This fall, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz will star in a Mike Nichols stage production of Harold Pinter's Betrayal. In these exclusive shots taken by Brigitte Lacombe, you can see the two — alongside Rafe Spall (Life of Pi, Prometheus), making his Broadway debut — in early rehearsals. Previews for the play, which takes place in reverse chronology and involves a couple (like the married Weisz and Craig) whose wife is having an affair with their good friend (not like Weisz and Craig), will begin October 1 and the show opens October 27. (American Express pre-sale June 26; general on-sale July 12.) Also, LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy will also be making his Broadway debut with original music for the show. Heaps of talent here.
“Where’s the money?” is, by a full fathom, the least appreciated famous-line Shakespeare ever wrote. The proper Elizabethan pronunciation, of course, is “wheyah’s da money?”—at least, according to Daniel Sullivan, Dean of Popular Bardology at the Delacorte Theater and Shakespeare in the Park's go-to Great Communicator. His cheerfully populist guys-and-dolls-and-clones interpretation of The Comedy of Errors—a clockwork Plautine comedy that needs little interpretation and, for exactly that reason, is always in danger of getting way too much of it—isn’t smothered under trowelfuls of thoughtful dramaturgy. No, Sullivan's basically just changing ducats to dollars, supplicating the spirit of Damon Runyon, and hoping he makes money on the exchange (and receives no hate mail from Stephen Greenblatt). The bet pays off: everyone wins. Except, occasionally, the meter. But hell, we’re Americans. Throw the meter! Cash up front!
After proving that he is the only person who can properly host the Tony Awards, Neil Patrick Harris will star in the first Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch — with a book by John Cameron Mitchell, and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask. NPH's Hedwig will hit in the spring of 2014, and here's hoping that Michael Pitt, with his convincingly boyish looks, will revise his role as Tommy Gnosis.
After every performance of Lucky Guy, swarms of Tom Hanks appreciators—often 300 people, a number eclipsing all other post-show Broadway crowds—gather expectantly.
“I have boobs out [to get his attention]. The boobs are always my strategy. They get you anywhere in this world, as long as you utilize them for good and not
evil.” —Anna-Maria Fabbricante, 37, Atlantic City, New Jersey
“He’s my favorite actor, and I’ll just pass out if I see him. I’m a big fan. I’m so big, so big, since Big, 1988.” —Dana Pizzimenti, 32, Astoria
Reasons to Be Happy (at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through June 23)
This week, grouchy pseudo-moralist Neil LaBute, reacting to a pan in Time Out New York, took to his keyboard with pants down and dudgeon erect to reignite the ancient debate over whether or not critics possess genitalia. (The jury is still out, but I can report, anecdotally, that mine are deciduous, coming and going with the seasons.) This tempest in an athletic cup had the happy effect of distracting an already unconcerned world from his latest play, a sour little mess starring Jenna Fischer, late of The Office. Reasons to Be Happy returns us to the world of Reasons to Be Pretty, LaBute's sweetly fugly 2008 gender spar. What world is that? "The outlying suburbs," the program tells us, with ominous vagueness. (It's a factory town … with a Trader Joe's … in other words, the kind of amalgamated American Nowhere — pasteurized, homogenized, reconstituted from John Cougar Mellanconcentrate – that flashes CAUTION! CONFUSED WORLDVIEW AHEAD!) Bookish, schnookish Greg (Josh Hamilton) has been apart from strident, stupid Steph (Fischer) for a spell now, but she screams her way back into his life, complicating his deepening yet still strikingly shallow relationship with Carly (Leslie Bibb). Meanwhile, dopey demon-male Kent (Fred Weller) drifts witlessly around the margins, a specter of old grievances. (Kent was once married to Carly, whose interference helped split up Greg and Steph.) It takes LaBute a full act to disgorge all of this fairly pedestrian information; the play doesn't actually begin until Act Two.
If you saw Before Midnight and thought, I like watching Ethan Hawke talk a lot, but I really wish it were in iambic pentameter, then, boy, do we have news for you! It was announced today that Hawke will be playing Macbeth on Broadway. His take on the Scottish play will open on October 24 at the Lincoln Center Theater. If you want to know what to expect, watch the very thorough PBS documentary he made about it below, in which he says it’s a part he always wanted to play. How bad do you want to, Ethan? Enough to kill a king!?
