PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, June 11-18: Wonder of Wonders!

New plays by vital working American playwrights are almost never given out of-the-box Broadway berths these days. British plays, sure. But Yankee scripts? They percolate forever in the hinterlands, bopping from regional house to regional house, or premiere Off-Broadway, where producers await the verdict of the critics before looking into Broadway bookings.
Richard Greenberg
Richard Greenberg

This week, however, it was announced that two new works by homebred dramatists would have their Gotham start on the Great White Way. David Lindsay-Abaire is a young, promising wordsmith who has gotten a trio of productions from Manhattan Theatre Club Off-Broadway. That company has decided to bump up the man's latest, Rabbit Hole, to the big time. The comic drama will play MTC's Biltmore in February 2006, with Daniel Sullivan directing. The play is about parents dealing with the loss of a child.

Meanwhile, the Roundabout Theatre Company will this fall give over its American Airlines Theatre to Richard Greenberg's new A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, a play which only had its world premiere at South Coast Rep in April. The move is an unusual one for the Roundabout, which usually sends its new works to the smaller Laura Pels Theatre. Only Heather McDonald's An Almost Holy Picture has gotten the royal treatment in the AA's entire history. To direct, the nonprofit has made a risky move and tapped an obscure fellow named Doug Hughes. Appian follows hot on the heels of Greenberg's Take Me Out and The Violet Hour, meaning the author can now safely be called that rarest of things: a Broadway playwright.


Summer is not kind to the classics. The Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie, which earned critical lumps for director David Leveaux, and stars Jessica Lange and Christian Slater, announced it would close early on July 3.

And Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which collected critical hosannahs for stars Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin, and a Tony for Irwin, nonetheless has begun advertising "final weeks." ***

Stewart F. Lane may be the first Broadway producer since David Belasco to insist on writing plays himself. His collaboration with Ward Morehouse III, If It Were Easy..., had an uneasy run Off Broadway a few seasons back. Now, he's back with In the Wings, a comedy with songs which will premiere Off-Broadway this September in an open-ended run at the Promenade Theatre. To be directed by Jeremy Dobrish, the show will begin previews Sept. 9 and open Sept. 28. The songs are by pianist-composer-performer Michael Garin. Like Easy, the play is about a life in the theatre.


Alfred Molina, who most recently trod the stage in a very Chekovian version of Fiddler on the Roof, will next appear in the Real McCoy: Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, opposite Annette Bening at the Mark Taper Forum. Molina was directed in Fiddler by the British David Leveaux, and with the Chekhov he will again be in the hands of a Brit, Sean Mathias. (Will this, then, be the Sholom Aleichem version of Cherry Orchard?).

A different Cherry Orchard, meanwhile—one starring Brooke Adams and Larry Bryggman—opened Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company on June 15 to disapproving reviews.


Either Kerry Butler, the erstwhile Penny Pingleton in Hairspray, is really, really good, or, when it comes time to cast big, new musical productions, there just aren't that many musical comedy ingenues around from which to choose. Got a new Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors and looking for an Audrey? Call Kerry Butler. You've made a musical out of the film The Opposite of Sex and need to fill the Christina Ricci role? Get Kerry on the phone. Workshopping a musicalization of the classic British Ealing comedy, The Man in the White Suit? The Butler did it again.

White Suit is the newest from Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann of Urinetown fame, and it will get a June 24-26 tryout at New York Stage and Film's Vassar College summer season. Hunter Foster will step into the Alec Guinness role of daffy inventor Sidney Stratton, who sparks a crisis in the British textile industry when he tries to help humanity by inventing a fabric that never needs to be cleaned, and gets unexpected help from his mogul nemesis' daughter (the Butler role). In Urinetown, Foster played Bobby Strong, a urinal attendant who sparks a crisis in the water management industry when he tries to help humanity to eliminating bathroom fees — and gets unexpected help from his mogul nemesis' daughter. Hmm. What's John Cullum doing?

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