Carly White

About Carly White

Carly graduated University Of Toronto, Theatre and Performance program. She has written for various publications including art-speaks, Pembroke Daily Observer, Toronto Star - Performing Arts Section, The Canadian Post and more recently the Village Voice and the New York Daily News. As a member As a member of the Barrow Group, her specialties include performance stage production and talent casting.

“Gigi” Begins Performances on Broadway

Vanessa Hudgens Makes Her Broadway Debut

gigi vanessa hudgensOn March 19, 2015, a new revival of the musical Gigi began previews at the Neil Simon Theatre. This musical with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, and music by Frederick Loewe, first premiered on Broadway in 1973, when it won the Tony Award for Best Original Score, and was nominated for three other Tony Awards including Best Actor, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design. However, that production was disappointingly short lived, running for only 103 performances. Nevertheless, the play premiered in the West End in 1985, where it ran for seven months. This revival is a new adaptation of the musical, written by the British screenwriter and playwright Heidi Thomas. Directed by Eric Schaeffer (Follies, Million Dollar Quartet), and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse (On the Town), this production of Gigi premiered at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center prior to arriving on Broadway. The role of Gigi is played by Vanessa Hudgens, the High School Musical star who is making her Broadway debut. Additional roles are played by Victoria Clark (Sister Act, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Corey Cott (Newsies), Dee Hoty (Bye Bye Birdie, Mamma Mia!, Footloose), Steffanie Leigh (Mary Poppins), and Howard McGillin (Sunday in the Park with George, She Loves Me).

A Rookie Producer Gets Creative

Gigi is produced by Jenna Segal, who formerly worked in television at MTV and Nickelodeon, but who has gigi vanessa hudgensnever been involved in the production of a Broadway show before. However, she has known this story since she was a little girl, and it was her passion for the material that drove her to secure the rights and develop this revival. She faced certain challenges in adapting this show to the modern age. The story is about a young courtesan who decides to leave her training to marry for love. The original tale involved lovers with a wide age difference, 15 and 33, so this revival tightens that gap, making Gigi 18, and her beloved only a bit older. Furthermore, one of the most famous songs, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” was sung by an older uncle, which could leave a strange impression on contemporary audiences. To respond to this issue, the rewrites reattributed this song to a different pair of singers, the grandmother and aunt played by Victoria Clark and Dee Hoty. Furthermore, Segal took an inventive approach in partnering with luxury brands to make the show more glamorous and appeal to a range of audiences in the wealthy Broadway demographic. For instance, Swarovski provided over 250,000 crystals for the production, and Veuve Cliquot is a sponsor of the show, which includes such songs as “The Night They Invented Champagne.”

A Dream Come True for Vanessa Hudgens

At age 26, Vanessa Hudgens has had a fair share of success. She has ventured into high profile television, film, and pop music endeavors, but this is her first time shining on the Broadway stage. She told The New York Times that this experience has really changed her work ethic and perspective on her career goals. Returning to the stage for the first time since she was a little girl, this opportunity allows her to feel stardom in the visceral live reality that only theatre can offer. In terms of the role of Gigi, Hudgens has had a lot of experience with both wholesome and racy roles, and Gigi can be considered both of these. Her first breakout role was a supporting part in the film Thirteen, but then she was restored to honesty with a much less morally troubling part in “High School Musical.” On the flipside, her part in the Harmony Korine film Spring Breakers involved a scandalous sex scene with James Franco. In any case, Hudgens can leverage this experience to bring a well-rounded sense of character to Gigi, and her 6.7 million Instagram followers will eagerly await the reviews.

“The King and I” Begins Previews on Broadway

A Lincoln Center Production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Hit

the king and iOn March 12, 2015, the 2015 revival of The King and I will play its first performance at the Vivian Beaumont Lincoln Center. Opening night is scheduled for April 16, 2015. This is the fifth time this musical will have played on Broadway, the original having premiered on March 29, 1951. With music by Richard Rodgers, and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, the show is based on a novel called Anna and The King of Siam by Margaret Landon. At the time of its premiere, the musical was a huge hit and won the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actress (Gertrude Lawrence in the role of Anna Leonowens) and Best Featured Actor (Yul Brynner as the King of Siam). It was then revived in 1977, 1985, and 1996. The 2015 production therefore marks the fourth Broadway revival. This production is produced by Lincoln Center Theatre at their Vivian Beaumont Broadway venue. It is directed by Bartlett Sher (The Bridges of Madison County, Golden Boy, South Pacific), and the choreography is the original by Jerome Robbins, with the revival’s musical staging by Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, Godspell, South Pacific). The production stars Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work if You Can Get It, South Pacific, The Bridges of Madison County) as Anna, and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha) making his Broadway debut as the King of Siam.

