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BROADWAY’S 2006 Fall/Winter Season

Originally published 1/25/2007 and preserved here:
http://web.archive.org/web/20070212040700/http://www.theaterscene.net/ts/articles.nsf/FI/423B99E759799DC38525726F007698C3

The Musicals…

The White Way barely had time to recover from last season’s exciting Tony race when Martin Short roused the sleeping giant with his manic ode to himself, Fame Becomes Me. A string of revivals came lumbering in: the sparkly Chorus Line, tinny Company and barely noticed Les Miserables and hokey The Apple Tree was lifted intact from City Center’s Encores! concerts. Two off Broadway winners, Grey Gardens and Spring Awakening developed the legs to climb to the Big Time. There actually were new musicals, the mostly disastrous Mimi Le Duck and Times They Are A Changin’, the unfairly critically killed High Fidelity with only Mary Poppins an automatic success (gotta have something for the children to sleep through).

The Plays…

Jay Johnson’s The Two and Only! lecture/demonstration of the art of ventriloquism was an odd choice to start the season. Losing Louie a poor choice, Heartbreak House a boring choice, Butley a depressing choice, The Vertical Hour an attractive choice and The Little Dog Laughed a welcome choice along with Tom Stoppard’s magnus opus Utopia, all three parts, at Lincoln Center.

Stand Out Must-See Performances

Chrjstine Ebersole in Grey Gardens delivers dynamic dual performances as both the thrillingly trilling self centered opera singing Edith Bouvier Beale and her adult daughter ‘Little’ Edie, the deliciously eccentric (and real-life) aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who were once among the brightest names in the pre-Camelot social register, but became East Hampton’s most notorious recluses.

Walter Kerr Theater 219 West 48th Street, 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250

Kristin Chenoweth and Marc Kudisch in The Apple Tree
(Photo: Joan Marcus) Kristin Chenoweth merrily mugs her way through Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s 1966 madcap musical, The Apple Tree bestowing her shimmering soprano voice and an incomparable gift for comedic performing in the three-part (actually three separate short stories) tour de force.

Studio 54, 254 West 54th St, 212 719 1300

Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy in Vertical Hour photo by Phil Kolnick

Bill Nighy’s outstanding Broadway debutin The Vertical Hour , David Hare’s Iraq inspired political play, showcases the rumpled British character actor who quietly dominates every scene he’s in as a fascinating rural general practitioner, a ladykiller who ruined his own marriage and is possibly seducing his son’s fiancee (Julianne Moore).

Music Box Theatre. Tickets are available through Telecharge (212) 239-6200.

The ensemble cast in Spring Awakening the coming-of-age musical based on German Frank Wedekind’s banned 1891 play about teenage angst in general and sexual obsession in particular in a buttoned up school and the tragic results of sexual innocence/ignorance in this repressed society. Most impressive is Bill T. Jones minimal/modern hormone driven choreography to the rock score by Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater. Its subject matter which includes mental abuse by teachers/parents, incest, lots of masturbation, illegal botched abortion and suicide is tailored for grown up teenagers (not kids) who love intergenerational war and not the three middle aged women who lasted longer than their neighbors declaring it “boring” and “ incessantly grim”.

Eugene O’Neill Theater, 230 W 49 St, 212 239-6200

Julie White and Tom Everett Scott (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

Julie White’s awesomely bravura performance as an aggressive and skillful motor mouthed Hollywood agent stops at nothing to keep her actor client from ruining his skyrocketing image as a macho star by coming out of the closet in Douglas Carter Beane’s often hilarious comedy The Little Dog Laughed a witty, acerbic quips-galore foray into the world of Hollywood sharks and the bait they feed on. Incidentally this is the only new American play to have opened on Broadway this season

Cort Theater, 138 West 48th St 212 – 239 – 6200

photo by George Holz

Special Effects in Mary Poppins, the Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s London stage musical filled with the magic of Bob Crowley’s breathtaking sets and costumes aided by David Benken’s technical direction: Mary Poppins flies in and out on her umbrella, people pop out of chimneys, toys become human, birds fly around the theater, and statues break their poses and move. The Banks’ house at 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London, is a giant Victorian doll house come to life and Gavin Lee, delightful as Bert, who rivals Fred Astaire when he walks up the walls and across the proscenium upside down!!!.

