“On The Town” Begins Previews

An Ambitious Production in the Lyric Theatre

on the town posterOn September 20, 2014, the 2014 revival of On the Town began previews at the presently named Lyric Theatre. This venue has undergone many transitions in its storied history, and was most recently home to the infamous Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, when the theatre was named the Foxwoods. Newly purchased by the London based theatre impresario Ambassador Theatre Group, the now minted Lyric Theatre has welcomed On the Town onto its stage. This musical, with a score by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, originally premiered on Broadway in 1944. This will be its third revival, with previous Broadway productions taking place in 1971 and 1988, in addition to the 1949 film version and several British productions. In bringing On the Town to the Lyric, the producers Howard and Janet Kagan were taking an enormous risk. If the $60 million Spiderman, with its brand name recognition and notoriously spectacular flying acts could not fill the 1,938 seats of the huge venue, then a little known old-fashioned musical revival may have a tough time indeed. In fact, On the Town was a last minute booking, when the previously intended tenant – the much more spectacle filled King Kong – had to drop out.

A Good Old-Fashioned New York Story

Set in 1934, On the Town is the story of three sailors who have 24 hours of shore leave in New York City. In addition to seeing the sites, Ozzie, Chip, and Gabey have their intentions set on finding three special ladies to spend the time with. One of the early numbers in the show is the well known number New York, New York, with lyrics including “New York, New York, it’s a helluva town, the Bronx is up but the Battery’s down, the people ride in a hole in the ground…” It is not long before Chip find his lady, a tough talking cab driver named Hildy, who brags in an upbeat number that she “can cook, too” (I Can Cook, Too). Meanwhile, Ozzie finds himself at the Modern Museum of Science, where he meets his beloved Claire de Loone. However, Claire is engaged to be married to a famous judge. Gabey is having more difficulty finding a lady friend, until he stumbles upon Ivy Smith taking singing lessons at Carnegie Hall. Needless to say, the three couples encounter many twists and turns, but ultimately end up happily ever after, or at least with the firm possibility of it.

A Cast of Broadway Performers, But Not Stars

The 2014 production is directed by John Rando, who most recently helmed A Christmas Story The Musical and The Wedding Singer on On the town castBroadway. This is the first choreography credit on Broadway for Joshua Bergasse, but he appeared onstage in Hairspray and The Life. Respectively, Ozzie, Chip, and Gabey are played by Clyde Alves (Bullets Over Broadway, Nice Work If You Can Get It), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Hands on a Hardbody, Catch Me If You Can), and Tony Yazbeck (Gypsy, A Chorus Line).   Their female counterparts Claire, Hildy, and Ivy are played, respectively by Elizabeth Stanley Million Dollar Quartet, Cry Baby), Alysha Umphress (Bring It On The Musical, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever), and Megan Fairchild, making her Broadway debut. Though these six lead performers have spanned the spectrum of Broadway musicals in the last few years, none of them are what you could fairly call household names. Therefore, this production certainly has a tough road ahead of it in terms of attracting enough ticketbuyers to make the show last more than a month or two. On The Town officially opens on October 16, 2014, when the reviews will help determine its fate. Unfortunately, even the most laudatory reviews may not be enough to keep this show on its feet.

“Love Letters” Opens on Broadway

Just Six Preview Performances

love letters posterOn September 13, 2014, A.R. Gurney’s play Love Letters had its first preview at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. After just six previews, on September 18, 2014, the show had its official opening. Whereas most shows usually run for three or four weeks of previews before inviting the press to review the show, denoting its official opening, Love Letters took a different approach. The reason is that the show is cast with a rotating selection of actors, all who are at the top of their trades. As the show is read rather than memorized, which they can get away with due to the conceit of letters, there is less left to chance than with most shows, so fewer preparatory performances were needed. Moreover, as this preliminary cast – Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy – is only slated to appear until October 10th (with Dennehy continuing on until November 8th), it was necessary for the press to be invited early on, so theatregoers would have a chance to see the cast represented in the reviews for a few weeks after the reviews came out.

