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Wendy R. Williams'
December Theatre Column


November 30, 2008

I saw two Broadway shows last month: Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps and 13 The Musical.


The 39 Steps
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus


The 39 Steps, based on the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock movie and directed by Peter McKintosh, is beautifully timed and campy as hell. The plot is a simple falling- through-the-rabbit-hole-chase-yarn. The main character, Richard Hannay (played by Sam Robards), is BORED so he goes to the theater where he encounters a mysterious woman (Francesca Faridany, who plays all the mysterious women in the cast). He is then put in a compromising situation where it looks like he has murdered one of these msyterious women and quickly leaves on a personal Amazing Race in order to exonerate himself. He then runs into the other actors, Jeffrey Kuhn and Arnie Burton, who play numerous other male roles, sometimes simultaneously. All the actors are obviously having a lot of fun on stage and they are equally as much fun to watch. The director, Peter McIntosh, has obviously had a blast directing this show, setting the chase scenes ala Hitchcock's North by Northwest and Vertigo.

The 39 Steps is presently playing at the Cort Theatre at 138 West 48th Street.
Ticket are $98.50 212-239-6200, 800-432-7250 and telecharge.com. The 39 Steps will close at the Cort on January 11 and then move to the Helen Hayes Theatre on January 20.


13 The Musical
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

13 The Musical is also a great night out and you don't have to be a teenager to enjoy the show: 13 is blessed with a great book - it is hysterical.

Here is a quote from the press release: "Evan Goldman has it all - he's popular, has the 'perfect' family and lives in the greatest city in the world - New York. That is until his parents get divorced and he's forced to move - to a small town in Indiana. Uprooted from his old life, he has to make new friends and somehow maneuver the minefield of High School to become part of the 'in-crowd'."

And Evan's problems with "fitting in" are exacerbated by the fact that his Bar Mitzvah party is just around the corner and he has no one to invite except his next door neighbor, Caitlin, a truly nice smart girl who because she is truly nice and smart is also UNPOPULAR.

These problems are all solved in an entertaining fashion enhanced by a great score and a talented energetic cast. This show is closing on January 4, 2009 and it is a damn shame since it has probably only failed to find an audience because potential audience members think it is a kid's show. Well, Grease is a kid's show too, but it has the advantage of name recognition from the movie and the original Broadway musical. So, please spread the word about 13. It is a truly great show.

 

October 20, 2008


Raul Esparza, Jeremy Piven, and Elisabeth Moss in
Speed-the-Plow

Last month was a sparse theater month; I only saw one play, David Mamet's excellent Speed-the-Plow. Plow is directed by Directed by Neil Pepe and is a (from the press release) "behind the scenes story of handshaking, dealbreaking, backstabbing and moviemaking as only Pulitzer Prize winner David Mamet can tell it."

Plow features Mamet's trade mark fast paced, fast talking dialogue. The story begins when Charlie Fox (played by Raul Esparza) visits his producing-partner-in-crime Bobby Gould (played by Jeremy Piven) with great news, he has scored a coup - the top star from the studio across the street has agreed to star in a movie produced by Fox and Gould and he, Charlie Fox, also has the winning script. All is well; hands are "fived" and conviviality reigns. And in the exuberance of a deal well made, Charlie also challenges Bobby to seduce his new secretary Karen (played by Elizabeth Moss) that night.

Bobby proceeds to ask Karen to read a book that he is supposedly considering (read deep-sixing) and to come to his home that night with a report. Well Karen makes her night visit and Bobby wins his bet. But in the process of winning the bet, Bobby is seduced in more than one way - Karen also scores a coup. She persuades Bobby to produce a film based on the book she just read, which is filled with the kind of new age psychobabble that killed all the trees in the eighties.

Neil Pepe's direction is impeccable; I was totally engrossed by the verbal joust on stage.

Before the play, I had been excited to see Jeremy Piven (Ari Gold on HBO's Entourage) and Elizabeth Moss (so excellent on Mad Men and The West Wing). And although both of these actors did fine jobs, they were having trouble staying on the stage with Raul Esparza. Raul Esparza, who had been so excellent as the sleazy Lenny in Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming, gave one of the best performances I have seen on Broadway this year or any year. Wow!

Speed-the-Plow is running at the Ethel Barrymore Theater at 243 West 47th Street. Tickets are $49.50-$110.00 at 212-239-6200 and telecharge.com.


