Three years ago, Playbill posted a news item that seemed so ludicrous as to be a prank: An upcoming Spider-Man musical, it announced, would be directed by Julie Taymor, with music written by Bono and the Edge. Well, SuperHeroHype.com claims to have unearthed the casting notice for a July staged reading, and it looks either legit or extremely well faked: "The burden of being a superhero, his guilt for his role in his uncle's death, as well as his debilitating crush on Mary Jane all weigh heavily upon him. Great pop/rock voice."
We assume Bono and the Edge are writing original music for this, but why should they? We bet they could just repurpose their catalog and turn it into Spider-Man: The U2 Experience. Lyrics to "I Still Haven't Found Uncle Ben's Killer" are after the jump.
It’s probably for the best that we weren’t welcome at the after-party last night for The Year of Magical Thinking opening. After a 95-minute monologue about grief, death, and more grief, who's in the mood for cocktails and schmoozing? The small, pre-curtain reception at Sardi’s was enough, with its parade of Serious Actresses (and a few others) bowing before the equally legendary Vanessa Redgrave, who stars, and Joan Didion, who adapted the play from her book: Stockard Channing, Marian Seldes, Christine Baranski, Claire Danes, Michael Cunningham. "I wore waterproof mascara," said Danes, who admitted she owns but hasn't read the book. "I'm taking a few of these cocktails napkins with me," echoed Channing. "But I think we'll all be okay."
The just-opened Kander and Ebb musical Curtains is, as you know, the famed music-and-lyrics duo's first collaboration with writer Rupert Holmes. (Fred Ebb died while working on the show, and Holmes helped John Kander finish it.) It's also the first collaboration of stars David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk, though not of Pierce and co-star Edward Hibbert, who both appeared on Frasier. And we noticed a funny thing flipping through our Playbill the other night: In an unexpected U.N.-McSweeney's-Sopranos twist, Curtains is undoubtedly the first Broadway collaboration of credited company members John Bolton, David Eggers, and David Chase. A triple threat, indeed.
Related:She's a Man, Baby! [NYM]
Obama and Bloomberg get a thumbs-up, and Hillary gets a raised eyebrow, from the inimitable Eartha Kitt. The still very spry singer and dancer, who turned 80 in January, plays a fortune-teller in a Kander and Ebb musical, All About Us, coming to the Westport Country Playhouse. At a sneak peek of the show this week, we asked about her '08 presidential picks. "I'm for my country, not politicians who go blah blah blah," purred the eternal Catwoman, who spent a decade shut out of gigs in this country after she denounced the Vietnam War during a 1968 White House visit.
When the short list of potential Governors Island redevelopment plans came out in January, it didn't include a proposal for a postmodern Globe Theater. But that hasn't stopped project founder Barbara Romer and her supporters from pushing on with the idea. Romer mustered dozens of supporters — including Municipal Art Society majordomo Frank Sanchis — to a National Park Service "listening session" at downtown's Federal Hall rotunda last night, where she pushed for a Norman Foster–designed glass-sheathed Globe in the harbor's Castle Williams, where a museum now stands. The event was organized to collect bold ideas for ten nationwide projects the Park Service will fund in the next decade, and, since Parks controls the fort Romer has her eye on, she's now lobbying to get her project named one of those ten. "The adaptive, culturally used forts are the ones people really visit," she said at the session. "The service will choose projects by May 31, and I think it would be really exciting for New York to be on the list." An added bonus: At least according to the rendering Romer displayed, the project would ensure large, pretty snowflakes for lower Manhattan each winter. Which would be much nicer than last week's slush. —Alec Appelbaum
Perhaps best known for his roles in Hitchcock's Rope and Strangers on a Train before ditching Hollywood for the New York stage, handsome Farley Granger (now 81) slept with some of the biggest names in mid-century entertainment (Ava Gardner, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents) before settling down with TV producer Robert Calhoun on the Upper West Side. The two recently wrote Include Me Out, Granger's sweetly chatty memoir of evolving from the wide-eyed pretty boy of the postwar Goldwyn lot (the title refers to his long, hard-won effort to break his contract with the studio) to a liberated man of cinema, TV, and the theatuh, working and playing with the likes of Helen Hayes and Aaron Copland. So how does he feel about today's pretty boys? Find out after the jump.
