♦ After a series of creative team changes following an extended run in Australia, a developmental lab for the new musical King Kong will take place this month in preparation for the show’s upcoming Broadway stint. As it stands now, the show has a book by Jack Thorne, author of the Harry Potter plays, and a score by Marius de Vries, with additional songs by Eddie Perfect. The show will be directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie. King Kong will play the Broadway Theatre once the limited run of Miss Saigon comes to an end. No casting has been announced and no official preview or opening night dates have been set.
♦ Second Stage Theater has received $2.35 million in new funding from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in support of the renovation of the historic Hayes Theater, bringing the city’s total financial commitment to the project to just over $14 million. Second Stage hopes to establish the Hayes Theater as the company’s permanent, state of the art venue dedicated exclusively to living American Playwrights on Broadway. “We are so pleased to support this renovation of the historic Hayes Theater,” said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Bringing Second Stage’s work in highlighting American Playwrights to a permanent new home on Broadway will help to ensure that diverse voices in theater have a platform to engage audiences in New York’s cultural community for generations to come.” Second Stage at The Hayes will officially open in March 2018 with Kenneth Lonergan‘s Lobby Hero, directed by Trip Cullman and starring Michael Cera, Chris Evans and Brian Tyree Henry.
♦ Primary Stages has announced that its untitled collaboration with The Sol Project, a New York City-based initiative whose mission is to produce new work by Latinx playwrights, has been pulled from its 2017-18 season pending further development. Instead, the theater will present the world premiere of James Inverne‘s A Walk With Mr. Heifetz, about an imagined conversation in 1925 between the Russian violinist and Yehuda Sharett, composer and brother of future Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett, which would have some remarkable ramifications many years later. Directed by Benjamin Kamine, the show will play the Primary Stages Mainstage in January 2018. Casting, specific dates, and a full creative team will be announced soon.
♦ ACROSS THE POND: The Old Vic celebrates its 200th anniversary this year; London’s West End will have first peek at a new musical based on the life and hits of iconic artist Tina Turner when the show premieres at the Aldwych Theatre in April 2018; Amber Riley‘s last performance as Effie in Dreamgirls at the Savoy is Nov. 20, with Marisha Wallace, Karen Mav and Moya Angela taking over the role; playwright and stage director Kwame Kwei-Armah has been announced as the new artistic director of the Young Vic; negotiations are underway to bring the Sam Mendes-directed production of Jez Butterworth‘s new play, The Ferryman, to Broadway sometime next year; Laurence Connor will direct a limited engagement of Chess featuring the English National Opera Orchestra and Chorus at London’s Palladium Apr. 26–May 1, 2018; Royal Court a.d. Vicky Featherstone is spearheading an effort to create an industry-wide code of behavior designed to prevent sexual harassment and abuse in the theatrical workplace; Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s 2018 season will feature Little Shop of Horrors, As You Like It and Peter Pan.
♦ The cast for The Barrow Group‘s production of Torben Betts‘ Muswell Hill has been set. Directed by Shannon Patterson, the cast will feature Jason Alan Carvell, Colleen Clinton, Lily Dorment, Richard Hollis, John Pirkis and Sarah Street. Production notes describe the play as “set in the leafy north London suburb of Muswell Hill, where a dinner party turns dangerously fraught, yet increasingly comical, as the host and guests rattle their upper middle class complacency to a point of no return.” A co-production with the Pond Theatre Company, the show runs Nov. 11-Dec. 16 at The Barrow Group Mainstage Theatre, with an official opening set for Nov. 20.
♦ IN BRIEF: Second Stage Theater’s production of Greg Pierce’s Cardinal will feature Becky Ann Baker, Anna Chlumsky, Alex Hurt, Adam Pally, Stephen Park and Eugene Young; Rosie O’Donnell and F. Murray Abraham join Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in the New Group’s production of David Rabe’s Good for Otto; Stage Directors and Choreographers Society has named Howard Sherman as the union’s first Director of Communications and Education; Houses on the Moon Theater Company will present the return engagement of Jeffery Solomon’s De Novo beginning Dec. 1 at New York Theatre Workshop; NY theater fan guide Show-Score has launched Show-Score Studio, a new site featuring theater-related videos, commentary from Show-Score’s editorial staff, and discussion threads for fans; Laird Mackintosh will take over the role of the Phantom from James Barbour prior to the show’s 30th anniversary; Steve Martin‘s Meteor Shower, which opened Nov. 1, broke the Booth Theatre’s record for the largest advance sales in its 104-year history with an advance upwards of $7.5 million.
Written by Richard Hart