arts 04.6.07

Inside Theater

By George Spelvin
IT'S BAAAAACK… Award Season! That time of year when everyone loves everyone and it's an honor just to be sitting next to someone who's nominated. Things kicked off this week with the announcement of the Lucille Lortel Award nominations and the Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk nominations will be announced on April 23rd and 26th, respectively. Because of the OCC's early cut-off, Tarzan wasn't eligible last season and will be considered for this year's awards. Or not. Maybe Disney should ask them to wait until their new, reconceived version goes vine-swinging in Europe? Likewise, I hear some of this season's late entries — including Deuce and Legally Blonde — are not inviting those nominators with early deadlines this season and so they will be considered next year. Or not.

These kudos will be followed in short order by the Drama Critics, Drama League, Obie, Theater World, and, of course, Tony Awards which are the only ones that get national TV air time and thus the only ones with any effect on the box office. It's apparently already been decided that the cast from Spring Awakening (the current frontrunner for Best Musical) won't be allowed to do the show's best song, "Totally F***ed," so look for them to perform "The Bitch of Living," which the CBS censor previously allowed on David Letterman's show back in February. Also, this song probably won't be allowed on the air until the last hour of the broadcast, when anyone who might actually get turned on by the song will have tuned out. That is, assuming anyone was watching in the first place — The Sopranos' series finale is airing at the same time.

One last thing — for now — about this year's Tonys: don't be surprised if one of the Best Original Score nominees is Mark Bennett's music for The Coast of Utopia. There are precedents for plays being included in this category: most recently, The Song of Jacob Zulu in 1993 (music by Ladysmith Black Mambazo) and Twelfth Night in 1999 (music by Jeanine Tesori).

DUST OFF YOUR RESUMES. Most of the really good jobs never get posted online, but here are three exceptions: Barry Weissler is advertising for a Creative Director to help him find new shows (not just revivals like Chicago and Wonderful Town) to produce, and HBO Films is seeking an experienced theatre dramaturg to develop its next slate of feature films and mini-series (more info here). Also, Lynn Moffat is moving on after 8 years, so New York Theater Workshop has opened a search for a new Managing Director. I understand that they've already gone through many candidates for all three jobs.

BROADWAY BOYS CLUB: Straight couples have long produced shows together — the aforementioned Weisslers, Alex and Hildy Cohen — so why not The Gays? Scott Rudin, lead producer of the Broadway hit The Year of Magical Thinking has brought on his partner John Barlow, co-owner of one of B'way's biggest PR firms, as an Executive Producer on the show. And Richie Jackson, formerly a talent agent, join his partner Jordan Roth (VP at Jujamcyn) to produce the new Harvey Fierstein-John Bucchino musical based on Paddy Chayefsky's A Catered Affair, with an out-of-town tryout scheduled for the fall at San Diego's Old Globe.

COMMEDIA TONIGHT: Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty won't see their biggest hit, Ragtime, revived at the New York City Opera next season as originally announced but their long-aborning musical about commedia dell'arte performers, The Glorious Ones, is finally being produced — at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, starting April 19, staged by Ragtime choreographer Graciela Daniele. A couple of Glorious songs have already made it into the repertoires of some major Broadway talents and so you can get a taste of the score by listening to Jason Daniely and Marin Mazzie's recording of "Opposite You" or Patti LuPone's concert performance of "I Was Here."

THEATER AS A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE: With so many long-running musicals holding onto the handful of large theaters, many new musicals have been forced to squeeze into smaller playhouses. This situation is made all the more frustrating when one of Broadway's best musical houses — the Mark Hellinger — remains in the hands of Times Square Church, who bought the space from the Nederlanders in 1989. Originally built as the first movie theatre specifically designed for talkies, this 1500-seater was also home to stage hits like My Fair Lady, Jesus Christ Superstar and Sugar Babies. It's too bad some smart producer can't figure out a way to convince the church to share the Hellinger — just as Carnegie Hall, Live Nation and other concert presenters are doing at the surprisingly ornate 3,300-seat United Palace Theatre (pictured) in Washington Heights, where Christ Community United Church is in residence.

PROJECT SHAW: Everything George Bernard Shaw ever wrote for the stage is being presented as part of a monthly series of concert readings at the Players Club in Gramercy Park. The April 23rd installment should be a hoot, as they present Shaw's Androcles and the Lion, with Seth Rudetsky as Androcles and Bruce Vilanch as the Lion. The Narrator will be Roma Torre of NY1 and the rest of the cast will be made up of New York theater critics. For more information or to order your $15 tickets, visit here.

SPRING BOARDS: Manhattan Theatre Club has re-named its annual series of public readings of new works, and the former is now called "Spring Boards." Since 1999, a number of shows developed through this showcase have gone on to full productions at MTC and other theaters around the country, including David Auburn's Pulitzer- and Tony-winner Proof. The series — which is free and open to the public, although reservations are required — kicks off this coming Monday at City Center with Horse Latitudes by Hilary Fannin (pictured), a veteran Irish actress who has also written many plays that have been produced in Dublin, London and on BBC Radio in the last decade. Details about all six readings being presented over the next two months can be found here.

JUST ASKING: Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced plans to write a sequel, set in New York, to his record-breaking hit The Phantom of the Opera. Has he never heard of Annie Warbucks (or for that matter the earlier, aborted Annie 2: Miss Hannigan's Revenge), The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, Bring Back Birdie, Divorce Me Darling (sequel to The Boyfriend), or Let 'Em Eat Cake (sequel to Of Thee I Sing)? Shouldn't we leave the sequels to Hollywood? You know, like that mega-smash Grease 2?

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