Friday, August 26, 2016

Week in Review 8.26.16

Coming Up

The Barrow Street Theatre will be turned into a working pie shop this winter for an off-Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd, the Stephen Sondheim–Hugh Wheeler musical. Performances will begin February 14, 2017, with opening night set for March 1. The production comes via London, where the show was performed in Britain's oldest continuously operating pie shop. Broadway.com has more.

A new comedy series is coming to Netflix. Created by Nick Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Francesca Delbanco, the series, Friends from College, focuses on (you guessed it) a group of people who've been friends since college (Harvard, to be specific). The cast includes Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), Cobie Smulder (How I Met Your Mother), Annie Parisse (The Layover, Vinyl), Nat Faxon (The Descendants), Fred Savage, and Jae Suh Park. The series will shoot in New York this fall. Variety has more.

Restless Creature, the Wendy Whelan documentary, will debut at the New York Film Festival this fall. Film makers Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger followed Whelan from pre- to post-NYCB retirement (Whelan retired from NYCB in October 2014), and focuses on how the prima ballerina relearned her body and how to use it to express herself through dance. Restless Creature will be screened on October 9 and 10. Visit the NYFF website for more.

This fall, a slew of new comedy specials will debut on Netflix. Entertainment Weekly reports that the streaming service will feature specials from Dana Carvey; Michael Che; Reggie Watts; and others. Meanwhile, over on Showtime, comedy lovers can catch Martin Lawrence's first stand up special in 14 years beginning September 9. The Wrap has details.

Casting News

  • Tony and Grammy Award winner Jennifer Holliday (Dreamgirls) is joining the cast of The Color Purple. She'll take on the role of Shug Avery beginning October 4. Heather Headley, the current Shug, concludes her run with the company on October 2.

  • Complete casting for the off-Broadway revival of David Hare's Plenty has been announced. Among those joining the previously announced Rachel Weisz and Corey Stoll are Emily Bergl (Becky Shaw, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and Byron Jennings (She Loves Me). Broadway.com has the full cast list.

  • The fantastic Sarah Paulson (Collected Stories, American Horror/Crime Story) is rumored to be joining the cast of Ocean's Eight, the all-female Ocean's Eleven remake. She would be joining a cast that includes Mindy Kaling and Cate Blanchett, among others. The Hollywood Reporter has more.


  • Mandy Gonzalez, who will take over the role of Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton this fall, will begin performances on September 6. Tony winner Renee Elise Goldsberry, who originated the role, will play her final performance on September 3. Playbill has more.

  • Additional casting has been announced for New York Theatre Workshop's production of Othello, starring the previously announced David Oyelowo (in the title role) and Daniel Craig (as Iago), and directed by Sam Gold. Among those joining the company are Finn Wittrock (Death of a Salesman, American Horror Story), David Wilson Barnes (Next Fall, The Big Meal), Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards, The Big Knife), and Matthew Maher (The Flick). Previews begin November 22, with opening night set for December 12. The limited engagement is scheduled to conclude on January 18, 2017. Visit Broadway.com for the full casting announcement.
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  • Variety has named its 10 Actors to Watch in 2016. (Seeing as it's August, the list comes in a timely manner.) Included on the list are Mahershala Ali (Smart People, House of Cards), Rachel Brosnhan (House of Cards, The Big Knife), Tavi Gevinson (This is Our Youth), and Oscar- and Grammy-winning musician John Legend, who'll make his acting debut in this year's La La Land.

  • Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur, Fool for Love) revealed to Playbill her favorite theatre-going experiences.

  • The Sweet Charity off-Broadway revival, led by two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (Anything Goes), has been extended for two weeks. The limited engagement will now conclude its run December 23. Tickets are on sale. Playbill has more.

  • The Hollywood Reporter talks to writer and director Leslye Headland, whose new play, The Layover just opened at Second Stage Theatre. Headland has been on the boards with Bachelorette (which was later adapted for the big screen) and Assistance, and wrote and directed the flick, Sleeping with Other People.

  • Dear Evan Hansen fans: Learn about the story behind the song, "Waving Through a Window," in this featurette with songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Layover


The last time I saw "theatre noir" I was thoroughly turned off. (It was Mike Bencivenga's Billy and Ray.) In the hands of the talented playwright Leslye Headland (Bachelorette, Assistance), though, the genre is interesting and provocative.