A Classic Story for a Modern Audienceken watanabe kelli o'hara

The timeless tale of Anna and the King revolves around a British schoolteacher in 1862, who is hired by the King of Siam (now Thailand) to come to Bangkok and tutor his children. The King has many wives and has other traditional customs, but he has hired Anna to help modernize his country. Still, he is very resistant to this effort, and at first there is great tension between the two. Nevertheless, Anna is persistent, and she not only succeeds in introducing some Western customs to Siam, but she and the King ultimately also fall in love. The show includes many timeless and beautiful songs such as “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello, Young Lovers,” “A Puzzlement,” “Getting to Know You,” “Something Wonderful,” and “Shall We Dance?”. This Lincoln Center production is sure to let its audiences relive the original magic of this gorgeous show, complete with the original choreography and elaborate traditional costumes.

A Déjà Vu of “South Pacific” at the Vivian Beaumont

In spring 2008, Lincoln Center mounted another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre: South Pacific. This production shares much more than the composer and librettist in common with this revival of The King and I. First of all, the director is the same: Bartlett Sher. Secondly, the same leading lady will take center stage: Kelli O’Hara. What’s more, Sher has reunited his entire creative team from that production: set designer Michael Yeargan, musical director Ted Sperling, lighting designer Donald Holder, costume designer Catherine Zuber, and sound designer Scott Lehrer. Fortunately, South Pacific was such an enormous hit that this bodes well for The King and I. In 2008, South Pacific brought home a phenomenal seven Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Director (Bartlett Sher), Best Actor, and all four design categories: costume, set, sound, and lighting. Therefore, The King and I is sure to be a delightful and magical production, reuniting a team who know each other well. There won’t be too much “Getting to Know You” necessary at the first rehearsal.

“On the Twentieth Century” Begins Previews

A Roundabout Production at the American Airlines Theatre

on the twentieth centuryOn February 13, 2015, On the Twentieth Century begins previews at the American Airlines Theatre. Produced by the non-for-profit Broadway and Off-Broadway powerhouse Roundabout Theatre Company, this revival marks the third Broadway production of the musical. With book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Cy Coleman, it first premiered in 1978, directed by Harold Prince. The 2015 revival is directed by Scott Ellis, who has recently helmed such works as The Elephant Man, You Can’t Take It With You, Harvey, Curtains, and The Little Dog Laughed. He is also the Roundabout Adams Associate Artistic Director, and has been nominated for six Tony Awards. Opening night is scheduled for March 12, 2015, and it is scheduled to be a limited engagement that closes on July 5, 2015. If it is successful, it may extend through the end of summer.

Cast and Creative Team

The musical stars Kristin Chenoweth, who is well known for being the original Glinda in Wicked (Tony kristin chenowethnomination), has won a Tony Award for her performance of Sally Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and who has also branched into television with such shows as The West Wing and Pushing Daisies. Alongside Chenoweth will be Peter Gallagher (The Country Girl, Noises Off, “the O.C.”, “American Beauty”), Andy Karl (Rocky Balboa in Rocky the Musical), Mark Linn-Baker (Relatively Speaking, Losing Louie), Michael McGrath (Tony Award winner for Nice Work if You Can Get It), and Mary Louise Wilson (The Women, Cabaret, The Importance of Being Earnest). The choreographer is Warren Carlyle, who won a Tony Award for his choreography for After Midnight, which he also directed). Scenic design is by David Rockwell, lighting is by Donald Holder, sound design is by Jon Weston, and costume design is by William Ivey Long. The musical director is Kevin Stites, and orchestrations are by Larry Hochman, with dance arrangements and incidental music by David Krane.

