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Wendy R. Williams'
January 2008 Theatre Column


January 6, 2008

Greetings Theater Lovers,

Lone Star Love

Broadway Theater is back up and running, the only (perhaps) casualty of the strike is that Lone Star Love (which was scheduled to open December 2, 2007) is no longer coming to Broadway's Belasco Theater; it will continue to play in Seattle instead. I saw Lone Star Love when it played off-Broadway back in February of 2005 and featured it in this column. Love is a Texas-based musical retelling of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor and it was a lot of fun.

Passing Strange will now open at the Belasco on February 29, 2008 (previews begin February 8, 2008). Passing is described as: "The show takes audiences on an international journey from L.A. to Amsterdam, Berlin, and beyond as a young man from California searches for his identity. It features blues, rock and roll, gospel, and pop music written by Stew and Rodewald, who head the band The Negro Problem."

Tickets are $26.50-$111.50 at 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250 & telecharge.com. For more information about Passing Strange, log onto their website: passingstrangeonbroadway.com.

The Belasco Theatre is located at 111 West 44th Street.


Opening this month is Alfred Hitchcock's Olivier Award winning comedy The 39 Steps which is described in their press release as: "The 'unstageable' thriller is staged, with four cast members playing a minimum of one-hundred-and-fifty roles. The story revolves around an innocent man who learns too much about a dangerous spy ring and is then pursued across Scotland, before returning to London to foil the villain's dastardly plans. The 39 Steps contains every single legendary scene from the award-winning movie..."

Steps is will open at the American Airlines Theatre and runs from January 15, 2008 through August 23, 2008. Tickets are $51.25-$96.25 at 212-719-1300 & roundabouttheatre.org. For more information about The 39 Steps, log onto:roundabouttheatre.org.

The American Airlines Theater is located at 227 West 42nd Street.


Williams Inge's Come Back, Little Sheba started preview performance on January 3, 2008 at the Biltmore Theatre. The show opens on January 24, 2008 for an open run. Sheba is described in the press release as: "S. Epatha Merkerson [of Law and Order fame] reprises her acclaimed Los Angeles performance as Lola in William Inge's classic drama Come Back, Little Sheba. Michael Pressman directs. Lola (Merkerson) is a faded beauty queen trapped in a lonely marriage to Doc, a recovering alcoholic on the brink of relapse. When a pretty young woman becomes a boarder in their cluttered Midwest home, their lives are unsettled as unspoken passions rise to the surface. As the emptiness of their marriage is laid bare, can they find their way back to each other or will they be undone?"

Tickets are $46.50-$91.50. Phone 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250 telecharge.com.

The Biltmore Theater is located at 261 West 47th Street

The Homecoming
Photo Credit Scott Landis

Another notable play that opened this fall (but escaped the notice of this column) is Harold Pinter's The Homecoming which opened on December 16, 2007 at the Cort Theater. The Homecoming is described in its press release as: "Ian McShane, Raul Esparza, and Michael McKean star in the Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, directed by Daniel Sullivan. Considered one of Pinter's greatest plays, The Homecoming is undoubtedly his most sexually provocative work. Set in North London, the play concerns the ultimate dysfunctional family, presided over by its patriarch Max (McShane). Living under his dilapidated roof are his younger brother Sam (McKean), and two of his sons: Lenny (Esparza), the town pimp, and Joey, a boxer-in-training."

For tickets call 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250 or log onto telecharge.com. For more information on The Homecoming, log onto: thehomecomingonbroadway.com.

The Cort Theater is located at 138 West 48th Street.


Is He Dead?
Photo Credit Joan Marcus

The "Mark Twain" play also opened on December 9, 2007 for an open run at the Lyceum Theater. Titled Is He Dead?, the play is described in the press release as:
" Is He Dead?, a new comedy by master American novelist and satirist Mark Twain, is adapted by David Ives, directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Michael Blakemore, and stars Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz. Inspired by the posthumous bidding war that broke out between the United States and France over Jean-Francois Millet's painting "The Angelus," Is He Dead? is a fast-paced comedy about a group of poor artists who stage the death of their mentor to drive up the price of his paintings. In order for the scheme to succeed, the artists hatch various hilarious plots involving cross-dressing, a full-scale fake funeral, lovers' deceptions, and much more."

