There is so much happening on Broadway this season with new shows opening, new shows closing, casts changing and much more. Here are some of the highlights.
50TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTION OF THE MIRACLE WORKER
Here comes the first Broadway revival of William Gibson's THE MIRACLE WORKER as the Tony Award® winning play celebrates its 50th Anniversary of opening on Broadway.
THE MIRACLE WORKER will star Academy Award® nominee Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Tony Award® nominee Alison Pill (The Lieutenant of Inishmore) as Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, iconic roles made famous by Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke in the Tony Award® winning play and landmark feature film adaptation.
THE MIRACLE WORKER will be staged in the round for the first time at Circle in the Square Theatre (235 West 50 Street). Previews will begin on Friday, February 12, 2010 toward an officially opening Wednesday, March 3, 2010.
Set in the South in the 1880s, THE MIRACLE WORKER tells the story of real-life Medal of Freedom winner Helen Keller, born blind and deaf, and the extraordinary teacher who taught her to communicate with the world, Annie Sullivan.
Young film star Abigail Breslin will make her Broadway debut in the role of Helen Keller. She made her breakthrough feature film appearance as Mel Gibson's leading lady at the tender age of five in M. Night Shyamalan's 2002 film Signs, and received an Academy Award® nomination for her critically-acclaimed title role performance in the runaway hit comedy Little Miss Sunshine.
THE MIRACLE WORKER originally opened at The Playhouse Theatre on October 19, 1959 and was awarded the 1960 Tony Award® for Best Play in addition to garnering leading lady Anne Bancroft a Tony Award® for Best Actress in a Play for the role of Annie Sullivan and a Theatre World Award for newcomer Patty Duke for her portrayal of Helen Keller. Both actresses received Academy Awards® for their work in the feature film adaptation.
WILL SPIDERMAN STICK THIS TIME?
As I have mentioned in many columns getting a show up on Broadway is not easy, especially with a creative genius and big spender like Julie Taymor. There was much doubt in the theatre community that SPIDER-MAN would ever open, but the producing team of the Broadway-bound SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark recently met with the show's key creatives to get the show back on track. The producers said that full financing for SPIDER-MAN is expected to be in place shortly. Once this happens the show will resume full production. The show will open in 2010 at the Hilton Theatre in New York.
After an exhaustive search that included a casting call tour spanning six cities and thousands of candidates, the producers and creative team have selected Reeve Carney to play the role of Peter Parker, The Amazing Spider-Man. Carney joins previously announced cast members Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker's girlfriend and Alan Cumming as Norman Osborn (aka Green Goblin).
Reeve is the lead singer of CARNEY, the hot up and coming rock band whose newest single "Love Me Chase Me" was just released. The band's first full length album, entitled Mr. Green, will be released in early 2010 on Interscope Records. Reeve's acting credits include Julie Taymor's upcoming film version of The Tempest and the film version of the acclaimed novel Snow Falling on Cedars.
Drawing from over 40 years of Marvel comic books for inspiration, SPIDER-MAN spins a new take on the mythic tale of a young man propelled from a modest rowhouse in Queens to the sky-scraping spire of the Chrysler Building, the bustling offices of the Daily Bugle, through the dizzying canyons of Manhattan, to new vistas never before seen. The musical follows the story of teenager Peter Parker, whose unremarkable life is turned upside-down literally when he's bitten by a genetically altered spider and wakes up the next morning clinging to his bedroom ceiling. This bullied science-geek suddenly endowed with astonishing powers soon learns, however, that with great power comes great responsibility as villains test not only his physical strength but also his strength of character. Spider-Man's battles will hurtle the audience through an origin story both recognizable and unexpected yielding new characters as well as familiar faces until a final surprising confrontation casts a startling new light on this hero's journey.
SPIDER-MAN features music and lyrics by 22-time Grammy® Award-winners Bono and The Edge of U2 with direction by Tony® Award-winner Julie Taymor (The Tempest, Across The Universe, The Lion King). SPIDER-MAN is written by Julie Taymor and Glen Berger (Underneath The Lintel).
SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM
Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine return to Studio 54 with SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, a new original Broadway musical starring Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat, Leslie Kritzer, Norm Lewis, Euan Morton & Matthew Scott. Music & lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim, and the production is conceived & directed by James Lapine.
SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM will begin previews on March 19th, 2010 and open officially April 22nd, 2010 at Studio 54 on Broadway (254 West 54th Street). This will be a limited engagement through Sunday, June 13th, 2010.
