Jennifer R Jones

About Jennifer R Jones

With over 20 years experience in the Broadway field, including marketing, production, development and show investment, Jennifer R Jones is an all-around subject-matter-expert in the Broadway business. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and her iMac and tries to see at least five Broadway shows per week.

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” Begins Performances

An Eventful London Run

the curious incident of the dog in the night-timeA new import from London’s National Theatre has begun performances on Broadway.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time took London by storm, first playing at the National’s Cottesloe Theatre from August 2, 2012 until late October 2012, when it transferred to the West End’s Apollo Theatre.  It ran at the Apollo until December 19, 2013, when the theatre’s roof collapsed, forcing performances to be postponed until June 24, 2014, when the show re-opened at the West End’s Gielgud Theatre, where it is still presently running.  These incidents aside, the show has been proved a veritable hit.  It was nominated for eight Olivier Awards (the British equivalent of the Tonys), winning seven: those for Best New Play, Best Director for Marianne Elliott, Best Actor for Luke Treadaway, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Nicola Walker, Best Sound Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Set Design.  Now beginning September 10, 2014, this production under the helm of Marianne Elliott has transferred to Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre.  Its official opening night is scheduled for October 5, 2014.

A Sense of Wonder

Adapted for the stage by Simon Stephens (Punk Rock, Pornography, On the Shore of the Wide World), the play is based on a novel of the same name written by Mark Haddon in 2003.  It is the story of a 15 year-old boy named Christopher John Francis Boone, who is supposed to have some form of Asperger’s Syndrome, although this is never referred to in the play.  Rather, the character exhibits the characteristic asocial behavior of this condition, coupled with a remarkable sense of wonder regarding everything he experiences.  The incident denoted in the play’s title involves the murder of the dog of one of Christopher’s neighbors.  A sort of self-made Sherlock Holmes, Christopher takes it upon himself to solve this mystery.  Along the way, he ends up discovering facts about his own family that take him on an unexpected journey.  The play received intense acclaim for its delicate performances and brilliant design and staging.  It looks poised to perform as well in the transatlantic transfer as did its National Theatre predecessor, War Horse.

The American Cast

alex sharp

Alex Sharp

As the show is still running in the West End, it has transferred to the United States with an entirely new cast.  The principal role of 15 year-old Christopher is portrayed by 25 year-old recent Juilliard graduate Alex Sharp, making his Broadway debut.  Sharp has been documented saying that this was one of his mother’s favorite books, and thus he has long been very familiar with its story.  The rest of the main cast members are Helen Carey (Tony nominated for London Assurance), Ian Barford (August: Osage County), Francesca Faridany (Man and Boy), and Enid Graham (Dinner at Eight).  Additional cast members include Ben Horner (War Horse), Mercedes Herrero (The Laramie Project), Jocelyn Bioh (Off Broadway’s An Octoroon), Richard Hollis (Hit-Lit), and David Manis (War Horse).  Furthermore, the role of Christopher will occasionally be played by Taylor Trensch (Matilda the Musical).  Like in London, the show is directed by Marianne Elliott, who also directed War Horse.

“The Country House” Begins Previews on Broadway

A New Play By Donald Margulies

country houseOn September 9, 2014, the first preview commenced for Donald Margulies’ new play The Country House.  The play is scheduled to officially open on October 2, 2014.  Directed by Daniel Sullivan (The Snow Geese, Orphans), this is the newest work by the masterful playwright behind the Pulitzer Prize winning Dinner With Friends and the Tony Award for Best Play nominated Time Stands Still.  The world premiere of The Country House took place at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse between June 10 and July 20, 2014, where it received excellent reviews.  The play is inspired by Chekhov’s The Seagull, the story concerns a group of actors gathered in a Berkshire house for the summer season of the Williamstown Theater Festival.  The drama of this actor family spilled off the page and into their very real lives, and we are given a glimpse into the offstage drama of the world’s oldest profession.

