Tonight saw the official opening of the one-man Broadway play Thurgood, starring noted film actor Laurence Fishburne. The George Stevens Jr. drama tells the story of Thurgood Marshall, the legendary black U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Fishburne is no stranger to the stage, having won a Tony Award for his performance in the original Broadway production of Two Trains Running. Thurgood plays a limited Broadway engagement at the Booth Theatre through August 3.
True to its inspirational story about people living with HIV and AIDS, the long-running Broadway musical Rent raised the most money ($277,000!) for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in the annual Easter Bonnet Competition that takes place this time each year between the various Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. For the actual Easter bonnet presentation portion of the contest, Sunday in the Park with George took the top prize. To get discount tickets to see either of these great Broadway shows, click here.
The new all-star Broadway revival of Clifford Odets’s The Country Girl opened on Broadway tonight at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. The production, which is directed by Mike Nichols, stars Morgan Freeman as a washed up stage actor, Frances McDormand as his wife, and Peter Gallagher as a big shot director. This is the play’s second Broadway revival, the first having been in 1972; The Country Girl was first produced on Broadway in 1950.
The American Theatre Wing’s wonderful “Working in the Theatre” series focuses on “Performing Musicals” in its latest installment, airing on CUNY-TV tomorrow at 5pm. Broadway actors Sherie Rene Scott (The Little Mermaid), Roger Bart (Young Frankenstein), Priscilla Lopez (In the Heights), and Brian d’Arcy James (most recently in Off-Broadway’s Next to Normal and soon to be Broadway’s Shrek) will sit on the panel, discussing the challenges and joys of doing musicals, and the differences between performing in musicals and plays. “Performing Musicals” will have additional airings on 5/2 and 5/3, and if you don’t get CUNY-TV, as of 4/30 you can listen to it on americantheatrewing.org.
Pop star Nick Lachey, who most recently appeared on TV in NBC’s reality show Clash of the Choirs, will be host of the new High School Musical-themed reality competition on ABC. High School Musical: Summer Session will have contestants doing special challenges while at a music conservatory. The show is currently holding open auditions in California and Florida for aspiring stars aged 16-22. In keeping with the spirit of High School Musical, people from all walks – whether it’s a jock who’s always secretly wanted to sing or the drama club queen – are welcome to try out.
Tonight marked the official Broadway opening of Cry-Baby, the new musical based on the John Waters movie of the same name. James Snyder stars as the bad boy musician who was played by Johnny Depp in the movie, and Tony-winner Harriet Harris is also featured in the cast. The show’s book is by Hairspray‘s team, Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, and the rocking score is by Broadway newcomers David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger. Cry-Baby is playing at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre for an open-ended run. To get discount tickets for Cry-Baby, and other Broadway shows, click here.
Actor Jeremy Piven, who has enjoyed recent attention for his role as Hollywood agent Ari Gold on HBO’s Entourage, will make his Broadway debut later this year in a Broadway revival of David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow. Piven will play another Hollywood hotshot, film executive Bobby Gould, in Mamet’s biting satire. Speed-the-Plow originally played Broadway in 1988, in a production that starred Joe Mantegna and Madonna. The Broadway revival starring Piven will open on October 23, but the name of the theater and his co-stars have yet to be announced. Although this will be his first time on Broadway, Piven did appear Off-Broadway not long ago in Neil Labute’s play Fat Pig.
The Drama League announced its nominees today – see the list here. The Drama League, which honors Broadway and Off-Broadway (and even Off-Off Broadway), is unique in that it limits itself to just five categories — Distinguished Production of a Play, Distinguished Production of a Musical, Distinguished Revival of a Play, Distinguished Revival of a Musical, and Distinguished Performance — but then allows for a large number of nominees in each of those categories. There are eight nominees in most categories, and 70 in the Performance category! The winners will be announced, and a handful of specialty awards will also be distributed, at the ceremony on May 16 at the Marriot Marquis Hotel. Harvey Fierstein, currently starring on Broadway in A Catered Affair, will host.
The Outer Critics Circle nominations have been announced, and there are a lot of surprises. The Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein, which was generally dismissed by the Broadway industry and critical community, topped the OCC’s list with 10 nominations. Meanwhile, the Broadway revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which has not yet opened but has had quite a bit of negative word-of-mouth, received more nominations (nine) than any other play. Surprising snubs included a lack of an Outstanding New Broadway Musical nod for Passing Strange and no acting nominations for many worthy cast members from August: Osage County (only Deanna Dunagan was recognized). The OCC did, however, give plenty of recognition to the hit Broadway revival of South Pacific, which got eight nominations.
Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama August: Osage County ends its run at the Imperial Theatre this evening. But the Steppenwolf Theatre Company production’s Broadway run does not come to an end yet. August will be re-opening next door at the Music Box Theatre on April 29, where the play will continue its Broadway engagement.