Leading a parade of raves was Charles Isherwood of the New York Times, whose earlier embrace of a separate Chicago run in 2010 was possibly responsible for its future life (including London and the current Off-Broadway run). Time Out New York blessed it as "sly, timely and neatly surprising," despite occasional "playwriting cliches." The Post said it "totally nails the great, deep malaise of middle-class suburbia, with a sustained energy and a wicked eye for telling details," adding that it's "expertly written, directed and acted."
Linda Winer at Newsday was less upbeat, dubbing it a "thoughtful but not exactly thought-provoking drama" and adding that it "feels long, with heavy splatters of emotional foreshadowing and with familiar sitcom exchanges between two neighboring couples."
PH quickly announced that two weeks would be added to the run (Oct. 16-28) following a one-week hiatus (Oct. 8-14). The play, which the Times called "superb," "smart" and "satisfying," stars Tony Award winner John Cullum, Darren Pettie, Sarah Sokolovic, Tony nominee Amy Ryan and David Schwimmer, who all got solid reviews. The PH website has this disclaimer: "In extension weeks, understudies may appear."
|photo by Joan Marcus|
Casting was announced for the fall Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. Director Rob Ashford's cast will feature the previously mentioned Tony Award winner Scarlett Johansson (A View From the Bridge) as Maggie and the not previously mentioned Benjamin Walker (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) as Brick (Chris Pine was thought to be in the running), with Tony winner Deb Monk (Curtains, Steel Pier, Redwood Curtain) as Big Mama and Irish actor Ciarin Hinds ("Harry Potter" movies) as Big Daddy. Hinds played a juicy, Southern, Bill Clinton-like role in the summer miniseries "Political Animals."
The revival (beginning Dec. 18) will mark the Broadway non-musical directing debut of Ashford, the director-choreographer known for Promises, Promises and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Ashford won the Tony for his choreography of Thoroughly Modern Millie. He staged a lauded revival of Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire in London.
The North American touring production of the revised and redesigned musical Les Misérables, a road hit that launched in early 2011 and has recouped due to sellout crowds and bookings into early 2014, may appear on Broadway.
Nick Allott, managing director of Cameron Mackintosh, Ltd., confirmed that producer Mackintosh wants to see the new 25th-anniversary reboot staging — co-directed by Laurence Connor and James Powell, with reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo — on Broadway, where the original won the Tony Award as Best Musical in 1987.
Allott said, "We've got to decide what to do with the tour when it comes off the road at the beginning of 2014. It's all up for grabs, as they say, but nothing is scheduled, we haven't talked theatres, we haven't talked dates, we haven't talked about the rest of the cast. The tour is doing phenomenally well — there's obviously still a big, big appetite for it, and Cameron is keen to have that production seen on Broadway." He added, "It's a way off — a minimum of 18 months away, if it happens." We also learned this week that the film version of the epic pop musical will be released wide on Dec. 25 rather than Dec. 7. Hugh Jackman stars as Jean Valjean.
|photo by Henry DiRocco|
The Los Angeles Times review suggested that "though peppered with promising scenes and powerfully sung by the largely Asian American cast," the musical "retreats from the challenge of its own material and hasn't found a consistent focus, tone or musical idiom." Despite "its historical reach and welcome significance, the book drifts into two generic romances and in the second act meanders into sentimental warblings that family is 'what really matters.'"
On Sept. 18, the music of late composer Marvin Hamlisch was performed by some of the greatest singers and artists of the age: Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Aretha Franklin, Itzhak Perlman and others, in a tribute evening in Manhattan.
Brought together by The Juilliard School (where Hamlisch attended as a child prodigy at the ripe age of seven), the audience at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater on West 65th Street was dotted with celebrities from all walks of life: Mike Nichols; former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Regis Philbin; Susan Lucci; Sarah Jessica Parker; Alan Cumming; Sheldon Harnick; Mary Rodgers; Paul Shaffer and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, who came on behalf of the President and the First Lady
(Kenneth Jones is managing editor of Playbill.com. Follow him on Twitter @PlaybillKenneth.)