News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th October 2006

Angela Lansbury will return to the New York stage after an absence of 23 years, starring with Marian Seldes in the premiere of Terrence McNally's Deuce, directed by Michael Blakemore, which will preview in April at the Music Box Theatre, with an official opening on May 6th. It is a reflective comedy about two women at the end of their lives, trying to make sense of a professional partnership that brought them to the top of the tennis world as a championship doubles team. The play was originally to have been part of the Playwrights Horizon season at 59E59 Theatre, but the casting of Lansbury saw it bumped up to Broadway. The producers are Scott Rudin, Stuart Thompson and Maberry Theatricals in association with Primary Stages.

All Too Human: An Evening With Clarence Darrow, a one person play about the legendary lawyer, written by and featuring lawyer-actor Henry Miller, directed by Kevin Conway, assisted by Laurie Brown Kindred, is currently previewing at the 45th Street Theatre, opening November 5th. Darrow fought against religious intolerance, capital punishment, prohibition, and oppression, and among his most famous cases were the Leopold and Loeb murder, and the Scopes 'Monkey' trial, over the right of a science teacher to educate his students on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The producers are A New Dawn Productions in association with Town Square Productions. The 45th Street Theatre is at 354 West 45th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

The Medicine Show Theatre is to perform a new version of The Happiest Girl In the World, the 1961 anti-war musical satire, with lyrics by E Y 'Yip' Harburg, music by Jacques Offenbach, and book by Fred Saidy and Henry Mayers, directed by Barbara Vann, with choreography by Ernesta Corvino, previewing from November 17th, and opening on November 26th. Two different drafts of the show, which draws on the Aristophanes comedy Lysistrata, about women who seek to end war by going on a sex strike, will be combined to create a definitive version. The show will feature Mark J Dempsey, Sarah Engelke, Nique Hagggerty, Samuel H Perwin and Ray Bendana, with Rachel Black, Ilona Farkas, Mark Gering, Amanda Hargrove, Mary-Ellen Hickey, Cedric Jones, Andrea Pinyan, Kip Potharas, Jonathan Roufaeal, Sven Salumaa and Sky Seals. The Medicine Show Theatre is located at 549 West 52nd Street, 3rd Floor, between 10th and 11th Avenues

The Olivier Award winning musical Billy Elliot, currently one of London's biggest hits, playing at the Victoria Palace Theatre, is looking toward a fall 2007 opening on Broadway. The show, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, and music by Elton John, directed by Stephen Daldry, with choreography by Peter Darling, is now casting for rehearsals beginning in February. Based on the film of the same name, it is about a working class boy's dream of becoming a ballet dancer, set in North East England against the background of the 1980s miners' strike. The first production outside London will be in Australia, opening at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney on January 26th.

The League of American Theatres and Producers has published its survey of the 2005-2006 season, 'The Demographics of the Broadway Audience'. The report is based on data collected at 24 productions over 71 performances, selected to represent a variety of Broadway offerings, and performances through the year, with 12,425 questionnaires distributed, and 6,174 returned. Among the findings were: attendance by international visitors climbed to 1.32m; attendance by New Yorkers increased to 2.29m; domestic tourism comprises 43.4% of tickets sold; the internet was the most popular method of ticket buying, rising from 7% to 32% over the last 5 years; theatregoers are not purchasing as far in advance as they used to, with 27% of tickets bought on the day of the performance; personal recommendation was the strongest influence in show selection, cited by 49% of theatregoers, while 28% listed critics' reviews as a major influence, with print reviews more influential with playgoers, and television reviews more influential with musical attendees; the average age of the Broadway theatergoer was 42 years, although under 18s bought nearly 1.15m tickets; and 62% of the audience was female. Further information can be found on the LATP web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

Stephen Bergman and Janet Surrey's play Bill W And Dr Bob, the story of Bill Wilson and Dr Bob Smith, two hopeless drunks whose stormy friendship led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, directed by Rick Lombardo, will preview from February 16th at New World Stages, opening on March 5th. The cast includes Robert Krakovsk, Patrick Husted, Rachel Harker, Kathleen Doyle, Marc Carver and Deanna Dunmyer. The produces are Bradford S Lovette, Dr Michael and Judith Weinberg, Milton McKenzie, Evelyn Freed and New Repertory Theatre Boston. New World Stages is located at 340 West 50th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

The Prospect Theater Company's new season comprises the musical The Flood, book, music and lyrics by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, based on the actual struggle by the community of Meyerville, Illinois against the rising tide of the Mississippi River during the summer of 1993, with A'lisa D Miles, Jamie Davis, Jennifer Blood, Catherine Porter, Jonathan Rayson, Drew Poling, Joseph O'Brien and Matt DeAngelis, directed by Cara Reichel, currently playing at American Theater of Actors, 314 West 54th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues; Tock Tick, story, book and lyrics Tim Nevits, story and music by Gihieh Lee, a 12 year old's fantastical quest to slay the dragon of her mother's cancer, directed by Jackson Gay, opening at the West End Theatre, 263 West 86th Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue, on February 3rd; and West Moon Street, a new play by Rob Urbinati, based on Oscar Wilde's Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, about a young man just down from Oxford and happily engaged, whose tranquillity is disturbed when a palm reader predicts a shocking turn of events, directed by Davis McCallum, opening at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 441 West 26th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues, on April 21st.