Hey Broadway fans! There were some great milestones reached on the Great White Way this week. Huge congrats to the longest running American musical in Broadway history: CHICAGO. The revival of the hit musical just celebrated 17 years at the Ambassador Theatre last Thursday! It’s particularly remarkable since the original production was not that well-received and ran just a little over 2 years. Twenty years later, Walter Bobbie and Ann Reinking would lead a concert version, inspiring the 1996 revival, going on to win six Tony Awards, including Best Revival, Best Direction for Bobbie & Best performance awards for Reinking, Bebe Neuwirth and James Naughton.
Right on the heels of Chicago is the blockbuster Disney smash-hit The Lion King, which celebrated its 16th Anniversary at the Minskoff Theatre last Wednesday. But wait, there’s more! Next month, the production will surpass Les Mis to become the 4th longest-running show on Broadway. Not only that, but they recently became the 1st show in Broadway history to surpass the $1 billion mark. The show won over 30 major awards, including 6 Tonys – among them Best Musical and one for Julie Taymor, who became the first woman to ever receive a Tony for Best Direction of a Musical.
Not such good news last week for the production of Big Fish – they’ll play their last performance of the new Andrew Lippa/John August musical December 29. With direction by 5-time Tony winner Susan Stroman and starring 2-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz, the show will have played 34 previews and 98 regular performances by the time they close at the Neil Simon. Despite being an incredibly ambitious and colorful production, mixed response from critics seems to have slowed down traffic at the tuner.
On the other hand, several new openings here in Times Square this week: the Shakespeare’s Globe repertory production of Richard III & Twelfth Night starring force-of-nature & 2-time Tony winner Mark Rylance opened at the Belasco (GO!); Billy Crystal’s 700 Sundays officially opened at the Imperial and this Sunday, the new musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, opens at the Walter Kerr.
Worth mentioning: The Broadway League notes that this is the first time in a quarter century that so many of the Bard’s plays are running simultaneously on Broadway. There are four productions currently on the boards: the above mentioned repertory production, plus Ethan Hawke in previews for Macbeth and Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad in Romeo & Juliet. The last time we had so much Shakespeare at the same time on Broadway was 1987.
Anniversaries, openings, closings – but what really gets our hearts pounding is new shows in development – and this was a HUGE week for news on that! Brush up those Inigo Montoya quotes, Thomas Schumacher announced this week that Disney Theatricals will develop a new stage production based on The Princess Bride! It’s not yet been determined whether the adaptation of the 1973 William Goldman novel and subsequent 1987 Rob Reiner film will be a musical or not – nor has a timetable or any creative team or casting been set, but when I know, you’ll know!
Next is the announcement from Grammy winner Alanis Morissette. She’ll pen a Broadway musical based on her era-defining, smash-hit 1995 album Jagged Little Pill to be workshopped in 2014! What the what what?! It’ll apparently feature all the songs from the album, in addition to other material from her catalogue & new songs written specifically for the production. Morissette was the youngest artist in history to win the Grammy for Album of the Year at just 21. The album has gone 16x Platinum and has sold over 33-million copies worldwide – which probably makes for some mighty good audience potential on Broadway.
And finally, Diner is not dead! A new staged reading of the new Sheryl Crow/Barry Levinson musical will be held next month here in NYC with direction by 3-time Tony winner Kathleen Marshall. The show, based on the 1982 film was originally scheduled to open next April, but was postponed back in January – this way there was more time for the creative work and raising reserve funds to cushion ticket sales.
Which new shows in development have you the most psyched? Tweet me your opinions @julie_james!
Now you’re in the know! Stay tuned to On Broadway, Ch. 72 for daily updates on the Broadway Buzz. I’ll be back here next week for even more scoop!