dennehy and director Robert Falls will return to the Goodman Theatre next season with a 2009 revival of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms. Dennehy and Falls' partnership goes back even further than that of Warner and Shaw, to 1985 and Galileo. Since then, they're found their metier in the works of O'Neill, breathing new life into Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Iceman Cometh, not to mention Miller's Death of a Salesman.

In other Goodman news, the theatre confirmed reports that in the fall it will produce the world premiere of the the musical Turn of the Century, directed by Tommy Tune and penned by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the authors of Jersey Boys.. The show is billed as a new romantic comedy about the legacy of the American songbook. Sounds like a Tune topic.

*** There will be no more collaborations between The Westport Country Playhouse and its artistic director Tazewell Thompson. Tazewell, who has served since 2005, has departed, citing artistic and professional differences. According to a statement from Westport board president Elisabeth Morton, the differences between Thompson and the playhouse administration came down to "how best to fulfill the mission of the Playhouse while serving our community and how to address the challenges of transitioning to a year-round venue while achieving our goal of becoming a nationally recognized theatre." Well, that's a lot of differences! Joanne Woodward and Anne Keefe will return as interim co-artistic directors while the board searches for a new artistic director for the 2009 season.


At Off-Broadway's Classic Stage Company, Madame Arkadina likes 'em young. Chosen to be the novelist-lover to the vain actress, played by Diane Wiest, in Chekhov's The Seagull, will be the considerably younger Alan Cumming. No wonder Konstantin is so upset! Russian director and Chekhov expert Viacheslav Dolgachev will stage the production, which features a translation by Paul Schmidt. Previews will begin Feb. 20. ***

Finally, The Drowsy Chaperone finally fell asleep on Broadway after two enlivening years. The unusual show — about a musical theatre geek whose world, and apartment, only comes to life when he listens to an old recording of a forgotten 1920s musical — was not based on any existing, familiar material,and was written by a bunch of people no one ever heard of, and, some thought, had a terrible title. And yet it charmed all and sundry, won five Tony Awards, and earned back its investment. That's what they call a Cinderella story, I guess.

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