Producer David Binder, juggling the smash success of two star-driven Broadway revivals — Hedwig And The Angry Inch and Of Mice And Men — added another arrow to his quiver of successful producing tips this morning by announcing a deal has been struck making the Steinbeck drama, starring James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester and Jim Norton, the first Broadway show to be filmed for telecast under the wing of the UK’s National Theatre Live.
The deal was made in a flurry of activity over the last several days, Wayne Wolfe, a spokesman for the show, told Deadline, including securing the OKs of Broadway’s particularly protective unions. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Shubert Organization chairman and CEO Philip J. Smith confirmed the deal by Broadway’s biggest landlord to purchase New World Stages, an off-Broadway complex on West 50th Street just outside the Broadway theater district. ”I would say, ‘Yes, it it’s going to happen,’ ” Smith told Deadline.com when asked about a report in the New York Times speculating on the sale. “I can’t say when, but it will happen.” He declined to say how much Shubert would pay for New World.
Comprising five grotto houses ranging in size from 199 to 499 seats, New World is owned by Dutch entertainment mogul Joop van den Ende’s Stage Entertainment, currently lead producer of the musical Rocky, which is set to close in August at the Shubert-owned Winter Garden Theatre. Van den Ende’s involvement in New Workd goes back to a co-production arrangement his former company, Endemol, had with New York-based Dodger Theatricals. It was the Dodgers who took over the former discount-movie theaters after they went out of business in 2001. The Dodgers spent $23 million converting the space into a “theater mall” with a total of more than 1,900 seats, three bars and more restroom space than many Broadway theaters. Read More »
The Oscar-winning film has been adapted for the stage by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) from the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. A co-production of Disney and Sonia Friedman Productions, the show is currently previewing at London’s Noel Coward Theatre and opening on July 23. The cast of 28 and a dog is directed by Declan Donnellan and the romantic comedy has been designed by Nick Ormerod. Look for a Broadway transfer in the not-too-distant future.
It didn’t take long for the Nederlander Organization to fill the gap at the Palace Theatre left by the soon-to-depart Holler If Ya Hear Me. As Deadline reported previously, the producers of An American In Paris — the musical with old Gershwin songs and new everything else, including staging and dances by superstar choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and a book by Craig Lucas (Prelude To Kiss) — were hoping to firm up a transfer even before the show opens in the City of Light in November.
With many of Broadway’s premiere houses locked in with long-running shows, it’s a seller’s market and most theaters have prospective tenants lined up three-deep, circling weaker shows and waiting to pounce. So while the Shuberts pick and choose the next tenant for the Winter Garden, where Rocky will soon close up shop (a possible plus for Harvey Weinstein, who is looking for Finding Neverland possibly to land there after its upcoming tryout at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA) and Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon In Vegas booked into the Nederlander’s Brooks Atkinson, the inventory is fast shrinking. Now the ghost-filled 1,700-seat Palace, jointly owned by Nederlander and Stewart F. Lane, is booked as well. Read More »
UPDATED with more information throughout: The Broadway star who turned Stephen Sondheim’s song of survival “I’m Still Here” into a personal anthem of triumph over booze, diabetes, unfaithful lovers, indifferent producers, demanding directors, fawning fans and long stretches of unemployment before achieving the status of Living Legend in her later decades, died Thursday in Birmingham, MI, the Detroit suburb to which she decamped a year ago after living the fabulous life for years at Madison Avenue’s Hotel Carlyle. She was 89. Broadway dimmed its lights for one minute on Friday at 7:45 PM in tribute.
Stritch may have found the widest audience of her storied career playing Alec Baldwin’s sharp-tongued mother on the NBC comedy 30 Rock. She was also a sometime favorite of Woody Allen, having appeared in the films Small Time Crooks and September.
But Stritch was first and foremost a creature of the stage, playing large roles and small and always, essentially, Elaine Stritch. Slight and charismatic, she proffered a mezzo soprano that, in youth, had a hungering quality one can hear in “I Never Know When,” from 1958′s Goldilocks – an otherwise forgotten musical by Jean and Walter Kerr, with songs by Leroy Anderson, Joan Ford and the Kerrs — in which Stritch starred with Don Ameche and Russell Nype. Later, that voice would become as distinctive as Tom Waits’, invariably described as sandpaper soaked in whisky or some variation of the two. Still, it never lost that sense of urgency, and the two qualities combined to distinguished Stritch from the other Broadway divas of an era long enough to encompass Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury and Bernadette Peters. Read More »
Off-Broadway powerhouse Second Stage will present the U.S. premiere of the much praised (and much debated) American Psycho, the musical adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 novel (and 2000 Christian Bale-starring film) about excess, murder and flashing the right labels. The show — with music by Duncan Sheik, book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, staging by Rupert Goold and a starring performance by Matt “Dr. Who” Smith – opened last December at London’s Almeida Theatre and was considered a shoo-in for Broadway next season. It still may be.
