New Music

Over the past couple of seasons, I’ve been generally underwhelmed by the new Broadway musicals. But taking a look at the new musical line up for 2010-2011, my interest is rather piqued. The pedigree is varied, and the ideas ranging from fascinating to bemusing. It’s just shaping up to be a memorable year all around (plays, revivals, star vehicles, etc). I’m not going to talk about the shows that will be built around pre-existing music (Rain, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) or the revivals (How to Succeed, Anything Goes). But here are some thoughts on new musicals scheduled to open this year:

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – I’m not really what anyone would deem an emo kid, however, I have a weakness for U.S. History and especially for musicals which involve historical figures and presidents (1776, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Assassins). From the Public comes this fascinating idea of telling the story of Andrew Jackson, one of our most rogue presidents (whose inauguration makes keggers look like high tea in comparison) with a rock score. I wasn’t too impressed by the press event performance, but that hasn’t curbed my interest in seeing the show when it starts performances (I tend to trust the Public Theatre’s judgment). It appears that Benjamin Walker is giving the performance of a lifetime as our nation’s 7th President. My copy of the cast album, which I won on a whim via a twitter contest, should arrive shortly. The show opens Oct. 13 at the Jacobs.

The Scottsboro Boys – This is the one that keeps popping in my head first. It’s got a score by Kander and Ebb, their last to be performed, book by David Thompson and direction/choreography from Susan Stroman. The subject matter is rather serious stuff, but having listened to the score I’m fascinated and riveted (and “Go Back Home” is one of the loveliest ballads I’ve heard in a while). The production makes use of minstrelsy as a concept/framing device. Word of mouth is extraordinary. Reviews are also quite positive, even the negative notice in the NY Times further fueled my interest. The show opens Oct 31 at the Lyceum.

Women of the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – Lincoln Center has assembled an all-star lineup here and is easily one of the most buzzed about new shows of the season. Now, an all-star lineup doesn’t guarantee success (Paradise Found, anyone?) but it certainly makes it something to look forward to. Lots of favorites in the cast: Patti, Stokes, Benanti, and leading lady Sherie Renee Scott singing a score from the highly underrated David Yazbeck under the direction of the estimable Bartlett Sher. Even if the show weren’t something to anticipate, the musical is housed in the newly renovated Belasco Theatre and I am chomping at the bit to just be inside. Opening night is scheduled for November 4.

Elf – Though I love me some Christmas and even have a Broadway playlist of Christmas related songs on my ipod, I am not a big fan of Christmas shows and spectaculars. This has always been the case; I’ve never been engaged with them as a kid, preferring concerts and meditative services to razz-matazz. Wild horses couldn’t draw me to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. However, I love Christmas movies and Elf, in particular, is a recent favorite. It’s funny and charming without being overly saccharine. I’m curious how it will adapt, especially because Ferrell is such a huge part of why the film works, but I’m ready and willing to give this one a try. Plus it’s got George Wendt as Santa, which to me seems inspired. The show opens at the Hirschfeld on November 14. Limited holiday engagement closes January 2.

SpiderMan: Turn Off the Dark – I’m tired of conjecture and innuendo; I just want to see the show and draw my opinion from that. It will be visually stunning, that’s always a given when Julie Taymor is involved. The curiosity is whether or not the script and score (by Bono and the Edge) have the substance required for a memorable evening. Then again given the hefty price tag and the names involved, this one could very well be Broadway’s answer to the Hollywood summer blockbuster. The debut performance on GMA the other day didn’t really impress me, especially in regards to star Reeve Carney. I understand it was a concert performance, but he was incredibly lacking in charisma. Peter Parker doesn’t exactly cry out for a Robert Preston type turn, but I hope Carney has the energy and wattage to carry the $50 million show. The long-delayed show will officially open December 21 at the Foxwoods (nee Hilton).

