Broadway and the Road 2012
Regional theaters often depend on the big tours of Broadway shows to fill their seats. But typically those tuners and plays have their world preems not in Gotham but somewhere on the road. Here are a few potential behemoths. They may or may not travel full circle, but all are skedded to open beyond the Hudson River in the next 12 months.
- Roy Horniman’s 1907 novel, “Israel Rank,” begat a classic movie, “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” and now a stage musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” by Robert L. Freedman and Steven Lutvak, to open Oct. 19 at Connecticut’s Hartford Stage. Once again, Montague D’Ysquith Navarro (Ken Barnett) kills off the D’Ysquith family (all played by Jefferson Mays) one by one. “The tagline is ‘love is hard, murder is easy,’ ” says director Darko Tresnjak, who explains, “With murder, the more he does it the easier it gets. But love remains very difficult, just as it does for all of us.”
- Most intriguing title of the season may go to “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” which opens in November at La Jolla Playhouse. The kernel of the story is in the Flaming Lips’ 2002 album “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” according to Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley, adding that Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne and director Des McAnuff “have created this much more extensive narrative that jumps off the album like a trampoline.” Indeed, a young Japanese woman’s battle with mortality turns into a fantasmagorical robot war. Production features 10 robots that “interact with projections in a way people haven’t seen before,” says Ashley.
- Novelist Paul Sheldon returns to be imprisoned once again by fan and former nurse Annie Wilkes in “Misery,” which is now a play by William Goldman, who also adapted the Stephen King novel into a movie in 1990. Producers of the stage version are Warner Bros. Theater Ventures, Castle Rock Entertainment and Playhouse Prods. Perfs begin in November at Pennsylvania’s Bucks County Playhouse. Will Frears directs.
- Joe DiPietro is best known as the book writer of “Memphis” and “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” but he’s also written a few plays, including a new one, “Clever Little Lies,” about a mother (Marlo Thomas) who suspects her son is having an affair, and does her damndest to get to the bottom of it all. “Whether my characters are singing or not, I’ve lately been writing comedies about infidelity and the difficulties of matrimony,” says DiPietro, “all of which probably explains why I’m still single.” Opens in December at New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse. David Saint directs.
- In Christopher Shinn’s new play “Teddy Ferrara,” a college student who heads up the Queer Student Group gets a boyfriend, but a campus tragedy turns his life around and also makes national headlines. “It’s a play about sexuality in general,” says the scribe, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Regarding the milieu, Shinn admits, “I felt like I was just about too old to write this play, but I had a couple more years left where my memories of college were really present and vivid. This is the moment to take advantage of my rapidly diminishing youth.” Opens in February at Chi’s Goodman Theater. Evan Cabnet directs.
- Kent Thompson, Denver Center Theater Co.’s producing artistic director, had been looking for a good stage adaptation of a Jane Austen novel when he read the one by Jeffrey Haddow and Neal Hampton. “I read eight or nine Austen adaptations, and this was the best, which is ironic because this ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is also a musical.” Members of the Jane Austen Society of North America were so psyched by a recent workshop of the tuner that they’ve moved up their next conference to coincide with the world premiere at DCTC in April. Marcia Milgrom Dodge directs and choreographs.
- “The Importance of Being Earnest” has spawned at least two tuners: “Earnest in Love” and now “Being Earnest,” which Paul Gordon and Jay Gruska have updated to a bachelor flat near Carnaby Street in 1965. “It’s not hippies and psychedelia,” says Gruska, “but rather that earlier 1960s, which still had a toe-hold in the 1950s, with things changing. And it has that Beatles fashion: Edwardian stuff and ruffled shirts. It all makes for a people-pleasing couple of hours.” Show opens in April at TheatreWorks’ Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts in Mountain View, Calif. Robert Kelley directs.
- The new musical “Tuck Everlasting” has been adapted by Claudia Shear from Natalie Babbitt’s young adult novel about a girl who meets a family that is immortal. Producers are Broadway Across America, Howard Kagan and Barry Brown, and they’ve done it the old-fashioned way. “The producers put together the creative team,” Brown says of Shear, director Casey Nicholaw and songwriters Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen. “Also, we’re not going to a regional nonprofit but rather the Boston’s Colonial Theater, just like I did with ‘La Cage aux Folles’ almost 30 years ago to the week, for its out-of-town tryout.” Show opens in May.
- Regarding the musical version of “Sleepless in Seattle,” to open in May at the Pasadena Playhouse, helmer Lonny Price says he and his creative team (Jeff Arch, Ben Toth and Sam Foreman) are “just at the beginning stage of the show. We have five songs.” But adds, “We’re trying to do something different in Pasadena, and do talk-backs every night. We’re making the community part of the experience, and will be working on new material all during the run.”
- The musical version of “Secondhand Lions” hit a bump when New Line Cinema evaporated, but creatives Rupert Holmes, Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner are definitely on track to open their tuner, under the auspices of Warner Bros. Theater Ventures, in August at Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theater. A young boy spends the summer with his two great uncles who might be heroic French foreign legionnaires — or are they bank robbers? “There are big themes of transformation and what families mean,” says Weiner, “and it’s also about the importance of living your life to the fullest while you can.”
• ‘Book of Mormon’ travels well on the road