A Rotating Cast of Stars

This is the second time Gurney’s epistolary play has been seen on Broadway – the first time was in 1989. The 2014 revival is directed mia farrow brian dennehy love lettersby Gregory Mosher, who is presently the artistic director of Lincoln Center Theatre, and who has directed such Broadway shows as That Championship Season, A View From The Bridge, and James Joyce’s The Dead. Like in the first production of Gurney’s play, the show is performed with a rotating cast of stars, taking turns in the two-hander. As mentioned, the first duo is Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy, and on October 11th Carol Burnett will step in to read with Dennehy. Brian Dennehy is a Broadway star best known for his portrayal of Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. Farrow, on the other hand, hasn’t been seen on Broadway since 1996, but she is renowned for film performances in such movies as Rosemary’s Baby. On November 8th, the pair will be replaced by Alan Alda and Candice Bergen, and on December 6th the duo will be played by Stacy Keach and Diana Rigg. Finally, from January 10th to February 1st, the run will conclude with the roles played by Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen.

Mixed Reviews, Tending Toward the Positive

The reviews spanned the spectrum, with critics either praising the durability of the revival along with the star performances, or panning the show for being glorified staged reading. It is true that the actors have not memorized their lines, which is why the producers were able to woo such esteemed actors, and so many of them, to do the parts. Furthermore, as these actors have busy film schedules, the short stints allowed many of them to take on the roles when they would have normally been unable to commit to a Broadway show. Therefore, the balance works out, as long as the audience doesn’t mind seeing the actors with their glasses donned and reading the parts from the pages of the letters. Fortunately, it is all about the letters, and the story was commended for its tribute to a now old-fashioned form of communication in this age of email and text messaging. The play was reported as being quietly moving and deceptively simple, while the performances were lauded for the depths they managed to reach.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 9/21/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“The Lion King” Is Box Office Gold

In the week ending September 21, 2014, The Lion King grossed the highest of all the Broadway shows: $1,740,907. Though it is not unusual for this top-grossing show to top the weekly charts, it is notable that the show is now officially the top grossing show in Broadway history, with a global gross of over $6.2 billion. This is even more than any film in history. The record was previously held by The Phantom of the Opera at $6 billion, but that has now been surpassed. The Lion King was also the first show to reach a global gross of $1 billion in its Broadway incarnation, and this threshold was also passed by the Hamburg production of the show as well as the U.S. National Tour. This week, that gross of $1,740,907 only represented 91.36% of its gross potential. With 13,600 seats to fill each week in the Minskoff Theatre, the gross potential for The Lion King is very high.

New Show: “On The Town”

The Lyric Theatre, previously home to the infamous Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, has a new occupant. On The Town, a revival of a wholesome musical from 1944, has taken hold of the venue. It began previews this past week, with its first show on September 20, 2014. In that one performance, it grossed $103,586, which is only 44.80% of its gross potential. Though it is unfair to judge a show from its first preview alone, it will be tough for this show to compete in this marketplace. With 1,874 seats to fill per performance, it was difficult for the spectacle-filled Spiderman to reach capacity in the Lyric. The next occupant was originally supposed to be King Kong, an equally spectacular show complete with a giant gorilla and a household name for its title, which may have fared better. However, when that show was postponed, On The Town volunteered for the vacancy. As this is a lesser known title, a revival, and a musical of the old-fashioned variety, it will be very tough to make the numbers work in their favor.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending September 21, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 9/21/14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $915,495 7,289 100.45% $125.60
ALADDIN $1,276,833 13,475 97.76% $94.76
BEAUTIFUL $1,295,796 8,261 100.65% $156.86
CABARET $657,828 5,570 77.97% $118.10
CHICAGO $528,307 6,513 75.38% $81.12
CINDERELLA $466,579 6,732 48.06% $69.31
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $572,955 6,127 86.92% $93.51
IF/THEN $675,958 8,927 85.12% $75.72
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,277,059 8,623 100.83% $148.10
JERSEY BOYS $868,591 8,300 84.49% $104.65
KINKY BOOTS $1,323,036 11,086 97.31% $119.34
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $696,922 5,459 100.05% $127.66
LES MISÉRABLES $706,054 8,011 71.07% $88.14
LOVE LETTERS $162,749 5,407 63.28% $30.10
MAMMA MIA! $641,542 7,717 82.73% $83.13
MATILDA $672,778 7,776 67.88% $86.52
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,021,745 10,609 88.00% $96.31
ON THE TOWN $103,586 1,759 93.86% $58.89
ONCE $407,108 5,033 59.41% $80.89
PIPPIN $509,482 5,895 74.43% $86.43
ROCK OF AGES $337,242 3,888 83.36% $86.74
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,602,733 8,752 102.63% $183.13
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $230,242 4,322 83.12% $53.27
THE LION KING $1,740,907 13,516 99.38% $128.80
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $840,392 10,155 79.09% $82.76
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $418,041 5,580 65.74% $74.92
WICKED $1,356,354 12,694 87.71% $106.85
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $532,217 6,831 79.58% $77.91
Totals: $22,305,179 220,312 83.95% $96.46