New Amsterdam Theatre, Broadway at 42nd St,212-307-4747 or http://www.ticketmaster.com

Billy Crudup, Jennifer Ehle, August Gladstone,
Beckett Melville and Patricia Conolly
(Photo: Paul Kolnik)

The Coast of Utopia: Voyage Part I, Shipwreck Part II , Salvage Part III . Even if your mind wanders at times during this total 8 hour (broken into 3 separate plays) epic-scaled drama on the intellectual, radical political, and messy romantic paths of a closely aligned group of philosophers and activists in early 19th century Russia, wonders will never cease at the extraordinary staging by designers Bob Crowley and Scott Pask, from the country estate of the wealthy land-owning and “ soul-owning” ; Bakunin family, other locales across Russia like St. Petersburg and Moscow, to the opulent Place de la Concorde, and of course, the amazing water scenes are as remarkable for their grandeur as is the lighting by Kenneth Posner that illuminates them. Delightful performances by such luminaries as Jennifer Ehle, Billy Crudup, Ethan Hawke, Martha Plimpton, Kellie Overbey, Annie Purcell, Amy Irving, Richard Easton, Brian F. O’Byrne, David Harbour and Josh Hamilton keep the trip through history entertaining.

Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center, 150 West 65th Street 212 – 239 – 6200

Looking Forward…

Translations Brian Friel’s story about the Anglicizing of a small Irish town by British soldiers in 1833.

Biltmore Theater, 236 W 47 St, opens January 25

Talk Radio Eric Bogosian’s play will feature Liev Schrieber, Stephanie March and Erik Jensen.

Longacre Theater, 220 West 47 St, opens Feb.2007

Deuce , a world premiere play abut two women who were at the top of the tennis world by four-time Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally, which will welcome four-time Tony Award-winner Angela Lansbury back to Broadway for the first time in almost 25 years and Tony Award-winner Marian Seldes, directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Michael Blakemore. Deuce will open on Sunday, May 6th at the Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street). Previews begin Monday, April 16th. The production will play a strictly limited engagement of 18 weeks.

Frost/Nixon Michael Sheen will conclude playing David Frost, British talk show host who interviews Frank Langella’s disgraced President Richard Nixon in London on Feb. 3. Then, after a few weeks rest, director Michael Grandage will put the two back in harness and rehearse here in mid-March, starting preview April 8 for an April 22 bow.

Curtains Kander & Ebb’s long awaited last musical with book by Rupert Holmes, a whodunnit about the murder of a Broadway producer will feature David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba, Noah Racey and others. Scheduled to open March 2007

Al Hirschfeld Theater, 302 W 45 St

Legally Blonde Jerry Mitchell choreographs this musical by Benjamin/O’Keefe, book by Heather Hach, based on the movie about a ditzy blonde making it through law school and will feature Laura Bell Bundi.

Palace Theater, 1564 Broadway opens April 2007

Inherit The Wind Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy star in this revival about the “ Scopes Monkey Trial” of a teacher teaching evolution in the south.

Lyceum Theater, 149 West 45 St, previews March 2007 in a limited run

The Pirate Queen can Boublil & Schonberg, creators of Les Mis and Miss Saigon, do it again? The plot, listed succinctly as ‘Irish heroine Grace O’ Malley battles the English” is probably a huge understatement in what promises to be a lavish musical.Previews Feb 2, Opens March 22Hilton Theater 213 W 42 St

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s much beloved bio to be directed by David Hare and stars the venerable Vanessa Redgrave.Previews March 8,opens March 29

Booth Theater 222 West 45 St

Also in the wings: The Starry Messenger, One Hundred Ten in the Shade, Grease, The Country Girl, Les Liaisons Dangereuses and even South Pacific

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