The Twentieth Century: A Luxury Train

 

peter gallagher kristin chenoweth

The musical’s title refers to being aboard a luxury train called the Twentieth Century, which is traveling from Chicago to New York. The business aboard the train is, not coincidentally, the theatre business. A temperamental actress named Lily Garland (Kristin Chenoweth) is at odds with her flailing producer named Oscar Jaffee (Peter Gallagher). He is at once trying to woo her romantically, and at the same time to play the lead part in his upcoming show, which has not yet been written. The musical is a screwball comedy, with elements of farce as well as operetta. The musical is based on a straight play of the same name from 1932, written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which was turned into a film in 1934 called Twentieth Century directed by Howard Hawks. To complicate the matter, Hecht and MacArthur based their play on an unproduced work by Charles Bruce Millholland called Napoleon of Broadway, which is based on his real life experiences with the legendary producer David Belasco, who left his name to the theatre on 44th Street, where Hedwig and the Angry Inch is now playing.

 

“It’s Only a Play” Extends Until June

Excellent Sales and a Chance to Earn More

it's only a playJack O’Brien’s production of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play, which had previously been expected to conclude its run on March 29, 2015, has now announced that tickets are on sale until June 7, 2015. The starry cast has drawn excellent box office response since the play begin previews on August 28, 2014, and has continued to perform marvelously since the opening night of October 9, 2014. The high-profile cast members include Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who are reunited following their history-making run in Mel Brooks’ musical The Producers. The stars don’t stop there, as Lane and Broderick are joined by Stockard Channing (Grease, Other Desert Cities), Rupert Grint (Ron from the Harry Potter movie franchise), F. Murray Abraham ( , and Megan Mullaly, along with newcomer Micah Stock. Rupert Grint, Nathan Lane, and Megan Mullaly played their last performance on January 4, 2015. However, when Matthew Broderick announced that he would extend until at least March to star alongside Martin Short, the show got another breath of life.

Box Office Declined after Nathan Lane’s Departureit's only a play

It’s Only a Play was a miraculous box office performer this season, earning more than 100% of its gross potential every single week since it began previews – that is, until the second week in January 2015. As soon as Nathan Lane, Rupert Grint, and Megan Mullaly stepped out of the show, ticket sales declined enormously. The show’s weekly gross record was earned in the week ending January 4, 2015, which was the exact day that those three actors left the show. It is likely that Nathan Lane was the biggest ticket seller, with Rupert Grint also attracting a different demographic to the audience. With the loss of those two huge names, it became apparent that Matthew Broderick alone was not a big enough name to sustain the hyperbolically high ticket sales. In the week immediately following, the week ending January 11, 2015, the weekly gross went down by $764,914, resulting in a gross of $690,904, which represented only 60.79% of the gross potential. Furthermore, the average paid ticket went down from $171.68 in the week ending January 4, 2015, to $88.95 in the week ending January 11, 2015. In the four weeks since, the show has still been struggling. Most recently, in the week ending February 1, 2015, the show only brought in $513,389, which is only 44.21% of its gross potential.

Optimism about the Spring Season

The decision to extend the show until June demonstrates that the producers felt optimistic that ticket sales would pick up along with the temperature. The months of January and February are traditionally very slow on Broadway, and March brings the opening of many new shows in the spring season. Therefore, it is a risky choice to extend a show from the fall season into the spring, as it will need to compete with all of the new fare. However, the producers must have felt confident that they had a hit show, and that even without Nathan Lane and the other early deserters, that they would attract enough interest with the second-tier cast and very hyped production. It definitely helps that Matthew Broderick has extended until March 29, 2015, although he will be out from March 4 to 21, 2015. It is not yet clear whether Broderick will remain with the show through the final three spring months, or whether Martin Short and the other cast members will stay.

“Constellations” Opens on Broadway

Jake Gyllenhaal Reunites With Playwright Nick Payne

constellations-large-643x441On December 16, 2014, Constellations began previews at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, the Broadway venue for Manhattan Theatre Club. The play opened on January 13, 2015 to unanimously positive reviews. The play is a two-hander starring Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountatin) and Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson (The Affair). This production reunited Gyllenhaal with the playwright Nick Payne as well as the director Michael Longhurst, who all worked together on a Roundabout Theater Company Off-Broadway production of Payne’s play If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet in 2012. Both Payne and Longhurst are British theatre artists of great acclaim; Payne’s accolades include raves for Wanderlust and the Evening Standard Best Play Award for Constellations, and Longhurst has received great acclaim for his direction of works including Bad Jews, The World of Extreme Happiness, and Stovepipe.

