Raul Esparza (Broadway’s revivals of Speed-the-Plow, The Homecoming, and Company) will star in the upcoming Encores! staging of the famous Broadway flop Anyone Can Whistle. He, Donna Murphy (Wonderful Town, Passion), and Sutton Foster (Broadway credits include Young Frankenstein and Thoroughly Modern Millie) will make up the satirical musical’s trio of leads, and they will be joined by Edward Hibbert, John Ellison Conlee, and Jeff Blumenkrantz. Anyone Can Whistle, which was written by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim (whose more notable collaborations include the classic Broadway musicals West Side Story and Gypsy), debuted on Broadway in 1964 in a production starring Harry Guardino, Lee Remick, and Angela Lansbury. The show only played nine performances before closing.
Feeling down because holiday pastimes in New York are fading away?
Never fear—the “G&S Fest 2010” kicks off at City Center next week (Jan.8-17) after being absent last year.
The Gilbert & Sullivan Players will do four shows during their run, including the big three: “The Pirates of Penzance” (Jan. 9; 15); “HMS Pinafore” (Jan. 10; 12); and “The Mikado” (Jan. 8; 9; 16). The company is also presenting an all-new production of “Ruddigore, or, The Witch’s Curse” (Jan. 14; 16; 17).
This last offering includes sets inspired by the work of master-of-the-macabre writer/illustrator Edward Gorey (among many other things, he was responsible for the animated titles on PBS’s “Mystery” series.) It hasn’t been part of the company’s offerings for more than 10 years. The musical tells the story of the baronets of Ruddigore, all of whom are cursed and must commit a crime every day or meet with a horrible demise. (But this is Gilbert and Sullivan after all; satire abounds.)
The matinees are preceded by Family Overtures, which introduce kids to the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire.
While you’re at it, check out the rest of the City Center winter/spring season. “Encores” presents “Fanny” (Feb. 4-7) the 1954 musical about a young man whose love for the sea trumps his love for a young woman; plus the New York Flamenco Festival (Feb. 11-14, now in its 10th year. The Paul Taylor Dance Company and a production of “Anyone Can Whistle” are among the rest of the season’s offerings.
City Center is at 130 West 56th Street; call (212) 581-1212 for more information about tickets.
The City Center Encores! Summer Stars production of The Wiz, starring R&B artist Ashanti, ends its limited run at City Center today. Directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler (both of In the Heights), the production also starred LaChanze and Orlando Jones. The Wiz is a soulful, modern retelling of The Wizard of Oz, which originally played Broadway in 1974 and won several Tonys. The book is by William F. Brown (based on the L. Frank Baum story), and music and lyrics are by Charlie Smalls.
New York Theatre Workshop, the venerable downtown theater company that launched Broadway sensation Rent, has announced plans to create a new concert series that revives Off-Broadway musicals. Similar to the popular City Center series Encores!, which features lesser-known Broadway musicals of the past, the NYTW concerts would be minimally-staged productions that bring older Off-Broadway — and probably Off-Off Broadway and regional — shows to new audiences.