The Book of Mormon – I’ll never forget how surprised I was by South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut which was one of the funniest, most irreverent and cleverly written musical comedies in recent memory. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are now trying Broadway, with the assistance of Avenue Q Tony-winner Bobby Lopez on the lyrics. Parker and another Avenue Q alum Jason Moore will direct. Joseph Smith establishes the Mormon religion while contemporary missionaries go to Uganda. Hijinks ensue. Given the reputations of everyone involved, it’s bound to be tuneful, offbeat and an equal opportunity offender. I’m game. The show opens at the Eugene O’Neill on March 24.

Sister Act – I wish I could say I were more excited for this, but I’m not. I’m a big fan of the film and nuns in general; I remember being amazed when I was in third grade seeing groups of nuns going to the movie theatres. But I was even more amazed at how fun and enjoyable the film was. The novelty of the film’s score, taking popular Motown songs and adapting them for a religious context, is what really gave the film its charm. Alan Menken and Glenn Slater have provided a new score which doesn’t serve the film as well as one would hope. It’s got slick, entertainment value but none of that charm (and Slater’s lyrics in general tend to be rather mundane). However, there is something about this show that excites me: the truly fabulous Patina Miller. She starred in the show in London and appears to be destined for stardom. No word on whether she is coming to NY, but I hope that is the case. However, Jerry Zaks is taking over the reigns for Broadway, so we shall see how it all turns out in the end. The London production closes Oct. 30. The new musical is rumored  to replace Promises, Promises at the Broadway Theatre, with previews starting in March. Opening night has yet to be announced.

Wonderland – I don’t like to think of myself as a negative person. Cynical on occasion, yes. But let’s just say I’m for the most part cautiously optimistic. This is a show I just have no interest in whatsoever. Of all the new musicals opening this year it’s the one I’m least interested in seeing. Frank Wildhorn just doesn’t do it for me. Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War and Dracula are all lackluster musicals and his track record – even though he managed to have three shows running simultaneously  – is quite disappointing. The musical is a revisionist take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. But like I said, I’m cautiously optimistic and perhaps my instincts on this will be wrong. The musical opens April 17 at the Marquis.

Yank! has been pushed off for a year to overhaul its libretto, which I think is for the best. The show has promise but in its off-Broadway berth, I felt it really need work. Bobby Steggert remains attached, with David Cromer now directing (which should prove interesting). Love Never Dies is postponed again indefinitely. For now. It continues to run in London, though most people I know disliked it immensely. The score is drab; the title song sounds like the theme to The Apartment and its story is in a word, pathetic. Work continues on the show in London and plans for a Toronto run are underway. Broadway isn’t in the sights at the moment, but something tells me that unlike Whistle Down the Wind, this show may see the light of Broadway.

The Time Machine

My buddy Steve is asking folks about the original casts they would have liked seeing on his site. (Be sure to drop over to vote in his poll!) This was originally going to be a post on his comments, but after a while I realized it would be obscene to post this, so I moved it here:

It seems every so often there is a show or a production that entices me to wonder what it was like to be in the house. When I talk to older theatregoers I always ask them about their first show and their favorite show (depending on the time we have). I’ve never been anything but fascinated by the responses I get. And I find I’m always saying, “Gosh, I would have loved seeing that!” So I made what I call my “Time Machine” list. Whenever there’s a new one I just add it to this mental list. It’s ever growing, because the more I read and the more I learn the more fascinated I become. There are countless shows that come to mind as something I would have liked seeing – and almost all of them are original casts.

Even now, I tend to have a preference for original stars. There have been a couple of times where I’ve let some shows pass me by because I wasn’t really interested in the new cast members. If original cast members return for the close, it usually sparks up on my radar again. Case in point: David Cromer in Our Town (which I saw last night, more on that later) and Harvey Fierstein and Marissa Jaret Winokur in Hairspray (I went the day before the show closed). So if there’s a chance to see the originals, yeah I’m there. Are there productions where I would have preferred seeing the originals? Yes: Proof and The Producers. But here’s a short list of some of those shows that were on the boards before I was born that I would love to have seen:

Follies – Of the original Sondheim-Prince collaborations this is the one I’d want to see most, in fact I’d love it if City Opera were able to bring this production back to life in its repertory (they already have Prince’s Sweeney Todd, which along with Pacific Overtures has been preserved for posterity. I’ve watched those brief video highlights from the dress rehearsal which only makes me want to see it more. It is the sort of production that would be unthinkable today and fiscally impossible. It seems that Prince never expected to make money off of this show – and he didn’t. The show closed after 522 performances, losing its entire investment. But oh those costumes, the scenery and the staging. Michael Bennett’s “Who’s That Woman?” is considered by many to be the greatest production number. Ever. That original cast is well-remembered and likely never to be forgotten.

