When it was recently announced that this Broadway season would welcome the Beatles tribute musical revue Let It Be, some may have had a case of deja vu. After all, there was another Beatles inspired revue on Broadway just a couple of years ago with Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles.
A new lawsuit reveals that the producers of Rain feel they have a legal case against the producers of Let It Be. They are suing for copyright infringement, requesting a 50-50 split of Let It Be‘s revenue and asking that the Rain Corporation be listed as joint author. The makers of Rain claim that Let It Be has used much of its material, including staging, musical arrangements, song selection, costume styles, and more.
Let It Be, which was first produced in London, recently began preview performances at Broadway’s St. James Theatre.
Following all of the gossip, a last minute replacement, and ultimately the early closure of the Broadway production of Lyle Kessler’s play Orphans, the drama surrounding the production finally comes to an end as the show’s producers reach a settlement with actor Shia LaBeouf.
Originally cast in the three-character play, Shia LaBeouf clashed with co-star Alec Baldwin during play rehearsals, soon leading to the young actor’s dismissal (he was quickly replaced by Ben Foster). LaBeouf filed a grievance with the Actor’s Equity Assocation following the fracas, and now a settlement has been reached with the Orphans producers — though the terms have not been disclosed.
“We regret the circumstances that caused Shia’s departure from Orphans,” said producers Frederick Zollo and Robert Cole in a statement. “Shia is a gifted actor whose full preparation to undertake the role of Treat demonstrated his respect and devotion to the play. The parties recognize that neither Mr. LaBeouf nor the producers was at fault. We have the utmost respect for Shia and his acting abilities, and would welcome the opportunity to work with him in the future.”
TV fans were shocked to learn on July 13 that Glee star Cory Monteith had been found dead in a Vancouver hotel room. Just 31 years old, the young actor had just seen his career take off in the last few years due to the popularity of the hit Fox comedy Glee. He had been open about his long history with drug abuse, and sadly it was a mix of heroin and alcohol that led to the talented star’s death.
Monteith and his Glee co-star Lea Michele, a longtime Broadway performer with credits such as Ragtime and Spring Awakening on her resume, were romantically involved, although Michele was not present at the time of his death. Though she has requested privacy while she grieves for her boyfriend’s death, Michele’s representatives did release the following statement to People Magazine:
“Lea is deeply grateful for all the love and support she’s received from family, friends, and fans. Lea has been grieving alongside his family and making appropriate arrangements with them. They are supporting each other as they endure this profound loss together. We continue to ask the media to respect the privacy of Lea and Cory’s family.”
After its Off-Broadway success last year, the goofy Harry Potter inspired show Potted Potter has returned to the Little Shubert Theatre this summer for another run. Now the production is offering special post-show events free to ticket holders.
Following the Friday performances on July 19, August 2, August 16, and August 30, Potted Potter‘s creators and stars, Jefferson Turner and Daniel Clarkson, will do a Question & Answer session with the show’s audience.
After the 5pm Sunday performances on July 28, August 11, and August 25, James Percy and Delme Thomas will host Quidditch training sessions with the audience, giving them an opportunity to hone their skills playing the beloved “magical” game.
Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff is scheduled to play a limited engagement at the Little Shubert (422 West 42nd Street) through September 1.
The classic 1978 college comedy Animal House, which is soon to become a Broadway show, has a new songwriter penning its score. The Canadian rock group Barenaked Ladies were originally set to write Animal House‘s score, but now David Yazbek is taking over songwriting duties for the new tuner.
David Yazbek is best known to Broadway fans for his tuneful score to the Broadway musical version of The Full Monty. He also wrote the scores for the Broadway musical comedies Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and, most recently, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
Animal House, which is shooting to make its stage premiere in 2014, features a book by Michael Mitnick. Casey Nicholaw, the Tony winning director of The Book of Mormon, will helm the musical.
The Broadway stage version of Mary Poppins recently closed, but another iteration of the beloved musical will be hitting the big screen on December 13 when the new film Saving Mr. Banks opens. The movie tells the behind-the-scenes tale of Walt Disney’s effort to get the Mary Poppins books made into a movie musical.
As a Disney blurb about Saving Mr. Banks describes it, “When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine.”
Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney, while Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson takes on the role of P.L. Travers, the woman who wrote the original Mary Poppins stories. Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak play the Sherman brothers, the men who wrote the classic score to the Mary Poppins movie.
