Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bad News and Good

Two notable pieces of news from Playbill.

The sad news out of Canada is the death at age 64 of Richard Monette, Artistic Director of Ontario's Stratford Festival, from a pulmonary embolus. I had issues with Monette's season selection--it seemed that he stuck to a path that was too conventional, even commercial. However, he led the festival through an extraordinary 14 seasons--1994-2007--of unprecedented stability and financial success. And though I saw a few stinkers in the years I went, I also saw a number of extraordinary shows--My Fair Lady and Pericles, to name two of a half-dozen wonderful shows. He will be missed.

I am  much happier to report that the Public Theatre has announced that they are moving their Shakespeare in the Park production of Hair to Broadway. I had the great privilege of seeing it in the park at its fourth preview, and knew that if audiences and critics continued to react the way we did that night, a move was inevitable. It was already extended a full month beyond its original close date, to September 14th, so it clearly found a very appreciative public. The play and production have flaws, but it was both an extraordinarily energetic delight in the fun numbers and a real gut punch when necessary. And it was anything but dated. One of the major flaws with the staging was that too much of it was directed front and center in a theatre where the seats formed a full half-circle, a flaw that would be eliminated if it moved to a traditional proscenium theatre. No casting, dates, of theatre for the move have been announced, but I hope they will move as much of the original cast as possible. If so, don't be surprised to see Tony nominations for Jonathan Groff (Claude), Will Swenson (Berger), and Patina Renae Miller (Dionne) when announcements are made in May. Just saying...

If you are in New York ,try to get to Hair this week (and get in line really early). Otherwise, try to get seats when it moves to Midtown. It's pretty fantastic.

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