The Critics Agree: This Show Is Phenomenalconstellations

Ben Brantley in The New York Times called Constellations “gorgeous” and the “most sophisticated” date play ever to be seen on Broadway. He commended the play for making physics seem sexy, and congratulated the production on inflating to fit the scale of Broadway beautifully. Adam Feldman in Time Out New York likewise loved the play, calling it “convincing,” lauding Gyllenhaal and Wilson for being “multiversatile,” and deeming Payne’s play smart without being dry. Marilyn Stasio in Variety found the play “dreamy” and “graceful,” comparing it to If/Then as another “Sliding Doors” style drama but deeming it much more successful at the approach. David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter found the play “rich” and “emotionally direct,” distinguishing him from other British playwrights and deeming him a level above. In addition, Roberth Kahn from NBC New York praises the play as a solid entry into the canon of “multiverse” plays. Finally, Matt Windman from AM New York was more on the fence, but he entered the play skeptically unsure of why Gyllenhaal had such a thing for British playwright Nick Payne.

Will The Numbers Match the Buzz?

In the reported box office figures thus far, Constellations is off to a moderate start. Still, it should be noted that these weeks of figures do not yet take into account the effect of the post-opening reviews, as the last reported week ended on January 11, 2015, two days before Constellations’ opening night. In the week, the show brought in $336,203 over 7 performances, which represents 56.66% of the gross potential. In the week prior ending in January 4, 2015, the show brought in $478,445, representing 70.39% of the gross potential, which was the highest percentage yet. It is to be expected that these unanimously positive reviews will have some impact, even if moderate, on ticketbuyers. It has been noted before that positive reviews British plays tend to have a greater impact than their American counterparts even when comparably reviewed, perhaps as theatregoers are awaiting the American press’ response before deeming the ticket worth buying, or perhaps just because they hadn’t even heard of the play before it hits the papers.

The Triple Crown At The TONY Awards®

The term “Triple Crown” is often used to describe the winning of three significant top honors in a given competition – for example, horse racing, motor racing, wrestling, and many other sports use this term to denote a particular string of accomplishments.  In the world of entertainment, this term is most commonly employed when referring to the “Triple Crown of Acting.”  This is a variant of the EGOT (one who has earned at least one each of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards), ascribed to those individuals who have won a singular (non-group/ensemble) Acting award in each of the Emmy, Oscar, and Tony Awards.

Over the course of history, only sevetriple crownnteen individuals have earned this prestigious title.  Those are: Jack Albertson, Anne Bancroft, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley Booth, Ellen Burstyn, Melvyn Douglas, Jeremy Irons, Thomas Mitchell, Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Scofield, Maggie Smith, Maureen Stapleton, and Jessica Tandy.  In 1953, Thomas Mitchell became the first of these honorees, and in 2012, Christopher Plummer became the most recent to join their ranks.  Plummer also has the honor of being the oldest to do so, at age 82 with his Oscar win for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Beginners.

A theatre-specific, and also quite timely, version of the term “Triple Crown” is also sometimes utilized: that is, the “Tony Triple Crown.”  Referring to those musicals that win the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book, this Triple Crown truly shows far and wide appreciation from the Tony voters.  The most recent musical to earn this honor was, surprise surprise, The Book of Mormon, which earned all three honors in 2011.  Other titles to achieve this include Memphis (2010), Spring Awakening (2007), Avenue Q (2004), Hairspray (2003),and The Producers (2001).

Many musicals come close but not all the way.  In 2012, Once won the Award for Best Musical and Best Book, but not Best Score.  The same happened with Billy Elliot in 2009.  Last year, in 2013, Kinky Boots won for Best Musical and Best Score (with Cyndi Lauper becoming the first woman ever to win this award), but it did not win for Best Book.  The same occurred with In the Heights in 2008.  In 2002, Thoroughly Modern Millie won for Best Musical, but it earned neither award for Score or Book, though it did win for Best Actress for Sutton Foster, as well as Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations.

This year, the four nominees for Best Musical are After Midnight, Aladdin, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and A Gentleman’s Guide a gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedyto Love and Murder.  Of these, only A Gentleman’s Guide and Aladdin have the potential to earn the title of Triple Crown.  After Midnight was not nominated for Best Score or Best Book, which makes one wonder what the Tony committee was thinking in nominating it for Best Musical.  Beautiful was nominated for Best Musical and Best Book, but not Best Score, but it was not eligible as the score was created prior to the conception of the show.  As A Gentleman’s Guide is leading the pack with ten nominations overall, it appears to be the best contender, if any, for this prestigious honor in 2014.