Rocky is a musical, Pan's Labyrinth is a musical, The Notebook is a musical — why not a Jackie Chan biographical musical? Why not, indeed. The action star announced yesterday at a press conference that he's hoping to develop his memoir, I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action, into a stage production. Chan says the musical will focus on his early life, including his education at the Peking Opera School and his performances with a children's acrobatics ensemble, according to THR. Will there be a show-stopping number called "Chop, Chop" that's about hurrying but also about martial arts? One hopes.
Is it dumb to rave about the musical numbers on the Tonys? Fine, then, let's be dumb: The opening musical number on the Tonys was fantastic! Neil Patrick Harris literally jumped through hoops, kids. Come for the dig at Tom Hooper's direction of Les Miserables, stay for all the reaction shots of everyone in the audience freaking out.
The prizes at the 67th Annual Tony Awards have all been handed out, and the electrifying match-up between Matilda and Kinky Boots has been settled with a decisive victory for the latter. The two most-nominated productions (thirteen for Kinky Boots, twelve for Matilda) went head-to-head in eleven categories, with Boots picking up six statues, including Best musical and score, to become the most-awarded production of this season. Matilda wasn’t completely shut out, however, picking up four awards for book, scenic design, lighting design, and featured actor in a musical (Gabriel Ebert).
The Cyndi Lauper–scored Kinky Boots, an adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda, and revivals of Pippin and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? all won big at the 67th annual Tony Awards on Sunday night. Hit the jump for the full list, and good luck keeping track of how many awards Kinky Boots actually won. (Spoiler alert: six, including performances.)
Tonight the drama is not about Freys vs. Starkes or Joan vs. Peggy. All that can wait, because tonight is about Kinky Boots vs. Matilda, Hanks vs. Lane, and the rest of the battles of the 2013 Tony Awards. The always dependable Neil Patrick Harris is hosting the proceedings on CBS, but here at Vulture two far more opinionated minds will be narrating the show: Critics Scott Brown and Jesse Green are live-blogging the whole Tonycast, giving their expert take on who earned their victory, who got snubbed, and what it all means for the state of theater today. Join them!
Every Tony season it's a perennial temptation to frame the race as an apocalyptic battle for the soul of a perpetually embattled art form. Which is exactly what our theater critics (who'll also co-live-blog CBS’s Tonycast at 8 p.m. EST this Sunday here at Vulture) are prepared to do again this year, as Broadway theater — coming off a year of solid box office but eroding attendance, a year of abundant new work but persistent complaints about lack of creativity, deadening commercial-mindedness, and insufficient risk-taking — celebrates itself and its own for the 67th time. Insiders versus outsiders, old guard versus new, "family" shows versus more grown-up razzle-dazzle, dogged career dues-payers versus avid celebrity carpetbaggers: there are hundreds of ways to look at this year's Tony pileup, and not one of them tells the whole tale. So let's apply the philosophy of firebrand columnist Mike McAlary, as portrayed by Tom Hanks in Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy, and just print a few theories that may or may not be on their way to becoming fact.
The musical version of your mother's favorite weepy Meryl Streep movie (and also the best-selling book by Robert James Waller) will begin previews January 13 and open sometime in February 2014. Bartlett Sher (South Pacific) will direct; the book is by Marsha Norman, with lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. While we're on the subject of musicals based on tearjerker novels that your mom loved: Whatever happened to The Notebook musical? We demand a Notebook musical.
Maybe what I'm about to say I'm only saying because I've been away too long (I'm back today from a three-month leave), but: Dear God, is the American musical in trouble or something? Worse still: Is it possible that a doggedly overwrought, diligently misconceived, nobly self-nullifying mini-opus like Far From Heaven is actually doing more damage to the form than slapdash commercial pap does? Pop trash doesn't have capability's power to repel, after all. It takes megatalents the size of Michael Greif, Scott Frankel, Michael Korie, and Richard Greenberg — working with a flawless cast and what appears to be near-perfect musical source material, filmmaker Todd Haynes's clever-but-never-too-clever, surprisingly heartfelt deconstruction of the Douglas Sirk weepie — to create a vacuum of these handsome dimensions, where all the signature gestures, musical and dramaturgical, serve only as you-are-here guidestars to the show's vast shallows. "God, I hate musicals," spat my seatmate, a lifelong theater lover. And as a regular defender of the form, I couldn't gainsay her. I could only paraphrase Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets: "Well, we were drowning out here, and that show was describing the water."