A Manhattan Theater Club Production

The play is running at the Manhattan Theater Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on West 47th Street in the Broadway district.  Of the six productions that Margulies has now had on Broadway, the last five of them have been produced by Manhattan Theater Club.  The last three (including The Country House) went up at the Friedman Theatre; the others are April 2010’s Collected Stories and January 2010’s Time Stands Still, which then transferred to the commercial venue of Broadway’s Cort Theatre.  Previously, MTC also supported Margulies with two of his other plays: 2005’s Brooklyn Boy and 2004’s Sight Unseen, both of which went up at the Biltmore Theatre.  Margulies’ first work to be produced on Broadway was 1994’s What’s Wrong With This Picture?  In addition to being a working playwright, Margulies is a professor at the Yale School of Drama.

A Superb Cast

The show stars Blythe Danner as Anna Patterson.  Danner, who is well known for her screen appearances in such roles as Will’s blythe danner country housemother Marilyn on television’s Will & Grace, as well as the film series Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, and Little Fockers.  Furthermore, Danner has recently appeared onstage in the Manhattan Theatre Club Off-Broadway production of The Commons of Pensacola opposite Sarah Jessica Parker.  On Broadway she has performed in many productions including Nice Work If You Can Get It, Follies, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Blithe Spirit.  In The Country House, she is joined by Daniel Sunjata (Cyrano de Bergerac, Take Me Out), Eric Lange (television’s Victorious and Lost), Kate Jennings Grant (The Lyons, Guys and Dolls), David Rasche (To Be or Not to Be, Speed the Plow), and Sarah Steele (Off-Broadway’s Russian Transport and Slowgirl).

“The View” Launches 18th Season with New Co-Hosts

For the First Time, Barbara Walters Will Not Host

On September 15, 2014, the 18th season of “The View” will premiere on ABC.  The talk show has been on the air since 1997, when it was first conceived by Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie.  Over the course of these years, many different hosts have come and gone, but the departure marked by this season is unprecedented.  First of all, at the end of last season, Barbara Walters stepped down as co-host after seventeen years, and also Bill Geddie stepped down as executive producer.  Though Walters has stayed on as co-executive producer now with Bill Wolff, she has retired from regular onscreen appearances.  Furthermore, an additional two of the co-hosts – Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy – were asked to step down as well.  Therefore, the only incumbent host this season is Whoopi Goldberg, and she is joined by Rosie O’Donnell, Rosie Perez, and Nicolle Wallace.

Rosie O’Donnell Steps Up to the Mantle

whoopi goldberg rosie odonnellAt the end of last season, there was a lot of speculation that “The View” was taking on too many changes.  Many fans were vocally upset about the firing of hosts Shepherd and McCarthy, not to mention Walters’ departure.  However, it appears that ABC has gotten all of its ducks in a row, with a new batch of exciting co-hosts.  In July, it was announced that Rosie O’Donnell would be joining Whoopi Goldberg for the upcoming season.  After earning two Emmy’s for her own talk show “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” that ran from 1996 to 2002, O’Donnell served as co-host on “The View” for just one season, from 2006-7.  In 2007, she had already decided not to renew her contract when she got into a very controversial argument with that season’s co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck about the Iraq War.  That episode went viral, and it became clear that O’Donnell’s controversial opinions boosted ratings for “The View,” though she pledged never to return to the show.  Following that stint, O’Donnell had her own talk show “The Rosie Show” on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network in 2011, but that was a quick flop.  Nevertheless, O’Donnell’s stature as a beloved household name remains uncontested.

The New “View”

In 2014, O’Donnell reappeared as a guest host on the view on two occasions: once in February, and then again in the group farewellrosie perez nicolle wallace episode to Barbara Walters.  Now returning as full-time co-host, Rosie has pledged to make the show smarter.  She will ensure they first present an objective view of the conversation topic, so the discussion can evolve beyond the givens.  Not only is “The View” getting a serious makeover for the launch of this season, but O’Donnell herself has undergone significant personal changes prior to coming on board.  She underwent weight loss surgery in 2013, and recently appeared on the cover of “Variety” flaunting her new slimmer figure.  Before being given the position, O’Donnell had to do a chemistry test with Whoopi Goldberg, to both of their surprise; of course they passed.  The same test was required for the ladies competing for the final two co-host slots, and the winners were Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace.  Perez is an actress and choreographer who has been nominated for an Academy Award, and who will also be appearing on Broadway this spring in Larry David’s Fish in the Dark.  Wallace is a Republican PR vet and political commentator, who held the position of White House communications director under President George W. Bush.  These two women are sure to balance out the dynamic in exciting ways.