For now, however, the show will begin performances in February 2015 and open in March at Second Stage’s West 43rd Street home base. It will be mounted in association with Act 4 Entertainment by special arrangement with Edward R. Pressman (who produced the film). Act 4 is a Los Angeles-based film and new media development company founded by David Johnson and committed to projects that “motivate and inspire audiences across the world toward social action.”
That’s a challenge for the Ellis novel, which prompted furious protests from feminist and human rights groups in reaction to its explicit, play-by-play depiction of the brutal torture and murder of women at the hands of protagonist Patrick Bateman, which the book’s defenders insisted was satire of a society gone mad with material obsession and moral vacuity. The musical has inspired almost inevitable comparisons to Sweeney Todd. Read More »
The Union Jack will be flying over Broadway big-time this coming season, as talk heats up about bringing Bill Nighy, Carey Mulligan and the acclaimed National Theatre revival of David Hare’s Skylight to New York in the spring. I wrote a few weeks ago that while the Stephen Daldry production will be telecast in the fall by NT Live, far better would be the chance to see Hare’s extraordinarily moving play — about the expired romance between an older, self-made businessman and an idealistic young teacher, roles created by Michael Gambon and Lia Williams — on Broadway.
This week the show, which runs in London through August, got the stamp of approval from the Times‘ Ben Brantley and Michael Reidel speculates that Scott Rudin and Robert Fox are joining forces to bring it over in the spring. I’m told that conversations are indeed going on to bring the show in. “Even more than in Richard Eyre’s fine 1996 Broadway production,” Brantley wrote of Nighy (who appeared on Broadway in Hare’s 2006 The Vertical Hour) and Mulligan, “I was always aware of how ineffably, achingly attracted each was to the other, and of the diametrically opposed ways in which that attraction became flesh.”
Skylight will have plenty of company: September 10 will see the first performance of another celebrated National Theatre import, The Curious Incident Of The Dog in The Night-Time. And on Halloweeen, Jez Butterworth’s The River starts up at Circle In The Square with Hugh Jackman, directed by Ian Rickson (who also staged Butterworth’s amazing Jerusalem in 2011, with Mark Rylance). Read More »
New York’s summer season just got a bit more interesting with the announcement this morning that Oscar/Tony/Emmy winner Ellen Burstyn will headline a new staging of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard for 10 free performances at The Actors Studio in Manhattan on Thurdays through Mondays between July 10-21. John Gould Rubin, former co-a.d. with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Ortiz of LAByrinth Theater, directs. The Jean-Claude van Itallie adaptation will require reservations made through firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s been 11 years since the last public presentation at The Actors Studio, a critically acclaimed staging of Oscar Wilde’s Salome starring Al Pacino, David Straitharn, and Marisa Tomei. Read More »
In a move not entirely unlike casting Michele Pfeiffer in a film role originated onstage by Kathy Bates (which is what happened when Frankie And Johnny In The Clair De Lune became Frankie And Johnny), Amber Tamblyn will play a woman who emphatically terminates her four-year relationship with her boyfriend when she finds out he’s described her looks as “regular” when the Geffen Playhouse presents Neil LaBute‘s excellent drama Reasons To Be Pretty next month.
Shawn Hatosy (Southland, Reckless) is Greg, the thoughtful-but-stuck-in-a-dead-end-job boyfriend of Tamblyn’s Steph, and they will have the pleasure of duking it out in the opening scene, one of the funniest, nastiest, loudest smackdowns ever written, in a flash-flood of epithets that would make Trey Parker blush.
Opposite them will be Nick Gehlfuss (Shameless, The Newsroom), as Greg’s not precisely reliable macho friend Kent, and Alicia Witt (Justified, 88 Minutes) as his wife Carly. The show, which was nominated for a Tony best play award in 2009 (which was before it got capital letters), will be staged by Geffen a.d. Randall Arney. The run is July 29-August 31, with the official opening set for August 6.