The Layover begins with two strangers on a plane, Shellie (Annie Parisse) and Dex (Adam Rothenberg). Their flight is delayed, and they start chatting. In the next scene, they are in the airport terminal, their flight having been canceled. I noticed how easily they spoke to each other, how easily they told each other what I consider intimate details of their lives. I thought, "How interesting that they can open up like that." I supposed that since they were strangers, with little to no risk of seeing each other again, they felt comfortable being honest, being themselves. I was sure of where this was going.

But then Headland introduced a gear shift (as she called it in a post-show discussion), and the play moved decidedly into noir territory, weaving in and out of unexpected places. I won't say much more about the plot so as to keep it a surprise for you, although my description of Shellie and Dex as strangers on a plane was deliberate.

Through noir tropes, and with the aid of Trip Cullman's incisive direction (the two worked together on Bachelorette and Assistance), Headland explores relationships and gender roles. She presents us with discussions of love and murder (and even a scatological digression), leaving us to draw our own interpretations, to think about how we do or don't relate to these archetypes, and what that means.

Cullman (Significant Other, I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard) harnesses the talents of his design team—Mark Wendland (sound); Clint Ramos (costumes); Japhy Weideman (lighting); Fitz Patton (sound); and Jeff Sugg (video)—to draw us in to this world, to help clarify the language and rules of theatre noir.

Actors Quincy Dunn-Baker, Arica Himmel, John Procaccino, and Amelia Workman do fine work as various characters, but it's stars Annie Parisse (Antlia Pneumatica, Clybourne Park) and Adam Rothenberg that make the show. Parisse is captivating. She appears so strong and cunning when we first meet Shellie, and then reveals layers not usually seen in a femme fatale. Rothenberg (and his deep, seductive voice) is entirely appealing as Dex, a confident, no-nonsense professional (an engineer, to be specific) who has to decide what he wants, and at what cost. The Layover is a wholly intriguing play, with plenty of Headland's dark humor providing color and commentary.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Week in Review 8.19.16

Casting News

  • Tony nominees Tony Shalhoub (Act One, Golden Boy) and Jessica Hecht (A View from the BridgeFiddler on the Roof), as well as stage and screen veteran John Turturro (The Cherry Orchard, Zorba) will lead Roundabout's revival of Arthur Miller's The Price. Previews begin February 16, 2017, with opening night scheduled for March 16. The limited engagement will run through May 7. Playbill has more. (For news about Turturro and The Big Lebowski, scroll down.)

  • SNL alumnus Jason Sudeikis will lead the world premiere of the Dead Poets Society stage adaptation. The Classic Stage Company production begins previews October 27. Broadway.com has more.

  • Nia Long (House of Lies) will star opposite Idina Menzel in the Lifetime remake of Beaches. Long, who you might remember from her Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days, will play Hillary, who was played in the movie by Barbara Hershey. Deadline has more.

  • Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club, My So-Called Life) has joined the starry cast of the Blade Runner sequel. In addition to Blade Runner's original star, Harrison Ford, Leto will appear alongside Ryan Gosling and Robin Wright, among others. The Wrap has more.

  • Tony winner Billy Crudup (The Coast of Utopia, Waiting for Godot) has joined the cast of the Netflix series, Gypsy (no connection to the Sondheim musical). Crudup, who was recently seen in Spotlight, joins the previously announced Naomi Watts. The Wrap has more.

  • Two-time Tony Award winner Andrea Martin (Pippin) has joined the company of NBC's Hairspray Live. Martin, who most recently appeared on Broadway in Noises Off, will play Prudy Pingleton. Theater Mania has more.
The Robber Bridegroom Album on its Way

The cast album for the 2016 revival of The Robbert Bridegroom, featuring Steven Pasquale, Ahna O'Reilly, and MVP Leslie Kritzer, will be released on September 9. The celebrated off-Broadway production was directed by the visionary Alex Timbers, who wrote a special note for the album's booklet. You can visit sh-k-boom.com/robber-bridegroom to pre-order your CD, or head to iTunes to pre-order a digital copy. Watch a tease from the recording studio below.


Broadway Bound Updates

  • Dates have been set for the Broadway bow of Joshua Harmon's fantastic play, Significant Other. Previews will begin at the Booth Theatre on February 14, 2017 (fitting, as it's a play about relationships), and opening night is scheduled for March 2. Theater Mania has more.

  • Tony nominee Brandon Victor Dixon's start date as Aaron Burr in Hamilton has been set. The actor, who recently starred in Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed, will perform in the room where it happens beginning August 23. Theater Mania has more.

