PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 5-11: Putting Names With the Titles

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Jan. 5-11: Putting Names With the Titles
With the 12th and last day of the 12 Days of Christmas gone, and all vacations brought to an end, the theatre got down to business, announcing a slew of casting decisions.

Aidan Quinn has joined the cast of the world premiere of Richard Nelson's Conversations in Tusculum, which is set to play the Public Theater in February. He joins an already impressive cast that includes Brian Dennehy, David Strathairn, Maria Tucci, Joe Grifasi and Gloria Reuben. Such strong actors need weighty topics to discuss, and they get them in Nelson's new play, which chronicles the people entangled in Julius Caesar's world of manipulation and power. Quinn is Brutus, Grifasi is Syrus, Reuben is Porcia, Strathairn is Cassius and Tucci is Servilia.

Tony Award winner Joanna Gleason, who recently returned to the theatre after a long hiatus, playing Broadway in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, will star in the upcoming Primary Stages production of Willy Holtzman's Something You Did. Carolyn Cantor directs the New York premiere of the work, which is slated to run March 18-April 26. The play is a drama that centers on "a notorious '60s radical who has served nearly 30 years in prison for her part in the accidental killing of an African-American police officer during an explosive war protest. Now she is eligible for parole in a post 9/11 world where bombing is terrorism and dissent is treason."

Another prominent stage actress, Veanne Cox, will be part of the company for the Signature Theatre Company's world premiere of Paradise Park, by 2007-08 Signature playwright-in-residence Charles Mee. The show will play the Off-Broadway company's Peter Norton Space Feb. 12-April 6. Also in the cast are Vanessa Aspillaga, Satya Bhabha, Gian-Murray Gianino, William Jackson Harper, Christopher McCann, Paul Mullins, Alan Semok and Laurie Williams. The work is termed, somewhat deliriously, as "an amusement park that opens up into all of America and beyond. Meet the inhabitants of this bizarre carnival of life, including a ventriloquist, his dummy, and a teenage girl on the run. From Futureworld to Londonland, the Grand Canyon to Fred's Polynesian Dive Shop, step right up to this wild ride of fruit cake tosses, underwater ballets, square dances, and star gazing, too."

Mark Rylance is expected to repeat his star turn as Robert in the upcoming Broadway run of the British sex farce Boeing Boeing. The 1960s London smash was, improbably, a hit all over again on the West End recently. The actor told Playbill's Harry Haun that he and Bradley Whitford — as Robert's would-be polygamist pal, Bernard — will appear in the revival this spring. Marc Camoletti and Beverley Cross' play concerns a swinging bachelor and his three stewardess fiancées. Matthew Warchus will again direct.

David Bedella and Katrina Rose Dideriksen are the final additions to the cast of Jerry Springer — The Opera, the London hit that, once upon a time, couldn't be stopped from coming to Broadway; then couldn't get to Broadway to save its life; and now will finally play New York as a concert at Carnegie Hall. Jason Moore will direct the 8 PM concerts on Jan. 29 and 30. The cast also features Harvey Keitel (as Jerry Springer), Max von Essen, Emily Skinner, Linda Balgord, Lawrence Clayton, Luke Grooms, Sean Jenness, Sam Kitchin, Patricia Phillips and Laura Shoop. ***

The Broadway week had one opening and it was a big one: Disney's The Little Mermaid. Did it make a splash? Well, more of a bellyflop. The notices were not kind, with the unkindest of all being that of the New York Times' Ben Brantley, who began his critique with what may be one of the most upfront putdowns in all of theatre history. All in all, not a good day at the Mouse House.


A bit of casting announced a few weeks back was that Jill Paice had won the part of Scarlett O'Hara in the world premiere of the musical Gone With the Wind.. Prior to this, Paice was best known for playing David Hyde Pierce's mousy love interest in Broadway's Curtains. Pierce will have to find someone new to woo, though, because Paice is leaving Feb. 3. Gone With the Wind will open in the West End at the New London Theatre on April 22, following previews that begin April 2.


The 12-day New York theatre festival known as Under the Radar began this week at the Public Theater and will run through Jan. 20, featuring works from international and U.S. theatre artists. As usual, Mark Russell oversees the effort. Among the attractions this years: Church written and directed by Young Jean Lee; How Theater Failed America, the latest by performance artist Mike Daisey; Stoop Stories written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith, author of Yellowman; and Terminus, written and directed by Howie the Rookie author Mark O'Rowe.


Finally, 78-year-old Edward Albee has another one. The world premiere of Me, Myself and I begins previews at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ, Jan. 11. McCarter's artistic director, Emily Mann, directs the production, which boasts Tyne Daly as Mother, Brian Murray as Dr., Charlotte Parry as Maureen and Stephen Payne as The Man. The show is about a pair of beautiful young identical twins, both named, palidromically enough, Otto. They are played by Colin Donnell and Michael Esper.

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