SMALL BUMP IN BROADWAY REVENUE
Following a disappointing (though predictable) Independence Day-fueled decrease in total Broadway ticket sales last week, when the totals came in at $22,845,376, this week saw a slight bump up with overall Broadway earnings adding up to $23,190,352.
MACBETH INCREASES SALES IN LAST WEEK ON BROADWAY
William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, as told by Alan Cumming in his (nearly) one-man version, had a less-than-tragic end as the production concluded this past Sunday. The production, which was showing some of the lowest numbers on the Broadway earnings chart, enjoyed better sales in its final week. The show’s total take was $389,845 (almost $100,000 higher than the previous week), filling the theater to 80.09% capacity and earning an average paid admission of $77.86. With Alan Cumming’s Macbeth now concluded, this paves the way for a new Broadway production of ‘the Scottish play’ starring Ethan Hawke, which will be opening this season.
FIRST DATE HAS ITS FIRST WEEK ON BROADWAY
The new musical First Date starring Zachary Levi (TV’s Chuck) began preview performances this week. Though quite a few people showed up, filling the theater to 91.41% capacity, not many people wanted to pay much for this First Date — the average paid admission was only $52.23. The low average was probably due to heavy discounting and papering while the production tries to get on its feet.
The following are the Broadway Grosses from the week ending July 14, 2013:
|MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL
|ROCK OF AGES
|SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK
|THE ASSEMBLED PARTIES
|THE BOOK OF MORMON
|THE LION KING
|THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
|THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL
|VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE
Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2012 nytix.com
Numerous Broadway actors and singers will join together on July 22 at the Skirball Center (566 LaGuardia Place) for a benefit concert titled “Broadway Stands Up for Freedom”. Proceeds from the benefit will go to NYCLU’s youth programming, which includes support for LGBT teens, an initiative that educates teens on their right to health care access, and efforts to halt overly aggressive policing and military recruiting at NYC public schools.
The currently-scheduled line-up of Broadway performers includes Anthony Rapp (Rent), Nellie McKay (Old Hats), Tonya Pinkins (Caroline, or Change), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher), Charl Brown (Motown the Musical), Rory O’Malley (The Book of Mormon), Randy Graff (City of Angels), Lauren Molina (Rock of Ages), Broadway composer Andrew Lippa (Big Fish), and many more.
Tickets for “Broadway Stands Up for Freedom” start at $60. Go to NYCLU.org/Bway for more information.
In the golden age of musical theater, it was common for books and plays to be adapted into musicals. Nowadays, it is increasingly movies that are being targeted as source material for new musicals. Producers like them for their name value, and movie studios appreciate having a new way to make money from old movies.
20th Century Fox, the studio behind everything from black and white classics to Star Wars to modern movies as varied as Lincoln and Life of Pi, is now looking to adapt films from its catalog for the stage. For this task, they have tapped Broadway producer Kevin McCollum (Motown the Musical, Rent, In the Heights), John Davis, and Tom McGrath.
“For years we have been eager to expand our entertainment expertise to the world of live stage, but we wanted to do it right and most importantly, with the right people,” stated 20th Century Fox CEO Jim Gianopulos. “We have been fortunate to have found great partners in Kevin, John and Tom to help to transform great Fox properties into exciting live stage entertainment for audiences everywhere.”
There are already nine musicals based on 20th Century Fox films planned for development over the next few years.
With so many young performers featuring prominently on Broadway in musicals such as Annie, Matilda, and A Christmas Story this past season, now more than ever is a perfect time to feature those talented youngsters on CD. That’s why Broadway Records is releasing When I Grow Up: Broadway’s Next Generation. The recording will be available for digital download on July 26, with the CD release planned for July 30.
Youthful actors and singers from a number of Broadway shows, including Mary Poppins, Evita, Bonnie & Clyde, Billy Elliot, and the musicals mentioned above, appear on the album. Instead of singing the kid-friendly fare that they usually perform onstage, these emerging performers are showcasing some of their favorite songs from the adult repertoire, including “Agony” (Into the Woods), “Mr. Cellophane” (Chicago), and “A Summer in Ohio” (The Last Five Years).
When I Grow Up: Broadway’s Next Generation will be introduced to audiences through a launch concert being held at 54 Below on July 29 (where the CD can also be purchased a day in advance of its official release date). Go to www.broadwayrecords.com to find out more about the album.