I’m wondering if the project Andrew Lloyd Webber alluded to but wouldn’t name on NBC’s Today show this morning is the world-premiere musical “Unmasked” that leads off the all-musicals 2018-2019 season of Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ.
Based on his new autobiographical book of the same title being released tomorrow, it’s expected to be an intimate and sometimes unexpected interpretations of his best-loved songs, rediscovered gems and some new material specially written for this production. John Doyle directs. It runs Sept. 27-Oct. 28.
“You could make a killing, but not a living, in the theater,” said playwright Robert Anderson in a 1966 Christian Science Monitor interview about “Tea and Sympathy,” his successful first Broadway play that was turned into a movie. Anderson couldn’t recreate that same success on stage and turned to teaching and writing Hollywood screenplays.
About 75 percent of Broadway shows — musicals and plays — don’t recoup their investment let alone make money for investors. In NY state there is a strict legal formula concerning who gets paid first (Hint: It’s not Max Bialystock). But that’s not what we’re talking about now. Lucky investors of the original production of “Jersey Boys,” the 12th longest running show on Broadway that grossed more than $2 billion worldwide, told the NYTimes in an article published today (1/15/17), they made back about 22 percent on their original investments.
“The Bodyguard” begins with a bang — a gun shot, actually — that made every single theatergoer in the 1,200-seat Paper Mill Playhouse jump. It ends with pop music star Rachel Madden, elevated above the audience — alone in the spotlight.
First produced in London in 2012 and recently revived, the American production ends its 5-week U.S. debut this weekend and continues its national tour Jan. 10-15 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, the second site for the 20 American cities tour. More dates are expected to be announced. Most of the tour consists of 5-day stints, but several cities are booked for two- to three-week sit downs, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Costa Mesa. (Complete schedule below)
It’s the slickest production I’ve ever seen at the Millburn, NJ, a nonprofit venue that has become a launch pad for Broadway musicals recently, including “Newsies,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” and earlier this month “A Bronx Tale.” “Bandstand,” which premiered there in 2015 is scheduled to make its Broadway debut April 2017.