Ephraim psyched to be MJ, CHRISTMAS CAROL review, West End WAITRESS makes way for (different) DOLLY, OUT 100 is out, More (different) CHRISTMAS CAROLS
“Today on Broadway” is a daily, Monday through Friday, podcast hitting the top theatre headlines of the day.
(J) 1. Ephraim Sykes to Play Michael Jackson in Upcoming Broadway Musical MJ
Yesterday, we got the first casting news for the upcoming Michael Jackson bio musical MJ. AIN’T TOO PROUD Tony nominee Ephraim Sykes will headline another jukebox musical as he takes on the title role.
As previously reported, the show will begin performances on July 6th, 2020, at the Neil Simon Theatre with an opening night set for August 14th. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage wrote the book with Tony Winner Christopher Wheeldon tapped to direct and choreograph.
(A) 2. Reviews for Jack Thorne’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL on Broadway
Jack Thorne’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL opened at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre on Wednesday night, November 20th. Directed by Old Vic Artistic Director Matthew Warchus as he brings the show over from London and featuring 12 Christmas carols, the new version of Charles Dickens’ well-known classic stars Campbell Scott, Andrea Martin, LaChanze, Erica Dorfler, and Dashiell Eaves.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL will play its limited engagement through January 5th, 2020.
Ben Brantley at The New York Times named it a Critic’s Pick, asking, “Have any of the progressive presidential hopefuls still duking it out thought about working A CHRISTMAS CAROL into their campaigns? If so, they would surely benefit from visiting the new, charmingly instructive adaptation of Charles Dickens’s evergreen of Yuletide redemption, which opened Wednesday at the Lyceum Theater. As reconceived by the playwright Jack Thorne and the director Matthew Warchus, this sprightly version of Dickens’s deathless portrait of a miser makes a pointed case for the personal benefits of redistributing wealth. God rest ye merry, fat cats: Shedding some of that cumbersome, excess cash is a surefire route to feeling good about yourself. While retaining the jolliness and sentimentality associated with some 170 years’ worth of stage versions…Thorne and Warchus have polished the story’s social conscience to a restored brightness. Be assured, though, that their “Carol,” which stars Campbell Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge, never sings shrilly.”
But Adam Feldman at Time Out New York gave it three out of five stars, writing: At the Old Vic in London, where Warchus’s production premiered two years ago and has become an annual staple since, the show is staged in the round. Perhaps it is more effective in that form; at the Lyceum, even at what should be the joyous climax of the production—when the audience is corralled into helping assemble a massive Christmas feast—the festivity has a faint sense of effort. And just when our spirits have been suitably raised, Thorne’s script tamps them down again with a buzzkill of a coda. This A CHRISTMAS CAROL has many lovely moments and atmosphere aplenty. What it lacks, just a little, is cheer.
And finally, Helen Shaw at Vulture writes: “It’s disconcerting to see something so old and sturdy and, I might add, out of copyright, be turned into a text about personal fulfillment. As for audience fulfillment? The story basically stops about twenty minutes before the end and pure entertainment begins—audience participation and musical numbers. Warchus knows what he’s up to: The show-closing gags are good enough that most people will only remember the delight that comes from prop comedy and handbell choirs. Fake snow falls and the people in the orchestra reach up to touch it. It’s foam, so it disperses before you can touch it. But there are a lot of people happy with froth. God bless ’em, every one.”
(A) 3. London’s WAITRESS Sets Closing Date at the Adelphi Theatre, In Comes HELLO, DOLLY!
(A) 4. Mark Strong and Helen Mirren to Star in OEDIPUS in the West End
The West End production of WAITRESS has announced it will be closing up… at least for now. WAITRESS will end its current run on July 4th, 2020, at the Adelphi Theatre after opening on March 7, 2019. It’s not the end of the show’s life across the pond, however, as following the West End run, the musical will embark on a U.K. and Ireland tour including Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and more. And following the tour, the producers intend for the show to return to the West End.
As we’ve previously discussed, Sara Bareilles and Gavin Creel will once again star opposite each other when they join the London staging at the Adelphi beginning January 27, 2020.
When one door closes, another opens, though. First reported by Baz Bamigboye on Thursday night, Imelda Staunton will play Dolly Gallagher Levi in the upcoming West End transfer of HELLO, DOLLY!, which will begin performances at the Adelphi on August 11th.
Tony nominee Jeanna Russell will also play Irene Molloy in the production, which will be directed by Dominic Cooke, who helmed the National Theatre’s FOLLIES in which Staunton starred.
Priority tickets will be available via HelloDollyLDN.com.
That was not the only bomb Bamigboye dropped on Thursday night: According to Sonia Friedman Productions, Mark Strong and Helen Mirren will star in Robert Wicke’s English-language adaptation of OEDIPUS. The play will reportedly run in the West End later this year, with dates and a theatre to be determined. The show is also planning for Broadway after that.
(A) 5. Recommendations
Out Magazine’s OUT 100, Including Jeremy O. Harris, Michael R. Jackson, and More
(A) 6. In Other News…
Patrick Stewart Will Return to the New York Stage in Solo Adaptation of A Christmas Carol
Theresa Rebeck to Helm Benefit Reading of A CHRISTMAS CAROL With Tyne Daly, Thom Sesma, and More
Broadway’s HADESTOWN Adds Performance Benefiting the Actors Fund
FOR COLORED GIRLS Revival Extends a Fourth Time Off-Broadway
Patrick Stewart’s solo version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL will return to NY for two nights only next month. Seen on Broadway in 2001 and also performed in New York in the early ’90s, the Olivier winner’s solo version of the Dickensian classic will play at Theater 511 on December 11th and 13th. Proceeds for the evening will benefit City Harvest, NYC’s largest food rescue organization, and Ars Nova. Benefit tickets are on sale for $500 and available through OvationTix.
But seemingly a bit of a lighthearted battle for CHRISTMAS CAROLs, as also happening next month, Theresa Rebeck will helm her own benefit production of the play for Primary Stages at the Cherry Lane Theatre next month. The one-night-only benefit reading on December 19th will benefit Primary Stages’ various teen programs, including Free Student Matinees, Teenwrights, and TixTeen. The cast of the reading will include Paola Sanchez Abreu, Mark Bedard, Kimberly Chatterjee, Michael Cristofer, Tyne Daly, Kate Hamill, Thom Sesma, and Sharon Washington.
Tickets to the benefit can be purchased online at primarystages.org.
Over on Broadway, HADESTOWN has added an extra performance in January benefiting The Actors Fund. The special performance will take place at the Walter Kerr Theatre, of course, on January 10th at 2 PM— a Friday matinee.
All proceeds from the performance will go towards the non-profit organization which provides welfare programs to entertainment professionals, including health services, affordable housing and more. For tickets and information, visit actorsfund.org.
And finally, The Public Theater’s currently revival of Ntozake Shange’s FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE CONSIDERED SUICIDE/WHEN THE RAINBOW IS ENUF has extended for a -fourth- and final time. Originally scheduled through November 17th, the revival, directed by Leah C. Gardiner and with choreography by Camille A. Brown, will play now through December 15th. after opening to critical acclaim on October 22nd.