Gypsy – Merman. Lansbury. Daly. It’s one of the of best musicals of all time. Ethel Merman with Jerome Robbins’ original staging (and a smash like none other)? I’d probably be agreeing with Walter Kerr’s assessment that it’s “The best damned musical I’ve seen in years.” The part was tailor made to her talents. Criticisms from the creators be damned, it’s Ethel Merman in her last original role on Broadway belting it like no other and being challenged like she had never been before. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. I like to think Lansbury was the best from the evidence I’ve seen – balls-to-the-wall, riveting and simultaneously gutteral and alluring. Daly is a superb actress and her cast album doesn’t give her performance its due. I’ve seen a bit on youtube, but I would love to have been in the St. James when she bent over and attacked the stage during “Rose’s Turn.”

Mame – Angela Lansbury is required viewing. SarahB and I would take the time machine all the way to Hotel Paradiso in 1957 to Prettybelle in Boston in 1971. But this is the one out of all of them I want to have been there for. Lansbury ir in her Tony winning, take the town by storm tour de force performance? That score, that staging and choreography – and all of New York falling at Lansbury’s gold lame pajama pants. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Lansbury, and forever changed her career and her life (and is the first of her five Tony wins). The cast album remains a desert island selection, but boy I would have loved seeing her with my other favorite Bea Arthur.

My Fair Lady – Lerner and Loewe besting Rodgers and Hammerstein at their own formula? (Well, I suppose it’s debatable, but don’t tell my musical professors that). The musical adaptation of Pygmalion is one of my personal favorites – I played Freddy Eynsford-Hill in my high school production and am quite proud of what I did when I was 17 (and would love the chance to do it again). It’s a shimmering score – Lerner and Loewe’s true triumph. The book is Lerner’s best; none of the shows he wrote before or after ever had a book this strong (of course, he had Shaw to thank there). From the first strains of that overture to the finale, it’s an utter masterpiece. Add to the formula Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Robert Coote & Stanley Holloway and I’m done.

She Loves Me – When asked my favorite musicals, I usually give three answers: The Light in the Piazza, Sweeney Todd and this charmer. I saw Piazza on its opening night and have seen various tapes of Sweeney over the years (and was there for its 2005 revival). But I have never had the chance to see this one. It’s original cast album is a sparkling jewel from start to finish. It’s my favorite Bock & Harnick show, with some of their best character numbers which perfectly complement Joe Masteroff’s lovely libretto. Start to finish, nothing but pure love. I listen to this cast album ever New Year and the finale gets me ever time. Barbara Cook’s “Ice Cream” will never be topped.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – One of these is not like the other. It’s of course obvious that I would place this one on my list. The show is a notorious flop with an absolute mess of a book but a stunner of a score. Patricia Routledge, a Tony winner for Darling of the Day (we’ll have already stopped there on the way), gets a mid-show standing ovation for “Duet for One.” I mean, how fascinating is that? She stirs up a bored crowd into a manic frenzy over nine minutes of stage time. Then Routledge leaves the stage until the finale and the audience, though titillated, is already sad to see her go.

