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US Theatre update: It’s Ivo van Hove season on Broadway

Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker in A View From A Bridge. Photo: Jan Versweyveld Phoebe Fox, Mark Strong and Nicola Walker in A View From A Bridge. Photo: Jan Versweyveld
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Broadway’s Bridge begins van Hove season in NYC

After an amuse bouche in Philadelphia, with a brief run of his After the Rehearsal and Persona, America’s three-course menu of Ivo van Hove productions begins in earnest when the Young Vic production of A View from the Bridge opens on November 12 at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. The UK company, led by Mark Strong, reprise their roles in Arthur Miller’s modern tragedy set on the Brooklyn waterfront, with Van Hove’s intimacy recreated by the addition of stage seating flanking a reduced playing area. Van Hove is already on to his next project, rehearsing the musical Lazarus for New York Theatre Workshop, where it begins previews on 18 November, then he’ll have a break – at least here in the US – before beginning rehearsals for Miller’s The Crucible in late January for a spring Broadway run. While Van Hove is no stranger to New York theatre aficionados from his multiple New York Theatre Workshop productions, this is his launch onto a bigger – and commercial – stage.

George Takei shepherds Second World War musical drama Allegiance to Broadway

One of the more shameful episodes in American history was the US government’s rounding up of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War in order to place them in internment camps, under the specious theory that any person of Japanese heritage might be colluding against the US. The story has been told previously, in fact and fiction, but it is now reaching Broadway as a musical, Allegiance. The driving force behind the project is George Takei, whose family was interned when he was a child, two decades before he gained fame as Sulu on the original Star Trek TV series. Takei is making his Broadway debut opposite Lea Salonga in the show, which is based in part on his family’s own experiences, playing two roles. The musical has been working its way towards New York for several years and indeed Takei’s significant social media presence began as part of an effort to develop interest in the project. The music and lyrics are by Peter Kuo, with a book by Marc Acito, Lorenzo Thione and Kuo; Stafford Arima directs. The production opens at the Longacre Theatre on Sunday.

Donmar’s Henry IV opens the new St Ann’s Warehouse

Just days before The Young Vic’s A View from the Bridge lands on Broadway, the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Henry IV inaugurates St Ann’s Warehouse’s new home on the Brooklyn waterfront. It’s making the same journey that Phyllida Lloyd’s prior all-female Shakespeare production, Julius Caesar, made from London to New York, for a very limited run through December 6. Harriet Walter once again leads the cast. I note that there’s nothing else on St Ann’s calendar through the end of December, so don’t be surprised if a positive reception yields an extended run of several weeks more for more than just a few, a happy few.

Taylor Mac moves uptown with Hir at Playwrights Horizons

Following productions at Minneapolis’s Mixed Blood Theatre and San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, Taylor Mac’s Hir is making its New York debut in a production opening Sunday night. One of the brightest lights on the downtown theatre scene, Hir marks a departure for Mac, in that it’s a semi-conventional two-act domestic play, it’s playing just outside of the Times Square theatre district at Playwrights Horizons, and it’s not built around a role for Mac. An absurdist comedy about a mother determined to bring down the patriarchy as her family grapples with evolving gender roles, I’ll be seeing the show just after I file this column, but my interest is piqued by comments such as that of a San Francisco critic who described the play as “like a Sam Shepard drama of the Buried Child era put through a Commedia wringer and gone creatively berserk”. Kristine Nielsen plays the matriarch under the direction of Niegel Smith, who directed the previous productions. It plays through December 6.

Modern parenting at centre of Dada Woof Papa Hot at Lincoln Center Theater

Playwright Peter Parnell’s many plays include Trumpery, QED, The Sorrows of Stephen and a particular (but rarely seen) favorite of mine, Romance Language. His newest, Dada Woof Papa Hot, looks at parenting by gay couples in the wake of the US marriage equality decision. Scott Ellis directs a cast that includes John Benjamin Hickey (from the excellent and criminally underseen television series Manhattan), Patrick Breen, Tammy Blanchard, Kellie Overbey and John Pankow. It opens Monday and continues at LCT’s Off-Broadway Newhouse Theatre through January 3.

Shear Madness finally lands in NYC

I’m willing to bet that readers of this column know all about long-running shows such as Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera (27 years), Off-Broadway’s The Fantasticks (42 years), London’s The Mousetrap (63 years) and Paris’s The Bald Soprano (65 years). But can anyone name the longest running play in the United States, or for that matter, the second-longest running? Both of those slots are filled (and still going), in Boston (36 years) and Washington DC (28 years), by a comedy called Shear Madness. I made my one and only visit in the early 1980s when the shorter-lived Philadelphia company opened and I was a critic at my university newspaper. But the show has never made it to NYC, a small oversight that will be remedied when a new production opens at New World Stages on Wednesday. Adapted from a 1963 German play, Scherenschnitt, by Paul Portner, Madness was reworked and Americanised by Bruce Jordan and Marilyn Abrams, who also starred in the original production and have revised and updated the piece continually ever since. It’s a comic murder mystery set in a hair salon, and if I could actually remember any of the details of the plot all these years later, I’d be rather curious to see how the show has evolved. Will New York take to this theatrical phenomenon? Well, the producers have made clear it’s an open-ended run. Check back with me in about 25 years for the appropriate perspective.

 

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