♦ The Broadway production of 1984, arriving in New York after four successful runs in the U.K., has cast its leading roles. Tony winner Reed Birney, Olivia Wilde (making her Broadway debut), and Tony nominee Tom Sturridge, will play the roles of O’Brien, Julia, and Winston Smith, respectively. They will be joined by Wayne Duvall, Carl Hendrick Louis, Nick Mills, Michael Potts and Cara Seymour. Adapted and directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, this new stage adaptation of George Orwell‘s classic novel will begin previews May 18 at the Hudson Theatre, currently the home of the revival of Sunday in the Park With George.
♦ Off-Broadway’s Primary Stages has announced its 2017–18 season and it will start with the New York premiere of Scott Carter’s The Gospel According To Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens And Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord. The play, which presents the three historical figures debating issues of politics, religion and the arts, will begin performances in Sept., with exact dates and casting to be announced. Next up is a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice by Kate Hamill, author of last season’s acclaimed production of Sense and Sensibility at the Bedlam Theatre. The show, starring Hamill, will be directed by Amanda Dehnert in a co-production with Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival scheduled for Nov.–Dec. After the first of the year, Primary Stages with collaborate with The Sol Project on a new work by a Latinx playwright to be announced at a later date. To end the season, actress Sharon Washington will debut her one-person autobiographical show, Feeding the Dragon, which chronicles her time growing up inside a branch of the New York Public Library where her father worked as custodian. Performances are scheduled for Mar.-Apr. All productions will be performed at the Cherry Lane Theatre, located at 38 Commerce St..
♦ New York State’s growing film and television community is applauding Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his new state budget which includes a three-year extension of the state’s film production tax credit. Set to expire in 2019, the $420 million-a-year program, launched in 2004, was expected to experience a monetary shortfall later this year without additional funding provided by the new state budget. Empire State Development, the state’s economic development arm, found that in 2013-14, the tax incentive program generated nearly $10 billion in total spending throughout the state, created more than 60,000 jobs and $3.3 billion in earnings. The Directors Guild of America issued this statement: “The positive impact of the incentive on the economy, jobs and local business is enormous. Between 2005 and 2015, as production increased by more than 300%, the earnings of our members who live and work in New York’s communities grew 350%. This simply would not have happened without the incentive.”
♦ As New Encores! Off Center heads into its fifth season, new artistic director Michael Friedman has chosen his first slate for the company’s summer season, starting with the 1990 musical Assassins. Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s carnival ride through the history of American political violence, to be directed by Anne Kauffman, will run July 12-15. Up next is Kirsten Childs’ The Bubbly Black Girl sheds Her Chamelion Skin, last seen Off Broadway in 2000, about a young dancer who must confront the politics of race and gender as she makes the journey to Broadway. Three performances, directed by Robert O’Hara, will take place July 26-27. Family musical Really Rosie, featuring music by Tony winner Carole King and book and lyrics by Maurice Sendak, rounds out the season. The show, based on Sendak’s books for children, first debuted Off Broadway in 1980 and will run at City Center Aug. 2-5.
♦ The world premiere of Olivier Award winner Derren Brown‘s new show, Derren Brown: Secret, will be the final production of the Atlantic Theater Company’s 2016-17 season. The show, written by Brown, Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor, will be directed by O’Connor and Nyman. Brown, an acclaimed British performer and author whose shows have played sold-out runs on the West End, will make his American theatrical debut with the premiere of Secret. The show will draw on Brown’s signature blend of mind control, suggestion, showmanship and illusion. Derren Brown: Secret begins previews Apr. 21 ahead of a May 16 opening and is scheduled to run through June 4.
♦ And finally, Off Broadway’s Vineyard Theatre will present the NY premiere of two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist Gina Gionfriddo‘s new play, Can You Forgive Her?, which had its world premiere at Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company in the spring of 2016. Gionfriddo’s satire about the American worship of money and status, directed by Peter DuBois, will begin previews May 4 ahead of a May 23 opening. Casting will be announced at a later date.
– Written by Richard Hart