Hollywood Comes to Broadway this Season (Again.)

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Despite Jeremy Piven’s rave reviews in Speed-the-Plow, his acting abilities have their limits: There’s still a chance he could owe the show’s producers money, and permanently soured public/critical opinion against a Tony nod. In the words of his onscreen alter ego Ari Gold, maybe it’s time for him and Mamet to drop their beef and hug it out bitch.

Oscar award-winning Geoffrey Rush’s Broadway debut as a 400-year-old ruler in Exit the King has garnered rave reviews: a “knockout performance,” an “ace on stage,” a “sensational and highly physical performance.” But critics weren’t so kind to costar Susan Sarandon. The New York Post bites hard, saying she “barks out her lines as if unsure where she’s meant to be authoritative or just in a bad mood.” Variety says the stage requires a bit more than the silver screen acting chops: she “maintains her naturalistic screen style in a role that calls for something bolder.” Considering it’s all been going downhill for Sarandon since The Banger Sisters and Shall We Dance, perhaps she can make it cool for a 62-year-old to have a public melt down. Or next time, go the Benjamin Button route like Rush. Either way, we’re rooting for ya, Louise.

It’s about time Andrew Lloyd Webber gave Phantom of the Opera the sequel treatment — we thought all that was left would be revivals and high school productions of Cats. Eek. The POTO sequel, Love Never Dies, will premiere in London before its transfer to the Great White Way. Rumored casting suggests Sierra Boggess as the new Sarah Brightman, who’s currently flapping her pseudo gills in the critically panned Disney’s The Little Mermaid. But, there’s hope, according to The Daily Mail: “From what I’ve heard, it sounds like the best work Andrew has produced in decades. I confess, I didn’t know he still had it in him — it’s a score of high passion, full of longing and regret.” Hey, if Phantom‘s success is any indicator, Love Never Dies could be running 20 years from now and remade into a made-for-MTV-movie.

It should come as no shock that Tony Soprano is raking up the Broadway bucks and positive reviews. Gandolfini stars with Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, and Marcia Gay Harden in God of Carnage, with the slogan “A comedy of manners…without the manners.” Variety calls the cast “scorching” and that the play is “elegant, acerbic and entertainingly fueled on pure bile.” Which means, stop throwing away the moolah on stinkers like I Love You, Man and get thee to the theater.

And finally, the New York TimesBen Brantley is not a fan of Impressionism, which stars Jerermy Irons and Joan Allen: “But I’ve concluded that even if I were to back up all the way to the Hudson River, with half-open eyes fixed on the stage where Mr. Irons and Ms. Allen labor so valiantly, Impressionism still wouldn’t look credible. I mean this both in terms of its plot and as a proposition that would entice some very talented people and a vast army of producers.” Tom O’Neil over at the LA Times agrees it’s a stinker. Maybe they should have delayed their opening night permanently…