Barbara Walters Says Farewell to “The View”

Barbara Walters Winds Down Her Television Career

On May 13, 2013, Barbara Walters announced that she would be retiring from appearing on television in approximately one year.  As promised, her final appearance as co-host on The View occurred on May 16, 2014.  Her retirement comes after a long and successful career as a television journalist, and her decision to retire, she said, was purely her own.  She remains on a co-executive producer of The View along with Bill Geddie, and will continue to do so as long as the show is on the air.  Presently, the remaining hosts of The View are Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, and Jenny McCarthy.  In total, there have been eleven co-hosts of the show since its inception in 1997, and all of them appeared to celebrate Barbara Walters on the show the day before her retirement.

barbara waltersWalters’ Career Trajectory

Walters has been a co-host and contributor to ABC News since 1976.  Prior to that, she had worked as a writer and research for NBC’s The Today Show since 1961, soon becoming that show’s regular “Today Girl.”  She effectively became co-host of The Today Show within a year after that, but the show’s male host Frank McGee refused to allow her equal responsibilities.  She was finally named co-host in 1974, but soon left for ABC.  At ABC, she first served as an anchor for ABC Evening News for two years, and she became a co-host of the ABC newsmagazine 20/20 in 1979.  She became known for her “personality journalism” and “scoop interviews,” and her access to public figures soon became unparalleled.  She crossed the Bay of Pigs with Fidel Castro, and she asked Vladimir Putin outright if he had ever ordered anyone to be killed; his answer was no.

Her Health and Personal Life

At age 84, Barbara Walters is in admirable health.  In May 2010, she took a leave from The View to undergo open heart surgery, but she returned to work in September.  As for her personal life, she has been married four times to three different men, because she divorced and then remarried her most recent husband, Merv Adelson.  Her first marriage was annulled in under a year, and her second marriage – to theatre producer and theatre own Lee Guber – resulted in her only child, an adopted daughter named Jacqueline Dena Guber (born 1968).  Upon her retirement, she does not plan to climb another mountain or appear on another program; rather, she said, she wants to sit on a sunny field and admire the gifted women who will be taking her place.

Walters’ Legacy

Walters leaves an extraordinary legacy, particularly for young women aspiring to work in the television field.  She was inducted barbara walters whoopi goldberg sherri shepherd jenny mccarthy the viewinto the Television Hall of Fame in 1989, and she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.  She has also received numerous awards, including several Daytime and Prime Time Emmy Awards, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Women’s Agenda.  She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 30th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, presented at Lincoln Center.  Amongst her honors, many have been awarded for The View, including the 2003 Daytime Emmy Award for Best Talk Show, as well as the 2009 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Host.  The View will perhaps be her most lasting and personal legacy.

Extraordinary Final Ratings

Her retirement may have been spurred by a lack of recognition of her achievements by young people, who no longer know who she is.  Like anyone getting on in age, eventually her relevance will fade, as will the advertisers’ interest in her programs.  However, the ratings for her final on-air week on The View reached a three year high.  4.1 million viewers tuned in to see Barbara Walters in her final week, and for the demographic of 18 to 49 year-old women, the week earned a one and a half year high, reaching 648,000 viewers in that group.  Still, the crowd did skew older, with 830,000 women aged 25-54 but only 204,000 of them aged 18-34; nevertheless, those numbers both reached one year highs.

Who Will Her Successor Be?

It is not yet certain who will replace Walters on The View.  Five ideas that have circulated in the press include Robin Roberts, Rachel Maddow, Megyn Kelly, Ellen DeGeneres, or Katie Couric.  Some even suggest that the seat could be filled by a man.  After all, no one could really take her place.

Annette Bening joins John Lithgow in “King Lear”

The Storied Past of Shakespeare in the Park

Ever since 1961, when theatrical impresario Joseph Papp famously convinced New York City parks commissioner Robert Moses to build an outdoor amphitheater in Central Park, the Public Theater has produced the annual New York Shakespeare Festival, also known as Shakespeare in the Park, at the Delacorte Theatre.  Renowned for its unusual combination of free tickets for all, as well as highly acclaimed productions often starring household names, this outdoor festival is a rare treat for New York theatregoers.  This year, the Festival has two productions: Much Ado about Nothing and King Lear.  Though the Festival does not always feature exclusively Shakespeare, it generally has two productions in the series, and this year they are both by the Bard.  The last time that King Lear was a production of this Festival was in 1973.  Much Ado about Nothing, on the other hand, has been staged at the Delacorte three times before, most recently in 2004.

