Scene Change: This Week In Theater Briefs
Timber(s)! New Show, Dance Dance Revolution, Tearing Up Floor: Alex Timbers — artistic director of alt-theater troupe Les Freres Corbusier (A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant (pictured), Heddatron, the awe-inspiring Hell House) is making waves yet again in the Off Off Broadway scene. His latest production, Dance Dance Revolution, is a rock musical taking place in a dystopian future where dancing is outlawed, and yeah, it’s kind of inspired by the video game. Either way, no question it’s going to be spectacular, especially as described by a recent Village Voice profile: “A magical alien named Moonbeam Funk beams into town, blossoms as a dance prophet, and leads the charge against the no-dancing government — which brands him a charlatan.” Awesome. Unfortunately, according to a Facebook group message for the show today, tickets are sold out. But there’s still hope if you want to catch it: “A waiting list line begins at 30 prior to the show,” Timbers writes. “Hope you can make it!” So do we.
Dude From CSI now a Steppenwolf Company Member: William Petersen — who played now-departed, kinda iconic character Grissom on hit TV series CSI — was made an ensemble member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company (mostly known to New Yorkers right now as they who imported Tony-winning production of August: Osage County here). Petersen, who’s now starring in a production of Conor McPherson’s Dublin Carol at Steppenwolf, was a founder of the Remains Theater Ensemble with current Steppenwolfers Gary Cole (yes, from Office Space) and Amy Morton, who’s directing him in Dublin Carol. Other names you might recognize from the Steppenwolf Ensemble: CSI: New York-er Gary Sinise, Tina Landau, John Malkovich, Martha Plimpton, August: Osage County playwright Tracy Letts. For the record, while it no longer has Petersen, CSI still has the coolest theme song in the history of TV.
Boeing Boeing Goes Limp: Boeing Boeing, the Broadway revival of an English adaptation of a French sex farce, is closing in early January before embarking on a national tour. The show opened with The West Wing‘s Bradley Whitford, Christine Baranski, and noted thespian Mark Rylance — who won a Tony for his performance — and succeeded both commercially and critically, also winning the Tony for Best Revival. By all means, BB had the odds stacked against it: it was (1) a British import, which tend to be notoriously shaky bets on Broadway, (2) a known dud in America, with the original 1965 production closing after 23 performances, and (3) a sex farce, which, really, is a pretty outdated brand of comedy. Rylance and Whitford killed it nightly, as did their supporting female cast (Mary McCormack was another West Wing alum, who was an oft-unsung hero of the show). Rylance and Baranski are still in it — so catch this Tony-winning version before they hit the road with what’s inevitably going to be a lesser production.
Theatre Critic With Ridiculous Name Gets Canned: No, but seriously — when New York Post theatre gossip Michael Reidel wrote back in October that theatre critics are a dying breed, we don’t think anybody saw Journal News theater crit Jacques le Sourd getting released. Native Frenchman le Sourd was a fixture in the New York scene, and his reviews for the Westchester County paper helped bring in suburban New York audiences to put vital money into the theatre economy. This is the latest in a string of critic change-ups: Jeremy McCarter left New York Magazine for Newsweek, legendary New York Post critic Clive Barnes died, and the New York Sun (where Eric Grode reviewed) closed up shop.
Passing Strange doc to make debut at Sundance: Tony-winning musical Passing Strange is the kind of thing that was far too cool and far too alternative to ever have a long life on Broadway. The show, written by a guy named Stew (yeah, that’s it: Stew) who comes from a non-theatrical background (playing in a band called The Negro Problem previously) was a coming-of-age rock musical that spans from L.A. to Amsterdam to Berlin (featuring a primarily African-American cast, and Stew, naturally). The show originated at Berkeley Rep in California, went to The Public Theatre in downtown New York, and somehow, against all odds, made the transfer to Broadway, and took up a bunch of Tony nominations, winning a few awards, too. Unfortuantely, sales didn’t reflect the quality of the show, and it closed after a few months, but not before Spike Lee could film a few live performances. It was announced this week that the documentary of the show is premiering at Sundance this year. Not often do Broadway musicals get high-profile tapings released like this, certainly not ones with guys like Lee attached; that should attest to the quality of the show.