Archive for the 'theatre' Category

Gwyneth and Mom Headed to Broadway’s Night Music?

Stranger things have happened.

There’s some talk on Broadway that replacements are being sought for Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury in “A Little Night Music.” Once the pair play past the Tony Awards in June, they are expected to leave for greener pastures (movies, in Jones’s case) and a little rest (in Lansbury’s.)

And so the rumor floating around is that the producers are interested in Gwyneth Paltrow and her mother, Blythe Danner, taking over the roles. This means Oscar winner Paltrow would sing the famous “Send in the Clowns.” She can sing, you know, Paltrow just finished making a musical film called “Love Don’t Let Me Down,” in Nashville with Tim McGraw. She starred in “Duets,” directed by her later father Bruce Paltrow and had a semi-hit single with Huey Lewis on a cover of a Smokey Robinson song.

Danner can do anything, so taking over for Lansbury would be a cinch.

Only problem: each is too young for the roles. Jones is three years older than Paltrow. Each of them is substantially younger than Glynis Johns was when she originated the role. Danner is strikingly younger than 85 year old Lansbury, that’s for sure. Could it work? Well, they do call it acting. All those years, Estelle Getty played 20 years older as Sophia on “Golden Girls.”

If Paltrow isn’t available, I did hear one producer mention Mariska Hargitay as a possibility. Obviously, they’re looking for stars. But I don’t think Chris Meloni could do the Lansbury part justice. (Just kidding! They could call it “Night Music SVU.”)

Meanwhile, the talented Matthew Settle takes over the part of Billy Flynn in “Chicago” this Monday, April 19th. Matthew, of course, plays the rock star dad on “Gossip Girl.” I have a feeling he’s going to be great! PS “Chicago” has been on Broadway since November 1996. I can remember in the ol’ days when “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Hello Dolly!” held the longevity records when they hit seven or eight years. How times have changed.

More stars on Broadway: Kelsey Grammer opens on Sunday in the latest revival of “La Cage Aux Folles.” The word is the production is great. Can’t you picture Frasier Crane in this show? It’s perfect casting.

Harry Potter Back to Broadway–with Clothes!

Harry Potter is coming back to Broadway. And this time, he’ll wear clothes!

Daniel Radcliffe has signed to star in a revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” It’s a musical, so apparently our Harry can sing. Who knew?

No word yet on who will be his female co-star.I guess if they could get Emma Watson to do it, the box office would sell out immediately. Radcliffe’s prior Broadway show was “Equus,” in which he co-starred with his Potter colleague Richard Griffiths. Radcliffe appeared naked for some of that show, which got a lot of publicity. In “How to Succeed,” he’ll wear suits and ties, thanks.

The last revival of this show was a hundred years ago, starring Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, with the greatĀ  Lilias White. It was an enormous hit. For the White role, maybe the producers can get Fantasia. Now, that would be rockin’!

The original show, from the 1960s, starred Robert Morse (now of “Mad Men”) and Michele Lee of “Knots Landing” fame. They went on to star in the movie.

Conan Going to TBS, Full of Surprises in Meantime

Conan O’Brien is heading to TBS in September for his late night talk show. It’s a surprise, since the trades kept predicting a Fox show in no time.

But I told you months ago, when the Conan-Jay scuffle was underway, that Fox had problems clearing stations. Their network goes off the air at 10pm. After that, it’s syndication. Their stations make too much money showing comedy reruns. And Fox might not have such a sense of humor about O’Brien’s politics.

Tonight Conan starts his live tour, so the announcement is well timed. The live shows are full of surprise guests in every city. The Conan people are going to work hard to keep the guests a secret, but I am sure some of it will leak out. By the time Conan gets to New York on June 1st, there should be Coco hysteria.

Also, I wouldn’t bet the farm, but maybe the barns: the New York shows are sure to have someĀ  involvement with Bruce Springsteen. We’ll wait and see.

Will “The Addams Family” Be Critic Proof?

It was a long time coming, but “The Addams Family” opened last night on Broadway. The reviews are scathing, and the question is: Can a show with millions in pre-sales overcome the critics?

“The Addams Family” took in nearly $1.4 million last week in previews. It was third at the box office behind “Wicked” and “The Lion King.” A new show, not even opened, such a hit? It’s never happened before.