  • The Broadway Briefing reports that dates have been set for the new musical, Come From Away. The show will begin previews on February 18, 2017, and opening night is set for March 12. A theatre has yet to be announced.
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  • The "Alexander Hamilton" episode of Drunk History, narrated by Hamilton scribe Lin-Manuel Miranda, will air on Comedy Central on November 29. Playbill has more. In other LMM news, Miranda will team with composer Alan Menken to write and adapt songs for the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Deadline has more.

  • The itinerary and cast for the 20th anniversary tour of Rent has been announced. Playbill has full details.

  • NYCB soloist Georgina Pazcoguin talks to Digital Journal about appearing on Broadway in the recently-opened revival of Cats.

  • Did you know that Party of Five is available on Hulu? It is! And the sixth and final season of Community was recently added, along with the series Rescue Me and the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. Variety has details.

  • Mr. Robot has been renewed for a third season. The second season is airing on USA Network. Deadline has more.

  • A new George Carlin album will be released on September 16. The album features material that the late comedian kept out of his specials, as well as a home recording and interviews with some of Carlin's collaborators. Rolling Stone has more, including a snippet of a routine.

  • Chicago: Robert O'Hara's fantastic Bootycandy is coming your way! The funny and provocative play will be part of the Windy City Playhouse's 2016-2017 season, bowing in January 2017. Playbill has more.

  • A remake of A Star is Born is on its way. After much speculation, Warner Bros. has closed a deal that will see Lady Gaga star alongside Bradley Cooper, who will also direct. (This will mark his directorial debut.) Production begins in California next year. Deadline has more.

  • "Don't mess with the Jesus." John Turturro is shooting a spinoff from The Big Lebowski, the cult film in which Turturro appeared as Lebowski's bowling nemesis, Jesus. Indie Wire has more.

  • Aaron Tveit is back on Show People! In his fourth appearance on the Broadway.com series, Tveit (Next to Normal, Brain Dead) talks about Grease Live, which is up for ten Emmys next month, and how he's unwinding this summer. (Hint: it's golf.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Week in Review 8.12.16

Erivo and Henry Set for The Last Five Years Benefit

Tony winner Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) and two-time Tony nominee Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys, Violet, Shuffle Along...) will star in a one-night-only benefit concert of Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years, which was last seen in New York in 2013. Proceeds from the September 12 Town Hall concert will go to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. (Brown has been a vocal support of gun safety measures.) Though Erivo and Henry are African-American performers, nothing about the show—dramaturgically speaking—will change. (The Last Five Years is specifically about a Jewish man, Jamie, and his shiksa goddess, Cathy.) Tickets go on sale Wednesday. Visit The New York Times for more.

Television Critics Association Awards Nominations

The TCA Awards nominees have been announced. The Hollywood Reporter has the full list of nominees. Herein, some notable nominations:
  • Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) and Sarah Paulson (The People v. OJ Simpson), Individual Achievement in Drama
  • Mr. Robot, Game of Thrones, and The Leftovers, Outstanding Achievement in Drama

  • Aya Cash (You're the Worst) and Aziz Ansari (Master of None), Individual Achievement in Comedy

  • Silicon Valley, Veep, and Master of None, Outstanding Achievement in Comedy

  • Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Outstanding Achievement in News and Information

  • Mr. Robot and Master of None, Outstanding New Program

  • Show Me a Hero, Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials

  • Game of Thrones and Mr. Robot, Program of the Year
Casting News

  • Additional casting has been announced for the upcoming off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity. Among those joining the previously announced Sutton Foster are Tony winner Shuler Hensley (Oklahoma, Waiting for Godot), Emily Padgett (Bright Star, Side Show), Asmeret Ghebremichael, Joel Perez (Fun Home), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) and more. Visit Broadway.com for details. Previews begin November 2, with opening night scheduled for November 20.

  • O'Shea Jackson, Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) and Tony nominee Billy Magnussen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Into the Woods) have joined the cast of Ingrid Goes West, an independent dark comedy filming in L.A. The Hollywood Reporter has more.

  • Additional casting has been announced for the HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Among those joining Tony winner Renee Elise Goldsberry (who is taking on the title role) are Tony winners Courtney B. Vance (Lucky Guy), Leslie Uggams (Hallelujah, Baby!), Reed Birney (The Humans), Adriane Lenox (Doubt, The Path), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Seven Guitars), and Roger Robinson (Joe Turner's Come and Gone), as well as stage and screen veterans Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards) and John Douglas Thompson (A Time to Kill). Deadline has more.

  • Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah will not return to Saturday Night Live. There is no clear (public) explanation for the two versatile players' departures. Rolling Stone has more. Both actors, however, have been cast in Showtime pilots. Killam will lead Mating, which boasts Parenthood's Jason Katims as an executive producer, and Pharoah will be part of Jamie Foxx's White Famous. Deadline has more.

  • Josh Charles (Sports Night, The Good Wife) has been cast in the in-production flick, Amateur. Charles will play a basketball coach trying to recruit a player (played by Michael Rainey, Jr.). The Tracking Board has more.
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  • Theatre Mania checks in with Tony winner Nina Arianda (Venus in Fur, Fool for Love) to talk about the new movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, in which Arianda appears alongside Meryl Streep.

  • Tony winner Thomas Kail (Hamilton) has entered into a partnership with Fox, creating the production company Old 320 Sycamore. Kail, who is an Emmy nominee for his direction of Fox's Grease Live, will develop projects for Fox's broadcast and cable stations. Broadwayworld.com has more.

  • Dates are set for the Broadway bow of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel. Previews will begin March 28, 2017, with opening night set for April 23. Playbill has more. (Bonus: head to Theater Mania to watch the two teaser trailers.)

  • The sixth season of Homeland will premiere on Sunday, January 15, 2017. It was just officially announced that the series has been renewed for a seventh and eighth season. Variety has more.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Week in Review 8.5.16

Hamilton Casting News

Two-time Tony nominee Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys, Shuffle Along...) will originate the role of Aaron Burr in the Chicago company of Hamilton. He'll be joined by Jonathan Kirkland, who'll take on the role of George Washington. The Chicago company began rehearsals this week, and their first performance is scheduled for September 27. Meanwhile, on Broadway, Mandy Gonzales (In the Heights) will take over as Angelica this October. A date for her first performance, as well as the date for departing Tony winner Renee Elise Goldsberry's final performance, will be announced later. Broadway.com has more.

Casting News

  • Tony winner Kelli O'Hara (The King and I) will appear in a recurring role on the fourth season of Masters of Sex. Season four premieres Sunday, September 11. TV Line has more.

  • Casting change at The Cherry Orchard: the memorable Kyle Beltran (Fortress of Solitude, Head of Passes) will take on the role of Trofimov. It was previously announced that Aaron Clifton Moten (The Flick, Mozart in the Jungle) would play the role. Diane Lane leads the company. Previews begin September 15, with opening night set for October 16. Playbill has more.

  • Complete casting for Roundabout Underground's production of Jenny Rachel Weiner's Kingdom Come has been announced. Brooke Bloom, Carmen M. Herlihy, Alex Hernandez, Socorro Santiago, and Stephanie Styles will tackle the play about online dating. Playbill has more.

  • Tony nominee Tony Shalhoub (Act One, Brain Dead) will lead the company of The Band's Visit, a new musical written by songwriter David Yazbek and playwright Itamar Moses. The musical will debut at the Atlantic this fall. Theater Mania has more.

  • Rosie O'Donnell and Sean Hayes have joined the cast of Hairspray Live. O'Donnell will play the gym teacher, and Hayes will appear as dress shop owner Mr. Pinky. Hairspray Live airs on NBC December 7. Playbill has more.
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  • The Hollywood Reporter has a round up of all things HBO (from the recent Television Critics Association meeting), including news about Game of Thrones and Jon Stewart's return to television. (In a separate THR article, it was announced that Real Time with Bill Maher has been renewed through 2018.)

  • Jimmy Fallon will host the Golden Globes, which are set to air on NBC January 8, 2017. Playbill has more.

  • Playbill checked in with Emmy and Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network) as he adapts Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird for the stage. Sorkin busted onto the scene with the Broadway debut of A Few Good Men, and the Steve Jobs scribe was most recently on the boards in 2007 with The Farnsworth Invention.

  • The Bette Midler-led revival of Hello Dolly will begin previews March 15, 2017, rather than March 13, as originally scheduled. Playbill has more.

  • Tony winner Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton) will join the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for a piece about Martin Luther King, Jr. Playbill has details.

  • The first-ever Broadway revival of Miss Saigon will play at its original Broadway home, the Broadway Theatre. Previews will begin March 1, 2017, with opening night scheduled for March 23. Theater Mania has details.

  • Lily Tomlin will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAG Awards, which will be presented January 29, 2017. BroadwayWorld.com has more.