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Julie Taymor directing Anne Hathaway set to be this spring’s hot ticket

Anne Hathaway. Photo: Mingle MediaTV
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The trickle of new openings gains pace with the spring season shaping up to provide some of the year’s hottest tickets, with stars of the large and small screen heading to the stage.

Anne Hathaway in Grounded at the Public Theater

Having first worked at New York’s Public Theater in their Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night in 2009, Anne Hathaway will go indoors with them at their East Village home this spring when she appears in the one-woman play Grounded by George Brant, playing a fighter pilot reassigned to flying drones. The play, previously seen in London and in a prior Off-Broadway incarnation, among other productions, will be directed by Julie Taymor, best known for spectacles like The Lion King and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Grounded will play a very limited run from April 7 through May 17, becoming probably NYC’s hottest ticket as soon as it was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

A Month in the Country at Classic Stage Company

Taylor Schilling and Peter Dinklage in A Month in the Country. Photo: Joan Marcus
Taylor Schilling and Peter Dinklage in A Month in the Country. Photo: Joan Marcus

As critics perpetually trumpet the new golden age of television, two of its avatars can be found just south of Union Square in New York performing in a vintage Russian drama. Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones and Taylor Schilling of Orange is the New Black lead the cast for Turgenev’s A Month in the Country, directed by Erica Schmidt. Known for bringing together strong casts in their intimate venue, Classic Stage’s company also includes Anthony Edwards (a veteran of ER), Annabella Sciorra (a guest on seven episodes of The Sopranos) and Elizabeth Franz (a Tony winner for Death of a Salesman opposite Brian Dennehy). The production opens on Thursday and plays through February 15.

The Heart of Robin Hood extends Toronto run

Photo: Howard-Sherman
Photo: Howard-Sherman

It’s probably a good thing that a recent renovation of Broadway’s Marquis Theatre installed video marquees, because it will only take a bit of reprogramming to remove the blazing signs that have been trumpeting the arrival of The Heart of Robin Hood, which announced earlier this week that it would not be coming to New York in March as planned. According to a report in The New York Times, David Farr’s version of the classic adventure tale failed to hit the target with audiences, and advance sales were slow. But if you read the Canadian papers, the planned five-month run here was scratched in favour of an additional month’s run in Toronto, where the show is doing good business, though I would say that doesn’t really add up. In any event, no immediate plans for an alternate Broadway run were announced.

Nevermore’s raven roosts Off-Broadway

Beth Graham and Garett Ross in Nevermore. Photo  Joan Marcus
Beth Graham and Garett Ross in Nevermore. Photo Joan Marcus

Edgar Allan Poe lived a peripatetic life, shuttling chiefly between Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City, and the same could be said for the ‘theatrical experience’ Nevermore, which has travelled from Canada to New York to London and back again. First seen in Manhattan in 2010 at the New Victory Theater, the show subsequently played at London’s Barbican; it now launches a commercial run Off-Broadway at New World Stages with text revisions and additional songs from creator Jonathan Christenson, artistic director of Catalyst Theatre in Canada. Six of the seven original cast members also return with the show which opens on Sunday.

Complicite’s Lionboy tours to New York

Speaking of New York’s premier venue for family theatre from around the world, the New Victory Theater, this week and next it is home to Complicite’s Lionboy in its US debut. I’m looking forward to sharing it tomorrow afternoon with my 12 year-old niece for her birthday; I’m quite certain she’ll be enthralled by my analysis of the work in relation to earlier Complicite productions Mnemonic and A Disappearing Number. Or maybe she’ll just enjoy the show and her uncle will keep quiet.

Gigi at the Kennedy Center

Vanessa Hudgens as Gigi. Photo: Matthew Murphy
Vanessa Hudgens as Gigi. Photo: Matthew Murphy

When Colette’s novel Gigi was first adapted for the stage in the US, the French tale was filtered through the sensibility of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’s Anita Loos and embodied by Audrey Hepburn in her Broadway debut. For the musical film, Lerner and Loewe interpreted the story musically, with Leslie Caron in the title role in 1958. Lerner and Loewe adapted their film for Broadway in 1974 with the little-known Karin Wolfe in the title role, only managing 110 performances. But Gigi is en route to Broadway once again, this time with a new book by Call The Midwife creator Heidi Thomas and with Vanessa Hudgens, the star of Disney’s High School Musical, as the courtesan in training. It’s on stage now at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center under Eric Schaffer’s direction through February 12, in advance of an arrival on Broadway on March 9 for an April 14 opening.

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Photo: Joan Marcus
John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Photo: Joan Marcus

Following stints by Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew Rannells and Michael C Hall, the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch went all the way back to its (dyed) roots this week as the show’s creator John Cameron Mitchell returned to the title role, which he created in the show’s Off-Broadway premiere back in 1998. With the script revised for the current run, it will be fascinating to see how the original Hedwig fits into her retooled vehicle, but if photos are any indication, our German chanteuse hasn’t aged a day in 17 years.

King’s Theatre in Brooklyn prepares to reopen

Kings Theatre Brooklyn
Kings Theatre Brooklyn

While it’s more likely to be used for concerts and touring events rather than legitimate theatre, it’s worth taking note of the reopening of one of the great Loews Wonder Theatres, movie palaces that opened during the Great Depression in and around New York before their grand scale proved impossible to maintain as innovations like television ate away at movie audiences. While a few of these grande dames are in varying states of restoration and use, the long empty Kings Theatre in Brooklyn relights in just over a week with a concert by Diana Ross, and the overhaul of the 3,200 seat marvel looks as if it puts most New York venues of any size to shame. It also offers a house pegged midway between the largest Broadway theatres (topping out at 1,800 seats) and Radio City Music Hall (at approximately 6,000), its closest contemporary in regular use, offering creative producers a new option. Here’s hoping it might prove worthy of theatrical spectacle as well, as I, for one, cannot wait to see it in all its glory. Hail to the Kings.

Read more US theatre columns from Howard Sherman

 

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