Broadway Buzz: Carole King musical set to debut

Hey, theatre fans!  It’s been another week full of big news on Broadway, so here we go!

Welcome to Times Square and to Beautiful: The Carole King Musical!  The show had its first Broadway preview at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre this Thursday, telling the story of the Grammy-winning artist through her words and music. King is portrayed by Tony nominee Jessie Mueller (On a Clear Day, Mystery of Edwin Drood).  Following a sold-out world premiere engagement this fall at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre, they’re headed toward an official opening night on January 12.

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s curtains for Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, the most expensive — and surely the most troubled — production in Broadway history.  After what was also the longest preview period in history, the show will play its last show at the Foxwoods Theatre on January 4 after playing 1, 268 performances.  While the show took in more than $200 million dollars and was seen by about 2 million theatre-goers (at a capitalization of $75 million), it’s estimated the show will lose a historical $60 million for its investors.  Hopes are now high for a Las Vegas production and future worldwide arena tours, but no details have yet been announced.

It’ll be an early closing for the revival of Romeo and Juliet, the first production on Broadway in 36 years.  Perhaps the historical amount of Shakespeare simultaneously up and running on the boards made it tough for even its starry cast to fill the newly renovated Richard Rodgers.  The contemporary staging, featuring Lord of the Rings star Orlando Bloom and 2-time Tony nominee Condola Rashad, will have played 27 previews and 93 performances when it takes its final bow on December 8.

On a brighter note, we’ve got some new casting news to get excited about.  Canadian actor Paul Nolan, last seen as Jesus in the most recent revival of Jesus Christ Superstar will take the stage as ‘Guy’ in the Tony winning Best Musical Once.  He takes the stage at the Bernard Jacobs December 17, succeeding Dr. Who’s Arthur Darvill, who plays his last performance December 15.  Once also has a newly launched national tour and a West End production running at London’s Phoenix Theatre.  Super Producer Cameron Macintosh announced further casting for the upcoming revival of Les Mis this week.  Keala Settle — who raised the roof and stopped the show in Hands on a Hardbody to Tony nominated-effect — will be Madame Thenardier!  She’ll be joined by Cliff Saunders (39 Steps) who’s currently playing Thenardier in the Toronto production.  Enjolras will be a Broadway debut for Kyle Scatliffe, who’s appearing in the West End production of The Scottsboro Boys.  Les Mis begins previews at the Imperial on March 1.

And for my LA friends, I am so happy you will get to experience the genius and hilarity of this year’s Tony-winning Best Play, Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike!  Best of all, it will include original Broadway cast members, who both received Tony nominations for the show – Kristine Nielsen and Shalita Grant, and as if that weren’t enough, it will be directed by original cast member, Tony and Emmy winner David Hyde Pierce!  He’ll base his production work on the contributions of Broadway director Nicholas Martin, who had to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts.  They’ll play the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum from January 29 through March 9.

Hope you will be seeing some live performances over the upcoming holiday week, tweet me to tell me all about it @julie_james –I’d love to know!

Keep your ear to the ground with the Broadway Buzz, On Broadway, everyday on Ch. 72!

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

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