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

“Beautiful” Recoups Its Capitalization

The First New Musical of The Season to Recoup

Beautiful Broadway ShowBeautiful: The Carole King Musical has made back its entire $13 million capitalization in less than 10 months.  Since it began previews on November 21, 2013, the show has been selling very well at the box office, and its laudatory reviews after its opening on January 12, 2014 solidified its place at the top of the box office charts.  The musical recounts the life and career of singer songwriter Carole King, using her own songs as well as a book by Douglas McGrath to tell the tale.  The role of Carole King is played by Jessie Mueller (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Nice Work If You Can Get It), who has recently taken her place among the top performing Broadway stars of the present day.  The musical was nominated for seven 2014 Tony Awards, winning two: Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Jessie Mueller, and Best Sound Design of a Musical by Brian Ronan.  The other nominations were for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Jarrod Spector, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Anika Larsen, and Best Orchestrations for Steve Sidwell.

Increasingly Impressive Box Office

The show has down even better as the months have gone on.  Once the Tony Award nominations were announced, and Beautiful wasBeautiful — The Carole King Musical Stephen Sondheim Theatre  Cast List: Jessie Mueller Jake Epstein Anika Larsen Jarrod Spector Jeb Brown Liz Larsen Ashley Blanchet E. Clayton Cornelious Joshua Davis Alysha Deslorieux Kevin Duda Carly Hughes Sara King Rebecca LaChance Douglas Lyons Chris Peluso Gabrielle Reid Arbender Robinson Rashidra Scott Sara Shepard Antoine L. Smith Melvin Tunstall  Production Credits: Marc Bruni (Direction) Josh Prince (Choreography) Derek McLane (Scenic Design) Alejo Vietti (Costume Design)  Peter Kaczorowski (Lighting Design)  Brian Ronan (Sound Design)  Steve Sidwell (Orchestrations and Music Arrangements)  Jason Howland (Music Supervision)  John Miller (Music Coordination)  Other Credits: Lyrics by: Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil Music by: Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil Book by: Douglas McGrath in the running for Best Musical, the audience seemed to have perked up.  Whereas the first few months showed grosses in in the $800,000 to $900,000 zone, the show crossed the million dollar mark in the week ending April 20, 2014, and it has never gone back.  The highest gross it has achieved thus far wad during the week ending August 10, 2014, when it grossed an impressive $1,325,505, which represented 103.20% of its gross potential.  In this most recent week ending September 14, 2014, the show grossed almost as much – $1,300,961 – which is 101.29% of its gross potential.  Playing in the Stephen Sondheim Theatre with 8,208 seats, the show has consistently managed to fill up almost them all, with relatively few discounts.  This is testament to the brilliant performance of Jessie Mueller, the successful spread of word of mouth, but perhaps most importantly the incredible career and still beloved status of Carole King in the mindset of Americans.

A London Run and a U.S. Tour

In early 2015, Beautiful will begin performances in London’s West End at the Aldwych Theatre.  Performances will begin on February 10, 2015, and the official opening night will be February 25, 2015.  After that, the U.S. Tour will launch in Providence, Rhode Island at the Providence Performing Arts Center beginning September 15, 2015.  Other cities already announced include Chicago, Los Angeles, Durham, and Charlotte.  It is not yet determined whether Jessie Mueller will follow the production to either London or on tour or both, but chances are that she will definitely go with one if not both of the opportunities.  She was quoted as saying she’d happily hop over the pond for a little while, if given the chance.  Similarly, the word has spread that she may also headline the tour.