You could see why at last night’s premiere. Stars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth were met with adulatory applause from an audience that was part celebrity and part real people. Among the stars who showed: Matthew Broderick (with a bodyguard no less) plus Bob and Lynne Balaban, Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kodb, Tony Roberts, Tova Feldshuh, and “Ray” director Taylor Hackford.

The crowd loved the show, as did the “real” audience I saw it with a couple of weeks ago. But “The Addams Family” is taking a drubbing from theater critics. And they’re right. The show is a mess, from top to bottom. The songs by Andrew Lippa are so awful that one of them includes a comedy line about “Schindler’s List.” Ouch! What was Lippa thinking? The songs do nothing to drive the story along; many of them are just self contained, with terrible lyrics. A couple of them sound like Meat Loaf’s cast offs.

And then there’s the script: it is baffling how this slight plot line mirrors a movie in which Nathan Lane once starred: “The Birdcage.” In this version, Wednesday Addams is now more Marilyn Munster, the “normal” member of an odd family. She wants to marry a normal boy and so invites his normal family to dinner. Sound familiar? Soon this conservative Ohio couple (Terrance Mann, Carolee Carmello) are loosening up and getting wild.

“The Addams Family” grinds to a halt somewhere in there. I particularly objected to the constant references to death and love of it; the Addamses are obsessed with it, but nothing explains why or who they are. And in this version, their mansoleum of a mansion is planted in Central Park. Huh? Cousin It is seen in passing, and Grandmama (Jackie Hoffman) is the most annoying character on Broadway in many seasons.

But still: the audience wants to see this show. It various flaws will matter not, I think, to the average theatergoer. No Tony’s for the show, book or score unless the committee takes one of Grandmama’s potions before voting. But the actors will be nominated, and that should give it some help. My guess is “The Addams Family” runs for as long as Lane and Neuwirth can stand it, or need the paycheck.

And they are the pleasures of seeing the show. Lane is full of shtick. Neuwirth is quintessential Morticia even though they haven’t given her enough to do. You really have to wait into Act 2 to see Neuwirth, the former star of “Chicago,” show her stuff. She’s worth the price of admission.

Spider Man Broadway Show Promised for Fall (Or Winter)

“Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” is coming. Really. This fall.

Original producer David Garfinkle tells me the $45 million Julie Taymor-U2 extravaganza has its money in place. There will be announcements shortly concerning a schedule and a replacement for Evan Rachel Wood, who bowed out of the part of Mary Jane.

Garfinkle says it’s all in hand, and that Alan Cumming and Reeve Carney are still all set. “Everything is ready. We’re getting ready to make some announcements.”

“Spider Man” has been in trouble forever. Recently a Broadway investor told me the budget was up to $52 million and that it would take five years to recoup investments if the show sold out every night and the entire audience bought T shirts. Who knows? The beauty of “Spider Man” succeeding is that would put the naysayers in their places forever.

So who should play Mary Jane? They’re going to need a name, a great girl who can sing and dance and be funny. It’s so hard to find one of those in New York!

Renee Zellweger & Bradley Cooper Hit Broadway Opening

Justin Bartha is part of the “Hangover” gang, so his buds had to show up and support him last night at his Broadway debut in “Lend Me a Tenor.”

Indeed, Bradley Cooper came and brought girlfriend Renee Zellweger, and Zach Galiafinakis was there with a date. They are loyal pals. And since Bartha is said to be dating one of the Olsen twins, both of them took center orchestra seats. Zack told me he was shocked — “I had no idea Justin could sing,” he said. Renee told me: “It’s a chance to be out with my guy,” meaning Cooper.

And so, the opening night of “Lend Me a Tenor” was star stuck from the cast including Bartha, Tony Shalhoub, Anthony LaPaglia, Jan Maxwell, and Brooke Adams (Mrs. Shalhoub). They drew the likes of Tony Roberts, Patricia Clarkson, Polly Draper and musician husband Michael Wolff and their two musician kids (aka the Naked Brothers), plus Alfred Molina, Julianne Moore, Sam Rockwell, Janet McTeer, Viola Davis, Lorraine Bracco, her sister Elizabeth with husband Aidan Quinn, John Turturro, Lili Taylor, Andrea Martin, Carol Kane, Frances Sternhagen, Kenneth Cole and Maria Cuomo Cole, Jesse Eisenberg, and original cast members Tovah Feldshuh and Victor Garber. And, of course Steve Buscemi, who has a production company with “Lend Me” director Stanley Tucci.

