Rudin Kills Mockingbird. Netflix Sues Bridgerton’s Barlow and Bear. #Stageworthy News This Week

 “High Noon” is aiming for Broadway, an announcement last week that felt aptly timed, considering all the showdowns. (see The Week in New York Theater News)

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The Week in New York Theater News

Adjustments to the Broadway 2022-2023 season:

Into The Woods” has been extended 8 weeks, to October 16, at the St. James.

Not coincidentally, the revival of August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, Danielle Brooks, John David Washington — the show that was going to occupy the St. James theater –y announced they were moving to the Barrymore, still opening October 13.

Kara Young and David Zayas are joining original cast members Gregg Mozgala and Katy Sullivan in the Broadway production of Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize winning play “Cost of Living,” which will no begin performances September 13, with an opening on October 3.

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Scott Rudin kills “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The play, Aaron Sorkin’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Harper Lee’s hugely popular novel, had a successful two year run on Broadway before it went “on hiatus” on January, after the departure of Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch and the rise of Covid-19 infections due to the Omicron variant. The plan was for the show to return in June, which didn’t happen – so then the Fall. 

But Rudin said in an email to Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher: “I do not believe that a remount of Mockingbird would have been competitive in the marketplace.”

What’s most curious about this development to theater lovers not directly involved is not the financial reasoning behind killing a play that at one point was grossing some two million dollars and week, and still has viable productions on national tour and on the West End, but that Scott Rudin had the power to make this decision. Back in April, 2021 he announced was going to “step back from active participation” in the play (and everything else on Broadway), after an exposé was published of his long history of abusive behavior towards his staff. (More in New York Times)

Netflix is suing Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, the wunderkind songwriting team of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical,” which won this year’s Grammy for best musical theater album even though it never was presented on a stage. Netflix is now suing because it did now go on stage, “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical Album Live in Concert” performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. last week,  a show whose cast included Broadway royalty Kelli O’Hara, Denée Benton,Jason Gotay, and Ephraim Sykes. Notice the poster for the show says that it’s using the Bridgerton trademark with permission. In the lawsuit, Netflix claims that it isn’t true. “Netflix supports fan-generated content, but Barlow & Bear have taken this many steps further, seeking to create multiple revenue streams for themselves without formal permission to utilize the ‘Bridgerton’ IP” (intellectual property), Netflix wrote in a statement. (Variety)

A stage adaptation of High Noon, Stanley Kramer’s 1952 Academy Award-wining film starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, is aiming for Broadway in 2023, written by Eric Roth, making his Broadway debut (As a screenwriter, he’s been nominated for six Academy Awards for his work on The Insider, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, A Star is Born, Dune and Forrest Gump, for which he won the award)  and directed by Michael Arden (two-time Tony nominated director for his Broadway revivals of Spring Awakening and Once On This Island.) They claim this will be the first Western play on Broadway in more than 85 years. It’s not clear to me how they’ll stage the gunplay, and how well it’ll play in New York, but the movie transcends its genre. It’s the story of a man who faces down evil alone because good people are too afraid to do what’s right.

Playwrights Horizons launches second season of Soundstage, audio dramas from 15 to 45 minutes long – evidence that innovations created in response to the pandemic may outlast it. For a list of specific shows, check out my calendar of August theater openings.

Theatre for a New Audience’s 2022-23 season. Clark Young and Derek Goldman’s Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski (directed by Goldman); Denis Johnson’s Des Moines (directed by Arin Arbus); Dakin Matthews’ adaptation of Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 presented in rep with Richard II (directed by Eric Tucker); Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna (directed by Flordelino Lagundino); and Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending (directed by Erica Schmidt).

 Melissa Errico in Carmel, Ind.; singing Stephen Sondheim 

Melissa Errico, Tony nominated actress and six-time Broadway veteran, is performing a concert tour honoring the composers Michel Legrand and Stephen Sondheim, which will culminate in her Carnegie Hall debut. “There are other musicians out there, too, crisscrossing the country, living on the lower slopes and, yes, sometimes on the summits, of show business,”Errico writes of her experience in the New York Times. “We are the last wandering minstrels, racing town to town, big clubs and small, piano player to piano player. (I had nine this year.)”

Rest in Peace

Mary Alice, prolific screen actress, five time Broadway veteran, Tony winner for Fences, portraying James Earl Jones’ wife, wonderful as Dr. Bessie Delany, one of the hundred-year-old sisters in “Having Your Say.” (Her own age “has been variously reported as 80, 84 and 86.”)
“Pride of one’s work is not improper, unladylike, or vain. We can all take a lesson from the sea turtle. She does not travel thousands of miles or risk all for her ego. She has an instinct for greatness — one that I believe is found in all living creatures.”

Paul Sorvino, 83, best known for Law and Order and Goodfellas, was also a six-time Broadway veteran who made his Broadway debut as a singing patrolman in the musical comedy Bajour and was nominated for a Tony for That Championship Season. Father of actress Mira Sorvino. “Where the material is, that’s where you go. I’m a workman: I go to work.”

Jered Barclay,91, a vaudeville, screen and voiceover actor who’d been performing professionally from the age of three, he leapt into cutting-edge theater when he moved to New York City in 1962, performing in two Edward Albee plays at the Cherry Lane Theatre — Zoo Story and the Young Man in The American Dream

Pat Carroll, 95, a who played Falstaff and Gertrude Stein onstage and four roles on Broadway, was also a familiar face on television comedies, and then a famous voice as the villainous sea witch Ursula in the animated film The Little Mermaid.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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