Bit Parts: Breaking Theatre News & Reviews in a New York Nutshell

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard has never been among my top ten musicals. The score: Does it mirror Phantom musically? Little bit. The book: Is it a bit anemic when compared to the iconic film? No question. Still, when it comes to grand dame tour de force, SB leaves the musical genreLloyd Webber or otherwisein the dust. (Sorry Hello, Dolly, but in my jaded opinion, scene-wrenching passion in ‘40s Hollywood couture eclipses 1890s bravura in corsets and feathers. Just saying.)

Glenn Close as Norma Desmond Sunset Boulevard

Glenn Close reprises her Tony-award-winning role 20 years later, as Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard. 

Which brings me to Glenn Close, back on Broadway as the delusional living memoir Norma Desmond, soldering her gilded self onto down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis as she ushers him into her posh bubble world. Close delivers spectacularlyas one would expect from a three-time Tony winner (one for her original turn in SB)/six-time Oscar nominee. Sure, Desmond is 50, but Closewho turns 70 the 19th of this monthsheds 20 years with flawless grace to the point of “no questions asked.” As for her thoughts on theatre vs. cinema, she once observed about the former:

"To me, it's where you really develop as an artist. I have a huge respect for film acting, but onstage, you don't have editors and you don't have sound people. You don't have the close-up. You're out there with your fellow actors and the audience. It's a chemical mixture that's happened for centuries."

As for Close’s current six degrees of separation link, her Big Chill costar Kevin Kline is in previews for the Noel Coward comedy Present Laughter (it’s reported the two dated in the ‘70s). 

Six Degrees of Separation Anxiety

The Little Foxes

Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon will swap lead roles in The Little Foxes.

Speaking of the Six Degrees of Separation phenomenon, the revival of John Guare’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama of the same name is set to launch previews on April 5th starring seven-time Emmy winner Allison Janney (Mom; The West Wing), Tony winner John Benjamin Hickey (The Normal Heart), and Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton; 24: Legacy). Interestingly, Janney made her Broadway debut in 1996 opposite Frank Langella in Present Laughter, while Laura Linney, who is now in previews for The Little Foxes (doing a leading role do-si-do exchange with Cynthia Nixon), made her Broadway debut as a replacement for the daughter Tess in the original Lincoln Center production starring Stockard Channing. With its overhanging contexts of racism, class divide, and strategic manipulation, Six Degrees is clearly a timely addition to the current Broadway season.

Natasha, Pierre & the Great Torch Passing of July, 2017 

Rave reviews and stage door groupies notwithstanding, Broadway will kiss pop star Josh Groban “proshchay”(goodbye) come July 2nd, the date earmarked for his departure from Moscow on the Atlantic, i.e. Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Okieriete Onadowan

This summer, Okieriete "Oak" Onaodowan will take over as Pierre in Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812.

His replacement, Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, while not as high on the star ladder (yet!), comes to the role of Pierre wrapped in plenty of impressive Broadway cred having originated the roles of James Madison and Hercules Mulligan in Hamilton as well as appearing in Rocky (alongside Andy Karl, currently in rehearsal for his lead role in Groundhog Day) and the Cyrano de Bergerac production of 2012. 

Onaodowan joins Denée Benton (Natasha) and a mesmerizing supporting cast on July 3rd.

About the Author

City Guide Theatre Editor Griffin Miller moved to New York to pursue an acting/writing career in the 1980s after graduating magna cum laude from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, she has written for The New York Times, For the Bride, Hotels, and a number of other publications, mostly in the areas of travel and performance arts. An active member of The New York Travel Writers Association, she is also a playwright and award-winning collage artist. In addition, she sits on the board of The Lewis Carroll Society of North America. Griffin is married to Richard Sandomir, a reporter for The New York Times.

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