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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Stage Addiction: There Can't Possibly Be This Many People In Sweden

The dog days of summer have arrived in New York City. How can you tell? Because all of the rich people are out in the Hamptons, and apparently all of Sweden has decided to visit New York at one time. (There are millions of them! Are the streets of Stockholm empty? Has Mamma Mia finally closed across the globe?) And you can also tell it's summer by the eerie quiet on 42nd Street...there's little important gossip beyond last week's rave reviews and boffo box office for Xanadu, which surprised even the show's adherents. (Opening night video here.) What else is there to tell? Well, for starters...

...Claire Danes will make her Broadway debut this fall with a big splash -- taking on the immortal role of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, opposite Tony winner Jefferson Mays. Danes is, to my mind, an odd choice, but there's no doubt that she can act....which is more than I can say for R&B crooner Brian McKnight, who will follow Usher's stunt from last season by taking a twirl as Billy Flynn in Chicago (for six weeks, beginning October 8th...don't everyone rush at once). On the other hand, the best star casting of the season -- Fantasia, whose superb turn in The Color Purple has revived the show's ticket sales -- has just been extended through the end of the year. I'm sure she got a big fat raise, and she deserves every penny...and the producers will reap the rewards.

- Another private workshop is underway for Catch Me If You Can, this time with Nathan Lane and Christian Borle. Can they hurry up and finish the damn thing? How hard can it be to adapt that light con-artist comedy? Not exactly Proust, if you know what I'm saying.

- The current trend of movies-turned-musicals-turned-movies has already given us three variations of The Producers, Hairspray...and now Footloose. Zac Efron (High School Musical) will take over Kevin Bacon's dancing shoes for the full-throated musical "remake", which will sing the famous tunes ("Let's Hear It For The Boy", etc.) and will be directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega. Ortega who, you ask? He's no slouch. He helmed HSM, its upcoming sequel(s), and the 1992 cult movie musical Newsies. Yes. Newsies. Yes. Uh huh.

- I bet you thought I was done talking about movies-turned-musicals! Well, guess again! Because London is about to be descended upon by Desperately Seeking Susan, the narrative-challenged tale that, once upon a time, starred a young Madonna. The new stage adaptation, featuring classic Blondie songs (and a new tune, "Moment of Truth", written specifically for the show by Debbie Harry), will open October 12 at the Novello Theatre, the former home of The Drowsy Chaperone. Brit buddies, get into the groove...I expect a full report!

- The much-discussed revival of South Pacific (with or without Scarlett Johansson) will begin performances February 28th...a mere ten days after Roundabout counters with the transfer of Sunday in the Park with George. If you're a fan of musicals, you're already marking your calendar. That's the best two-week period of the season.

- It's time that we all face facts and admit the truth: Orlando Bloom was never that attractive to begin with.

- Without a doubt, the best part of the recently-closed musical LoveMusik was the Musik...Kurt Weill has rarely been sung as lovely or with as much care. (Too bad the same couldn't be said of the staging, the script, the performances, the design, the direction, etc.) So it comes as something of a welcome surprise to hear that Sh-K-Boom Records' Ghostlight imprint just recorded the cast album for release later this year. Fpr those of you who didn't see the mess onstage, you'll listen to this and imagine a far better experience than there actually was.

- The annual AIDS charity event, Broadway Bares, may turn commercial next year for a sit-down run in Las Vegas. Gasp! Stripping in Vegas...who would ever have thought of that?

- A movie version of the short-lived, much-beloved Coram Boy is developing, under the directorial hand of Alan Parker (Evita, The Commitments) and producer Scott Rudin (Proof). I hope it'll be great, but I'm concerned...neither the stage script nor its amazingly talented director/designer Melly Still are involved with the project.

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