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 »
EXCLUSIVE: With producers hollering huzzahs after the last week’s final workshop presentations of Lin-Manual Miranda‘s Hamilton, the race for next year’s Tony best musical is underway three weeks before this year’s CBS Tonycast. “This was the best workshop of any musical I’ve ever attended,” one mega producer – who’s not producing the show — told me after seeing Friday’s final outing of the monthlong development and buzz-inciting gig. The Broadway-bound musical formerly known as The Hamilton Mixtape, by the prodigiously talented Miranda (best known for the four-Tony winning 2008 In The Heights) — will kick off next January at the nonprofit Public Theater. But with enhancement funds from three top Broadway producers — Jeffrey Seller (Rent), Roy Furman (current Tony nominees After Midnight and Mothers and Sons, among many others) and Sander Jacobs (In The Heights) — you can count on a fast Broadway transfer.
“I’m not even sure why they need the off-Broadway tryout,” another insider commented after one of the other presentations, which were held at the 52nd Street Project and featured full cast and orchestra under the musical direction of Alex Lacamoire. Thomas Kail is directing, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler.
Hamilton has been in the works for at least five years, since Miranda introduced the opening number, a rap song describing the life of first U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, at a 2009 White House concert for President Obama, his wife, and guests. Inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography, Miranda was taken by Hamilton’s personal history: He was an orphan from the Caribbean island of Nevis, hustled his way into King’s College (now Columbia University), became one of the Founding Fathers often at odds with Washington, Jefferson, et al, and was killed by rival Aaron Burr in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey in 1804. Miranda plays the title role and, well let’s say non-traditional casting prevails.
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Tony Award-winning actor Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) is set for a recurring role on NBC’s midseason drama Do No Harm. Written by David Schulner, the Universal TV-produced project centers on Jeffrey Kohn (Steven Pasquale), a brilliant neurosurgeon wrestling with his dangerous alter-ego who threatens to wreak havoc on his personal and professional life. Miranda will play the attending clinical pharmacologist at a Philadelphia hospital who works to help Jeffrey. Do No Harm reunites Miranda with Uni TV — he did a two-episode arc on the studio’s Fox drama House. He is with WME and Liebman Entertainment.
In other guest castings, Ryan Hansen has been tapped for a potentially recurring role on CBS’ hot comedy series 2 Broke Girls, playing Candy Andy, a love interest for Caroline (Beth Behrs). He is with Gersh.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating to turn the Green Day-fueled Broadway musical American Idiot into a feature film. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning Milk scribe, is in talks to write the script, and Michael Mayer will direct. Mayer helmed the stage run of the musical, which is closing on Broadway April 24 and launching a tour in the fall. Black most recently scripted J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover.
The musical, which uses the songs of the punk band’s seminal 2004 album to tell the coming-of-age story of three small-town guys, was optioned before its opening last spring by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. They previously turned the stage hit Mamma Mia! into a Universal film. It is expected that Green Day lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong will be courted to play the role of the drug dealer St. Jimmy. Each time he did a stint in the role on Broadway, the grosses rose considerably at the St. James Theatre. The band was actively involved in the formation of the musical. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has ended plans to turn the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical In The Heights into a feature with director Kenny Ortega. I’m told that the studio made a hard decision to drop the project. Expectation is that creator Lin-Manuel Miranda can set up the musical elsewhere. The studio backed out because the film’s budget was $37 million, but the original expectation that big Latino names would be in small roles didn’t pan out. That made it a high price tag for a film built on the draw of Miranda, playing a bodega owner in Washington Heights who inherits his late grandmother’s lottery winnings and plans to close his store and retire on the beach in the Dominican Republic. In the three-day span, he realizes that the neighbors on the block are his true family, which makes the exit decision a hard one. Universal acquired the rights in late 2008 with the show’s book writer, Quiara Alegria Hudes, writing the script.
Studios all over town are making hard choices on green lights, something Universal dealt with recently when it decided not to go forward with the Guillermo del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness. Part of the reason In the Heights was pricey was because it would have been shot in New York in the summer. But after watching The Fighter leave Paramount with a $50 million price tag and … Read More »