Yes–Stanley Tucci directed “Lend Me A Tenor” fresh from his Oscar nomination in “Lovely Bones” and his excellent work in “Julie and Julia.” Forget totally today’s New York Times review– this 20th anniversary edition of “Lend Me a Tenor” is a hoot and a half, full of laughs, beautifully orchestrated and directed by Tucci. It’s a door slamming comedy, a farce set back stage at a Cleveland opera in 1934. Shalhoub and co. are hilarious. The fact that the New York Times didn’t find the production funny says a lot, frankly.

Shalhoub, LaPaglia, Adams and Maxwell are well enough known that their work precedes them. Shalhoub does so much physical business in this production that he’s already lost 16 pounds, he told me last night. “This is no work for a 56 year old,” he laughs. LaPaglia is thrilled to be free of his TV series, and back working on Broadway.

But the revelation of this “Tenor” is Justin Bartha. He’s in “The Hangover.” I remembered him, with much sadness, as Jennifer Lopez’s brother in the godawful “Gigli.” Nothing prepares you for how good he is in “Tenor.” As Max, a wannabe opera performer who suffers as Shalhoub’s opera manager’s lackey, Bartha is a one man dynamo. He’s never been on Broadway before, but he sure seems like a veteran. He’s the Broadway breakthrough performer of the season.

Maybe this is the season of audience pleasing shows–ones that the Times won’t necessarily dictate futures and so on. “Lend Me A Tenor” seemed like a hit last night, all systems go, totally fun and silly. And no one can say it isn’t packed with stars. Not only are the men terrific, but don’t miss Jan Maxwell as Maria, the shopping mad wife LaPaglia‘s tenor, and Mary Catherine Garrison as Shalhoub’s ingenue daughter.

Broadway Premiere of “Red”: Scorsese, Kathryn Bigelow at Hot A List Opening

The John Golden Theater on West 45th St. is small and unpleasant. That didn’t stop a ton of celebrities and well wishers from coming to see Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne in the Donmar Warehouse production of “Red.” The John Logan play about artist Mark Rothko is a smash and a cinch for all the main Tony Award nominations.

So we had three Oscar directors in the house: Martin Scorsese, Paul Haggis, and new winner Kathryn Bigelow. The latter was with Oscar winning “Hurt Locker” screenwriter Mark Boal.

Next, throw in Debra Winger and actor husband Arliss Howard; plus Martha Plimpton, Tobey Maguire, Alan Alda, Zach Braff, Alan Cumming, Victor Garber, Josh Hamilton, Linda Lavin, Alicia Silverstone, Rosie Perez, Matthew Settle, Jessica Walter, George C. Wolfe, Sarah Paulson, and “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon.

For some it was to see Alfred Molina, whose friends call him Fred, totally bald, set the tone for a Best Actor award as the outspoken, egotistical Rothko. Both he and Redmayne are just dynamite, and Logan’s play is full of wonderful monologues and memorable lines.

Whew!That list doesn’t include the group that showed up later at the swell party at the Gotham from the “Behanding in Spokane”: Anthony Mackie, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken.

everyone wanted to meet the truly legendary artist Frank Stella, who is talked about in the play and was a contemporary of Rothko. How did it feel being in the audience? “I work in an artists’ studio that looked like the one on stage,” Stella told me. “But I could never imagine what it would be like to watch that on stage. It was very unusual.”

I did joke with Stella about the two upscale men’s clothing stores in Manhattan that bear his name. People always think he owns them. He does not. “I once asked them and the man said his name was Frank and his wife’s was Stella.” The artist shrugged. “A couple of years ago some one called my house and tried to order an over coat,” he said. He did not take the order.


Rosie Perez is wearing a neck brace. How did she get it? “I was on a shoot, and a day player got too excited in a fight scene.” It’s not easy being a famous actress!

Paul Haggis is taking a new group of actors to Haiti in the next couple of weeks. Among his new contingent: Ben Stiller and Susan Sarandon. Haggis has been going down there twice a month to remind people around the world that things are still quite dire — Haitians are homeless, sick and dying. There’s no speedy cure to their monstrous problems.

Anthony Mackie met famed casting director Amanda Mackey. Their names sound exactly alike. “Are we related?” she jokingly asked. “I think you were my half-sister,” Anthony cracked wise. “We were a very open minded family!”