“The View” Basics

“The View” airs live from New York City at 11:00am on weekdays.  It is aired at 10:00am in the Central time zone, and is tape-delayed for other time zones.  Furthermore, the show airs internationally in various countries.  In addition to new co-hosts, the 18th season also marks a new location for filming: the ABC Broadcast Center on West 67th Street which formerly housed the now cancelled show “Katie.”  The format of the show involves the generally female co-hosts discussing current events and news, including politics, celebrity gossip, and social issues.  Starting in the 15th season, Barbara Walters would take off each week on Friday when a male guest host would come on; this was called “Guy Day” Friday.  Still, the show is heavily geared towards expressing the female viewpoint, but from women with a range of backgrounds.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 9/07/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

A Very Slow Week For Broadway

In the week ending September 7, 2014, the entire Broadway industry saw a decrease in gross sales of $2,504,029 from the week prior.  Of the 24 shows presently running, only one saw an increase in sales.  That was It’s Only a Play, written by Terrence McNally and starring Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, and Rupert Grint.  The only reason that show saw an increase, however, is because last week it began its run with only 5 performances.  This week was its first full week of eight performances, and thus it increased its gross by $370,580.  However, the show’s gross potential decreased from 112.45% last week to 104.48% this week.  Even though that show is still performing amazingly for a new production of a straight play still in previews, it too saw a relative decrease from last week.  As for the other shows, every single one was in the red comparatively, with the biggest loss seen by Wicked, which earned $367,560 less this week than the week before.  Still Wicked grossed a respectable $1,340,668.

What Is The Reason for This?

The reason for such a steep decline can only be speculated.  It can be chalked up to the fact that we are in a transition between seasons.  We are officially out of the summer season, with Labor Day a full week behind us, and therefore most Americans who travel to New York for a summer vacation are firmly back in their school and work routines.  New Yorkers, however, are either still holding onto the idea of summer, taking last minute trips out of town while the weather is still warm, or they are also beginning to buckle down for the start of fall.  In any case, they are not focused on Broadway.  The exception is the new play It’s Only a Play which hints of more exciting fare to come in this fall season.  That show is attracting a lot of attention and sales, and its opening press is sure to make it an even hotter ticket than it already is.  We can trust that sales will pick up as the season is more firmly underway.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending September 7, 2014
Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis 9/07/14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $840,503 7,235 99.71% $116.17
ALADDIN $1,299,483 13,736 99.65% $94.60
BEAUTIFUL $1,077,517 7,244 88.26% $148.75
CABARET $623,833 5,522 77.30% $112.97
CHICAGO $559,420 7,152 82.78% $78.22
CINDERELLA $458,836 6,499 46.39% $70.60
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $514,411 5,622 69.79% $91.50
IF/THEN $589,923 7,882 75.15% $74.84
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,163,626 8,465 98.98% $137.46
JERSEY BOYS $799,476 8,087 82.32% $98.86
KINKY BOOTS $1,172,025 10,725 94.15% $109.28
LES MISÉRABLES $788,527 9,581 85.00% $82.30
MAMMA MIA! $616,314 7,773 83.33% $79.29
MATILDA $803,129 10,024 87.50% $80.12
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $979,034 10,715 88.88% $91.37
ONCE $420,739 5,512 65.06% $76.33
PIPPIN $492,718 6,370 80.43% $77.35
ROCK OF AGES $315,675 3,857 82.70% $81.84
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,532,948 8,751 102.61% $175.17
THE LION KING $1,677,604 13,396 98.50% $125.23
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $918,819 11,382 88.64% $80.73
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $367,207 7,220 85.06% $50.86
WICKED $1,340,668 13,507 93.33% $99.26
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $490,887 6,871 80.04% $71.44
Totals: $19,843,322 203,128 84.82% $96.02


Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014 nytix.com

EGOT’s, REGOT’s, and Those Who Are On Their Way

With this year’s Academy Awards on March 2, 2014, Robert “Bobby” Lopez became the youngest person ever to be designated an EGOT.  An acronym made up of “Emmy,” “Grammy,” “Oscar,” and “Tony,” this title refers to those extraordinary artists who have earned all four awards over the course of their career.  Upon winning the Oscar for Best Original Song for having written “Let It Go” from the Disney film Frozen, Bobby Lopez entered the prestigious circle of EGOTs, accomplishing it in the shortest amount of time in history: only 10 years.  Lopez’s first EGOT award was 2004 the Tony Award for Best Score, for the raunchy puppet musical Avenue Q.  He also received two Tony Awards in 2011 for The Book of Mormon, for Best Book of a Musical as well as Best Score.  The Book of Mormon also earned him a Grammy in 2012 for Best Musical Theatre Album, and he also earned two Daytime Emmys in 2008 and 2010, both for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for Nick Jr.’s Wonderpets.

EGOT Necklace on SilhouetteIn addition to Lopez, only eleven individuals have ever earned all four awards.  The first was Richard Rodgers (1902 – 1979), who earned one Academy Award, one Emmy Award, two Grammy Awards, and six Tony Awards, as well as three Special (non-competitive) Tony Awards between 1945 and 1979.  The second was Helen Hayes, who accomplished the mission between 1932, with her Best Actress Oscar win for The Sin of Madelon Claudet, and 1980, with her Special Tony Award for Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in the American Theatre.  Interestingly, both Rodgers and Hayes have Broadway theatres named in their honor.  John Gielgud, who has a West End theatre named after him in London, also won all four awards between 1961 and 1991.

Other winners of all four honors include the actors Audrey Hepburn, Rita Moreno, and Whoopi Goldberg, the composers Marvin Hamlisch and Jonathan Tunick, director/screenwriter Mel Brooks, director Mike Nichols, and producer Scott Rudin.  If one takes into account non-competitive awards to determine EGOTs, then three more individuals are added to the list: Barbra Streisand, who only earned a Special Tony Award, Liza Minnelli, who only earned a Special Grammy Award, and James Earl Jones, who only earned a Special Academy Award.  Numerous individuals have also earned the “Triple Crown of Acting,” which refers to earning a Tony, an Emmy, and an Oscar, all in Acting categories.  These include Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, 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 1981, an anti-award ceremony was established: the Golden Raspberry Awards, or Razzies for short, which recognize Razzie Award, Raspberrythe worst in film.  In jest, certain people have begun referring to REGOTs, for those who have earned all five awards.  Of course, the R implies a negative achievement, but with the other four positive awards, this five-award recognition is more for fun than to cause shame.  The only person to have earned all five awards is Liza Minnelli, who won a Razzie in 1988 for two movies: Arthur 2: On the Rocks and Rent-a-cop – that is, if you include her Special Grammy Award.  Whoopi Goldberg came close to being a REGOT, as she has been nominated for two Razzies, The Telephone in 1988 and Eddie in 1996.

Different individuals reach this level of achievement for different reasons.  It helps if the artist has a musical bent, as this may allow them to earn a Grammy as well as a music-related Academy Award.  It certainly helps if they are geniuses, and perhaps arrogance and overzealous confidence can also push them along toward this distinction.  In any case, an EGOT is nothing to scoff at, for it represents true appreciation across multiple platforms of success.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 8/31/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

New Shows: “You Can’t Take It With You” and “It’s Only a Play”

There were two new Broadway shows that began previews in the week ending August 31, 2014.  First, on August 26, 2014, You Can’t Take It With You began performances at the Longacre Theatre.  This is the fifth revival of the Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman comedy that originally premiered in 1936, this time starring James Earl Jones, Rose Byrne, and Annaleigh Ashford in an ensemble cast.  In terms of box office, the show is off to a moderate start.   In its first week of 8 performances, it grossed $519,102, which represents 53.80% of its gross potential.  In comparison, It’s Only a Play began performances on August 28, 2014.  Also a New York revival though a Broadway premiere, this Terrence McNally play features a cast of A-list stars including Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, Megan Mullally, and Rupert Grint.  The A-list nature of this cast is certainly showing at the box office.  In its first week of 5 performances, It’s Only a Play grossed $793,046, which represents a whomping 112.45% of the show’s gross potential.  This play looks well poised to take the Broadway fall season by storm.