2ND UPDATE, 9:40 AM PT: LABEOUF FREED AFTER NIGHT IN CUSTODY: Shia LaBeouf was released by New York police this morning after charging him in the wake of behavior last night suggesting that he was in the right place — Studio 54 — but the wrong decade. Fox News reports that the actor is due in court July 24 to answer the charges stemming from his behavior at a performance of Cabaret.
UPDATE, 3:23 AM PT: LaBeouf, 28, was charged Thursday night with one count of criminal trespassing and two counts of disorderly conduct. He remained in police custody. He was smoking and yelling during the performance, the police said.
PREVIOUS: LaBeouf’s Broadway track record continues unabated: Tweeters, bloggers and bystanders reported tonight that the actor was escorted by police from a performance of Cabaret, in the revival of a revival starring Alan Cumming, in tears, according to some reports. It’s not the first time he’s left a show before he planned to. ABC News and others report that LaBeouf was smoking and being extremely disruptive throughout the first act of the show, which is running at Studio 54. Broadway World’s website reports that he is in custody and being questioned, “with charges expected to be filed.” Read More »
New York’s summer season is in full swing, meaning that while Broadway is relatively quiet in terms of openings, there’s plenty happening elsewhere, from the concert stages of Central Park and various downtown music festivals (last week’s Bang On A Can having been just one great example) to the two events covered here: The smashing second-season launch of Encores! Off-Center series — a complement to City Center’s hugely successful Encores! franchise — and the annual concert by tap master Savion Glover, now a tradition at the invaluable Joyce Theatre in Chelsea.
Off-Center, run by composer Jeanine Tesori, began Wednesday night with tick, tick…Boom!, which Jonathan Larson was working on at the time of his death in 1996, just shy of his 36th birthday and just after the first preview of Rent. This autobiographical song cycle – about a young composer-lyricist facing the possibility of failure, the pressure to move on, the doubts of even those who care most about him — was fleshed out posthumously by David Auburn and had a successful off-Broadway run in the shadow of the blockbuster success of Rent. It’s impossible to watch it divorced from the knowledge so many of us share about what an incalculable loss was Larson’s death (from an aortic aneurysim). That, like Rent, tick, tick…Boom! fibrillates with emotional intelligence, deep feeling and fantastic songwriting only makes the experience of this wonderful, too-brief revival all the more haunting. Read More »
Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, producers of sports-themed Broadway shows Lombardi, Magic/Bird and Bronx Bombers, have acquired the exclusive global, theatrical and movie rights to the life story of boxing heavyweight champion Joe Louis. They haven’t yet announced what they plan to do with the rights. The Brown Bomber reigned from 1937-1949 and died in 1981.
As previously announced, Kirmser and Ponturo will exec produce the upcoming Legendary Pictures feature film Lombardi, based on the show about the life of Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. Produced by Kirmser Ponturo Group LLC and in association with the NFL, the play opened on Broadway in 2010 and was the longest-running play of the season.
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The constellation of stars signing on for the late-summer revival of You Can’t Take It With You starring James Earl Jones just expanded by two: Rose Byrne (Neighbors, Damages), in her Broadway debut, and Annaleigh Ashford (Masters Of Sex, Broadway’s Kinky Boots) will appear, along with Kristine Nielsen (Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike).
The cast will also include stage veteran Mark Linn-Baker (also Perfect Strangers), Crystal A. Dickinson (Clybourne Park), Julie Halston (Anything Goes), Marc Damon Johnson (Lucky Guy), Patrick Kerr (Stage Kiss) and Reg Rogers (Holiday). The director is Scott Ellis. Jason Robert Brown (The Bridges Of Madison County, the upcoming Honeymoon In Vegas) is writing incidental music for George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s 1936 comedy about the extended, eccentric Sycamore family and what happens when a daughter brings her uptight fiancé and his up tighter parent to dinner.
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While The Lion King ($2.1 million), Wicked ($2.03 million) and The Book Of Mormon ($1.6 million) regularly duke it out for the three top-grossing slots on Broadway each week, they’re all hit musicals running in big houses. In the fourth slot for Week 4, which ended Sunday, is All The Way, which star Bryan Cranston, playing President Lyndon Baines Johnson, has led to a record-making run as he and the Robert Schenkkan drama prepare to end their limited engagement next week. All The Way took in $1.425 million at the Neil Simon Theatre — a cool 104.15% of its gross potential and a record for a non-musical in a standard eight-performance week.
