May 21st is turning into Broadway’s preferred date for leaving the Great White Way in the wake of this year’s official Tony nominations. First to drop was the lightweight open-run stage adaptation of the film bearing the same name, Amélie, starring Phillipa Soo (she was on far stronger footing when she was among the 2016 nominees for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for Hamilton). Amélie announced it was closing after zero nominations and leaching a $12 million capitalization.
Image: Julieta Cervantes
Now, the controversial revival of The Glass Menagerie has also cited the 21st for its official au revoir, after its nomination count was a single for leading lady Sally Field. This saddens me since this unique take on the Tennessee Williams classic, which was tepidly received by big deal critics, was the sort of outside-the-directorial-box concept that made it worth seeing (again) on Broadway after just three years. Sam Gold, who won the 2015 Best Director Tony for Fun Home stripped this done-to-death baby of its lyrical pretty-in-pink gloss, starting with the casting of Madison Ferris, a young wheelchair-bound actress with muscular dystrophy whose interpretation of the socially challenged Laura Wingfeild was not so much courageous as it was a tribute to her talent—a casting point the SAG/AFTRA’s Performers with Disabilities have been lobbying about for years.
Gold also stripped the stage of walls and the shabby furniture and cast Joe Mantello, an actor in his 50s, as Laura’s brother Tom…another risky move in the world of traditional casting where he never exceeds his early 30s. Mantello gives a brilliant performance—so brilliant, in fact, that as I mentioned in my last post, he really should have gotten Best Actor Tony nomination. But then, nominations don’t always skew fair any more than elections.
And while the tally of shows leaving Broadway grows (expect a hefty list in the weeks following the Tonys) there will be no shortage of notable newbies lining up for the near (and not-all-that-near) future.
Image: © Marc Brenner
Already making theatre lovers sit up and salivate is the recent announcement of the Broadway return of Oscar winner (Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies) and three-time Tony winner Mark Rylance in the new comedy with music Farinelli and the King—penned by Rylance’s wife, author/composer Claire van Kampen.
The play arrives following a 2015 sold out run at both Shakespeare’s Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and in the West End, the latter resulting in six Olivier Award nominations. Notably, many of the London cast will be making the New York trek, including Grammy Award-winning countertenor Iestyn Davies as the singing voice of Farinelli.
Farinelli and the King will take up residence at the Belasco Theatre December 5th, 2017, opening on December 17th. And as one might expect, this will be a limited run (through May 22nd of next year, although all things considered, an extension might be looming).
Another production on the horizon, Roundabout’s season opener at the American Airlines Theatre, is Time and the Conways, J.B. Priestley’s (An Inspector Calls) “time-traveling play” that hasn’t been seen on Broadway since its 1938 premiere. It's been resurrected with Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominee Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey's Cora Crawley) leading the cast (TBA).
The production is slated to preview September 14th with an official opening on October 10th. The limited run will close up shop on November 26, 2017.