South Pacific – If I had to choose one of the Rodgers and Hammerstein shows, this would be the one. Yes, it’s my personal favorite of all of them and the revival is fresh in my memory. But can you imagine being there when it was a critical and cultural phenomenon? Four years since WWII ended, folks are still quite well aware of the battles of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, etc and there is still a lot of mourning and remembering. This show opens at the Majestic with that cast – still the only production in the history of the Tony Awards to sweep all four acting categories. Sure, I’ve seen Juanita Hall in the film and Mary Martin in the archival tape of the London production, but it doesn’t beat actually being there.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – I loved the 2005 revival, which I saw twice and of course have seen the Oscar-winning film adaptation. But it wasn’t until I got my hands on the original cast album (you read that right) that I realized what a stunning production the original was. Uta Hagen leads the charge as the definitive Martha; vulgar, hilarious and devastating. The show was revived in 1976 with Colleen Dewhurst, and since I’m a huge fan of hers, I would have like seeing her spin.

Some runners-up: Show Boat (1927), Coco, A Streetcar Named Desire (I’d take in the original with Tandy, national tour with Hagen, the 1973 revival with both Rosemary Harris and Lois Nettleton), Auntie Mame, Inherit the Wind, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Glass Menagerie, The Apple Tree, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, High Spirits, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Ballroom, Nine, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Call Me Madam, Candide, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Kismet, Allegro, Love Life, The West Side Waltz, Carnival, Illya Darling, A Chorus Line, The Music Man, Carnival in Flanders, 1776, A Little Night Music, Grand Hotel, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Mary Mary, West Side Story, Bells Are Ringing, Fiddler on the Roof, and…

Random Thoughts on This and That

Well, it’s certainly been a busy week. Fringe is well underway and invigorating the month of August. Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch have brought renewed interest to a mostly humdrum revival of A Little Night Music. Kelsey Grammer is to be a father for the fifth time. The folks on All That Chat took the opportunity to go open season on the actor; however, I will take this opportunity to offer the La Cage Aux Folles star my heartiest congratulations. Race and Fela! have both posted their closing notices, however, the latter will go out with some added star quality when Patti LaBelle replaces Lillias White for the remainder of the run. I’m a bit disappointed to see Fela! announcing its notice this early, as it was one of the best things I saw last season but it will live on in London with an HD broadcast from the National Theatre. Meanwhile, Steppenwolf brings its production of August: Osage County to Australia. Previews start this week at Cate Blanchett’s Sydney Theatre Company.

The biggest show of the coming season (physically and financially) will be Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which has set its opening for December 21. It’s been a very pernicious gestation from the very first day – rumors about its projected budget, weekly running costs, bad producing and cast members coming and going have not done much to assuage investors or convince Broadwayites. However, a steady team seems to be in place and the show is getting ready to at long last get its legs. The score is by Bono and the Edge, direction by Julie Taymor, so it’s not like this isn’t going to be worth the wait: regardless of the outcome, it should prove interesting. Tickets are on sale and it looks to be a go.

However, it’s the theatre itself that I’m more interested in this week. Garth Drabinsky ripped apart the Apollo and Lyrics and assembled them into one giant performance space, originally called the Ford Center for the Performing Arts when it opened its doors in 1998 (with Ragtime). Then in 2005, it became the Hilton Theatre. Now Foxwoods Casino has teamed up with Live Nation, who operates the space to give their name to the theatre for a period of three years. They’ve immediately gone live with the new website for the theatre and even offer the opportunity to rent the lobby for a private affair. I don’t mind the idea, but it’s being promoted in a way that can only be described as tacky. The jury is still out as to whether the theatre will house a money-maker.

It’s the corporate hand that bothers me in all this. I know – it’s a business, I get that. But it just seems unsettling to me to see an corporation name on a theatre when one of the great rare honors for a theatre artist is his or her name above the marquee. For instance, I never once referred to the Winter Garden as the Cadillac Winter Garden when there was a sponsorship agreement. However, I was thrilled when Stephen Sondheim received the honor on the occasion of his 80th birthday. (The late, great Helen Hayes received the honor twice. When the first Helen Hayes was razed in the great Marriot massacre of 1982, it was decided that the Fulton would be named for her. Her quip: “Oh it’s so good to be a theatre again”).

