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Trends of the Great White Way

Tonys Preview 2012

Grand Legacies
Revivals can be the best revenge
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Love Never Dies” may never expose its heart on Broadway. For the composer, revivals have been the best revenge. The current season has no fewer than two, both from the 1970s, both written with Tim Rice: “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita!,” which has been topping the box office charts, thanks to the return of Ricky Martin to the boards. Then again, auds may just love ALW, whose “The Phantom of the Opera” continues into its 25th year as Broadway’s longest-running show.
And for a couple of dead guys, George and Ira Gershwin could not be busier or at work on more different shows: the new “Nice Work if You Can Get It” and “Porgy and Bess,” arguably the greatest American opera ever written.

Real Troupers
They’re really something at eightysomething
Who says there are no roles for older actors anymore? This season’s Broadway lineup has seen plenty of senior-citizen action with stage stints by over-80 thesps Rosemary Harris, Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones. And these are no cameos: Harris took on the central role in the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of Athol Fugard three-hander “The Road to Mecca,” while Lansbury and Jones play memorable supporting parts in political drama “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.” Besides, the perfs aren’t a rare change of pace for any of these thesps, with each having appeared on Broadway at least once over the past few seasons as well. It just goes to show you: Once a legit trouper, always a legit trouper.

Smooth Segue
Clyde Barrow is but a memory
It’s usually kind of a bummer when an actor’s star-making Broadway perf is cut short once the musical he toplines closes abruptly. But for Jeremy Jordan, the quick death of autumn’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” in which he played the title gangster, wasn’t so bad. A couple of months later, he found himself back on the Rialto in the current “Newsies,” playing the lead role of rabble-rousing newsboy Jack. He’d been attached to both projects, each directed by Jeff Calhoun, since prior regional incarnations, and it paid off with a smooth transition from one Main Stem show to another, ensuring Broadway auds — and award voters — wouldn’t forget his name.

Fast Rescue
He’s more than an angel
Jordan Roth continues to put the “great” back in the Great White Way.
The Jujamcyn Theaters prexy came to the rescue of Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park” when the production’s lead producer, Scott Rudin, pulled out over disagreements with the playwright regarding an unrelated TV project, HBO’s “The Corrections,” in which the scribe was in negotiations to headline. The “Clybourne Park” cast had already begun rehearsals at L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum, and the play was only weeks away from opening in New York City. Dozens of jobs were threatened, and Broadway auds would have been denied the opportunity to see the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama that cleverly imagines what might have happened when the Youngers family of “A Raisin in the Sun” bought that dream house in the suburbs.
Roth didn’t miss a beat. Within hours of Rudin’s departure from the project, Roth picked up the pieces, making Jujamcyn the new lead producer of the show. The move also kept the Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theater fully occupied for what could be a significant run.

Dedicated Ambassador
Jackman tubthumps for the Rialto
Hugh Jackman isn’t a triple-threat performer. He’s a quadruple threat. Not only does he act, sing and dance, but he’s also in that rarefied class of movie stars who can drive tix sales to any Broadway show in which he appears, including this season’s mega-grossing “Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway.” But he’s also proven a game tubthumper for the Rialto in general, having become a regular presence on the Tony Awards. He makes for an excellent emissary from Broadway to the larger world of pop culture: If anyone can attract a spotlight to the often attention-deprived Main Stem, it’s Jackman

Box Office Wars
‘Wicked’ gets a run for its money
It used to be that “Wicked” was the unchallenged top dog of the Broadway Top 10. For the most part, it still is — but this season in particular, it became more common to see an occasional upset from the likes of “The Lion King” and “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” It’s not that “Wicked” is losing momentum — but that “The Lion King” and “Spider-Man,” like the rest of Broadway, have become increasingly savvy at navigating premium ticketing, leading to weeks in which one or the other show sometimes nudges “Wicked” out of its usual perch. Not that it’s a horse race — except that in the minds of many legiters, it usually is.

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