♦ The first production of the 2017-18 Broadway season will be a transfer of a U.K. adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 that began at the Nottingham Playhouse in 2013 and then transferred to London’s Almeida Theatre the following year. Jointly written and co-directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, this theatrical version of Orwell’s dark vision of a totalitarian future will open for a limited engagement at the newly-refurbished Hudson Theatre on June 22, with a first preview date soon to be announced. The entire London creative team for 1984 will be brought over for the Broadway incarnation. Casting has yet to be announced. 1984 will follow the limited engagement of Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, which ends its run at the Hudson on April 23.
♦ In an effort to help New York City’s theatre community cultivate a more inclusive and dynamic workforce, the city’s Theatre Subdistrict Council has announced that 11 non-profit arts groups will receive more than $2 million in funding “for initiatives designed to increase access to professional theater roles among historically underrepresented communities with the aim of establishing a more diverse pipeline of paid training and mentorship opportunities.” The organizations receiving grants are: Brooklyn Academy of Music, BRIC, Epic Theater Ensemble, Harlem Stage, Manhattan Theatre Club, New 42nd Street, New York Theatre Workshop, Roundabout Theatre Company, Teatro SEA, Theater Breaking Through Barriers and TDF. In a statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “With the help of the Theatre Subdistrict Council, New York can take the lead in expanding access to good paying career opportunities in theater for historically underrepresented communities, paving the way for theater to remain a vibrant sector that speaks to all New Yorkers.”
♦ Off Broadway theatre group The Amoralists has announced its 2017-18 season, which will include the world premiere of Ken Urban’s dark comedy Nibbler, to be staged at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre. It is the company’s tenth season and third residency at Rattlestick. Nibbler will run from Feb. 23-Mar. 19, with an opening scheduled for Feb. 27. Benjamin Kamine will direct. The season will also feature Wright Club’s Wright Nights, featuring six new writers in the company’s year-long playwright development program. This season’s six playwrights are Lawrence Dial, Tanya Everett, Jessica Hinds, Stacey Rose, Becca Schlossberg and Lizzie Vieh. Wright Nights will run now through July 17.
♦ British actor Clive Owen, most recently seen on Broadway in the Harold Pinter drama Old Times, will play René Gallimard in the upcoming Broadway revival of David Henry Hwang’s Tony Award-winning drama, M. Butterfly. Owen will play a married French diplomat in China who carries on a 20-year affair with a mysterious Chinese opera singer, all without realizing that the singer is a man. Julie Taymor directs. Opening night is currently set for Oct. 26 at a theatre to be announced. Further casting will be announced soon.
♦ Shoshana Feinstein will produce an all-female concert version of the Tony Award-winning musical 1776 at Feinstein’s/54 Below on President’s Day. The musical, with a score by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone, follows John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as they attempt to convince the members of the second Continental Congress to vote for freedom from Britain’s rule by signing the Declaration of Independence. The original Broadway production, which featured William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Betty Buckley and Ken Howard, opened on Broadway on Mar. 16, 1969 to very positive reviews and played 1,217 performances before closing Feb. 13, 1972. Directed by Jenny Leon, the Feinstein’s concert will take place on Feb. 20 at 7PM. Casing will be announced shortly.
♦ And finally, according to a recent article in The New York Post, Tony Award-winning composer John Kander is at work on a new musical, tentatively titled Beast in the Jungle. Based on a 1903 Henry James novel of the same name, the musical tells the story of a man who is haunted by a premonition that a horrible event is waiting to destroy him, like a “beast in a jungle,” until finally, late in life, he realizes that the beast was his own fear that has robbed him of a happy life with the woman who loved him. Director-choreographer Susan Stroman, who worked with Kander on his 2010 Broadway musical The Scottsboro Boys, is set to direct. David Thompson, who wrote the libretto for Kander’s 1997 musical Steel Pier, will also write the book for Beast. No word yet on casting, theater or performance dates.
– Written by Richard Hart