Eric Bogosian's Talk Radio is about a controversial and caustic radio host who's forced to confront the hatred he's engendered just as he's about to get picked up for national syndication. A Broadway revival starring Liev Schreiber opened Sunday night, and the after-party seemed a good place to conduct an informal survey of actors' listening habits. We learned that Chris Noth won't listen to radio anymore, Stephanie March wants to be a customer-service avenger, and Bogosian only listens to classical. There's a lot more, all after the jump.
Spotted in front of Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall Friday night, just before a New York Philharmonic concert performance of My Fair Lady, starring Kelsey Grammer, Kelli O'Hara, Brian Dennehy, and Charles Kimbrough: a woman desperately soliciting a scalped ticket — in her mink coat. Only in New York, kids.
New York's Jeremy McCarter lovedIn the Heights, a new musical at 37 Arts, and he's not the only one. At an all-high-school matinee organized by the Theater Development Fund yesterday, a packed house of almost entirely black and Latino teens from Washington Heights screamed and stomped wildly through the show, which weaves hip-hop, salsa, and old-fashioned storytelling into a nouveau–West Side Story tale of love, loss, dreams, and change in the gentrifying-but-still- mostly-Dominican Heights. The kids went crazy from the first (rapped) mention of the D.R., and they stayed entranced through the electrifying dance sequence at the end of Act One to the hysteria-inducing moment when hunky heartthrob Christopher Jackson (who plays limo dispatcher Benny) sauntered onstage for a raucous audience Q&A after the show. It was quite a scene to take in, like being in the audience for the very first B'nai Brith night at Fiddler. After the talkback, we asked six audience members — all Heights residents, all seniors at the neighborhood's International High School of Business and Finance — how the show stacked up against their hood.
Last night's opening of King Lear brought Kevin Kline to the Public once again to expertly spout the lines of your favorite neologist. The entire cast headed to B Bar for the after-party, where the martinis were as hard to hold on to as Lear's sanity non-inebriated guests poured them on their shirts as often as down their throats, and the waitresses dropped an unofficial record seven trays (we lost count). Frances McDormand saw the three-hour play but didn't make it to the party while Philip Seymour Hoffman popped in for a minute and Piper Perabo sat outside chain-smoking and talking about a paraplegic whose advice was to "Live life to the fullest!" Jocelyn Guest caught up with Kline on his way out. By the way, he stroked his beard constantly.
L.A.-based artist and filmmaker Miranda July’s new performance piece, Things We Don’t Understand and Are Definitely Not Going to Talk About potentially the basis for a new film opened last night at the Kitchen for a sold-out weekend run to an enthusiastic crowd, which included David Byrne. Things, in essence, is a love triangle, a clichéd story you might see on a Saved By the Bell rerun. But July’s gentle charm and engaging use of video, audience participation, and a dead cat demonstrate how the story itself can be much less important than the telling.
Spotted the other night in the restroom of a small Off Broadway theater. The "Stop Disease Method of Hand Washing" includes the following steps: Use soap and running water, rub hands vigorously, wash all surfaces, rinse well, and dry.
Yesterday we learned Times movie critic A.O. Scott doesn't watch the Oscars; in the same long weekend, it turns out, we also learned that Vanity Fair's resident cultural curmudgeon, James Wolcott, can't sit through a two-hour play. From his VF.com blog:
More and more, I see shows described as "intermissionless," and I hear the rattle of leg irons.
It isn't that I'm incapable of "holding it in." It isn't that I'm likely to pull a Costanza and trample any senior blocking the aisle to make a beeline to the bathroom while the cast takes its bow.
It's that I don't like feeling trapped, stuck for the duration … Moreover, intermissions are so civilized. You retire to the lobby, order an overpriced drink, compare notes and discreetly eavesdrop, step outside to take the air, or, if the first act was dire, flee. ("I count it as one of the great moments of my life when I first realized one could actually walk out of a theatre. I don't mean offensively — but go to the bar at the interval and not come back. I first did it at Oxford: I was watching …")
Oh, sorry. Drifted off there. But don't worry: There's lots more. We can't wait for it. Really. We'll just nip out to the lobby first for a second, and —
Exit Ramp Closed [James Wolcott's Blog/VF.com]
It is a question handed down since the time of the pharaohs, or at least since the time of Joseph: How is gay night at a Broadway musical different from all other nights? The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee — already a not-ungay show, featuring both a character with two dads and music and lyrics by William Finn, who wrote and composed the pioneering gay musical Falsettos — attempted to find out yesterday, with a special "gay night" performance.
