Can’t make it to London — and not many of us can — there’s the National Theatre Live which broadcasts “live” well-film productions
aired in locations around the world. It might be better than a front row seat at the Cottesloe Theatre as cameras film from all angles on stage with close-ups. You could see the sweat on Benedict Cumberbatch’s brow and the pores on Johnny Lee Miller’s face during “Frankenstein.” Performances also include interviews and backstage tours of the costume or make-up rooms. Coming up: “Medea,” starting Sept. 4, “A Streetcar Named Desire” starting Sept. 16, David Hare’s “Skylight” in October. Find a theater near you, I hope. Visit the National’s website.
‘The Audience’ coming to Broadway
Speaking of the National Theatre Live, I caught its broadcast of Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth in the title role of “The Audience”
at the Monmouth University venue in West Long Branch, NJ. Surprised to see it coming to Broadway as it’s about the various prime ministers Queen Elizabeth has dealt with during her more than 60+ year reign. I’d think most American audiences would be hard pressed to name half of the 12 PMs with whom she has audiences during the play. And some knowledge of 20th century British history would be helpful. But, heck, Mirren on stage in America is always a good thing. It’s not my money producing it. Scheduled from Feb. 17 through June 28.
“The Alchemist,” considered Ben Jonson’s best work, began performances last night here in New Jersey. It’s a “rowdy, bawdy, lunatic comedy about con men in 1610 (that) shows how little has changed about greed or gullibility in the affairs of mankind,” according to the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison.
Directed by Bonnie Monte, the company’s excellent artistic director, the satire continues through Aug. 31. The Renaissance work has been performed almost continuously since it’s debut. Not like Shakespeare, but often enough. But as we know, greed and a corrupting influence has never gone out of style. Ask Gordon Gekko. The show apparently remains popular today as many of these performances already have limited seating, according to its buy tickets here web page. Easy train out from NYC, too. Bucolic setting. Nice eateries. Short walk to theater through campus. Sound tempting yet?
Can’t wait to take my two kids, who are 21 and 23. They love this venue.
Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, is well known for its lush, classy, reverent productions of mostly classic Broadway musicals. Has been for years, which is one of its problems. How many times does — even a theater lover — want to see a traditional revival of “South Pacific” “Fiddler” or “Dolly” ? A new interpretation, yes, maybe, but will it fill the 1200-seat space. When the Playhouse took a chance on an innovative production, I saw audiences walking out at intermission.
But things have changed in the past decade since Mark Hoebee, now producing artistic director, started working there, and Michael Gennaro, from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, became Paper Mill’s president and CEO.
“It’s Only a Play,” written by Terrence McNally, directed by Jack O’Brien, is another limited run — performances Sept. 4 through Jan. 4.
According to the play’s website:
“It’s opening night of Peter Austin’s (Matthew Broderick) new play as he anxiously awaits to see if his show is a hit. With his career on the line, he shares his big First Night with his best friend, a television star (Nathan Lane),his fledgling producer (Megan Mullally), his erratic leading lady (Stockard Channing), his wunderkind director (Rupert Grint), an infamous drama critic (F. Murray Abraham), and a fresh-off-the-bus coat check attendant (Micah Stock) on his first night in Manhattan.”
Sounds hysterical. Actually, it sounds a little bit like the Marx Brothers’ movie “Room Service.”
According to Variety, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” headliner Neil Patrick Harris penned a letter to Ryan Murphy, the brains behind “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” saying he wanted to appear on the TV series.
Murphy then tweeted the Tony winner: “of course you can be on Freak Show! I have a role I think you’d love.”
Catch Harris in “Hedwig” on Broadway through Aug. 17.
What a cast! Glenn Close. John Lithgow. Lindsay Duncan. Bab Balaban. Clare Higgins. Martha Plimpton.
All are on board for Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance.” Albee won a Pulitzer Prize for the dark comedy. It’s a limited run — Oct. 22 through Feb. 22 — at the Golden Theatre, and is directed by Pam MacKinnon who earned a Tony at the helm of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” It’s Scott Rudin’s second show this season. His “A Raisin in the Sun” starring Denzel Washington sold out.
He is perhaps best known for portraying Tim Canterbury in “The Office,” Dr. John Watson in “Sherlock,” and Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit.” .
Now Martin Freeman earlier this week was twice nominated for Emmy awards.
None of this, though, helped with the NY Times review of Freeman in the title role of “Richard III” in London directed by Jamie Lloyd.
Mr. Freeman, who just received Emmy nominations for his performances in“Fargo” and “Sherlock: His Last Vow,” is giving us a Richard who almost disappears before your eyes, even when he’s making orgasmic noises while strangling a victim with a telephone cord. That this is a man to be deeply and truly feared is suggested by all the evidence, except Mr. Freeman’s performance.
Now this looks like a really cool idea. And it brings Michael Keaton back to the big screen. Instead of a Broadway play going to Hollywood, “A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.