Word comes through the pipeline that Ryan Murphy is adapting his hit TV series Glee for Broadway. I have to make a confession: I don’t really like the series. I watched the first 13 episodes so I could have an idea what was going on – and to know what the folks in the twitterverse and blogosphere were talking about. But, much to everyone’s surprise – especially mine – it has left me rather cold. It’s not the cast, for sure, but the uneven, inconsistent writing and the overuse of autotune. It got to the point where I was skipping to the end of the musical numbers to get through the scenes (but boy, can Amber Riley belt like it’s nobody’s business). One other minor quibble – they are not a glee club, they’re a show choir. I can’t help but feel that I would have liked the enterprise a lot more had it been a 90 minute feature film than a full length, hour long TV series.

Back to the original statement – in spite of my feeling about the series I’m not against a Broadway version. I just think they should wait. The series has only completed one full season and has an overlying arc that has yet to be determined. At this point, a Broadway show based on the series might just be too much too soon.

I have recently started reading two new blogs. Both are by women who have had important careers in performing arts. The first belongs to Tony-winner Phyllis Newman, who’s frank, amusing and anecdotal about events in her life and her career. She has experienced a lot both as a performer and also as Mrs. Adolph Green, sharing anecdotes about famous friends and memories. Ms. Newman is the sort of person you would want at your table at a dinner party.

The other belongs to Emily Frankel. The name might not be too familiar to you, but you certainly know her husband: one John Cullum. I discovered this blog entirely by accident. Now Emily has achieved great success on her own: dancer, choreographer, director, actress, writer. She’s pretty much done it all. I was doing research on Cullum when I discovered a video blog with the two of them, they create a new one every week. On top of the video posts, Emily writes honestlyand openly about anything and everything that might be on her mind and makes for some engaging conversation – and she’s a really lovely lady.

Speaking of Cullum, the two time Tony winner will be back on Broadway in the upcoming transfer of Kander & Ebb’s The Scottsboro Boys at the Lyceum. When the show played off-Broadway at the Vineyard it got a less than stellar review from the NY Times, but it was the first time a negative notice only made me want to see a show more. However, other notices are much more positive, including raves from its current berth at the Guthrie. There are many other shows and stars I’m looking forward to, a sort of anticipation I didn’t quite feel last season (and those shows I did anticipate all closed prematurely). Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown at Lincoln Center, as well as revivals of Driving Miss Daisy, You Can’t Take It with You, La Bete and Mrs. Warren’s Profession. And this is just the fall.

Jerry Orbach’s Broadway

It’s hard to believe it, but it’s been almost six years since the world lost the great Jerry Orbach to cancer. His presence is still greatly felt, through TV reruns, frequent airings of Dirty Dancing on TV and he is fondly remembered by practically every person I know. Even though Orbach hadn’t been on Broadway since the mid-80s, he epitomized the essence of NY theatre for so many. You could see him at opening nights, presenting at the Tony Awards or even just riding the subway. While Law and Order gave him that household recognition, he was still just a New Yorker.

He got his start off-Broadway as a replacement in The Threepenny Opera and was the first El Gallo in The Fantasticks. The star also appeared in an acclaimed 1964 off-Broadway revival of The Cradle Will Rock. Broadway called in 1961 when Orbach was cast as the bitter puppeteer Paul in Carnival, with a score by Bob Merrill and direction by Gower Champion. It was a stage adaptation of the MGM hit Lili, about a naive French orphan who joins a seedy carnival where she becomes a star attraction with a Kukla, Fran and Ollie type connection to the puppets. The show was a big hit, earning a Tony for leading lady Anna Maria Alberghetti and running 719 performances. In this clip, from The Ed Sullivan Show, Alberghetti starts off with “Yes, My Heart” leading into Orbach’s stirring rendition of “Her Face”:


Orbach received his first Tony nomination in 1965 for his well-received Sky Masterson in the limited run revival of Guys and Dolls at Lincoln Center. The following season he was back on the boards supporting Ethel Merman in the 20th anniversary revival of Annie Get Your Gun. But it was 1968’s Promises, Promises for which Orbach would win his Tony Award. A musical based on the 1960 hit The Apartment, the musical version updated the story to 1968 with contemporary costuming and sensibilities and was a mammoth hit, running three years. On the Tony telecast, before Donna McKechnie leveled the joint with “Turkey Lurkey Time,” Orbach performed his act one charmer “She Likes Basketball”:


While Jerry always hit home runs in the musical department, he didn’t have as much success in plays. His first Broadway drama was The Natural Look which opened and closed on March 11, 1967 (and included Gene Hackman, Doris Roberts, Brenda Vaccaro and Andreas Voutsinas in the cast). He fared somewhat better with 6 Rms Wiv Vu in 1972 opposite Jane Alexander. Orbach returned to musicals in 1974 when he was signed on for Mack and Mabel. However, director Gower Champion abruptly replaced him with Robert Preston just before the start of rehearsals and no parties involved were ever given a clear reason why.

However, it was back to the top the following year when he created the role of the conniving lawyer Billy Flynn in Bob Fosse’s production of Chicago. Orbach held his own opposite leading ladies Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera. The show was ahead of its time in terms of its cynical tone and was swept away by A Chorus Line during awards season (though the revival would prove far more timely). On the Tony telecast, Orbach represented the company with his first act number “All I Care About”:


As it turned out, 42nd Street would be the final Broadway credit for both Jerry and director Gower Champion. The show, based on the 1933 film, was a juggernaut success, praised for being an old-fashioned throwback and run for 8 1/2 years. It’s opening at the Winter Garden in August 1980 is the stuff of legend, and it was Orbach (who was playing impresario Julian Marsh) who called for the curtain after producer David Merrick’s shocking announcement of Champion’s death earlier that same day. Orbach, who enjoyed long runs, stayed with 42nd Street for years until he proved too expensive for Merrick. On the Tonys, he led the company, including Wanda Richert and Lee Roy Reams with the second act showstopper “Lullaby of Broadway”:


And for the road, here’s Jerry singing “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks on the 1982 TV special “The Best of Broadway.”


Theatre Trivia about the late Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite, once named the “most trusted man in America,” passed away yesterday at the age of 92 leaving behind an incredible legacy as a journalist and news anchor. Many other and more worthy news sites will be eulogizing the broadcasting legend, so I will leave that charge to them, but wanted to touch very briefly on his Broadway connection.

He and his late wife were avid theatregoers in New York; often seen on the red carpet at many opening nights on Broadway. His daughter-in-law is stage and screen actress Deborah Rush, who is currently on the boards as Mrs. Bradman in the revival of Blithe Spirit that closes tomorrow.

But I wanted to share this interesting tidbit from the TCM biography of Mr. Cronkite:

“Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine wanted Cronkite to play the Narrator role in their stage production, Into the Woods, but Cronkite declined. In 1995, he provided voice-overs, however, for the musical revival of How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Matthew Broderick.”

I knew the latter piece of information, as Mr. Cronkite’s voice over narration is on the revival cast album, but I never knew the former.

And that’s the way it was…

Quote of the Day: Bob Martin

“Once you open on Broadway, you will meet many celebrities, both backstage after the performance and later over Cosmopolitans at the local theatre bar. Try to avoid meeting the bitter, drunken ones. This may be difficult as obnoxious celebrities are, by nature, gregarious, and quick to bark long stories of their bitterness, ripe with contradiction, at anyone they encounter, no matter how Canadian that person may be. A Broadway neophyte can become jaded by such encounters, and that can make for a difficult run. It is far healthier to socialize with well-rounded veterans of the stage and screen, who have accepted their success with humility and grace, and lived long dignified lives unblemished by scandal or cosmetic surgery. I recommend Angela Lansbury. Blythe Danner will do in a pinch.”