As the Fall Comes In, Musicals Take a Side Seat

Throughout the summer, the big blockbuster musicals indubitably sold exceptionally well in comparison to plays.  In fact, for several summer weeks, no straight plays were running at all.  As new plays are beginning to begin performances on Broadway, and as the summer tourists are no longer arriving in full force, the bigger musicals are starting to show a slight decline.  The Lion King had a gross this week that was $23,364 lower than the week before, and Wicked declined this week by $87,040.  Furthermore, Mamma Mia! decreased by $52,645, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical decreased by $39,360, The Phantom of the Opera went down by $39,318, Cabaret decreased by $18,369, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch went down by $13,293.  Meanwhile, It’s Only a Play stormed onto the scene with $793,046 over only 5 performances, and This Is Our Youth increased its gross by $24,758 from the week before.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending August 31,2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 8/31/14

 

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $942,205 7,339 101.14% $128.38
ALADDIN $1,506,683 13,780 99.97% $109.34
BEAUTIFUL $1,243,050 7,738 94.27% $160.64
CABARET $796,251 6,437 90.10% $123.70
CHICAGO $589,219 7,411 85.78% $79.51
CINDERELLA $638,177 8,551 61.04% $74.63
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $635,445 6,560 93.06% $96.87
IF/THEN $672,147 8,186 78.05% $82.11
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $793,046 5,402 101.07% $146.81
JERSEY BOYS $834,445 8,333 84.82% $100.14
KINKY BOOTS $1,246,584 10,743 94.30% $116.04
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $558,256 4,715 98.76% $118.40
LES MISÉRABLES $878,730 9,423 83.60% $93.25
MAMMA MIA! $697,483 8,027 86.05% $86.89
MATILDA $1,096,864 11,398 99.49% $96.23
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,100,811 11,603 96.24% $94.87
ONCE $481,616 6,231 73.55% $77.29
PIPPIN $608,962 7,448 94.04% $81.76
ROCK OF AGES $372,667 4,199 90.03% $88.75
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,682,942 8,752 102.63% $192.29
THE LION KING $1,932,032 13,603 100.02% $142.03
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $980,290 11,260 87.69% $87.06
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $390,372 6,437 75.84% $60.65
WICKED $1,708,228 13,727 94.85% $124.44
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $519,102 7,929 92.37% $65.47
Totals: $22,905,606 215,232 90.35% $105.10

 

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014 nytix.com

Larry David’s “Fish in the Dark” Headed to Broadway

A Broadway Debut as Actor and Playwright

larry david

Larry David, the creator of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and co-creator of NBC’s Seinfeld, is making his Broadway debut as actor and playwright.  Fish in the Dark will begin previews on February 2, 2015 at the Cort Theatre, and the show will officially open on March 5, 2015.  The play will be directed by Anna D. Shapiro, who won a 2008 Tony Award for her helming of August: Osage County.  This season, Shapiro is directing Kenneth Lonergan’s This is Our Youth, which is produced by Scott Rudin.  Rudin is also behind Fish in the Dark, and he was also the producer of Shapiro’s staging of Motherf**ker with the Hat in 2011.  The scenic design will be by Todd Rosenthal (This Is Our Youth, Of Mice and Men), the lighting will be designed by Brian MacDevitt (A Delicate Balance, This Is Our Youth), and costume design is by Ann Roth (A Delicate Balance, It’s Only a Play).

A Super Cast for David’s Debut

anna d shapiro

Anna D. Shapiro

David’s play is not a one-man show; rather it is said to have about 15 characters, though it is not clear how many actors play these characters.  So far, the further cast members who have been announced are Jayne Houdyshell (Tony-nominated for her roles in Well and Follies), Jake Cannavale (the Broadway debut of the son of Bobby Cannavale), Jerry Adler (Taller than a Dwarf, Play Me a Country Song), Jonny Orsini (Macbeth, The Nance), and Rosie Perez (The Ritz, Reckless).  Anna D. Shapiro directed Bobby Cannavale in Motherf**ker with the Hat, so it is all too fitting that she is also the director of the show in which his son Jake makes his Broadway debut.

