Well, here it is the start of the Fall theater season, and what’s most noticable so far are the shows that had previously been announced for full productions, and are NOT coming in after all. Things like the Harry Connick, Jr. musical “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, a Whoopi Goldberg-produced revival of the landmark “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Isn’t Enough” (no room for the title of the marquee, probably), a brand spanking new polish of the classic “Brigadoon” with new book by John Guare, and a big Bway revival of the little show that could-“Godspell”. All goners. Out of money before they even went into rehearsal. With these harsh economic times, investors are actually afraid to put their money in anything that can’t spell HIT in big, fat, green letter$$$$$$. Personally, I was mystified as to why another revival of “Godspell” was necessary, but I was curious to see what wunderkind director Danny Goldstein was going to do with it. Make it work, maybe, on a Broadway stage? That would be nice. and new. As for “Brigadoon”, that was the one I was really looking forward to, because, sad to say, I’ve never seen a production of “Brigadoon”. Shame on me, theater person that I am, I’ve never seen the MOVIE! I knew most of the score, but hey, I wanted to see a first class Broadway revival, darn it! Not to be.
That’s not to say there aren’t a bunch of revivals coming into town in the next few months. Oh boy, are there ever. There are two David Mamet plays scheduled to open within weeks of each other this fall. First will be a revival of the Hollywood satire “Speed The Plow” with Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”), Raul Esparza (“Pushing Daisies”), and Elizabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) in the cast. Then, there’ll be a production of my favorite Mamet play, “American Buffalo” with John Leguizamo and Cedric The Entertainer. I fondly recall the original Broadway production back in 1977, which starred Robert Duvall, Kenny McMillan and John Savage. I was there in the audience the night of the first preview, I was there 5 more times during the run, capped by the final performance four months later at the Belasco, when I got to hang backstage with my teacher and mentor McMillan. I LOVE this play. I’m looking forward to seeing how it looks at the same theatre where it ran originally, 30 years later. And, of course, there’s the much heralded coming of Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, in the great Peter Shaffer play about a boy and his horse, “Equus”. Talk about bringing back a winner! The original production was back in 1974, I was in college, and I would guess I saw that show at least 8 times during the run. Hey, it was a lot easier to see everything in multiples then. The top ticket price for an orchestra seat when “Equus” originally opened with Anthony Hopkins and Peter Firth, was TWELVE DOLLARS! Twelve bucks for a great orchestra seat where you’d be eye level with Peter Firth’s bare butt while he made nice with the horsies. Now, to watch a naked Radcliffe wax wistfully over his steed is going to run you about 120 bucks. And I gurantee, the lighting will be much more subdued than it was back then. And although I’m not overjoyed with the idea of the portly Richard Griffiths as the psychiatrist trying to figure out why his patient went beserk one night in the stable, I’m willing to give him his shot. But he has a lot to live up to. After all, I’ve seen Hopkins, Richard Burton, Alec MacCowan, Leonard Nimoy and Anthony Perkins all play the shrink at one time or another. So go ahead, Mr. Griffiths, do your stuff.
As far as musicals still to come, there will definitely be a revival of the classic “Pal Joey” at Studio 54 with Stockard Channing, Martha Plimpton and Christian Hoff directed by the genius that is Joe Mantello. It’s being produced by Roundabout Theatre Company, so I’m not expecting much in the way of extravagance (meaning sets, costumes and orchestrations), but with the master himself, Paul Gemignani, as musical director, I think this one might come out sounding more than alright.
And then finally, we will get to see (if there’s a Lord of Musical Theater up above) an inside production of the remarkable outside production of “Hair” that played Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre this summer. Hey, it’s there until Sept. 14th. As of this writing, it could extend again, who knows? This was a unabashed joy to be in the presence of-the cast was almost perfect, the direction moreso, and the joy and exhilaration, breathtaking. Whether the same feeling can be conjured up indoors will depend on how well it’s rethought and what theatre it moves into, but with executive producer Oskar Eustis at the helm, I’m sure it’ll work. Just don’t try to fix anything that’s not broken, y’all.
And until October, I’m outta here, people.