Tickets $26.50-$98.50. Call 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250 or log onto:
http://www.telecharge.com/behindTheCurtain.aspx. For more information about Is He Dead?, log onto: http://www.ishedead.com/

The Lyceum Theatre is located at 149 West 45th Street.



I am appending my previous theater columns that covered what was then the coming Broadway season. All of these plays have opened with the exception of Lone Star Love; Cyrano and Cymbelline have opened and closed (they were both originally scheduled for short runs).

It looks like the Writers Guild will definitely go out on strike (as we all now know, it did). But this rumbling out of California is only benefiting the fall theater line up. Chazz Palminteri is opening his one man show, A Bronx Tale, at the Walter Kerr Theater. Kevin Kline and Golden Globe winner Jennifer Garner will star in a new production of Cyrano de Bergerac at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, running October 12th - December 23rd. Randy Quaid will be starring in his first Broadway show, Lone Star Love, which opens for preview on November 1, 2007 at the Belasco Theater. And Claire Danes will star in Pygmalion, which will run October 11, 2007 - December 16, 2007 at the American Airlines Theatre.

Tom Stoppard's Rock & Roll

One other notable show that will be opening this fall is Tom Stoppard's Rock & Roll (rocknrolltheplay), starring Rufus Sewell, Sinead Cox and Brian Cox - all from the original London cast. Stoppard has always been a brilliantly subversive playwright. And his talents first shone on Broadway forty years ago with his first Broadway production when he turned Hamlet on its ear in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

One play that I am sure to catch is Tracy Lett's August: Osage County which begins previews on October 30th and opens November 20th for an open run at the Imperial Theatre after a sold out run at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater. Letts is the Pulitzer price nominated playwright (for Man from Nebraska) of Bug, which I reviewed when it ran three years ago at the Barrow Street Theater. Bug was subsequently made into a movie starring Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon (from the Off Broadway production). See my June theater column for more about Bug. Bug was wonderful so August: Osage County is definitely makes my short list.

Disney's The Little Mermaid

Also, believe it or not, The Little Mermaid (thelittlemermaid) is another not-to-be-missed show hitting Broadway. Mermaid has a book by Douglas Wright, the playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for I Am My Own Wife, a play about an East German transvestite. Just as playwright Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed) was able to turn Xanadu into a delicious campy feast, with Wright as the playwright, Mermaid should be truly enjoyable for the entire family and not just a treat for Brownie-troupes-on-a-field-trip.

And from my August Theater Column:

Fall will soon be here and there is a plethora of interesting new shows opening on Broadway. Here are three that caught my eye:

The Farnsworth Invention

Aaron Sorkin (of West Wing fame) has penned a new play, The Farnsworth Invention, which is opening on November 4, 2007 at the Music Box Theater. The show tells the story of the invention of television. Now I am a West Wing junkie (I have all the first four Sorkin years DVD's) and I really tried to love Studio 60, so I am psched to see this new play. Log onto farnsworthonbroadway.com for more information about the play. [For a mini-review of Farnsworth, see my December Theater Column.]

Young Frankenstein

The Producers may have closed on Broadway but another one of Mel Brook’s campy movie classics, Young Frankenstein, is coming to Broadway, opening on November 8, 2007 at the Hilton Theatre. Now I just know this one is going to be fun and nothing like the other monster fiasco, Frank Wildhorn’s Dracula. Log onto
youngfrankensteinthemusical.com for more information about this show.

Lone Star Love

And last, Randy Quaid is starring in Lone Star Love, a musical retelling of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Lone Star is opening December 2, 2007 at the Belasco Theater. I saw Lone Star Love when it played off-Broadway back in February of 2005 and featured it in this column. It was a lot of fun and has the potential to be a hit on Broadway (you certainly can’t fault the plot). Log onto lonestarlovethemusical.com for more information about the show.

For information on all the Broadway shows, log onto our Broadway theater listing section.

Rock on!



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