David’s First Play as an Adult

Larry David says this will be the first play in which he has performed since the age of 8.  He said that he has often thought of writing a play, though he has rarely thought of appearing in a play.  However, he is talented at writing characters similar to himself, and this play certainly includes a character that can be described in that way.  In fact, he says that character may just be him with a different name.  In any case, it has not yet been announced what that name is, nor have all of the details been disclosed about the story or the rest of the characters.  The New York Times reported that David has said the play involves a death in the family.  More information will come to light as the spring season approaches.

“It’s Only A Play” Begins Performances on Broadway

An All-Star Cast

it's only a playNathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are back at it again.  The hilarious team behind The Producers has reunited for Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play, which began previews on August 28, 2014 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.  Directed by Jack O’Brien (The Nance, The Coast of Utopia), the play will officially open on October 9, 2014, and is slated to run for a limited engagement until January 4, 2015.  The play premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982, and then Off-Broadway in 1986 produced by Manhattan Theatre Club; this is the play’s Broadway premiere.  Not only does the cast feature The Producers dream team Broderick and Lane, but it also includes Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham, Emmy and Tony Award winner Stockard Channing, Harry Potter film star Rupert Grint making his Broadway debut, Emmy Award winner Megan Mulally, and a newcomer named Micah Stock.  This all-star cast is sure to make a huge splash in this upcoming Broadway fall season.

Already a Financial Success

In fact, the box office is already showing a lot of promise.  In the first week of only 5 performances, the show grossed a total of it's only a play cast$793,046, which is 112.45% of its gross potential.  With a top ticket price of $225, the average ticket was a remarkable $146.81.  This is especially impressive given that the play has not yet been reviewed, nor has it appeared on Broadway before.  However, Terrence McNally is a tried and true playwright on Broadway, whose experience underscores the quality of this production perhaps even more than the starry cast.  He has had a total of 21 productions on Broadway, beginning in the year 1963 with his adaptation of The Lady of the Camellias.  The first play he wrote that was produced on Broadway was And Things That Go Bump In the Night in 1965, and some of his other writing credits include the epic musical Ragtime, last season’s Mothers and Sons starring Tyne Daly, Master Class also starring Tyne Daly, the book for the stage adaptation of Catch Me If You Can, the book for the musical The Full Monty, the book for Kiss of the Spider Woman, as well as Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Rink, Deuce and many more.

A Backstage Drama

This script promises to be one of McNally’s best.  The cast list alone implies that the play is top-notch, as such as stellar list of actors responding positively to the material cannot be a coincidence.  According to a statement by McNally, the play was cast in less than two days, as the actors responded with an immediate yes.  The only exception was Rupert Grint, as he was on location filming a movie where there was no wireless internet, but he responded positively within four days.  Also, the play is reported to have undergone significant revision since its Off-Broadway production in the 1980s.  The story involves a backstage drama in a metatheatrical fashion.  Matthew Broderick plays a playwright named Peter Austin, and the show takes place on opening night of a production of one of his plays.  As he nervously awaits a response from audience and critics, he interacts with a television star played by Nathan Lane, his early-career producer played by Megan Mullally, the star of the play (Stockard Channing), the young director (Rupert Grint), a scary critic (F. Murray Abraham), and a coat check boy (Micah Stock).

“You Can’t Take It With You” Begins Previews

A Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman Collaboration

you can't take it with youOn August 26, 2014, You Can’t Take It With You began previews at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre.  It will have its official opening on September 28, 2014, and is presently scheduled to run for a limited engagement until January 4, 2015.  Written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman in 1936, You Can’t Take It With You is a comedic play in three acts.  Upon its premiere, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1937.  Furthermore, a successful 1938 film adaptation directed by Frank Capra won the Academy Awards for Best Picture as well as Best Director.  A revival of the play was mounted in 1983; this will be the play’s second revival.  Directed by Scott Ellis (Twelve Angry Men, The Mystery of Edwin Drood), the show will star James Earl Jones (Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Fences) as Martin Vanderhof, along with Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids, “Charmed”) making her Broadway debut in the role of Alice.  Further cast members include Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots), Elizabeth Ashley (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), and Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike).

