♦ The production of Hamlet starring Oscar Isaac as Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane, originally scheduled to open this June at the Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center, has now been added to the Public Theater’s downtown summer season. The production was pulled from TFANA’s season due to artistic differences between the theater and the director, Tony Award winner Sam Gold. Hamlet will now begin previews June 20 in the Public’s Anspacher Theater and run through Sept. 3, with an official opening set for July 13. The cast will also include Peter Friedman as Polonius, Anatol Yusef as Laertes, Keegan-Michael Key as Horatio, Gayle Rankin as Ophelia and Second Gravedigger, Roberta Colindrez as Rosencrantz and Matthew Saldívar as Guildenstern. Complete casting will be announced at a later date.
♦ After a successful run at The Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles, an open-ended engagement of Jason Odell Williams‘ new political comedy, Church & State, begins performances Mar. 3 at New World Stages in New York. The cast includes Rob Nagle, Nadia Bowers, Christa Scott-Reed and Jonathan Louis Dent. Billed as “a fast-paced, seriously funny” look at faith, politics, and “The Twitter,” the show, directed by Markus Potter, officially opens Mar. 20.
♦ The Actors Fund and Mount Sinai Doctors have announced the opening of a new health center focused exclusively on the performing arts and entertainment community. Beginning this month, the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts will be located at The Actors Fund’s headquarters at 729 Seventh Avenue, between 48th and 49th Streets. The center will provide “primary and specialty care, expedited referrals to physicians within the Mount Sinai Health System, extended hours that are sensitive to entertainment industry work schedules and continuity of care for those who experience regular changes in health insurance coverage.” Most insurance plans will be accepted, including commercial insurances, most Marketplace/Exchange plans, Medicare and Workers’ Compensation, with free and unbiased health insurance enrollment and counseling available on site.
♦ Broadway veteran Robert Cuccioli stars in Bruce Graham’s new play, White Guy on the Bus, set to begin performances Mar. 5 at 59E59 Theaters. Directed by Bud Martin and produced by Delaware Theatre Company, the play revolves around the contentious, sometimes disturbing relationship that develops between a wealthy white business man and a struggling black single mother who meet during their daily commute on the bus. The cast features Danielle Leneé, Jessica Bedford, Susan McKey and Jonathan Silver. The show officially opens on Mar. 14, with a run scheduled through Apr. 16.
♦ Dominique Morisseau‘s new play Pipeline, will have its world premiere at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater this summer. The play is described as follows: “Nya Joseph is a dedicated, inner-city public high school teacher who is committed to her students’ achievement, while she sends her only son, Omari, to a private boarding school. When Omari is involved in a controversial incident which threatens him with expulsion from his school, Nya is forced to reconcile Omari’s rage and her own parental decisions, as she rallies to save her son.” Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, Pipeline begins performances on June 15 ahead of a July 10 opening. Casting will be announced soon.
♦ Leigh Fondakowski’s new play, Spill, which chronicles the events surrounding the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, begins performances Mar. 8 at Ensemble Studio Theatre‘s Curt Dempster Theatre on W. 52nd St. Pieced together from interviews, testimony, court documents and media accounts, the play follows the story of the explosion on board the oil rig Deepwater Horizon and the resulting devastation inflicted on the coastal communities and marine life of Louisiana. Directed by the playwright, the show officially opens Mar. 16 with a limited run scheduled through Apr. 2.
♦ And finally, a Broadway-bound musical version of book-turned-movie The Devil Wears Prada is in the works, with Grammy winner Elton John signing on to write the music and playwright Paul Rudnick writing the book. “Re-imagining ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ for the musical theatre is super exciting,” John said in a statement. “I’m a huge fan of both the book and the feature film and a huge aficionado of the fashion world. I can’t wait to sink my musical teeth into this hunk of popular culture.” This news marks a huge step forward for the project, which producer Kevin McCollum at Fox Stage Productions has been developing for the past two years. No timeline has been set for the show and no casting has been announced.
– Written by Richard Hart