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Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Stage Addiction: 8 Questions For Theatre Nuts

This week's Stage Addiction column is a quiz. See how you score!

QUESTION #1: After the success of the movie adaptation of Sweeney Todd, what Stephen Sondheim musical will grace the silver screen next? ANSWER: It looks like it'll be Follies, the time-shifting exploration of fame, age, and romance which many academics and musicologists consider the master's finest work. Attached to the project are two heavyweights: screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson's War) and director Sam Mendes (American Beauty), who was originally scheduled to direct Sweeney before Tim Burton took it over. After Follies, perhaps Company will follow.

QUESTION #2: Now that we're into 2008, how are Broadway's plays and musicals doing? ANSWER: Not too well, it seems. As The Playgoer point outs, only August: Osage County, The Seafarer, and Rock 'n' Roll are doing better than 70% capacity...and November is the only show in the 60's. That spells winter trouble for fans of Pinter (The Homecoming), Norbert Leo Butz (Is He Dead?) and Aaron Sorkin (The Farnsworth Invention). And although no one knows for sure, Steve On Broadway shares my suspicion that Young Frankenstein is already finding itself in a dry spell.

QUESTION #3: Are you reading the November blog yet? ANSWER: You should be! It's being written by the play's author David Mamet (Oleanna), but it's from the perspective of President Charles Smith, the character played by Nathan Lane (The Odd Couple). It's early yet, and they haven't updated in a couple of weeks...but I hope they do, because it's a hilariously smart promotion tool. Certainly makes me want to see it!

QUESTION #4: If your career as a composer of mega-musicals hasn't produced a true hit since the late 80's, what should your next career move be? Perhaps...a sequel? (It's not unprecedented in the theatre...anyone remember The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public? Yeah, I thought not.) ANSWER: Let's wish Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber the best of luck with The Phantom of Manhattan...and request that once it premieres in London, it never, ever, ever, ever, ever transfers to New York.

QUESTION #5: Are you curious what The Little Mermaid looks like...but a little skittish about paying $100+ for tickets to what might be the aquatic Starlight Express? ANSWER: Thankfully, BroadwayWorld gives us all a chance to try before we buy. And now that I've tried, I know not to buy.

QUESTION #6: What do you do when you're a former contestant on American Idol, a little zaftig mit hips, and your music career has come to a grinding halt? ANSWER: If you're Season Two winner Ruben Studdard and semi-finalist Frenchie Davis, you hit the road...in the 30th anniversary tour of Ain't Misbehavin'. Snarkiness aside, the roles are near-perfect for them, and I'm betting their semi-celebrity makes this small, enjoyable show very profitable on tour.

QUESTION #7: Did you miss Kevin Kline's Cyrano, which closed last Sunday? ANSWER: Probably, but not to worry...it'll be on PBS next fall. And if you hurry to London, you'll still be able to catch the "remixed" version of Rent at the Duke of York's Theatre, which is disappointingly closing on February 2nd.

QUESTION #8: Are there more reasons to visit London? ANSWER: Sure there are! A new staging of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter, beginning February 2nd, rocks my world (one of my favorite movies, based on one of my favorite plays, etc.). If you're planning a trip for next season, you'll get to see the as-yet-untitled Tina Turner jukebox musical, which strikes me as a Jersey Boys-ish can't-miss.

Some Random Bits:
- Gypsy and Patti LuPone are on the way in March; will they dominate the Tony nominations?...
- Last year's Off-Broadway hit The Beebo Brinker Chronicles is back for a commercial run at 37 Arts beginning next month...
- Dancing in the Dark, based on the classic MGM Fred Astaire movie musical The Band Wagon, begins a pre-Broadway run in California next March. My guess is that it'll be a Tony contender in 2009...just like that theatre's previous NYC-bound project, A Catered Affair, which begins previews at the Walter Kerr very, very soon...

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Blogger will g said...

Not sure we csn call Sweeney a success, with reports that it will barely break even. This might even be Burton's least successful at the box office. But bring on Follies!

1/8/08, 3:29 AM  
Blogger Vance said...

Yeah, I saw that Little Mermaid clip last week and it totally underwhelmed me. I also thought all that Phantom of Manhattan talk was joke. It's for REAL?

1/8/08, 4:02 AM  
Blogger FleshPresser said...

How disappointing the MERMAID preview looks... as a Disney freak, I had high hopes that this would be more Lion King than Beauty and the Beast.... ugh... what the hell was that red sequined top hat with the eyeballs on it?!? And some of those costumes in the "Under The Sea" number looked like they were straight from Vegas! Very sad...

1/8/08, 8:57 AM  
Blogger qta said...

Follies is a strange choice... that will not be easy to pull off at all... such a non-traditional show. They should do Into the Woods.

1/8/08, 9:05 AM  
OpenID toonsntunes said...

WOW. Little Mermaid look's like bad children's dinner theatre. Ouch.

1/8/08, 1:14 PM  
Blogger ZenDenizen said...

I can't imagine anyone but my 4 y/o niece getting excited about Mermaids.

No mention of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? I got my tickets for next month!

1/8/08, 1:23 PM  
Blogger Manuel B said...

Sam Mendes + Aaron Sorkin + Stephen Sondheim?
I'm already much too excited for that.

1/8/08, 6:33 PM  
Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Historically, the winter doldrums are never good for most Broadway shows. January is never kind, unless you have a huge hit like Jersey Boys or Wicked.

But I've had one person comment on my site about being actively pursued by someone scalping Young Frankenstein tickets, apparently willing to make a deal below $80 for an orchestra seat.

As for The Little Mermaid, I took in the Denver tryout and was pretty unimpressed by the decided lack of magic touch.

1/9/08, 11:03 AM  

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