In the Season Following “Act One”

This production will also feature original music written by Jason Robert Brown, a well-known composer for Parade, The Last Five Years, and The Bridges of Madison County.  It is produced by Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, who first announced the production in 2010, but it was postponed several times until this fall.  Fortunately, the decided production dates are timely, as last season Lincoln Center debuted a play called Act One written and directed by James Lapine, which dealt with the long collaborative relationship between Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman.  In that production, Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) played George S. Kaufman as well as Moss Hart as an older man.  Santino Fontano (Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella) played Moss Hart as a younger man.  That show will have whet the appetite of many audience members who are now eager to see a production of work by that great collaborative duo.  Now they will have a chance.

A Wacky Family Headed by James Earl Jones

The story of You Can’t Take It With You involves a wacky family called the Sycamores.  James Earl Jones plays the patriarch Grandpa james earl jonesVanderhof, and the rest of the family includes those who collect snakes, consider themselves revolutionaries, dance ballet, and build skyrockets.  The play takes place as the youngest daughter Alice (played by Rose Byrne) brings her fiancé (played by Fran Kranz, recently seen on Broadway in Death of a Salesman) and his parents over to meet her family, and hilarity incurs.  The play features a large cast, which will make its financial success difficult to achieve, but fortunately it features such a great team that it may very well succeed.  As for the non-human members of the cast, the producers have just announced that they have partnered with the Humane Society of New York to adopt the kittens that are used in the show.  As the kittens outgrow their roles, the production will help ensure that they find a happy family to adopt them.

“Frozen” Stage Musical Adaptation Confirmed in Development

The Next Logical Step

frozenDisney’s 2013 hit animated film Frozen will one day become a Broadway musical.  Though no timeline has been announced, the producer of the film has confirmed that they are in early development talks to adapt the make the stage musical, produced by Disney’s theatrical unit under the leadership of Thomas Schumacher.  This is the next logical step for the film, which won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as well as Best Original Song for the tune “Let It Go.”  With songs written by Broadway favorite Bobby Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) in collaboration with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the show should be easily convertible into a stage musical format, with such experienced Broadway personnel on its team.

In Early Stages, but Marketing Has Already Begun

The film was written by Jennifer Lee (screenwriter for Wreck-it-Ralph) and co-directed by Lee and Chris Buck (Tarzan).  The film’s producer Peter Del Vecho revealed definite plans for the stage musical in an interview with TVGuide.com.  Shortly before the Academy Awards, Kristen Anderson-Lopez also hinted that a stage musical was in very early talks, but now it has been confirmed by the producer.  The team has made it clear that they are not rushing the process; rather, they are taking their time to make sure the result is as excellent as possible.  In the meantime, Disney is taking the opportunity to promote the future show and gather email addresses, by means of having set up a microsite: www.frozenthemusical.com.  Because of the serious franchise potential of Frozen, the film is only the first step.  The musical will follow, and perhaps more types of media will appear in the future as well.

Idina Menzel and Further Cast Members

The Academy Award winning song “Let It Go” was sung by Broadway favorite Idina Menzel, who played the role of Elsa, the ice queen Idina Menzel Oscar Awards 2014older sister who is forced to flee when she is unable to control her powers.  Menzel performed the song at the Academy Awards, and John Travolta became notorious for flubbing her name upon introducing her; he called her Adele Dazzem.  Fortunately, this only spurred more social media attention for the project.  Menzel is famous for having premiered the lead role of Elphaba in Wicked as well as Maureen in Rent.  As such, she has a huge musical theater fanbase who will surely be delighted to see the stage show of Frozen.  Time will tell, however, whether Menzel will be cast in the same role onstage, as perhaps she is not the right age for the character in person, though her voice was.  Presently, she can be seen onstage in the new musical If/Then.  Other actors who appeared in the film who may be considered for roles in the stage musical include Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Santino Fontana, all of whom have been seen on Broadway before.