The Exorcist: The Play!

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Just because anything can be turned into a play or musical does not mean that it should be turned into a play or musical. The Exorcist, for anyone that has missed a few decades, is a frightening book written by William Peter Blatty. For those of us that don’t read, he also wrote the Academy Award winning screenplay for the movie version The Exorcist. Basically, a twelve year old girl becomes possessed by the demon Pazuzu.

Sounds like the perfect idea for a play, right? It was an amazingly successful book and the movie opened the material up to an even wider audience. Besides, the plays initial run in Los Angeles managed to secure John Doyle, famous for making actors do musicians’ work, as director and Teller, from Penn and Teller, to work on some of the stage effects. Then there’s the fact that John Pielmeier (Agnes of God) signed on as playwright. That’s intriguing! Plus, Brooke Shields in the Ellen Burstyn mother role… Well, alright, that’s some interesting casting.

Really, though, whether or not the show is any good, it’s going to have a problem taking audiences away from the movie. The movie has become an icon of the horror genre, and it’s a little hard not to have people not expect to see pea soup and head spinning (SPOILER: These both were cut from the stage version). That’s alright, though! The writing and creative team were looking to stray away from the horror and go straight for the movie’s other strength: psychological thriller.

So far so good.

Then the reviews started coming in. It should be noted that a lot of reviews mentioned they did like the special effects. They were also fond of the fact that the male ensemble of priests provided the voice of the demon. Well, that’s really about all they liked.

Oh, well. Pop in Leslie Nielsen’s Repossessed and call it a day.

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How to Succeed: Opening Night

Tonight marks the opening of the new Broadway revival of the 1962 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  Heading the cast and making his Broadway musical debut is Daniel Radcliffe as J. Pierrepont Finch.  Also headlining the cast is John Larroquette as boss J.B. Biggley.

Included also in the cast are Rose Hemingway, Robb Bartlett, Tammy Blanchard, Mary Faber, Christopher J. Hanke, Ellen Harvey, and Michael Park.

Originally opening on Broadway in October of 1961, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying details the story of J. Pierropont Finch who, with the aid of a book by the same name as the musical and some morally questionable actions, climbs the corporate ladder from window washer to Vice President of Advertisement at the World-Wide Wicket Company.  The show features music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert.  It is based off a 1952 book by the same name, written by Shepherd Mead.

As For Tomorrow, Well, Who knows?

Girdles, dancing girls, mascara, and a Jerry Herman score all combine to form the basis for the gay romp known as La Cage aux Folles.  Even with Harvey Fierstein currently leading the production as Albin, the current Broadway production is a little less gay than usual.  Jeffrey Tambor, who entered the production opposite Harvey Fierstein on February 15, has been released of his contract (playing Fierstein’s husband, Georges) with the show since February 24.

The producers of the show issues a statement that referenced the fact that Jeffrey Tambor had recently had a hip replacement, and that the strains of doing a show eight times a week was too much for him.  Now, as with any good press release, not everyone believed this.  A certain “reporter”/”critic”/thing for the New York Post reported that Tambor had been struggling with the score and was visibly uneasy when in front of a live audience.  He even gave this little gem of a quote about the struggling actor:

He’s hitting notes in some of Jerry Herman’s lovely ballads that aren’t found anywhere on the traditional Western scale.”

Nothing like kicking an actor when he’s down.

This brings up a point about the role of Georges, though.  In the 2005 Broadway Revival of La Cage aux Folles, there were severe rumors about severe tensions running in the cast.  Actor Daniel Davis (Of The Nanny fame) was in the role of Georges, while Gary Beach was playing Albin.  Supposedly there was a constant feud between the two, which eventually led to the dismissal of Mr. Davis.  He was later replaced by Robert Goulet (Of Goulet fame).

Goulet!

Not saying that the role is cursed, but even the original Georges on Broadway (Gene Barry) only had minimal television, movie, and theatre offers after his time in the show.  And he had an extensive career before going into it!

If this is any sign for the good things that happen for those that play Georges on Broadway, then Kelsey Grammer, who originated the role in the current production, should be keeping an eye out.  He married his newest wife on the stage of the Longacre Theatre, where La Cage aux Folles is currently playing, on February 25.

Goulet!

A Bloody, Bloody Month on Broadway

January has always been an important month for Broadway shows.  While it  marks a joyous time that people have once again survived the holiday season, it also marks the death of many theatre productions.  With producers no longer being able to count on holiday tourists to fill seats, many shows find themselves dimming their stages.

Closing tonight, January 2, proves to be the most popular closing date of the month.  Fela!, Promise, Promises, West Side Story, and the only recently opened Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson shutter.  The limited engagements Brief Encounter, Elf,  and The Pee-Wee Herman Show also close tonight.  Special notice should go to the limited engagement musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown closing tonight, ahead of its original January 23 closing date.