Brecht is the spinach of contemporary theatergoing. He’s meant to be improving but leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Whether this is the fault of recent styles of interpretation or something more fundamental in the work is a question one isn’t really allowed to ask. At any rate, it’s a question the new production of Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, at Classic Stage Company, isn’t strong enough to answer.
Damon Albarn, lead singer of Blur, and Jamie Hewlett, animator of Tank Girl, have been working together for over fifteen years, ever since they started Gorillaz in the late nineties. Over the last few years they've expanded their primate reach to include monkeys. Along with Chinese actor and director Chen Shi-zheng, they've adapted the sixteenth-century Chinese novel Journey to the West, by Wu Cheng'en, to create a stage production called Monkey: Journey to the West. Albarn worked on the music and Hewlett the aesthetic for the opera, which premiered in Manchester in 2007. The piece is now coming to New York as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Monkey will open the festival and in total run for 27 performances between July 5 and 28. In honor of the run, Hewlett has designed new characters for the show, and has given us an exclusive look at one of them, River Demon. River Demon is kind of frightening-looking, but if you find yourself getting scared, just relax and realize he's completely in red and green — like Christmas!
Other than Hedda Gabler and A Doll’s House, Ibsen’s plays are mostly out of fashion these days, especially the folkloric early works featuring trolls and the mystical late works featuring Great Men who, come to think of it, are also trolls. The effectiveness of those in the latter category, including The Master Builder, now being revived at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, depends in part on an assumption of respect for great men in general, so that something dramatic can occur when they are found to be wanting. Our time is not perhaps sufficiently amenable to that assumption. In any case, the revival, directed by Andre Belgrader and starring John Turturro, makes an excellent case for continued neglect.
Miraculously, a theatergoer didn't break a leg or anything else after falling from the window of the Lyceum Theater on West 45th Street on Sunday. At 2:50 p.m., about ten minutes before showtime, a man in his sixties leaned against some curtains covering a french door in a second-floor hallway. He fell three or four feet and landed on the marquee for The Nance starring Nathan Lane. The man was taken to the hospital with minor injuries to his chest and the back of his head, and the show went on as scheduled.
To find out where the musical is going these days, you may have to follow it into a tent. Not Pippin’s big top on Broadway but the one nestled beneath the High Line at West 13th Street, where Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Dave Malloy’s enthralling take on Tolstoy, is playing. Actually, there’s some confusion about the setting: The tent, once you enter it, turns into a Russian supper club called Kazino, kitted out gorgeously by the designer Mimi Lien in miles of red velvet hung with framed czarist portraits. A light Russian dinner (including borscht, pierogies, vodka, and what unfortunately tasted one night like vintage black bread) is included with your $125 ticket. But the show presented right in the midst of 199 patrons at tables and bars has little to do with bread or circuses. Rather, it describes itself in its lyrics as both a novel and an opera (and, sure enough, is completely sung) while also incorporating flourishes of a cabaret act, a floor show, a Broadway music drama, and — why not? — a naughty stag party.
Especially after the loud uplift and confetti cannons of Broadway’s spring jamboree, one of the pleasures of Off Broadway in May is the chance to recalibrate your ears and expectations to a more human scale. Precision kicklines give way to the individual choices of actors working in the same room with you, inches away. Yes, it’s a blast watching drag queens do flips on conveyor belts, or Bette Midler crack wise in a caftan, but it’s also pretty thrilling to watch Deirdre O’Connell, as a beleaguered stepmother in A Family for All Occasions, walk into her home after a day at a factory and do nothing. She’s so stiff she can barely sit. Even the muscles around her mouth — which in the 90-seat Bank Street Theater you can easily see — are clenched. She’s the living embodiment of the word dour, down to the cellular level, it seems, and in the second act, when she tries out a three-speed electronic foot massager someone has brought as a gift, her pleasure is so surprising (and nearby) it makes you laugh as if it were happening to you.
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