♦ American fans of the Harry Potter novels have cause to celebrate this week now that the Broadway transfer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the two-part play based on J.K. Rowling‘s beloved children’s’ books, is all but assured. After walking away with a record-breaking nine statues at this year’s Olivier Awards, director John Tiffany, who earned the award for Best Director, suggested that arrangements for the Broadway run are now set. According to WhatsOnStage.com, Tiffany stated: “It’s all sorted. We’ve got the Lyric Theatre, and I think we’re almost there with the actors. We open next year, spring.” Based on an original new story by Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, written by Thorne, is now in performance at the West End’s Palace Theatre.
♦ The 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, given “for a distinguished play or musical by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life,” has this year been awarded to Lynn Nottage for Sweat, a nuanced yet powerful drama that explores the challenges and obstacles facing blue-collar workers still searching for the American dream. (The award in drama goes to the playwright, but production of the play as well as the script are taken into account.) Nottage makes history as the first female playwright to win the prestigious award twice, having won previously for Ruined in 2009. She joins the likes of legendary playwrights Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee and Eugene O’Neill, each of whom has won the Pulitzer on more than one occasion. The prize comes with a $15,000 cash award. The other two nominated finalists in Drama this year were Sarah DeLappe for The Wolves and Taylor Mac for A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.
♦ Brian d’Arcy James, who originated the role of King George III in the musical Hamilton for the Public Theater, will finally have a chance to perform the role on Broadway when he returns to the show tonight, replacing SNL alum Taran Killam who has been playing the monarch since Jan. 17. D’Arcy James left the 2015 Off Broadway production to star in Something Rotten! and was replaced by Jonathan Groff, who joined the company in the transfer to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. The Tony and Pulitzer-winning musical currently stars Javier Muñoz as Alexander Hamilton, Brandon Victor Dixon as Aaron Burr, Lexi Lawson as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, Mandy Gonzalez as Angelica Schuyler and Bryan Terrell Clark as George Washington. Also making his debut with the show tonight is the former Genie from Aladdin, Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart, who will be taking over the roles of the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.
♦ Principal casting for the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park summer productions has been set. Julius Caesar, directed by Public Theater a.d. Oskar Eustis and running May 23-June 18, will feature Gregg Henry in the title role, Corey Stoll as Brutus, Tina Benko as Calpurnia, Nikki M. James as Portia, Teagle F. Bougere as Casca, Robert Gilber as Octavius and (in an unusual bit of casting) Elizabeth Marvel as Marc Antony. The cast for Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Lear deBessonet and running July 11-Aug. 14, will include Annaleigh Ashford as Helena, Shalita Grant as Hermia, Kyle Beltran as Lysander, Alex Hernandez as Demetrius, Danny Burstein as Bottom and (in another unusual bit of casting) Kristine Nielsen as Puck. No word yet on who will play Oberon or Titania. In addition to these two scheduled productions, the Public will also host a June 5 gala at the Delacorte, Hair to Hamilton, a star-studded one-night-only event celebrating 50 years of revolutionary musicals from The Public Theater.
♦ Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS‘ 31st annual Easter Bonnet Competition will held on Apr. 24 at 4:30 PM and Apr. 25 at 2 PM at the Minskoff Theatre. Performers from Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies will share original skits, songs and dances, as well as their bonnet designs. Awards will be presented for “Best Presentation” and “Best Bonnet Design,” and the top fundraisers from the preceding six weeks will be announced. Last year, 58 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national tours raised $5.5 million during the Easter Bonnet Competition fundraising. Since 1987, the 30 editions of the Easter Bonnet Competition have raised more than $68.8 million to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
♦ And finally, Tony Award-winning actor Linda Hopkins, best known to New York theater audiences for her star turn in the 1974 musical Me and Bessie, passed away this week at the age of 92. Discovered at the age of 11 by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, Hopkins spent most of her early life touring the South with various gospel groups, including the Southern Harp Spiritual Singers. Throughout the 1950s, her recording career took off, leading to many concert appearances, most notably at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. In the 1960s, she spent time as a backup singer for Sammy Davis Jr. She also began studying acting professionally with Stella Adler, which led to her Broadway debut in the 1970 musical Purlie. That featured performance led to a role in the 1972 musical Inner City, subtitled A Street Cantata, which ran only three months, but earned her the 1972 Tony Award and Drama Desk Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
– Written by Richard Hart