PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 31-Aug. 6: More Women on a Verge, Plus Wildhorn's Return to Broadway

ICYMI   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, July 31-Aug. 6: More Women on a Verge, Plus Wildhorn's Return to Broadway
The new Jeffrey Lane-David Yazbek musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, a Lincoln Center Theater production, which will arrive on Broadway Oct. 2 at the Belasco Theatre, will double as a Gypsy reunion.
Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti
Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Laura Benanti will play Candela in Women on the Verge, it was announced this week. She joins previously announced Patti LuPone, who was previously announced to star as Lucía in the world-premiere musical. Both Benanti and LuPone earned 2008 Tony Awards for their performances in the recent revival of Gypsy.

Women on the Verge will also star Sherie Rene Scott, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Danny Burstein, de'Adre Aziza, Mary Beth Peil and Nikka Graff Lanzarone. The is be Mitchell's first Broadway musical since Man of La Mancha in 2002; the man has devoted himself largely to cabaret work in the past decade. It will also be LuPone's first original Broadway musical in absolutely forever.


Speaking of LuPone, she is heading back to the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago-area, open-air theatre that became her artistic home in the early 2000s, when Broadway was busy ignoring her. There she did concert performances of Passion, Sweeney Todd and A Little Night Music, work that probably went a long way toward getting her cast in her comeback role, in the 2005 Broadway revival of Sweeney Tood.

Before going to work on Verge, she will perform Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun at Ravinia — like Gypsy, another Ethel Merman role. Lonny Price will direct the Aug. 13-15 concerts, which will boast Patrick Cassidy as Frank Butler and George Hearn as Buffalo Bill Cody.

*** Institutional Broadway is finally finding a use for the perpetually active and activist playwright Theresa Rebeck.

Rebeck has been named an associate artist of Roundabout Theatre Company as part of an "expansion of initiatives" to support dramatists and new works, the New York City not-for-profit announced on Aug. 4. Anyone who knows Rebeck's inclinations knows that she's a fierce advocate of new plays, particularly if they're written by a female.

The appointment of Rebeck marks the first time a playwright joins a group of associate artists that includes Scott Elliott, Bill Irwin, Joe Mantello, Mark Brokaw and Kathleen Marshall. Scott Ellis (associate artistic director), Jim Carnahan (director of artistic development/director of casting), Robyn Goodman (artistic consultant) and Doug Hughes (resident director) are also members of the artistic staff.

The appointment was particularly noteworthy in that Rebeck and Roundabout don't have that long a relationship. Rebeck's play The Understudy was recently stage at Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, but beyond that, there's not much history between the two.

Rebeck's plays include Mauritius, The Scene, The Water's Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann, Spike Heels, Bad Dates, The Butterfly Collection, Our House, View of the Dome and Omnium Gatherum.


What Neil Patrick Harris really wants to do is produce.

London's Menier Chocolate Factory is to present the European premiere of Accomplice, produced by Harris and written, created and directed by Tom Salamon, to launch a fall season that will also include revivals of plays by Caryl Churchill and Ken Hill.

Accomplice, described in press materials as "part game, part theatre, part tour," has previously been seen in New York and Los Angeles. It takes audiences on a walking discovery of theatre and mystery. Armed with basic information and aided by clues and cast members at various locations en route, each group of ten participants will be sent on a mission on the streets of London SE1 to piece together a meticulously crafted plot. (Hm. Anyone remember Tamara from the late '80s?) ***

Robert McClure, a veteran "Princeton" of the musical Avenue Q on Broadway and on tour, has been chosen play the lead role in La Jolla Playhouse's fall world-premiere production of the musical Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin.

The new show has music and lyrics by Christopher Curtis and a book by Curtis and the redoubtable and ever-employed Thomas Meehan. The cast is filled out by a nice group of stage veterans including Ashley Brown, Jenn Colella, Eddie Korbich, Ron Orbach and William Youmans.

Michael Unger directs the production, to run in the Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA, Sept. 7-Oct. 17. Opening night is Sept. 19.


Frank Wildhorn

Following an engagement at the Ferguson Hall at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, FL, Jan. 4-16, 2011, the new Frank Wildhorn musical Wonderland: A New Alice. A New Musical Adventure (that's two "new"s in one title, folks, so you know this musical is really new) will arrive on Broadway at a Nederlander theatre to be announced March 21, 2011. Directed by Gregory Boyd, the artistic director of the Alley Theatre in Houston, the musical will officially open on Broadway April 17, 2011. Wonderland features a book by Boyd and Jack Murphy, lyrics by Murphy and music by Wildhorn. Marguerite Derricks is the choreographer.

Wonderland asked the musical question: Do we want to know what happened to Alice after she grew up? According to press notes, is a "story about a new Alice who has lost her joy in life. Estranged from her husband, alienated from her daughter and in danger of losing her career, Alice finds herself in Wonderland where she encounters strange though familiar characters that help her rediscover the wonder in her life while searching for her daughter."

In a statement that sounds like it might have come out of some Lewis Carroll character, composer Wildhorn said, "I am at a point in my life where I want to stay in love with the things I fell in love with. The process of creating Wonderland with my extraordinary producers and collaborators has shown me the magic of fun is not just for the young." *** The Royal Shakespeare Company's 2011 New York City residency will include the previously announced Antony and Cleopatra, As You Like It, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet and The Winter's Tale.

Presented in repertory July 6-Aug. 14, 2011, the five productions are pulled from the RSC's 2009-2010 season and will be performed by the 44-member RSC acting ensemble. The Lincoln Center Festival, the Park Avenue Armory and Ohio State University have aligned to produce the event.

During its New York run, the RSC will take up residence at the Park Avenue Armory where a full-scale replica of the company's intimate thrust stage Courtyard Theatre will be constructed to house the plays. The 930-seat theatre is being specifically designed as a freestanding structure to fit within the Armory's Wade Thompson Drill Hall.

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