“This Is Our Youth” Opens on Broadway

Critics agree: Kenneth Lonergan’s Broadway debut is a hit!

this is our youthDirected by Anna D. Shapiro, This Is Our Youth opened this past Thursday, September 11, 2014 at the Cort Theatre to rave reviews.  Starring three young actors portraying three lost youths, this play is the Broadway premiere of a play that originally played Off-Broadway in 1996.  This marks the Broadway debut for all three cast members.  Michael Cera plays Warren Straub, a dejected 19 year-old who has robbed his father and gotten kicked out of his home when the play opens.  Cera is best known for his screen work such as television’s Arrested Development and films including Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Juno.  He plays opposite Kieran Culkin in the role of Dennis Ziegler, an aspiring cocaine entrepreneur. Culkin is best known for his roles in Igby Goes Down and a small part alongside his brother Macaulay in Home Alone.  The third cast member making her Broadway debut is Tavi Gevinson, who plays Jessica Goldman, an anxious yet insightful student of fashion who is pursued by Warren.  Tavi recently transitioned into acting from her precocious career as a fashion blogger and model, with such credits as Enough Said.

A Long Time Coming for Kenneth Lonergan

Kenneth Lonergan has been entertaining audiences of stage and screen for over 30 years.  This Is Our Youth was the first title that kenneth lonerganbrought him acclaim, earning a Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Play in 1996.  His play The Waverley Gallery was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2001.  As a filmmaker, both writer and director, he won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize in 2000 for You Can Count on Me, which was executive produced by Martin Scorsese.  That film won countless more writing awards such as the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay as well as the AFI Award for Best Film and Best New Writer.  He co-wrote the screenplay for Gangs of New York in 2002, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.  In addition, he wrote the screenplay for the 1999 film Analyze This and the 2002 film Analyze That, and his other plays include Lobby Hero and The Starry Messenger.  However, despite all this acclaim, this is the first time one of his plays has been seen on Broadway.

Excellent Reviews, But the Box Office is Still Behind

this is our youth castCritics were unanimous in their praise of this Broadway premiere.  Ben Brantley of The New York Times called Anna D. Shapiro’s production “sensational,” and praised the performers for their acrobatics.  Entertainment Weekly called it a “crackling Broadway revival,” and AM New York deemed it Chekhov meets Gossip Girl.  All in all, the reviews were laudatory.  However, the box office is still slow.  The latest box office report only took into account two days after the reviews came out, so there is still time for word of mouth to spread and for theatregoers to find their way to the Cort Theatre during the run.  In the week ending September 14, 2014, This Is Our Youth only grossed $372,793, which represents 49.85% of its gross potential.  This is approximately how well the show has been doing since it began previews on August 18, 2014.  It’s possible that the young actors Kieran Culkin and Michael Cera are not popular names with the usual Broadway going audience, and that their fanbases are having difficulty affording Broadway tickets.  But this is still hope that word will spread that this is a show worth seeing for all demographics.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular Begins Nov 7, 2014

Radio City Christmas Spectacular An Age-Old Holiday Treat

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is gearing up to begin their seasonal show, to play from November 7th to December 31st.  With performances taking place at Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, this is sure to be a dynamic and magical experience.  Led by the world renowned Rockettes, the show features dancing and immersive entertainment that is fun for the whole family.  Every year, the Rockettes train harder and the show design is more innovative, aiming to up the ante from the many years before.

(Insanely) Busy Schedule for Performers

This year, the Rockettes will be kept very busy.  On Saturdays in December, they will play an extraordinary six shows per day.
Furthermore, during the five day Christmas period between December 19th and 23rd, they will do 26 shows.  Fortunately, the dancers rotate so that they do not all do all the shows.  In New York, there are two casts each of about 36 women.  The dancers divide their performances by morning/afternoon and evening casts, so that each cast can get a break each day.  In past years, it was reported that each cast would perform about 108 shows over the course of the season.  They are fortunate the show is only seasonal, because it is actually so tiring that many are so fatigued that they need the 10 months off!

What Do The Rockettes Do for the Rest of the Year?

