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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Stage Addiction: Finishing The Hat Will Take At Least A Year

- It's officially official: Sunday in the Park with George will open at Studio 54 on January 18, 2008. The production, which won five Olivier Awards last week in London, will be a strictly limited run on Broadway. (Translation: if you're thinking about subscribing to Roundabout, now would be a good time. Tell 'em ModFab sent ya.)

- And speaking of Sondheim: principal photography just began in London on Sweeney Todd, Tim Burton's film adaptation of the celebrated macabre musical. If you're the religious type, you might want to offer up a prayer or two to the showbiz gods. (As in, "please Showbiz Gods, let Johnny Depp secretly be a world-class baritone?") The entire principal cast and design team has been confirmed, if you need additional prayer material.

- Another confirmation: complete nobody Sierra Boggess will indeed play Ariel in The Little Mermaid next season. A star is born?

- As everyone who watches American Idol learned this week, Fantasia Barrino will soon take the leading part of Celie in The Color Purple. I'll confess that I've never been a fan of Fantasia, even when she was merely a reality show contestant with a slight mustache. But I'm going on record: I don't think she can do it. Celie is an enormous role, nearly 3 hours of constant singing...perhaps the most physically taxing female role on Broadway. To do it eight shows a week requires experience and endurance. But even if Fantasia can keep up the pace....does anyone know if she can act? At all? A viewing of her Lifetime movie of the week suggests that she's terrible. I know I should keep hope alive -- and Oprah, after all, rarely makes mistakes -- but this has all the earmarks of a tragic disaster.

- Wanna see the back of Brian Dennehy's head...for cheap? Sit on the stage at Inherit The Wind, and pay about 1/3 of what everyone else will. (Coincidentally, that's about how much of the play you'll see, too.)

- Don't you love it when Miss Thing Ben Brantley loses her shit over a play? If you've got a British drama (preferably a musty old chestnut) and cute boys, you're gold at the NYT. ModFab readers who have seen it, however, are less impressed...it's good, their e-mail consensus says, but nothing to write home about. So the question is: since the Times loved it, do we all have to go? And if we do, will Stark Sands please get naked?

- Great news for William Finn fans: the composer of Falsettos, A New Brain and Spelling Bee is the subject of another greatest-hits revue, Make Me A Song, opening at The Zipper in April. I'm of the opinion that Finn's song cycle, Elegies, is one of the best musicals of the past ten years. The new show, mixing hits with obscure tunes, has a great deal of potential.

- Gone With The Wind: The Musical. I know, I know, my ass hurts just thinking about it. But it was bound to happen sooner or later. There's no composer or lyricist, and no creative team. The producers, however, do have their eye on a Rhett Butler: Hugh Jackman. Well, if you're going to dream, dream big, right? (And really, could it be any worse than a play adaptation of Dog Day Afternoon? Sacrilege comes in many forms...)

- The Classical Theatre of Harlem is probably New York's best-kept secret...they do astonishing work with meager budgets, challenging repertoire and artistic excellence that in my opinion put them in the top circle of not-for-profits in NYC. I am dying to see their latest, a brutal revival of Marat/Sade that is getting rave reviews. If you've already been, let me know if I should try to strongarm a ticket for myself.

- Previously reported: The Producers is closing, a victim of premature ejection.

- The next Broadway musical headed to Las Vegas? Jersey Boys, of course. While Avenue Q and Hairspray met early closures in Sin City, the Frankie Valli jukebox pastiche seems like a perfect fit for the Vegas Strip: energetic, nostalgic, and patently artificial. Expect it to run for years.

- Apparently, Spring Awakening's leading lothario is not resting on his show's laurels. Jonathan Groff, running neck and neck at the moment with Raul Esparza for the best actor Tony, has signed on for a recurring role on the soap opera One Life To Live. No word on whether he'll do both jobs at once, or leave the musical prematurely. We believe he'll stay onstage at least through June...but after that, will he bolt for the greener pastures of television?

- This week, the New York Times featured "8 To Watch", theatre artists to whom they feel attention must be paid. Who are these newcomers? Nobodies like Tony winners Audra McDonald and Robert Falls, downtown legend Theodora Skipitares, and Broadway sensations Christopher Shinn and Melly Still. Thank God that the Times shed light on such peripheral artists...otherwise, you might never know who Audra McDonald was.

- A Chorus Line has recouped its entire $8 million dollar investment in only 19 weeks. Golf claps all around...mediocre production values, poor dancing and bad acting must be very profitable these days.



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