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Thursday night brought in the second Broadway opening of the week as Bess Wohl’s new play GRAND HORIZONS opened at the Helen Hayes Theater.
The limited run, which began previews December 23rd, is directed by Leigh Silverman and presented by Second Stage Theater, and stars James Cromwell, Jane Alexander, Michael Urie, Ben McKenzie, Priscilla Lopez, Maulik Pancholy, and Ashley Park.
This is Wohl’s Broadway debut, following Off-Broadway work such as MAKE BELIEVE, PRETTY FILTHY, and SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS. GRAND HORIZONS is coming from a pre-Broadway run at Williamstown Theatre Festival. The play follows Nancy and Bill, played by Alexander and Cromwell, respectively, who have spent 50 years married, until Nancy suddenly walks out as they settle into their new home in the eponymous Grand Horizons.
Jesse Green at The New York Times: Like them, “Grand Horizons” is perfectly structured, mimicking the classic works of stage comedy with a stupendous Act I curtain, a neat Act II surprise and a final beat that would be haunting if the road leading to it were not so littered with extorted laughs. Nor can the production, including that alarming lighting by Jen Schriever, be faulted; Silverman seems to have staged the play exactly as Wohl intended, stopping shy only of a laugh track to get the audience coughing up yuks.”
Roma Torre at NY1: “Back and forth the play goes—sometimes silly, sometimes deadly serious. Wohl is a smart writer, and if “Grand Horizons” is not exactly grand, it is deceptively insightful, especially at the end. Staged by Leigh Silverman, we get a taste of what it could be if everyone wasn’t working so hard to make us laugh.”
Frank Scheck at The Hollywood Reporter: “That much of this formulaic material nonetheless proves highly amusing is a testament to Wohl’s often genuinely funny writing, the expert comic direction of Leigh Silverman and the ensemble’s terrific performances. The old-fashioned play, co-commissioned by Second Stage and The Williamstown Theatre Festival…feels like a departure coming from the author of such stylistically daring works as SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS and MAKE BELIEVE. Ironically, it will probably become her most popular work to date; it’s easy to imagine Grand Horizons becoming a huge crowd-pleaser in regional theaters, with its two lead roles catnip for veteran performers. And those veteran performers will have an opportunity to shine, as do Alexander and Cromwell, especially in the play’s final and best scene…For those few minutes, at least, GRAND HORIZONS achieves a poignancy and depth that have otherwise eluded it.”
2. MEAN GIRLS Heads Back to Movie Theaters in a New Musical-to-Movie Adaptation
MEAN GIRLS will once again trying to make “fetch” happen, as yesterday, producers behind the Broadway musical announced that the production will be adapted for the big screen for Paramount Pictures.
Of course, the musical is based on a movie already—2004’s MEAN GIRLS—which is based on a book, “Queen Bees and Wannabes.”
Says creator Tina Fey: “I’m very excited to bring ‘Mean Girls’ back to the big screen. It’s been incredibly gratifying to see how much the movie and the musical have meant to audiences. I’ve spent sixteen years with these characters now. They are my Marvel Universe and I love them dearly.”
The announcement also confirmed the show had recouped its capitalization, and also that producers are in final talks to bring the stage show to London’s West End next year.
(J) 3. Broadway Casting News
CAROLINE, OR CHANGE Completes Its Broadway Casting
The upcoming Roundabout Theatre Company Broadway revival of Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner’s CAROLINE, OR CHANGE has officially completed its casting.
Samantha Williams, who made her Broadway debut in DEAR EVAN HANSEN, will take on the role of Emmie, the role that won Anika Noni Rose her Tony Award in 2004.
She will join the previously announced Sharon D. Clarke, who plays Caroline Thibodeaux, John Cariani, and Caissie Levy.
Also joining the cast are Kaden Amari Anderson, Joy Hermalyn, Kevin S. McAllister, N’Kenge, and Jaden Myles Walden.
CAROLINE, OR CHANGE will be directed by Michael Longhurst and is scheduled to begin begin previews on March 13th at Studio 54 ahead of an April 7th opening.
Other Show and Casting News
Samuel Bailey’s Shook to Transfer to West End
Ari Graynor, Frank Wood, Gabby Beans, and More Tapped for Emily Feldman World Premiere Off-Broadway
Samuel Bailey’s SHOOK will transfer to the West End at Trafalgar Studios. The play, which won the 2019 Papatango New Writing Prize and debuted at the Southwark Playhouse, is scheduled to begin performances on April 8th ahead of a limited engagement run from April 14th through May 9th.
Artistic Director George Turvey will reunite the original company, including Josef Davies, Josh Finan, Andrea Hall, and Ivan Oyik. The original production was nominated for seven Off West End Awaards, including Best Production and Best New Play.
Emily Feldman’s upcoming world premiere of THE BEST WE COULD (A FAMILY TRAGEDY) has announced its cast. Leading the company will be Tony winner Frank Wood and Ari Graynor. The cast also will include Gabby Beans, Howard W. Overshown, and Constance Shulman. Manhattan Theatre Club will mount the world premiere starting May 5th ahead of a May 19th opening at MTC’s Off-Broadway stage at New York City Center. Daniel Aukin will direct.
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