♦ After at least three different incarnations since its premiere in Melbourne four years ago, Australian mega-musical King Kong will finally make its New York debut in fall 2018 at the Broadway Theatre with an all-new creative team. Olivier Award winner Jack Thorne will now write the book (originally penned first by Craig Lucas and then by Marsha Norman), while Olivier Award winner Drew McOnie with direct and choreograph. Songwriter Eddie Perfect will join the show’s original composer Marius de Vries in rethinking and expanding the existing score. Most of the original design team will continue with the project. From the start, King Kong has been a challenge for its producers, who have worked through various revisions in an effort to humanize the story and the show’s central figure – a one-ton, two-story silverback gorilla controlled by a group of puppeteers and aerialists. No word yet on casting or exact production dates.
♦ In April 2015, Off Broadway non-profit Second Stage Theatre purchased the Helen Hayes Theater, one of the last independently-owned Broadway houses, with an eye towards bringing more plays by living American playwrights to a large, commercial theater venue. Now, after more than two years of renovations, the Helen Hayes is ready to host Second Stage’s inaugural Broadway season, starting with a production of Oscar winner Kenneth Lonergan‘s Lobby Hero starring film actor Chris Evans, making his Broadway stage debut, and Broadway alum Michael Cera. Directed by Trip Cullman, Lobby Hero will begin performances in March 2018. The season will also include Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men, directed by Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro. The staging, set for July 2018, will mark the first time a play written by an Asian woman has been produced on Broadway.
♦ Third Rail Projects, the groundbreaking company behind Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise, brings their unique blend of immersive performance to LCT3 with their latest production, Ghost Light, running June 3 through July 16 at Lincoln Center Theater’s Claire Tow Theater. Written by Zach Morris and conceived, directed and choreographed by Morris and Jennine Willett, Ghost Light “is a performance about performance which navigates through a series of real and dreamlike landscapes beyond the footlights, the glitter and the greasepaint. It is a benevolent haunting that reflects on the smoke and mirrors, superstitions, and stage magic that conjure the mystique of the theatre.”
♦ Turning Off the Morning News, a timely new comedy written by Tony winner Christopher Durang, will have its world premiere as the final production of the McCarter Theatre Center‘s upcoming 2017-2018 season. Directed by Emily Mann, the play explores the chaos of family life in a time of alternative facts, social media saturation and a news cycle that never ceases. Performances are scheduled to run May 4–June 3, 2018. Sam Shepard’s rarely-performed drama, Simpatico, will kick off the McCarter season and will feature Chicago’s Red Orchid Theatre company. Performances run Sept. 8–Oct. 8. Randy Johnson’s biographical tale A Night with Janis Joplin follows, set to play Oct. 10–29, with the McCarter’s annual holiday show, A Christmas Carol, running Dec. 5–31. In the new year, the McCarter will present Marie Jones’ Stones in His Pocket, directed by Lindsay Posner and running Jan. 12-Feb. 11, followed by Regina Taylor’s Crowns, performing Mar. 13-Apr. 1.
♦ Tony winner Karen Ziemba will star in the Cherry Lane Theater’s Founder’s Project production of Horton Foote’s 1955 play The Traveling Lady, about a woman driving through Texas to meet her husband as he is released from prison. A co-production with La Femme Theatre Productions, the revival will be directed by Austin Pendleton and will run June 7-July 16, with an official opening set for June 22. Joining Ms. Ziemba are Larry Bull, Lynn Cohen, Angelina Fiordellisi, Jean Lichty, George Morfogen, Ron Piretti, PJ Sosko and Jill Tanner.
♦ And finally, Oscar nominee Uma Thurman is reportedly in negotiations to make her Broadway debut in a new play by “House of Cards” scribe Beau Willimon. The Parisian Woman, inspired by Henry Becque’s late 19th century comedy La Parisienne, is a tale of sexual politics set in present day Washington D.C. Thurman will play Chloe, one half of a power couple angling to secure an important judicial post. The production, to be directed by Pam MacKinnon, is set for a limited 20-week run this fall at a theater to be announced.
Written by Richard Hart