'Gem,' 'Anna,' others looking toward B'way
One never knows. Last season, “Radiant Baby” at the Public had the backing of David Geffen and DreamWorks, making it a sure bet for a Broadway transfer.Then came the reviews, which threw out the “Baby” with the bath water. More recently, Doug Wright’s one-person “I Am My Own Wife” previewed at Playwrights Horizons with little fanfare (and no commercial producers attached), scored surprising raves, and looks to open on Broadway this fall under the auspices of David Richenthal, the man who gave us the recent “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Herewith are 15 projects, all ready to go in the next 12 months at regional theaters and Gotham’s nonprofit venues. Commercial producers have their eye on some, their hands and money in others. Which of them will the Broadway gods bless or curse? Gem of the Ocean August Wilson continues his 20th-century cycle of plays with “Gem of the Ocean,” set in 1904. Broadway seems a foregone conclusion, with the playwright’s longtime producer Benjamin Mordecai onboard. After its world preem this spring at the Goodman, “Gem” currently finishes its run at the Mark Taper Forum, with another stop expected before coming to Gotham. Camille Claudel Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton’s new musical “Camille Claudel,” starring Linda Eder, wraps up its run at Goodspeed this month. Clear Channel has the option to move to Broadway, and if Jackie Mason’s “Laughing Room Only” sputters this fall, there’s talk of “CC” moving right into the Brooks Atkinson. Shakespeare in Hollywood Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of the vintage comedy “Twentieth Century” travels from the Signature Theater this summer to the Roundabout this winter, with Alec Baldwin starring in the latter production on Broadway. Sometimes these things happen in pairs. So why not Ludwig’s all-new, all-original “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” which plumbs the same 1930s showbiz milieu? Rather than a train, this one is set on the soundstage of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as Groucho Marx and Johnny Weissmuller run through the commissary at Warner Bros. Edward Quinton and Alice Ripley, on a quick rebound from her “Little Shop of Horrors” dismissal, headline at Washington’s Arena Stage, beginning Sept. 5. Anna in the Tropics Producers Roger Berlind and Daryl Roth are circling Nilo Cruz’s “Anna in the Tropics,” which will start perfs Sept. 9 at the McCarter Theater’s new Roger Berlind Theater. Jimmy Smits and Daphne Rubin-Vega headline the story of a lector who reads “Anna Karenina” to entertain workers in a Cuban-American cigar factory circa 1929. Surprise winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for drama, “Anna” needs the right reviews at McCarter for an immediate transfer to Broadway. Emily Mann directs. The Long Christmas Ride Home They did it with her “How I Learned to Drive.” Producers Daryl Roth and Roy Gabay could also take the gamble to transfer Paula Vogel’s “The Long Christmas Ride Home” into a commercial venue. With previews beginning Oct. 9 at the Vineyard, the playwright’s new one looks at what happens when a family car spins out of control after a disastrous Christmas dinner, hurtling the three siblings into the future where they confront the legacies of their childhood. The production features puppets by Basil Twist. Mark Brokaw directs. Caroline, or Change Last season, producers Carole Shorenstein Hays and Frederick De Mann moved the Public’s production of “Take Me Out” to Broadway. Now they’ve got their eye (and enhancement money) on “Caroline, or Change” by Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) and Jeanine Tesori (“Thoroughly Modern Millie”). In recent seasons, Gotham critics have preferred sendup musicals (“Urinetown,” “Hairspray!,” “Avenue Q”) to more serious-toned fare (“A Man of No Importance,” “My Life With Albertine”). “Caroline” belongs squarely in the latter category, what with its story of a black maid’s relationship to her young white charge, all of which transpires on the eve of the JFK assassination. Then again, it may be time for a critical change. George C. Wolfe directs. Previews will begin Oct. 21 at the Public. Bounce The long-gestating Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical about the Mizner brothers hit a pothole in August when the Al Hirschfeld went to the upcoming “Wonderful Town” revival. That minor distraction aside, the Kennedy Center stages the tuner, following an incarnation at the Goodman this summer. With the ubiquitous Roger Berlind attached, the Gotham preem depends on what fall Broadway musicals prematurely bite the dust to free up theaters. And, of course, there are those D.C. reviews. Previews will begin there Oct. 21. Rose’s Dilemma Mary Tyler Moore, Neil Simon, Lynn Meadow — that combo ought to take this play a clef, based on the relationship of Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, to the big time. Meadow helmed MTC’s last commercial transfer, “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” in November 2001. Untitled New Musical Which is about as exciting as the letters “TBA.” But in the tuner universe, the names Cy Coleman and Larry Gelbart deliver the requisite excitement under any circumstance. Their new one, with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, takes on the genesis and evolution of jazz. Best of all, they’ve delivered 16 original songs. “UNM” will go up Nov. 21 at L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum, with Gordon Davidson at the helm. The Light in the Piazza After a successful run this summer at Seattle’s Intiman Theater, Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas give their new tuner “The Light in the Piazza” an even fuller staging at Chi’s Goodman Theater, where it will begin perfs Jan. 10. Watch this “Light” grow into a Broadway production for 2004-05. Reckless Roger Berlind and Daryl Roth have their sights on the Second Stage revival of Craig Lucas’ “Reckless,” starring Mary-Louise Parker. In this Yuletide fable, a mother of two goes on a bizarre odyssey as she hop-skips from Christmas to Christmas. In 1988, Circle Rep staged “Reckless,” which was a revision of the play Lucas delivered Off Off Broadway five years earlier. The newest staging goes up in the spring, maybe later. A Broadway opening looks more likely than a preliminary run at Second Stage’s Off Broadway space. Senor Discretion Himself Culture Clash polishes off an unfinished musical by Frank Loesser. The legendary composer’s widow, Jo Loesser, remains bullish yet protective of the project, entrusting it to director Charles Randolph-Wright, who helmed her personal favorite production of “Guys and Dolls” at Arena Stage a few years back. Based on a short story by Budd Schulberg, “Senor” follows a colorful stranger into a sleepy Mexican hamlet. Miracles happen. The world-preem production will begin previews April 9. Chinese Friends Jon Robin Baitz almost made it to Broadway with his “Ten Unknowns.” Then Donald Sutherland dropped out. In spring, Playwrights Horizons will present the world preem of his latest, “Chinese Friends,” a thriller about a young man who tracks down his long-estranged father, a politico in exile. Robert Egan directs. If it transfers to Broadway, Baitz’s other new one, “The Paris Letter,” might beat it there. After a reading at Huntington Stage, commercial producers are already circling the project. Jonathan Kent is onboard to direct. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels It’s almost the same creative team that brought us “The Full Monty”: composer-lyricist David Yazbek, director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell. New guy is veteran TV writer Jeffrey Lane (“Mad About You,” “Lou Grant”), who makes his debut as book writer, retelling for the stage the 1998 Steve Martin-Michael Caine starrer about two con artists fleecing rich widows on the French Riviera. Also different from “Monty” are the commercial producers attached, David Brown and Marty Bell, who last collaborated on “Sweet Smell of Success.” They have a deal with MGM. “Scoundrels” looks to preem at San Diego’s Old Globe in September 2004.