Los Angeles theater shakes up its slate

The economy has contributed to another Los Angeles production slate change.The Geffen Playhouse has postponed its world premiere musical “Nightmare Alley,” which was slated to close out the 2008-09 season in June, and will replace it with the West Coast preem of political play “Farragut North.”

Move marks the second high-profile production in as many months to be postponed in L.A. In February, Center Theater Group said that, due to the current economic climate, its production of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” skedded for the Mark Taper Forum’s 2009 slate, would be postponed until the 2010 season.

“Nightmare Alley,” with book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Brielle, was to be helmed by Geffen producing director Gil Cates. It was based on the novel of the same name and subsequent 1947 film and explores the darker side of entertainment.

“Two things happened at once,” said Cates. “First, due to the economic climate, we knew we needed to make the fiscally responsible choice regarding the costs of producing a full-scale world-premiere musical. And second, we were given a timely opportunity to do a second production of a new play that came with a great director and wonderful actors.”

“Farragut North,” which opened at Off Broadway’s Atlantic Theater last fall, will star original cast member Chris Noth alongside Chris Pine (“Star Trek”). Original helmer Doug Hughes (“Doubt”) will direct the play, written by Beau Willimon.

Set against the backdrop of a close presidential race, “Farragut North” centers on a young press secretary (Pine) who’s trying to steer a presidential candidate into the White House with the help of a campaign manager (Noth). Instead he falls prey to backroom politics and manipulation from veteran operatives.

Warner Bros. is developing a feature adaptation of “Farragut North,” with George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio attached to produce (Daily Variety, Oct. 10, 2007).

Play will begin perfs June 16 and run through July 26, the same dates originally skedded for “Nightmare Alley.”

According to Cates, “We will present ‘Nightmare Alley’ as soon as we’ve had the opportunity to secure additional funding.”

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