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Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Stage Addiction: The End of Xanadu, The Beginning of Two Cities, and Some Musical Chairs

The first casualty of the new Broadway season will be Xanadu, which has posted a closing date of October 12. While not wholly unexpected, it's still a shame the musical couldn't hold on to Christmas, when a holiday rush probably would have helped the box office. But a run of 14 months has to be considered a major success for this unlikely hit, and I'll always treasure the memory of Cheyenne Jackson in tight shorts.

Judging from the grosses, I'd bet it won't be long before our beloved [Title of Show] follows suit; audiences have dwindled significantly in the last month. And with the first of the big Broadway behemoths opening this Friday (A Tale of Two Cities, at the Al Hirschfeld), there will be newer, bigger, and shinier trinkets for theatregoers to sample.

I saw Two Cities earlier this week, and was surprised by its strange mix of crap and diamonds, metaphorically speaking. On some level, it's unforgiveably atrocious: the music is criminally derivative of Les Miserables and mid-career Wildhorn, the set is wobbly and unwieldy, the costumes are ill-fitting and badly made, and the orchestra has only two volume settings: loud, and fucking loud. But in the middle of the mess are a quartet of actors achieving the impossible -- making something out of absolutely nothing. Chief among them is James Barbour, who gives a stunning performance and powerful vocal work to the substandard material. (I smell a Tony nom!) Brandi Burkhardt has a tremendous voice as well, and she's the most gorgeous woman on Broadway at the moment. (She should be...the Broadway newbie is a former Miss New York.) Two veterans are standouts in the large ensemble (Aaron Lazar and Gregg Edelman, who isn't nearly old enough to play Burkhardt's father but almost makes you believe it.) Ultimately, watching A Tale of Two Cities is like watching a train wreck...but a very pretty one.

Want some gossip? Here's how Broadway plays musical chairs, starting at the Nederlander Theatre on 41st Street, which recently shuttered the long-running production of Rent. Although it's not being announced publicly, the theatre is currently reserved by the incoming spring revival of West Side Story, to be directed by its notoriously tyrannical writer, Arthur Laurents. But Mr. Laurents isn't satisfied with the Nederlander; he wants a better location and more seats, which might also result in a higher profile. So the production is waiting, like a cat steathily following a mouse, to see whether Legally Blonde will close by Christmas at the Palace Theatre...a distinct possibility, given the declining sales for its new reality-show star, Bailey. Meanwhile, the new revival of Hair, which would like a rougher and hipper house for its Broadway transfer from Central Park, is dying to get into the scrappy Nederlander. So where will everything land and shake out? Your guess is as good as mine. It's telling, however, that the fates of Tony, Maria, Anita, and the hippie rockers rest in the unassuming hands of Elle Woods. Fascinating, huh
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Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Great gossip, ModFab!!!

9/18/08, 12:52 PM  

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