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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

 

Stage Addiction: Almodovar, the Coen Brothers...This Is Theatre, Right?

There's an obvious question about last week's announcement that the award-winning musical In The Heights is moving to Broadway....where, exactly? Most of the houses big enough for musicals already have tenants, and those that don't already have shows in the works. So what's a rough-edged, rock-and-rap musical about New York City supposed to do? The answer: replace the OTHER rock musical on Broadway. My spies tell me that, to make room for Heights, producers Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller will close their long-running hit Rent, moving their newest baby straight into the Nederlander. My personal pain at the loss notwithstanding, I'm not sure this is the smartest move...Rent is a solid, if unremarkable, hit with tourists. Personally, I'd wait to see how long Xanadu holds out.

And speaking of upcoming musicals: it looks like the Harvey Fierstein-Faith Prince musical A Catered Affair will follow Grinch/Christmas into the St. James, probably in February....about the same time that 13, the new teen musical by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown (The Last 5 Years, Parade), will open at a theatre to be announced (possibly the Cort, after Radio Golf finishes up). And by Fall 2008 at the Imperial, the next Broadway behemoth will land: the West End smash Billy Elliot, with music by Elton John.

I have a question: if an original Broadway cast recording falls in the woods and no one can bear to listen to it, was it ever really released in the first place?

As if Stockard Channing's presence in London's West End next fall wasn't enough reason to book plane tickets, now comes news that makes transcontinental theatre-hopping an absolute must: London's Old Vic will present the premiere stage adaptation of Spanish film auteur Pedro Almodóvar's Oscar-winning masterpiece All About My Mother, which will open in September. Lest you worry about the talent involved, Almodóvar has final approval on the script and casting...which is rumored to include Lesley Manville (Vera Drake) as Manuela.

If Almodóvar isn't enough film/theatre excitement for you, try this: after stunning Cannes two weeks ago with his new film No Country for Old Men, screenwriter Ethan Coen will premiere three short plays next January at Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theatre Company. Coen, the co-creator of Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Fargo, and The Hudsucker Proxy, will only run his triptych for four weeks, and on the theatre's tiny Stage 2 to boot. (Translation: buy tickets now.)

What'll Duncan Sheik be doing after winning that Tony next week for Spring Awakening? A bunch o'stuff, that's what.

The Roundabout is doing a little shuffling for next fall/winter, when they'll present Sunday in the Park with George, Pygmalion, The Overwhelming...and now a revival of Terrence McNally's The Ritz. If you're not familiar, you should know that the play sucks like a hoover takes place in a gay bath house, is more than a little offensive stars Kevin Chamberlin (Seussical), Rosie Perez (Reckless) and Brooks Ashmankas (Fame Becomes Me), and is to be avoided at all costs directed by Joe Mantello (Take Me Out). It's almost enough to make me see the new Mark Lamos-directed revival of Cymbeline at Lincoln Center...if I hadn't just seen last month's sucktastic revival at BAM. Urgh.

How fun is this? On the new soundtrack for the movie version of Hairspray, a bonus version of "Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now" will be recorded by the trio of Tracy Turnblads -- Ricki Lake, Marissa Jaret Winokur and new star Nikki Blonsky.

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot. The Tonys are Sunday. Our official picks and predictions are coming later this week...but to get you warmed up, the presenters and song performances are below:

TONY TIME! Here are your 42 presenters for the awards ceremony on Sunday, in order of most to least show-queen-a-riffic. Try to restrain yourself: Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Harvey Fierstein, Patti LuPone, Bebe Neuwirth, Jane Krakowski, Liev Schreiber, Eddie Izzard, Felicity Huffman, Vanessa Williams, Neil Patrick Harris, Harry Connick, Jr., Matthew Broderick, Cynthia Nixon, Rainn Wilson, John Turturro, David Hyde Pierce, Usher, Kevin Spacey, Claire Danes, Jeff Daniels, John Kander, Marvin Hamlisch, Robert Sean Leonard, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, Ben Vereen, Carla Gugino, Christopher Plummer, Angela Lansbury, Donny Osmond, Melina Kanakaredes (hey, Providence!), Sam Waterston, Brian Dennehy, Anne Heche, Marg Helgenberger, Judd Hirsch, Zach Braff, Mark Indelicato, and, because it's still the most popular show on Broadway even a year later, The Jersey Boys – John Lloyd Young, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer. Who's missing? Well, it seems to me that except for Audra and Lansbury, every actress currently on Broadway lost out. Too bad for you, Laura Bell Blundery!

TONY TIME TWO! What songs will be performed on this year's telecast? Here's the list:
Grey Gardens - "The Revolutionary Costume for Today"; Spring Awakening - "Medley"; Curtains - "Show People"; Mary Poppins - "Step In Time" and "Anything Can Happen"; A Chorus Line - "One"; Company - "Being Alive"; and 110 in the Shade - "Raunchy". We're also getting a little Fantasia Barrino, a la Color Purple. What you won't hear? Anything from LoveMusik or Legally Blonde.

Quick News:
And a belated, fond farewell to the first openly gay man I ever saw...and my kitschy, witty hero from every moment since. Love you, Charles.

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