shakespeare in the park delacorte theatreJohn Lithgow Headlines King Lear

It was announced several weeks ago that King Lear, which begins performances on July 22, 2014 and runs until August 17, 2014, will star John Lithgow in the title role.  Lithgow was last seen in Shakespeare in the Park in 1975, when he played Laertes in Hamlet.  He is also well known for his work on television shows such as 3rd Rock from the Sun and Dexter, andhisfilm performances in such movies as Shrek, The World According to Garp, and Terms of Endearment.  Furthermore, he has been seen on Broadway in plays including The Columnist, M. Butterfly, Requiem for a Heavyweight, and the 2008 revival of All My Sons.  At the same time as this lead casting announcement, it was publicized that King Lear will be directed by Daniel Sullivan, who has overseen several productions at Shakespeare in the Park including The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, and The Merchant of Venice, as well as Broadway shows such as Glengarry Glen Ross and The Snow Geese.

Annette Bening Joins The Cast

Recently, an exciting piece of casting news was announced for King Lear.  Annette Bening, who was last seen on Broadway in annette bening1987 in Coastal Disturbances, will play Lear’s eldest daughter Goneril.  Bening has been nominated for four Academy Awards: for her roles in The Grifters, Being Julia, American Beauty, and The Kids Are All Right.  She has also won Golden Globe Awards for her performances in Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right.  Though she has not been since on the New York stage in over 20 years, her career originated in the theatre.  She studied at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where she played roles including Lady Macbeth.  She also has been seen onstage at the Denver Center Theatre Company, and she has recently performed at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse.  She also received a Tony Award nomination for her role in the Broadway production of Coastal Disturbances.  The other two sisters in King Lear will be played by Jessica Hecht (Regan) and Jessica Collins (Cordelia).

King Lear Follows Much Ado About Nothing in Park Season

As for the first of the two productions in Shakespeare in the Park – Much Ado about Nothing – it will star Lily Rabe as Beatrice and Hamish Linklater as Benedick, and it will be directed by Jack O’Brien (The Nance, The Coast of Utopia, Macbeth).  Much Ado about Nothing will begin performances at the Delacorte on June 3, 2014 and will run for five weeks.

Broadway Fall 2014 Line-Up Falling into Place

This fall looks to be an exciting one on Broadway!  Let’s face it – every new season is pretty exciting.  But with the Tony Awards still a month away to commend the brilliant plays and musicals of the 2013-2014 season, announcements are already being made for shows to open next fall.

It was recently announced that Hugh Jackman will be returning to Broadway this fall in Jez Butterworth’s play The River.  Jez Butterworth’s work was last seen on Broadway with the 2011 production of Jerusalem starring Mark Rylance, directed by Ian Rickson, and prohugh jackmanduced by London-based powerhouse theatre production company Sonia Friedman Productions.  Sonia Friedman will be shepherding a Butterworth play once again, after having watched over its production at the Royal Court Theatre, where Jerusalem also premiered.  The partnership between Ian Rickson and Jez Butterworth also holds strong, as Rickson is on board to direct this play.  The River is about a loner on a remote island and the two women in his life, who will be played by British actresses Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo.  The River will begin performances at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 31, 2014.  A favorite of the Great White Way, Hugh Jackman sold out his 2011 one-man show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, and he will host the Tony Awards this year for the fourth time.

In addition to the proven partnership between director Ian Rickson and playwright Jez Butterworth, another fall show will see the recurrence of a proven Broadway partnership, this time between two beloved actors.  Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who famously co-starred in 2001’s The Producers, will join forces this fall for a Terrence McNally play called It’s Only a Play, directed by Jack O’Brien.  Like The Producers, It’s Only a Play is also a comedy based in the world of show biz.  Having premiered at the Manhattan Theater Club in 1986, It’s Only a Play is the story of a nervous playwright (Broderick) at the opening night party for a play he has written, and his interactions with his backstabbing friend (Lane).  Produced by Tom Kirdahy, who is married to Terrence McNally, the play will begin performances in September at a theatre yet to be announced.