This marks a break in closing until January 9 when A Little Night Music, In the Heights, Rock of Ages and A Free Man of Color will also follow the previously mentioned shows.  This date also marks the premature closing of La Bête, which was originally intended to close on February 12.  The show, which will have played under 100 performances since opening in October, did moderately better than its original run in the early 1990s… which played twenty-five.

This marks another cooling in closings until January 16 when the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal stops performances, closely followed by Time Stands Still on Janurary 30.

If nothing else, all of these closings should serve as a reminder that more great things are slated to open this season… and then promptly close next January.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Injuries

There was a promise that I made to myself that I would refrain from writing about anything that was happening in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark for at least a year.  Then last week happened, and I’m going to have to break that promise.  Don’t worry, I’ll make it up to myself.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been widely criticized for its delay of performances, canceled previews, and massive budget, but things became much more serious last week when another injury occurred.  On December 20, actor Christopher Tierney fell 30 feet while performing a stunt in the show.  The performance was immediately canceled, as the curtain fell with seven minutes left to go in the second act.  Tierney was immediately taken to the hospital where it was discovered the fall produced a fractured skull, a broken scapula, a broken arm, four broken ribs, a bruised lung, and three fractured vertebrae.

Anyone keeping up with this show knows that this is not the first injury to happen in the show.  Actress Natalie Mendoza, who was playing the character Arachne, suffered a concussion during the first preview performance of the musical.  Since the second preview, the role had been played by her understudy and another actress until Mendoza could return to the show.

Earlier this week it was reported that Mendoza was in talks to leave the show.  Today it was officially announced that she would no longer be apart of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.  Though there has been no official statement for her reasoning for leaving the show, it should be noted that a series of injuries in the cast may have at least had an influence on her.  Remember, besides her and Tierney’s accidents, Kevin Aubin broke both of his wrists while performing a stunt from the show for a group of investors.

Here’s hoping there will be no more injuries plaguing the Foxwoods Theare.

I’m Ready for My Closeup, Mr. Parker

Alright, so all of you wonderful readers out there might be wondering what happened to the blog. I am sure that there is a perfectly good explanation behind the sudden lack of posts on here. Doesn’t mean I’m going to tell you it.

Anyway, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the most expensive Broadway production to ever be placed upon the Great White Way, has finally released some new photos. This could possibly be a distraction from Julie Taymor’s “catapult of death,” but who cares? Now the Broadway community and comic book nerds all over the country can finally see what $60 million can do.

The photos, seen here, were taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz for Vogue Magazine. Don’t the actors look like they’re having so much fun?

Mamet: Back with a Vengeance

When one door closes, another opens. These words could not ring more truer than tonight, October 12, when another David Mamet show opens on Broadway. Though the star-studded production of Race closed only a few months ago, audiences can again be delighted with Mamet’s funny, heartwarming… dickish… words in A Life in the Theatre.

This limited engagement (Closing January 2) production shows Patrick Stewart and T.R. Knight playing two actors (big stretch). The play itself details the relationship of these two men from a “backstage theatre life” perspective.

The production is playing The Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

Broadway Opening: Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Tonight, October 3, a limited engagement revival of the George Bernard Shaw play Mrs. Warren’s Professions opens on Broadway. The play details the life of a Mrs. Warren, who has made a living by running a series of high class brothels. When her daughter, Vivie, discovers this she is horrified. The relationship becomes even more tangled when Vivie discovers that her mother is continuing to run the business.

The cast includes: Cherry Jones as Mrs. Warren, Sally Hawkins as Vivie, Adam Driver, Mark Harelik, Edward Hibbert, and Michael Siberry.

The play runs until November 21.

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Everyone, mark your calenders. The greatest musical opening since Starlight Express is about to happen. On November 14, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will begin previews on Broadway at the Foxwoods Theatre.

Julie Taymor (Most famous for directing Disney’s The Lion King) is back in the director’s chair. She also co-wrote the libretto with Glen Berger. But that is not the most interesting part of the creative team. The music and lyrics have been written by two huge names of musical theatre: Bono and The Edge. You read that right.

You might be asking yourself just what exactly this $54 million musical is about. It really is quite simple. Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider. After crying and moaning that he can’t get the girl of his dreams, he realizes that he has superpowers and attempts to use them for good. When the struggle of saving his city becomes too much for the teenage superhero, he continues to cry and moan. Only now he’s trying to turn off the dark… whatever that means.

The musical appears to be much better than that, though. Unlike the past three movies (Simply titled Spider-Man I, II, and III) this musical will actually contain a plethora of villains. Audiences can expect to see the Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter, Lizard, Carnage, Grim Hunter, and the new villain known as Swiss Miss (Insert clever joke about the drink here).

There is no telling just how exactly this musical will turn out. It should be noted that, as stated above, the musical is going into the newly named Foxwoods Theatre. The former name of it was the Hilton Theatre, which had killed more shows than the uttering of the “M” word.

The musical officially opens on December 21. For further information about this glorious piece of theatre, check out their website.