At Monday night's Nightlife Awards, honoring cabaret, jazz, and comedy, performers dished about life on the boards. And about gift bags.
Swag bags, pro or con?
"I never take them. Every gift bag I've ever gotten has gotten three kinds of hand cream, a CD of Aida, and a copy of In Style magazine. Give me free Botox or free hair transplants, or a $2,000 gift certificate to Armani for some underwear. Although nowadays, a flu shot would be good too, and harder to come by than Botox." —Charles Busch, playwright and drag queenWhat's in your fantasy swag bag?
"A kazoo, a can of SpaghettiOs, and a forty of Colt 45." —Daniel Reichard, Jersey Boys actor
Edward Scissorhands is coming to BAM in March, but it's not the familiar old Tim Burton movie. Nope, this version is a dance play, directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne and with original music by Terry Davies. The preview video clip alone is worth the price of admission (which for the video, come to think of it, is free). It's weird and oddly entrancing, and for some reason — the music, the slo-mo — it reminds us of a credit-card ad, or maybe a De Beers commercial. Even weirder.
Video Preview: Edward Scissorhands [BAM.org]
Grease is, of course, the word. It is also the raison d'être for a new reality show that premiered on NBC last night. In Grease: You're the One That I Want, we the people, American Idol–ly assisted by three judges — one a well-known professional, one an industry insider, and one a producer with a cold manner and a British accent — will cast the roles of Danny and Sandy for a new Broadway revival of the Travolta–Newton-John musical. After the premiere ended last night, New York's theater critic, Jeremy McCarter, and Daily Intel's Jesse Oxfeld fired up the Instant Messenger to discuss the show, its stars, and whether this can possibly be a good way to pick two Broadway leads. Here, their Angus McIndoe–ready post-show banter:
Oxfeld: Did you have chills?
Oxfeld: Are they multiplying?
Oxfeld: I presume, actually, that you're indignant — as you are wont to be — about the Hollywoodization/populist-ization/etc. of the Great White Way.
McCarter: Me, indignant?
McCarter: Actually, I'm not. Not as much as many seem to be, anyway.
Oxfeld: Do people seem to be?
Oxfeld: I mean, after all, it's, well, Grease.
Oxfeld: It's hard to get worked up about disrespecting its highbrow legacy.
McCarter: That's how I feel. But the general reaction seems to be that the Temple of the Muses is being desecrated by the barbarians, etc.
Oxfeld: So, having now seen the premiere, is it more or less desecrating than you were expecting?
McCarter: I don't think it desecrates it at all, actually. It's kind of tawdry and exhibitionistic, and I frequently wanted to look away. But, hey, it's Broadway.
The pitch-black Hollywood satire The Little Dog Laughed opened in November to good reviews and raves for its star, the amazing Julie White, who gave one of the most memorable performances of the season — and, we should add, a pretty memorable interview to New York. (Her "sinfully funny turn as an amoral Hollywood agent," merited an honorable mention from our Jeremy McCarter in the year-end Culture Awards.) It also played last week — the tourist-packed Christmas–to–New Year week — to the smallest capacity of any show on Broadway. And so today comes the unsurprising but vaguely saddening announcement that the show will be closing next month, with its final performance on February 18. The forgettable and superfluous Les Mis revival, however, continues to pack 'em in.
The Year in Theater [NYM]
Agent Provocateur: Julie White [NYM]
Earlier:One Day More Is the Bitch of Living
Do you hear the people sing? Well, you'd better get used to it, because they're going be singing "at least through the summer of 2007." That's right: The allegedly limited-run revival of Les Misérables has been extended, according to a press release out yesterday. The current production of the eighties megamusical opened at the beginning of November, a mere three years after closing its original sixteen-year Broadway run, and despite bad reviews it's doing boffo box office: Last week it ran at 83 percent capacity. Meantime, Spring Awakening, the groundbreaking, enthralling, and critically adored new rock musical — "the new indie-rock treatment of Frank Wedekind's play about hormonal adolescents has just about everything going for it," says Jeremy McCarter— is freshly opened and has been struggling: Last week it only filled 60 percent of its house. (And that was an improvement.) Which means that shows about revolutions are bigger draws than revolutionary ones. Vive, it seems, l'ancien régime.