Bob Martin, “Meet Angela Lansbury,” Step #5 of his treatise on “How to Create a Broadway Hit in 6 Easy Steps” in Sunday’s issue of the Toronto Star

Creepy, Kooky, Mysterious and Spooky…

It’s been long in the works, but now it’s official. The Addams Family will be coming to Broadway as a musical next spring starring two-time Tony winners Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia. The cast also features Kevin Chamberlin as Uncle Fester, Jackie Hoffman as Grandmama, Krysta Rodriguez as Wednesday and Adam Riegler (best known as impresario Cubby Bernstein) as Pugsley. Also on board are Terrence Mann, Carolee Carmello, Wesley Taylor and Zachary James.

Andrew Lippa has provided the score and Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice have written the book, which is actually original and not a screen to stage adaptation. From the offical press release: “Storm clouds are gathering over the Addams Family manse. Daughter Wednesday, now 18, is experiencing a sensation that surprises and disgusts her – caring about another person. Young Pugsley, jealous of his sister’s attention, begs her to keep torturing him, severely, while mother Morticia, conflicted over her daughter’s lurch into womanhood, fears being upstaged and discarded…. like yesterday’s road kill. All the while, father Gomez – master of the revels, mischievous and oblivious as ever – would prefer everything and everyone remain as it is. But when outsiders come to dinner, the events of one night will change forever this famously macabre family – a family so very different from your own…or maybe not.”

The musical has had industry workshops and readings, involving Lane and Neuwirth and will have an official out of town tryout at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in Chicago starting November 13. The opening night in New York is slated for April 8, 2010 at a Nederlander Theatre to be announced.

Truth be told, I haven’t warmed to many of the newer musicals that have been opening, but I find that I cannot wait for this project. Word of mouth on the chat boards from insiders was very positive and signs point to this being a good musical comedy. Personally, some of the excitement for me lies in seeing authors doing something different with an established body of work. Instead of seeing the film or TV series just slapped onstage with self-referential and generic musical numbers, the creators are doing something unusual: being original.

Oh – and interesting fact: this will mark the first time that Bebe Neuwirth has ever created a role in a new Broadway musical. She replaced in A Chorus Line, Dancin’ and Fosse and won her two Tonys for revivals of Sweet Charity and Chicago, and was Lola in the ’94 revival of Damn Yankees.

Plenty of Roads to Try

So many shows closed today. Limited runs and commercial engagements alike came to an end. However, as always, Broadway carries on. Here is a list of the shows that are set to open on the Rialto over the next couple of months.

The American Plan
Gerald Friedman Theatre (MTC)
Wr: Richard Greenberg (revival)
Dir: David Grindley
Previews 1/2. Opens 1/22.
Mercedes Ruehl, Lily Rabe, Benjamin Eakeley, Austin Lysy, Brenda Pressley

Hedda Gabler
American Airlines Theatre (Roundabout)
Wr: Henrik Ibsen (trans: Christopher Shinn)
Dir: Ian Rickson
Previews 1/6. Opens 1/25.
Mary Louise Parker, Michael Cerveris, Paul Sparks, Peter Stormare

You’re Welcome America, A Final Night With President Bush
Cort Theatre
Wr: Will Ferrell
Dir: Adam McKay
Previews 1/20. Opens 2/5.
Will Ferrell (solo)

The Story of My Life
Booth Theatre
Book: Brian Mill
Music & Lyrics: Neil Bartram
Dir: Richard Maltby, Jr.
Previews 2/3. Opens 2/19.
Will Chase, Malcolm Gets

Guys and Dolls
Nederlander Theatre
Book: Jo Swerling & Abe Burrows
Music & Lyrics: Frank Loesser
Dir: Des McAnuff
Previews 2/3. Opens 3/1.
Craig Bierko, Oliver Pratt, Lauren Graham, Kate Jennings Grant, Titus Burgess & Mary Testa

33 Variations
Eugene O’Neill Theatre
Wr & Dir: Moises Kaufman
Previews: 2/9. Opens 3/9.
Jane Fonda

Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
Wr: Michael Jacobs
Dir: Jack O’Brien
Previews: 2/28. Opens: 3/12.
Jeremy Irons, Joan Allen, Marsha Mason, Andre de Shields, Michael T. Weiss, Aaron Lazar & Margarita Levieva

Blithe Spirit
Shubert Theatre
Wr: Noel Coward
Dir: Michael Blakemore
Previews: 2.26. Opens: 3.15.
Christine Ebersole, Angela Lansbury, Rupert Everett, Jayne Atkinson, Deborah Rush, Simon Jones.

