For connoisseurs of what might be termed Rubbernecking Theatre — shows you can't not look at — there is no Off-Broadway attraction this coming year to beat Carrie, which, against all odds following its famous status as a gory commercial flop in the 1980s, is set to begin previews at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Jan. 31. The quixotic organization producing the enterprise is the trusty, respected Off-Broadway troupe MCC Theater, known for Wit, Frozen, The Other Place, Reasons to be Pretty and other dramas.
Even if you're not a regular theatregoer, the title rings a bell. Certainly as a famous Stephen King novel, and as an equally noteworthy Brian DePalma film. But the disastrous 1988 musical that emerged from the material has attained an almost equal notoriety. The show came from the minds of bookwriter Lawrence D. Cohen (who penned the original screenplay), composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford, and it crashed and burned on Broadway after only five performances, the capitalization of more than $7 million sent swirling down the drain like so much blood. The bellyflop has been the stuff of theatre legend ever since. (Author Ken Mandelbaum's book about flop shows is a fan favorite; he titled it "Not Since Carrie.")
|photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Anyone who likes the work of rising director Sam Gold (Circle Mirror Transformation, Tigers Be Still) will be a happy person in 2012. The busy young man has three productions in the works. First up is a new revival of Look Back in Anger at the Roundabout Theatre Company, where Gold is an associate artist. Adam Driver, Sarah Goldberg, Charlotte Parry and Matthew Rhys star in the production of John Osborne's 1956 British classic about Billy Porter and his discontented, anti-establishment generation. Opening night at the Laura Pels is Feb. 2. Next from Gold, beginning March 1 at Playwrights Horizons is The Big Meal, a Thornton Wilderesque work (1931's The Long Christmas Dinner) by Dan LeFranc tracing five generations of a modern family though a collection of strung-together dinner-table scenes at a suburban restaurant. Finally, Gold will stage a new adaptation, by Annie Baker (The Aliens), of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, playing at Soho Rep beginning June 7. Reed Birney will lead the cast. The Signature Theatre Company, which devotes each season to one playwright in its Residency One series, is giving its inaugural season in its new Frank Gehry-designed facility — Signature Center, on West 42nd Street — to South African dramatist Athol Fugard. The line-up begins with Blood Knot. The play — about two biracial and temperamentally different South African brothers struggling with poverty and isolation — will open the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, with performances beginning Jan. 31 toward an opening night of Feb. 16. The production runs to March 11. The season also includes Fugard's My Children! My Africa! and The Train Driver. The busy Signature beehive (there are three performance spaces within the complex) will also include plays by Edward Albee (The Lady From Dubuque starring Jane Alexander), Kenneth Lonergan (a world premiere, title TBA), Will Eno (the U.S. premiere of Title and Deed) and Katori Hall (the world premiere of Hurt Village).
Remember the "Church and State" trilogy playwright John Patrick Shanley said he was planning, the one that began with the massive hit Doubt? Well, he followed that 2004 drama up pretty quickly with Defiance in 2005. Then ensued a long pause. The wait will finally be over when Sleeping Demon begins this spring at the Atlantic. The world-premiere play is about a Bronx Borough President who is forced by the mortgage crisis into a confrontation with a local minister.
Another highly anticipated follow-up of the spring comes from the spunky team that brought the world the meta-musical [title of show]. Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Jeff Bowen, Heidi Blickenstaff and Larry Pressgrove are back with more autobiographical musicality and idiosyncratic punctuation in the form of Now. Here. This., which will commence at the Vineyard Theatre in March. This "theatri-concert" (let's hope that doesn't become a widely accepted term; just try saying it) from the inexhaustibly navel-gazing quartet celebrates living in the present (note the spelling of "here" in the title). Michael Berresse directs.
|photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Every Off-Broadway season has its share of revivals, both of contemporary works and classics, and 2012 is not different. Second Stage has decided it's time to look at Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winner How I Learned Drive, casting Norbert Leo Butz and Elizabeth Reaser in the memory play about the unusual and disturbing coming of age of one Southern girl. Kate Whoriskey directs, beginning Jan. 24. Keen Company, meanwhile, continues its long relationship with Tina Howe by reviving the writer's 1983 family play Painting Churches. Kathleen Chalfant and Richard Easton play the endearing, quirky, aging parents at the center. It will begin previews Feb. 14. Film and (now) TV star Christina Ricci ("Pan Am") gets a taste of Shakespeare paying Hermia in a new Classic Stage Company mounting of A Midsummer Night's Dream co-starring Bebe Neuwirth as Titania, and directed by Tony Speciale, starting March 28. Also at CSC will be a new production of Brecht's towering portrayal of ideological idealism and compromise, Galileo, starring F. Murray Abraham, and directed by Brian Kulick. Previews begin Feb. 1.
A classic of a sort with be offered by New York Theatre Workshop when they unveil An Iliad starting Feb. 14. Note the article in the title — An, not The. This adaptation of Homer's epic poem is by director Lisa Peterson and actor Denis O'Hare, and purports to tell the ancient tale of the Trojan War "through an original, contemporary, and immediate voice." O'Hare and Stephen Spinella, two of our more emphatic actors, star.
Other Off-Broadway attractions coming up in the next several months: Yosemite, the world premiere of Daniel Talbott's play about three siblings who are sent out into the woods to dig a hole deep enough to bury a family secret, starting Jan. 18 at Rattlestick starring Kathryn Erbe; The Ugly One, a Daniel Aukin-directed social satire by Marius von Mayenburg about a widget designer who has a normal life, until one day he learns the truth, at Soho Rep beginning Feb. 1; Playwrights Horizons' Assistance, a Leslye Headland play about young assistants to a hellacious boss, beginning Feb. 3; Erika Sheffer's Russian Transport, about an immigrant couple, their two assimilated teenagers and the upheaval they experience when an uncle from the old country comes to stay with them, presented by The New Group on Jan. 17.
Every Off-Broadway season is a non-stop, inexhaustible pageant of endless attractions. This survey does not purport or pretend to be complete or comprehensive in any way, shape or fashion.