Week in Review 4.17.15

An American in Paris Opens on Broadway

Merde! The glorious new musical, An American in Paris, which features a Gershwin score, officially opened on Broadway this past Sunday night. It not only marked the American stage debut of the show (inspired by the Oscar-winning Gene Kelly movie), but also marked stars Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope's Broadway debuts. (Choreographer and director Christopher Wheeldon has a previous Broadway choreography credit to his name; this marked his directorial debut.) Theatre outlets were out in full force to cover the opening night festivities, beginning with my review and the New York Times' review. Next, check out photos from Broadway Style Guide; Theater Mania; Broadway.com; and Broadwayworld.com: Gypsy Robe ceremony; red carpet; bows; and party. Watch below as Broadway.com talks to audience members, like Robbie's sister, Megan Fairchild (who's on Broadway in On the Town), and the cast and creative team at the opening night celebration. Here are two great sketches: the "Squigs" caricature and a drawing by Andrea Selby. And, finally, watch this NYC Arts special about the show. (Bonus: The cast album has a release date, June 2, and is now available for pre-order.)


Justin Peck Profiled

The talented choreographer and NYCB soloist Justin Peck (Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, Ballet 422) is the subject of a recent CBS News profile in which he talks about his creative process. Peck starts with the music, he says, and then follows where his body takes him. In the video, principal dancers Tiler Peck (no relation) and Amar Ramasar sing Peck's praises, saying that even the first time they shared the rehearsal room with him, Peck had the presence of an experienced choreographer. As NYCB's resident choreographer, Peck will contribute two ballet's to the Company's 2015-2016 season. (The full calendar should be released later this month.)

Casting News

Encores!Jake Gyllenhaal (Constellations, Nightcrawler) and Taran Killam (SNL, 12 Years a Slave) will make their musical theatre debuts in the Encores! Off-Center concert staging of Little Shop of Horrors. Gyllenhaal will play Seymour and Killam will play Orin Scrivello, DDS. In addition, Chuck Cooper (Romeo and Juliet, Choir Boy) will voice Audrey II. The three men join the previously announced Ellen Greene, who will reprise the role of Audrey. The concert runs July 1 and 2. Broadway.com has more.

Film—Stage and screen veteran Ian McKellen (Waiting for Godot/No Man's Land), as well as rising star Gugu Mbatha-Raw, will appear as Cogsworth, the enchanted clock, and Plumette, the enchanted feather duster, respectively, in the live-action movie of Beauty and the Beast. They join the previously announced Audra McDonald, Kevin Kline and Emma Thompson, as well as Emma Watson and Dan Stevens as the title pair. Playbill and Variety have more.

Broadway—Initial casting has been announced for On Your Feet!, the Gloria and Emilio Estefan bio-musical. Ana Villafane and Josh Segarra (Dogfight, Lysistrata Jones) will star as the musical couple. On Your Feet! is set for the Marquis Theatre, where previews will begin on October 5. Opening night is scheduled for November 5. Broadway.com has more.

BroadwayWill Swenson will conclude his run with Les Miserables on May 10. Earl Carpenter, who covered the role while Swenson was away over the summer, will assume the role of Javert full time beginning May 12. Broadway.com has details.

Josh Groban to Tour Stages

The celebrated musician will embark on a fall tour in support of his upcoming album, Stages, a collection of Groban's covers of his favorite musical theatre songs. (Tracks include "What I Did for Love," from A Chorus Line, and "If I Loved You," from Carousel, on which he duets with Audra McDonald.) The tour will begin in Atlanta in September, and continue through early November, making stops in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and more in between. Tickets go on sale April 24. Playbill has details.

Time 100 Most Influential People

Time magazine has released its list of the 100 Most Influential People. Honorees are sorted into one of five categories: Titans, Pioneers, Artists, Leaders and Icons. You'll be pleased to know that stars like six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald (Porgy and Bess, Lady Day), Oscar winner Julianne Moore (A Single Man, Still Alice), fake news comedian John Oliver (who's Last Week Tonight just won a Peabody.) and director Christopher Nolan (Inception) made the Artists' list. Others who are among the 100 include Lorne Michaels (SNL); Janet Yellen; Reese Witherspoon (Wild); Senator Elizabeth Warren (my hero); Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; and Pope Francis. Visit time.com to view the full list of influential people.

Funny Ladies Writing Books

What do Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods) and Laura Benanti (Women on the Verge..., Nashville) have in common? Both are talented; both are funny; both have played Cinderella in Into the Woods. And, it was announced (separately) this week, both are writing books! Each actress will pen memoirs/collections of humorous essays. The books are due in 2016, and if you follow either actress on Twitter (I recommend following both), you know you're in for a sassy, witty treat. Entertainment Weekly has details about Kendrick's book, and Broadwayworld.com has details about Benanti's.

Amazing Grace to Play Broadway

The bio-musical about John Newton and his journey to write "Amazing Grace" will bow on Broadway this summer. Written by Christopher Smith (book and score) and Arthur Giron (book), Amazing Grace will begin previews at the Nederlander on June 25. Opening night is scheduled for July 16. The musical will be directed by Gabriel Barre and choreographed by Tony winner Christopher Gattelli (Newsies), and will star Tony nominee Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar), as well as Erin Mackey (Chaplin), Chuck Cooper (Choir Boy) and Stanley Bahorek (See Rock City), among others. The musical had an out of town tryout in Chicago last year. Theater Mania has more.

Dig This

  • On Twitter, Lin-Manuel Miranda announced that the Hamilton cast album—a double album—will be released in September, and will include everything. Tickets for the Broadway run are now on sale. Visit hamiltonbroadway.com for more.

  • After rumors of a transfer, recent Olivier Award winner for Best Play, King Charles III, will bow on Broadway this fall. Previews of the Mike Bartlett (Cock) play begin October 10, with opening night scheduled for November 1. King Charles III will play a limited engagement at the Music Box Theatre. Broadway.com has more.

  • Tony Kushner (Lincoln, The Intelligent...), Beau Willimon (Farragut North, House of Cards), John Patrick Shanley (Doubt) and Susan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog, Porgy and Bess) talk to The Hollywood Reporter about being NY playwrights and writing for Hollywood.

  • Theater Mania checked in with Tony winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful) as she gets ready to make her Carnegie Hall debut.


  • Hooray! Veep and Silicon Valley have been renewed. Both series started a new season this past Sunday. The Hollywood Reporter has more.

  • Tony winner Mary-Louise Parker (The Snow Geese) and Bruce Willis (Looper), who'll make his Broadway debut next season, will announce the Tony Award nominations on April 28. Visit tonyawards.com for more.

  • An Act of God will now begin previews on May 7; previews were originally scheduled to begin May 5. Broadway.com has more.

  • Almost There, the single-camera comedy series starring and executive produced by Steven Pasquale (The Bridges of Madison County) is set for a fall premiere on DirecTV. Deadline has details.

  • Hamilton director Thomas Kail will direct Fox's broadcast of Grease, which will star Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo and Julianne Hough as Sandy. The live presentation will air July 31. Theater Mania has more.

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