In the fifth spot, according to figures released by the Broadway League trade group, was Kinky Boots, still a near-sellout at $1.39 million. It’s worth noting that All The Way and Kinky Boots, at the Hirschfeld, are in similar-size theaters of just over 1,400 seats. Read More »
Tupac In The House Judy Garland Built
Saul Williams is impressive as the lead of a musical that is less about the iconic rapper and more about life on the streets set to his music. Deadline's Jeremy Gerard reports on opening night at the Palace.
Gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur died at 25, a few days after a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, where his crew from Death Row Records tangled with members of the Crips gang. Officially, the murder is unsolved, but a long investigation by the Los Angeles Times pointed the trigger finger at gang warfare. Shakur left an impressive catalog of words and music about life in prison, on the street and in the relative sanctuary of the recording studio, where the F-word and the N-word and plenty of other raw, uncensored, blistering words were turned into digital zeros and ones and launched into the world. (He also had a budding film career that included the 1992 Juice.)
Holler If Ya Hear Me, taken from a definitive 2Pac anthem, is the title of the show that opened last night at the Palace Theatre — yes, the Palace that Judy Garland played. It’s not a bio-musical; instead, Shakur’s scorching, sometimes mournful words and driving music are set in a book by Todd Kreidler that tells a more generic tale: Of life for the hopeless young and armed restless on the mean streets of an unnamed city that reads a lot like Detroit.
There is some very good news in the Broadway debut of Saul Williams, a gifted rapper himself, as the Shakur character here called John. He makes his entrance descending from the flies in a prison cell: Teardrops and closed caskets, the three-strikes … Read More »
Stuart Vaughan, a theater director who shared Joseph Papp’s passion for Shakespeare and staged several of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural productions with such stars (and future stars) as Al Pacino, Colleen Dewhurst, Elizabeth McGovern and Martin Sheen, died of cancer June 10 at home in High Bridge, NJ, the New York Times reported today. He was 88.
His partnership with Papp went back to the Shakespeare Festival’s first productions at an outdoor amphitheater on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In 1956 Papp hired him to stage Julius Caesar and The Taming Of The Shrew. The latter production resulted in Dewhurst’s celebrated performances as Katherine (a role Papp originally promised to his wife). The next year, when the festival moved to a temporary stage in Central Park, Vaughan directed Two Gentlemen Of Verona, Romeo And Juliet and Macbeth. These were all long before Papp built the Delacorte Theatre to present Free Shakespeare In The Park (1962) and the festival’s permanent complex, the Public Theater, in the old Astor Library in the East Village (1967). Read More »
As we let you know earlier, Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Bergman’s fizzy musical adaptation of Bergman’s 1992 comedy Honeymoon In Vegas is slated to fill the Broadway vacancy left by the shuttering After Midnight. The new show, starring Tony Danza in the film role created by James Caan, has now set its dates: It will begin performances at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on November 18, with an official opening date of January 15 (though it’s questionable whether New York’s daily critics will wait nearly two months to review a show they already praised to the skies in its first outing last year at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse). Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Hugh Jackman may not make it to Times Square as Houdini, but Oz and magic are still in the cards for the Main Stem: Road Show Theatrical, a new joint venture pairing investors Kilburn Media Partners and presenter/management company The Production Office, will make its Broadway debut during the coming holiday season with The Illusionists — Witness The Impossible, a Las Vegas-style extravaganza slated to run at the Nederlander Organization-managed Marquis Theatre. Road Show is fully financing the show to the tune of ”several million dollars,” according to the principals, Kilburn CEO Mark Manuel and Production Office managing partner Gregory Young.
Under the WME banner, The Illusionists has been filling theaters in Australia and New Zealand, including the Sydney Opera House, with a splashy combination of magic acts and production numbers. The stars are billed as “seven of the most incredible illusionists on Earth.” The Marquis run is set for November 26 through January 4.
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Summer In NY
Pulitzer winner Ayad Akhtar's latest 'The Who & The What' at the Lincoln Center Theater and Shakespeare In The Park's 'Much Ado About Nothing' prove there's plenty to see even if the Broadway season has ended. Deadline's Jeremy Gerard reports.
Related: Battle Of The Sexes Rages On New York Stages