September 2008 Column

Fall is descending on Broadway and there will be a plethora of new star-studded shows for our viewing pleasure: All My Sons (Katie Holmes); Equus (Daniel Radcliffe); A Man for All Seasons (Frank Langella); and The Seagull (Kristen Scott Thomas).

As everyone who has read a newspaper in the last few months knows, Katie Holmes, aka Mrs. Tom Cruise, is going to star in Broadway's All My Sons. Photographers have been taking photos of her and the other stars as the enter and leave rehearsal.

Katie Holmes
© Janet Mayer / PR Photos
Patrick Wilson
© Janet Mayer / PR Photos
Dianne Wiest
© Janet Mayer / PR Photos
John Lithgow
© Janet Mayer / PR Photos

Here is a quote from the press release for All My Sons: "Miller took his inspiration from a true story about a successful business man who knowingly sold the government defective airplane parts during World War II with tragic consequences. The truth comes out and his life unravels when his son prepares to marry his business partner's daughter."

Previews for All My Sons begin September 18, 2008; the show opens October 15, 2008 and closes on Janury 11, 2009. Sons is playing at the Shoenfeld Theatre at 236 West 45th Street. Tickets are $61.50-$116.50, $26.50 Student Tickets - 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250 telecharge.com


Daniel Radcliffe in Equus

And as everyone also knows, Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) is now all grown up and we are going to see him naked in Equus. Radcliffe stars with Richard Griffiths (of History Boys fame); Thea Sharrock directs. Here is a quote from the Equus press release: "In Equus, psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Griffiths) investigates the blinding of six horses, a savage act committed by a mild-mannered stable boy, Alan Strange (Radcliffe), whose home life is filled with bigotry and religious fervor. As Dysart reveals the mysteries behind the boy's demons, he realizes he is confronting his own."

Equus begins previews on September 5, 2008. The show opens on September 28, 2008 and closes on February 8, 2009. Tickets for Equus are $61.50-$116.50; telephone 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250 www.telecharge.com. Equus is playing at the Broadhurst Theatre at 235 West 44th Street.


Frank Langella returns to Broadway in A Man for All Seasons. Here is a quote from the show's press release: "Three-time Tony Award winner Frank Langella stars in a revival of Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, directed by Doug Hughes. This classic drama is a timeless exploration of politics, religion and power, based on the fascinating true story of English Chancellor Sir Thomas More and his moral objection to King Henry VIII's plan to leave the Catholic Church."

Previews for A Man for All Seaons begin on September 12, 2008. The show opens on October 7, 2008 for an open run. Tickets for A Man for All Seasons are $56.50-$101.50. Call 212-719-1300 or log onto roundabouttheatre.org. A Man for All Seasons is playing at the American Airlines Theatre at 227 West 42nd Street.


Kristen Scott Thomas in The Seagull
Photo Credit Johan Persson


English actress (and French resident) Kristen Scott Thomas will be gracing the Broadway Stage in The Seagull. Here is a quote from The Seagull press release: "Kristin Scott Thomas reprises her Olivier Award-winning role of Arkadina in the critically acclaimed Royal Court Theatre production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull. The production, featuring a new version by Christopher Hampton, is directed by Ian Rickson. The play concerns the romantic entanglements and regrets of a group of actors, writers and artists gathered on a Russian estate. e of the theatre's great plays about writing, The Seagull conveys the struggle for new forms and the frustrations and fulfillment of putting words on a page."

Previews for The Seagull begin September 16, 2008. The show opens on December 1, 2008 and closes on December 21, 2008. Tickets for The Seagull are $41.00-$110.00 at 212-239-6200 & 800-432-7250 telecharge.com. The Seagull is playing at the Walter Kerr Theater at 219 West 48th Street.

 


A Tale of Two Cities
Photo Credit Carol Rosegg

And not to be fogotten is the now-in-previews-but-soon-to-open (September 18, 2008) A Tale of Two Cities. Here is a quote from their press release: "Jill Santoriello's musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities is set against the epic backdrop of the French Revolution. Based on the classic Dickens novel, the musical is about injustice, vengeance and the redemptive power of love. It features a book, music, and lyrics by Santoriello, and is directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle. For information: ataleof2cities.com."

Tickets for A Tale of Two Cities are $59.00-$120.00 at 212-239-6200& 800-432-7250 www.telecharge.com. Tale is playing at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre at 302 West 45th Street.

For more information about Broaway shows, log onto our Broadway Theater Listing Section.


 



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