Producer Scott Rudin also has a starry play up his sleeve for this fall.  This Is Our Youth, written by Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret, The Starry Messenger) first premiemichael cera kieran culkinred Off-Broadway in a production by The New Group in 1996.  The play centers on three aimless teenagers in New York City, and this Broadway production will star Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson.  Directed by Anna D. Shapiro (Motherf**ker with the Hat), the show will have an out-of-town pre-Broadway run at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago over the summer, and it will then transfer to Broadway’s Cort Theatre with performances beginning August 18, 2014.  Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin also appeared in their same roles in an Australian production of this play in 2012, directed by Mark Brokaw.

Further fall productions that have been announced include Simon Stephens’ play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which is a transfer from London’s National Theatre via the West End.  The play will occupy the Ethel Barrymore Theatre with previews beginning September 15, 2014.  In addition, The Country House by Donald Margulies will star Blythe Danner at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with previews beginning September 9, 2014 in a Manhattan Theatre Club production.  Finally, it has also been announced that a production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing will play at the American Airlines Theatre in a Roundabout Theatre Company production, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, and Cynthia Nixon, and directed by Sam Gold.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, as many more exciting shows are sure to be announced for the Broadway fall season in the coming months.

“Bullets Over Broadway” Opens at the St. James Theatre

Bullets over Broadway, the new musical based off the 1994 film of the same name, opened on April 10, 2014 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre.  With a book by Woody Allen based on the screenplay he wrote along with Douglas McGrath, the musical is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman.  The story is a fitting one for Broadway, as it tells of a young playwright in 1929 named David Shayne who is desperately trying to get his first Broadway production.  In order to secure financing for the play, he agrees to hire the girlfriend of a gangster, in exchange for that gangster backing the production.  The actress’ gangster escort turns out to be a genius contributor to revising the play, but soon David is pretending that those ideas are his own.  Bad turns to worse, as David begins cheating on his girlfriend with the alcoholic leading lady, and the leading man, who is also a compulsive eater, begins to eye the gangster’s girlfriend.

The cast is led by actor-writer Zach Braff (Garden State, Scrubs) as David Shayne.  Though this is Braff’s Broadway debut, he is a familiar face on the Off-Broadway scene, not only as an actor but also as playwright; his play All New People played at New York’s Second Stage Theatre in 2011.  The cast bullets over broadway the musicalof Bullets over Broadway also includes Marin Mazzie as the leading lady Helen Sinclair, Helene Yorke as the gangster’s girlfriend Olive, and Nick Cordero as her escort Cheech.  Of all these actors, however, only Nick Cordero received a Tony nomination, for the category of Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

In total, the musical received six Tony Award nominations, also including those for Best Book of a Musical for Woody Allen, Best Scenic Design for Santo Loquasto, Best Costume Design for William Ivey Long, Best Choreography for Susan Stroman, and Best Orchestrations for Doug Besterman.  This may be considered a disappointment compared to what some theatre industry watchers were expecting, as the musical failed to be nominated in any of the major categories, such as Best New Musical, Best Director, or Best Score.  Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Woody Allen, for his first ever Tony nomination, will be competing against Douglas McGrath, who wrote the book for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film Bullets over Broadway.

However, the biggest disappointment is that the musical received fairly negative reviews.  Ben Brantley of The New York Times called it “occasionally funny but mostly just loud.”  Ending his review on a perhaps prophetic note, Brantley then suggested that the authenticity-seeking Cheech take over direction of the musical, and the Tony nominating committee seemed to agrbullets over broadway dance numberee that this performance was one of the best things going for the show.  Furthermore, Marilyn Stasio of Variety remarked how the script was surprisingly few on laughs, and that several of the big dance numbers fall flat, most notably “The Hot Dog Song.”  The Hollywood Reporter also disliked the show, comparing it to a “watered-down champagne cocktail.”  Only NBC New York seemed to like it, even going so far as to call it the best new musical on Broadway this season.  Too bad the Tony committee did not agree.

Financially, the show has been staying afloat, if not exceedingly well.  In the week ending April 27, 2014, it grossed $956,227, and it did even a little bit better in the week preceding that.  In the first few weeks of performances, it did numbers in the 700 to 800,000 dollar range, which is still fairly decent.  Its audience capacity has been flitting between 86 to 92 percent, with an average ticket price around 70 or 80 dollars, which shows a normal amount of discounting for a show still trying to hit its stride.  All in all, the name value of this title will certainly help it find its audience, and the star power of Zach Braff shouldn’t hurt.  Still, with mediocre reviews and minimal Tony recognition, this musical may not ever become the hit that its producers hoped it would.