He brought us Into The Woods, Company, Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, West Side Story and Gypsy (to name a few). By writing songs that reflect the complexity of his characters, he has changed the way we define a great musical. But even though millions of fans know his songs by heart, few know much about Stephen Sondheim himself. Until now. Roundabout presents SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM, an intimate portrait of the famed composer in his own words... and music. Through the use of exclusive interview footage, you'll get an inside look at Sondheim's personal life and artistic process. An ensemble cast of Broadway's best will perform brand-new arrangements of over two dozen Sondheim tunes, ranging from the beloved to the obscure. Directed by frequent Sondheim collaborator James Lapine, this unique experience will take you inside the life and mind of an ordinary New Yorker… with an extraordinary talent.
It has been over 37 years since Barbara Cook appeared in a Broadway musical. Ms. Cook won the 1958 Tony Award® for her portrayal of "Marian Paroo" in The Music Man. She has been called one of the greatest interpreters of the work of Mr. Sondheim and received a Tony Award® nomination for Best Theatrical Event for her solo, limited engagement concert Mostly Sondheim in 2002.
Vanessa Williams received a 2002 Tony Award® nomination for her performance of the "Witch" in Into the Woods and made her Broadway debut in 1994 in Kiss of the Spider Woman.
LEND ME A TENOR
Revivals galore!!! Ken Ludwig's hilarious comedy LEND ME A TENOR starring Anthony LaPaglia, Tony Shalhoub, Jan Maxwell, Mary Catherine Garrison, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Jay Klaitz, and Brooke Adams, directed by Stanley Tucci, will bow on Broadway on April 4, 2010 at the Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street). Preview performances begin March 11.
Set in the 1930s, LEND ME A TENOR is a madcap screwball comedy that takes place when Tito Merelli, the fiery-tempered and world famous Italian superstar, arrives in Cleveland, Ohio to make his debut with the local opera and promptly goes missing. As Saunders, the show's presenter, conspires to cover for Tito's absence, placate his hot-blooded wife, and distract his most passionate fans, chaos on a truly operatic level ensues.
VALERIE HARPER BACK ON BROADWAY!
Valerie Harper will return to Broadway this spring in Matthew Lombardo's new comedy LOOPED, directed by Rob Ruggiero. It will play the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street). Previews begin on February 19 and opening night is Sunday March 14.
LOOPED tells the story of Tallulah Bankhead, the internationally celebrated actress, being called into a sound studio in 1965 to re-record (or "loop") one line of dialogue for what would be her last film -- the dreadful Die, Die My Darling . Southern, but by no means a belle, Ms. Bankhead was known for her wild partying and convention-defying exploits that outshone even today's celebrity bad girls. And given her inebriated state (and inability to loop the line perfectly), what ensues is a hilarious showdown between an uptight and conservative sound editor, Danny Miller, and the outrageous legend.
Four time Emmy winner Valerie Harper ("Rhoda," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"), returns to Broadway where she last starred in Charles Busch's The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. She also starred in that show's first national tour, as well as in the tour of William Gibson's acclaimed one-woman play, Golda's Balcony, winner of the 2006 Touring Broadway Award. Other Broadway credits include Paul Sills' Story Theatre; Paul Sills' production of Ovid's Metamorphoses; Carl Reiner's Something Different, Subways are for Sleeping, Wildcat, Take Me Along, Destry Rides Again and Li'l Abner. Off Broadway, she starred in Death-Defying Acts by Elaine May and Woody Allen and All Under Heaven, a one-woman play which she co-wrote based on the life and work of Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck. She originated the role of Tallulah in the world premiere production of Looped at the Pasadena Playhouse and reprised the role at the Cuillo Centre and at Arena Stage.
On TV, she achieved worldwide acclaim playing Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda," earning four Emmys, a Golden Globe, Harvard's Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year and the Hollywood Women's Press Club Golden Apple Award. She starred in the NBC series "Valerie," as well as in CBS' "The Office," and "City" and in the feature films Blame it on Rio, Neil Simon's Chapter Two, Freebie and the Bean and The Last Married Couple in America. She is the author of a book published by Harper Collins entitled "Today I am a Ma'am: And Other Musings on Life, Beauty and Growing Older," a light-hearted look at aging. Since 1977, she's been an active participant in The Hunger Project, a strategic organization committed to the sustainable end of world hunger.
More Broadway news to come in two weeks.