Jake Gyllenhaal, Jenna Ushkowitz and Closures galore...
It's time to once again bring you up to speed with all of those theatrical happenings on the other side of the pond and as Broadway gears up for its 2016-2017 season, it's a case of "Out with the old and in with the new."
Let's start with the new... Broadway is still buzzing after the announcement that our very own British powerhouse known as the Ambassador Theatre Group (who already own one of Broadway's largest theatres with the Lyric) now plan to re-open the more intimate Hudson Theatre in March 2017, officially bringing the total of Broadway theatres up to 41. Even more exciting is the news that the 700-seater venue will re-open with the first-ever Broadway revival of Lanford Wilson's 1987 drama Burn This and will star Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal. He returns to the Great White Way after a successful debut in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Nick Payne's Constellations from December 2014 through to March 2015. Congratulations to ATG on the launch of its second Broadway venue and the acquisition of a Hollywood A-Lister, who is rapidly proving his acting chops on the stage.
As London waits with baited breath for the West End premiere of Dreamgirls along with the West End debut of "Glee" star Amber Riley, another young lady who found fame with the hit musical series has just made her return to the Great White Way. Jenna Ushkowitz (best known for portraying Tina Cohen-Chang on "Glee") has stepped into the Tony-nominated musical Waitress to cover the role of Dawn during Kimiko Glenn's leave of absence. Ms. Ushkowitz debuted on 29th July in the musical (which stars Tony winner Jessie Mueller), as the Brooks Atkinson continues to enjoy full houses. With a heavily-rumoured West End transfer of Waitress on the cards, we are already putting together our dream casts for the London premiere!
We are still potty about last week's 5* reviews for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End, but it's now looking like those American muggles won't have to wait much longer as the show's producers are reportedly eyeing a Broadway transfer in the 2017-2018 season and are currently in negotiations with the Shubert Organization to move into one of their theatres. No word yet on whether the West End cast, which includes Jamie Parker (Harry), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione) and Paul Thornley (Ron), will cross the pond with the transfer.
There was also some good news for J.T. Rogers' political drama Oslo, which opened to extremely positive reviews at the Lincoln Center's off-Broadway venue of the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre. Due to the success of the Bartlett Sher-helmed play, it has been granted a transfer to LCT's larger venue of the Vivian Beamont Theatre (which is classified as a Broadway venue) and will consequently be eligible for next year's Broadway awards season. Oslo examines the events which culminated in the signing of the historic Oslo Accords in 1993 and currently stars Tony winners Jefferson Mays and Jennifer Ehle. Perfromances will begin on 23rd March 2017.
Congratulations to West End favourite and Olivier Award winner Stephen Ashfield, who will be making his Broadway debut and reprising his Olivier-winning performance as Elder McKinley in the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon, which continues to play to standing room only audiences at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. He begins performances on 23rd August and will undoubtedly prove once again that 'tomorrow is a latter day'!
Whilst we wait for the kids to rock out in the West End premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical School of Rock this Autumn, things are being shaken up in the original Broadway production as Olivier Award nominee Sierra Boggess gets ready to play her final performance as Rosalie Mullins on 8th August. Webber's muse will then grab her passport and head to Europe to reprise her role as Christine Daaé in the french-language premiere of The Phantom of the Opera in Paris. Broadway alum Jenn Gambatese was just recently announced as Ms. Boggess' successor.
And no Broadway Round-up is complete without at least one piece of Hamilton news, so "wait for it"... Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry will play her final performance as Angelica Schuyler at some point in October, when she will then hand over the reigns to Mandy Gonzalez. Mandy originated the role of Nina in Lin-Manuel Miranda's first Broadway musical In The Heights.
But with so many new shows and new cast members, comes the inevitable sad news of the closures of a number of shows on and off-Broadway. In the last couple of weeks, we have learned that the Tony-nominated Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof will shutter on 31st December, the off-Broadway dance-themed musical Trip of Love will close its doors on 7th August and the Broadway premiere of An American in Paris also set an earlier Broadway closing date of 9th October. However, the latter is set to officially open at London's Dominion Theatre on 1st April 2017. And whilst Motown The Musical continues to pack London's Shaftesbury Theatre with music lovers night after night, the return Broadway engagement of Berry Gordy's autobiographical jukebox musical sadly lasted only three weeks at the Nederlander Theatre, closing on 31st July... Mercy mercy me!
For more news, including all the latest happening off-Broadway, check out NewYorkTheatreGuide.com.