Continuing from my last post, let’s turn to theatre and sports, looking back at my thoughts from last quarter and looking forward to the rest of this year.
Summer is typically a quiet season for new shows opening on Broadway. Like the movie industry (which clusters the release of the most promising Academy Award candidates at the end of the year), the theatre industry often clusters the best Tony Award candidates of the year at the end of the “season” (which typically concludes near the end of April).
There have been only a few significant musical openings so far this season:
- Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark – I’ve commented on this one before: here and here.
- Follies – This revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies has received rave reviews. It features an incredible cast: Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, and Danny Burstein.
Last week brought a much-anticipated new play, The Mountaintop, which provides a look at the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is a two person play with immense star power: Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett. It opened to mixed reviews.
Over the next three months, there are quite a few openings that make me wish I lived closer to New York:
- Plays and Play Revivals
- Relatively Speaking – An intriguing collection of three one-act comedies with big name writers: Ethan Coen, Elaine May and Woody Allen.
- Chinglish – A new comedy by David Henry Hwang “about the challenges of doing business in a culture whose language and ways of communicating are worlds apart from our own.”
- Private Lives – The 8th Broadway production of Noel Coward’s brilliant comedy (which opened originally in 1931), starring Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross.
- New Musicals
- Bonnie and Clyde – Most people are familiar with this story of two country kids who become wanted criminals. It’s written by frequent Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn. He is frequent, but I can’t understand why he keeps getting produced. Nearly everything he’s written has been unsuccessful and those that are successful aren’t very good: Jekyll and Hyde (1543 performance), The Scarlet Pimpernel (772), The Civil War (61), Dracula (157), and Wonderland (33). I’m rooting for this one to surprise me – its Music Director is John McDaniel (who was my son’s boss when he worked on Catch Me If You Can earlier this year) and one of the principals is Seattle native Louis Hobson.
- Lysistrata Jones – This risky new show is based on Lysistrata, a 2400 year-old play by Aristophanes. Lysistrata is a comedy about women who withhold sex in order to inspire their husbands to negotiate an end to the current war. This new production transports the story to present day Athens, Georgia, focusing on a group of cheerleaders who refuse to sleep with the members of the basketball team until they start winning games.
- Musical Revivals
- Godspell – Stephen Schwartz’s rock musical returns to Broadway in its first revival (after winning a Tony-award for Best Original Score in its 527 performance run in 1976-77).
- On a Clear Day You Can See Forever – The original production (by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner) was poorly received on Broadway in 1965. The first revival features Harry Connick Jr. and a new book written by Peter Parnell (author of the play The Cider House Rules based on the novel by John Irving, and of much of The West Wing, with Aaron Sorkin).
- Porgy and Bess (not until January) – George Gershwin’s masterpiece returns to Broadway for the 8th time. This production features Broadway’s greatest current actress, the incomparable four-time Tony award winner: Audra McDonald.
- Special Events
- Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway – Most people know Jackman as a movie star, especially for playing Wolverine in the X-Men series. Fewer people know that he’s a genuine star as a stage actor too. He won a Tony Award (and every other award) for his portrayal of Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz. He has also starred in Oklahoma in London and on Broadway in 2009 in A Steady Rain. This limited run concert starts this month and will probably sell out every show.
- An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin – A few misguided people might dispute my statement above that Audra is “Broadway’s greatest current actress,” choosing Patti LuPone instead. Those people are wrong. Still, Patti is a major star, with two Tony awards. This concert, which opens in November, reunites these two stars for the first time since their joint Tony-winning performances in Evita.
In July, I made two predictions about sports labor disputes:
- In my opinion, the NFL battle will be resolved, probably within the next ten days.
- On July 25th, the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced their new collective bargaining agreement.
- The NBA looks to be positioned for a long and ugly stand-off. It wouldn’t surprise me if the entire season was cancelled.
- Several weeks of games have already been cancelled and the parties don’t seem much closer to an agreement. I’ll stand by what I said then: it still seems likely that the season will be cancelled.
In baseball, my predictions (which I had thought were low-risk) were pretty poor:
- NL Playoffs: Philadelphia, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Atlanta
- AL Playoffs: Boston, Cleveland, LA Angels, and the evil NY Yankees
I got two of four in the National League; one of four in the AL. That’s pathetic.
- World Series: Philadelphia over Boston in 6 games.
The final four teams are Milwaukee, St. Louis, Texas, and Detroit, so I’m already 100% wrong there.
Since I did so well in baseball, I’ll turn my sights to the NFL. About one-third through the season, here are my picks for the playoffs:
- AFC East – New England
- AFC North – Pittsburgh
- AFC South – Tennessee
- AFC West – San Diego
- AFC Wild Cards – Buffalo, Baltimore
- NFC East – New York Giants
- NFC North – Green Bay
- NFC South – New Orleans
- NFC West – San Francisco
- NFC Wild Cards – Detroit, Atlanta
- AFC Championship – San Diego over Baltimore
- NFC Championship – New Orleans over Green Bay
- Super Bowl – San Diego over New Orleans
For now…I’ll leave you with this thought:
Don’t ever use my sports predictions as the basis for any decision.
Instead, feel free to use my Broadway theatre info as the basis for ticket-buying.