Rockettes are professional athletes who train rigorously not only in dance, but in other forms of fitness to keep them athletic year round.  Furthermore, many of them are students, or pursuing careers in other areas of the entertainment field.  It is common for them to be models or actors, and many of them work year round in musical theatre.  Still, for many Rockettes, this is their only time dancing on stage in a given year.  The Rockettes tend to be hired year after year, which allows the team to remain strong while the dancers retain a sense of seasonal stability.  This is only one of the many reasons it is such a competitive gig, as year after year countless women compete for the opportunity to dance onstage in the timeless role of a Rockette. in 2014 Radio City was set to launch the Heart and Lights show that was planned to run from the spring to early summer of 2014. The show would have included many of the Rockettes, given that the style of show was similar to The Radio City Christmas Spectacular that runs win the winter in the prelude to the Christmas holiday. The 2014 Heart and Lights show was cancelled prior to opening, but 2015 will see a new version of this show, with a new name, get launched for the Spring 2015 season at Radio City.


Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 9/14/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

Picking Up From Last Week

In the week ending September 14, 2014, the Broadway industry has picked up the slack from its poor week of returns last week.  Now that the fall season is officially underway, with new shows opening and others beginning previews, locals and tourists alike are finding their fare of choice.  In this past week, the overall gross for all running Broadway shows increased by $2,447,824 compared to the week before.  Furthermore, every single individual show saw an increased gross with one exception: The Phantom of the Opera, which only decreased by a negligible $21,679.  The biggest increase for any show that was running both this past week and the week before was Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which has now officially recouped at the box office.  It grossed $1,300,961 this past week, which was an increase of $223,444 from the week before.  The next biggest boost was seen by Cinderella, which increased by $140,143 to reach a weekly gross of $598,979.  This is however still exceedingly low, at only 37.12% of its gross potential.

New Shows This Week

There were three new shows that began previews this past week.  The best performing of the three was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which transfers to Broadway from the National Theatre via the West End with excellent acclaim.  In its first week of four performances, this play based on the novel of the same name grossed $288,614, which represents 65.69% of the show’s gross potential.  These numbers are sure to pick up as word of mouth spreads, and especially after the show’s official opening on October 5, 2014.  The next new show was The Country House, which grossed $198,383 over the course of 7 performances.  This new play by Donald Margulies stars Blythe Danner, but in its first week the show only grossed 38.30% of its gross potential.  Time will tell whether sales pick up for this one, or whether it plateaus at some unprofitable level.  The third and worst performing of the new plays was Love Letters, which earned only $54,749 over the course of its first two performances.  This A.R. Gurney play will have a starry cast that will rotate over the course of the run, and presently the stars are Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy.  It is therefore surprising that the play has performed so poorly.  It is to be expected that sales will increase as the public becomes aware of the A-list names on that stage.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending September 14, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 9/14/14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $848,790 7,257 100.01% $116.96
ALADDIN $1,312,257 13,616 98.78% $96.38
BEAUTIFUL $1,300,961 8,215 100.09% $158.36
CABARET $643,502 5,946 83.23% $108.22
CHICAGO $619,784 7,874 91.13% $78.71
CINDERELLA $598,979 8,506 60.72% $70.42
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $524,687 5,705 70.82% $91.97
IF/THEN $698,918 9,045 86.24% $77.27
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,230,603 8,569 100.20% $143.61
JERSEY BOYS $848,378 8,561 87.14% $99.10
KINKY BOOTS $1,228,758 11,168 98.03% $110.02
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $652,702 5,245 96.13% $124.44
LES MISÉRABLES $813,225 10,034 89.02% $81.05
LOVE LETTERS $54,749 1,375 64.37% $39.82
MAMMA MIA! $659,092 8,481 90.92% $77.71
MATILDA $805,004 10,050 87.73% $80.10
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,026,470 11,108 92.14% $92.41
ONCE $467,069 6,129 72.34% $76.21
PIPPIN $552,516 7,101 89.66% $77.81
ROCK OF AGES $360,561 4,431 95.00% $81.37
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,555,886 8,741 102.50% $178.00
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $198,383 3,704 81.41% $53.56
THE LION KING $1,725,567 13,478 99.10% $128.03
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $897,140 11,522 89.74% $77.86
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $372,793 7,164 84.40% $52.04
WICKED $1,462,840 14,352 99.17% $101.93
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $542,918 7,481 87.15% $72.57
Totals: $22,291,144 228,659 88.95% $93.64

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

“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.