♦ Tony winner and two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington will star as Hickey in a new Broadway production of The Iceman Cometh, Eugene O’Neill‘s epic four-act drama about the need for self-deceptions (“pipe dreams”) in order to get through life. Five-time Tony winner George C. Wolfe directs. Previews at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre begin Mar. 22, 2018, with an official opening set for Apr. 26 and a limited run scheduled for 14 weeks only. Further casting will be announced at a later date. First published in 1946, The Iceman Cometh premiered on Oct. 9, 1946 at Broadway’s Martin Beck Theatre, directed by Eddie Dowling, where it ran for 136 performances before closing on Mar. 15, 1947. It was last revived on Broadway in 1998 in a well-received production starring Kevin Spacey as Hickey.
♦ Big arts news from our nation’s capital last week, starting with President and Mrs. Trump decision not to attend this years’ Kennedy Center Honors. According to the Associated Press, the President reached his decision because he wanted to “allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction.” (The prospect of honoring artists of distinction in a building dedicated to the memory of a liberal-minded president who respected the talent and diversity of our nation’s artistic community while opening himself up to the possibility of direct confrontations with the likes of Norman Lear, Gloria Estefan and Carmen de Lavallade had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Trump’s decision.) This news follows on the heels of another decision, this time by the sixteen members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, who voted to resign en masse citing Mr. Trump’s “support of hate groups and terrorists” following the Administration’s ham-fisted handling of the racially charged events in Charlottesville, VA. “Your words and actions push us all further away from the freedoms we are guaranteed,” read the committee’s letter to the President. To read the committee’s full letter, go to https://www.scribd.com/document/356620864/.
♦ Following Glenn Close‘s recent Broadway reprisal of her Tony-winning turn as Norma Desmond, talk of a film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s musical Sunset Boulevard has re-surfaced once again, with Ms. Close possibly/probably in discussions to star. Said co-lyricist and book writer Christopher Hampton during Close’s pre-Broadway stint at the London Coliseum, “We’ve just had a series of talks with Paramount, so everything is in place.” Hampton had initially hoped shooting would begin while Close was still in London, but now it looks as if the shoot won’t start until sometime in January 2018
♦ Leslie Jordan will play Truman Capote and two-time Tony winner Stephen Spinella will play Andy Warhol in the American Repertory Theater’s production of Rob Roth‘s Warhol Capote this fall. The play has been adapted by Roth from a series of newly-discovered taped conversations between the two pop culture icons, made available with the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Truman Capote Literary Trust. This “non-fiction invention” follows the pair as they discuss creating a Broadway show together. Directed by Michael Mayer, the show will run at the Loeb Drama Center Sept. 9 through Oct. 13.
♦ On the morning of Aug. 21, Broadway casting directors assembled in Shubert Alley and marched through the theater district to the offices of The Broadway League in an effort to call attention to their lack of union recognition. The casting directors were joined by Teamsters Local 817 President Tom O’Donnell and members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). “It is crazy that the younger generation of casting directors don’t have a pension or don’t have health insurance to build a career,” said Broadway casting director Bernard Telsey. The Broadway League has responded to past demands for union recognition by pointing out that “casting companies are separate businesses with their own employees and typically work on more than one show at a time within and outside our industry.” At this point, both sides seem to agree that a resolution might best be sought through the National labor Relations Board, an oft-used forum for resolving this type of labor dispute.
♦ And finally, Tony Award-winning book writer Thomas Meehan passed away this week at the age of 88. Meehan began his career as a writer with the “Talk of the Town” section of The New Yorker. At age 47, he made his Broadway debut as the book writer for the smash hit Annie, which ran for 2,377 performances and earned him the first of this three Tony Awards. He went on to write the book for two more long-running Broadway hits: The Producers, which ran for 2,502 performances and won a record 13 Tonys in 2012, including one for Meehan; and Hairspray, which clocked 2,642 performances and won Meehan his third Tony Award. Known as a gifted collaborator with a keen instinct for musical storytelling, Meehan also wrote the book for several other successful Broadway adaptations, including Rocky, Elf, Young Frankenstein and Cry Baby. “A grand master book-writer of Broadway,” said lyricist Maury Yeston. “He was the sweetest, funniest, warmest, and most supportive partner and friend one could ever hope for in the theatre. I will miss him dearly, but his work will be with us always.”
Written by Richard Hart