West Side Story
Palace Theatre
Music: Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Book & Dir: Arthur Laurents
Previews: 2/23. Opens: 3/19.
Matt Cavenaugh, Josefina Scaglione, Karen Olivo, Cody Green & George Akram

Irena’s Vow
Walter Kerr Theatre
Wr: Dan Gordon
Dir: Michael Parva
Previews: 3/10. Opens: 3/29.
Tovah Feldshuh

Al Hirschfeld Theatre
Music: Galt McDermott
Book & Lyrics: Gerome Ragni & James Rado
Dir: Diane Paulus
Previews: 3/6. Opens: 3/31.
Gavin Creel

Reasons to Be Pretty
Lyceum Theatre
Wr: Neil LaBute
Terry Kinney
Previews: 3/13. Opens: 4/2.
Marin Ireland, Stephen Pasquale, Thomas Sadoski

Rock of Ages
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Wr: Chris d’Arienzo
Dir: Kristin Hanggi
Previews: 3.20. Opens: 4.7.
Casting has yet to be announced, though I would assume the off-Broadway cast would transfer.

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
Belasco Theatre
Wr: August Wilson
Dir: Bartlett Sher
Previews: 3/19. Opens: 4/16.
Casting has yet to be announced.

Mary Stuart
Broadhurst Theatre
Wr: Friedrich von Schiller; trans. Peter Oswald (revival)
Dir: Phyllida Lloyd
Previews: 3/30. Opens: 4/19.
Janet McTeer, Harriet Walter, Brian Murray, Michael Countryman, John Benjamin Hickey, Michael Rudko, Robert Stanton, Maria Tucci, Chandler Williams, Nicholas Woodeson

Accent on Youth
Gerald Friedman Theatre (MTC)
Wr: Samson Raphaelson (revival)
Dir: Daniel Sullivan
Previews: 4.7. Opens: 4.21.
David Hyde Pierce, Charles Kimbrough, Lisa Banes, Mary Catherine Garrison, Byron Jennings

The Philanthropist
American Airlines Theatre (Roundabout)
Wr: Christopher Hampton
Dir: David Grindley
Previews: 4.10. Opens: 4.26.
Matthew Broderick

9 to 5
Marquis Theatre
Music & Lyrics: Dolly Parton
Book: Patricia Resnick
Dir: Joe Mantello
Previews: 4.7. Opens: 4.30.
Alison Janney, Stephanie J. Block, Megan Hilty, Marc Kudisch, Andy Karl, Kathy Fitzgerald, Justin Bohon, Ann Harada, Lisa Howard

Waiting for Godot
Studio 54 (Roundabout)
Wr: Samuel Beckett (revival)
Dir: Anthony Page
Previews: 4.10. Opens: 4.30.
Nathan Lane, Bill Irwin, John Goodman, David Strathairn

Tickets are available through Telecharge or Ticketmaster. You can also find great discount codes at, Playbill Club Offers and Theatremania. Or, if the mood strikes, check out and see if you’re eligible for TDF. Most shows offer rush/lottery programs for day of performance tickets and there is also the inevitably reliable TKTS booths.

Shows currently offering discounts: August: Osage County, Spring Awakening, Mamma Mia!, In the Heights, Chicago, Gypsy, The Little Mermaid, The Phantom of the Opera, Shrek the Musical, The 39 Steps (soon moving to the Helen Hayes), Equus, Mary Poppins, Speed the Plow, Guys and Dolls, Hedda Gabler, Pal Joey, Soul of Shaolin, Spamalot, The American Plan, All My Sons, and The Story of My Life.

This doesn’t even begin to cover all the Off-Broadway shows that are available as well. Get thee to a theatre!!