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Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Stage Addiction: I Guess Carol Channing Was Otherwise Engaged

- Last week's super-secret auditions for Disney's stage adaptation of The Little Mermaid were a veritable who's who of young Broadway talent. Of course, we were there, with our ear firmly pressed against the glass against the wall, getting you the inside scoop on who might be the Fishgirl, the Prince, and the Octopus. Overheard auditioning: Kerry Butler (Little Shop of Horrors) singing duets with Michael Arden (The Times They Are A'Changing); Max Von Essen (Dance of the Vampires) wearing full pirate-shirt regalia and pants tucked into his boots; the always lovely Alice Ripley (Side Show), who strikes us as a little long in the tooth for this role, but we love her, so who cares; Matthew Morrison (The Light in the Piazza); and Celia Keenan-Bolger (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), who we personally think would make a most marvelous Ariel. Duking it out for the plum role of Ursula were Emily Skinner (The Full Monty) and Sherie Rene Scott (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). Not seen by our spies: Gavin Creel (Le Cage aux Folles), who sang on the musical's private demo recording. We also wished we'd seen the roller skating tryouts, which is how the mer-people will 'swim' in the show. The show premieres in Denver next June; with classy casting like this, I'd expect it on Broadway after Labor Day.

- It's official: no South Pacific revival until 2008. We are officially stomping our foot, checking our watch, and sighing loudly at how long we have to wait to get a fix for our Victoria Clark addiction. (Thankfully, over at City Center they've added an extra performance of the Follies concert due to overwhelming demand, where Miss Clark will be in full voice.)

- Winter always brings change to Broadway, when shaky shows fold (rather than struggle through the lean months of January and February) and buzz-heavy shows try to make a run for the Tonys. This week, both High Fidelity and Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me took a dive, never to be heard again (and both closing at a loss). Neither closure was a surprise; rumor on the Rialto was that the owners of the Imperial Theatre were booking replacement shows for High Fidelity before it even began previews. They join The Wedding Singer as the December casualties (thusfar).

- On a more positive note, Xanadu: The Musical -- which had previously announced an Off-Broadway run -- will instead move uptown into the Helen Hayes Theatre in April. The question now -- will Jane Krakowski take the leading role after she finishes shooting 30 Rock? Our sources say she's deep in discussion even as you read this.

- A small wave of excitement is also building around David Mamet's adaptation of The Voysey Inheritance at the Atlantic Theatre. They've extended two weeks...is that a sign of producer interest? (Remember, that's what Atlantic did last spring and summer when they moved both and The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Spring Awakeningto Broadway.) Without a doubt, however, the most exciting new Broadway entry this week has to be the London hit revival of Porgy and Bess, which will open in 2007. Got me thinking about summertime already...

Aaron Sorkin fans, rejoice! Your boy is coming back to the theatre with The Farnsworth Invention, which will be developed at the La Jolla Playhouse in March. But if you don't live in San Diego, don't fret. After his television triumphs -- Sports Night, The West Wing, and Studio 60, not to mention his film work (A Few Good Men, Malice, The American President) -- there is a 100% certainty this play will eventually get to New York. I can hear the cash registers ringing ticket sales even now...

- 2005 Tony winner Doubt is headed to the silver screen. Good news? Mmmmm. Maybe. We're betting they won't cast the superb Cherry Jones to reprise her award-winning role. It'll probably be someone more "marketable" but totally wrong, like Diane Keaton or Annette Bening. Ach, my stomach hurts already.

- Perhaps the best time to be had at a current Broadway musical: Spring Awakening. Perhaps the worst: the gooey, dated, drippy Apple Tree. I'd rather have nails driven into my eye sockets than have to listen to those inspid cliches again about men and women. (Apparently, men like to drink beer and women like to redecorate.) Ugh. I feel bad for the actors, who somehow have to make it play every night.

- Some new cast recordings are on the way: Evil Dead: The Musical stepped into the recording booth last Sunday, while Company is finishing up their sessions today. Both discs should appear in your record store by February. Whether you buy them or not is, well, your business. (Hint: iTunes the best tracks, and leave the CD for the show queens.)

- A little bit of mystery surrounds Lynne Meadow's decision to take a sabbatical next year from her position as Artistic Director of Manhattan Theatre Club. Meadow's artistic decisions in recent seasons have been suspect -- remember Drowning Crow, or The Violet Hour? I thought not -- and her abilities as a director have always been, well, let's be nice and call them sporadic. Is this vacation really just a vacation...or a gentle way to search for a replacement?

I'm going to guess that Meadow will be back at MTC; take her career as a whole, and she's had an uncanny knack for popular success and a savvy nose for business decisions. Her replacement will be Tony winner Daniel Sullivan (Proof), arguably the most talented mainstream director in the business right now and a 20-year veteran of Seattle Repertory Theatre. Still...with a big shot stepping in and such mysterious circumstances surrounding the 'vacation', it's only right to wonder.

- Fabulousity Alert: Kiki and Herb's Christmas Show. December 20th. That's tomorrow, people. Better get to buying them there tickets.



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