By the end of the year, The Phantom of the Opera will have surpassed an unprecedented 9,000 performances on Broadway, with no signs of slowing down. By next spring, New York theatergoers may finally find out what happened after the musical’s climatic burning of the Paris Opera House in 1897.
Tony Award Winners
All the best from broadway 2009
Best Play — God of Carnage
Best Revival of a Musical — Hair
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater — Next to Normal, Music: Tom Kitt, Lyrics, Brian Yorkey
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play — Geoffrey Rush, Exit the King
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play — Marcia Gay Harden, God of Carnage
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical — David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish, Billy Elliot
Best Performance by Leading Actress in a Musical — Alice Ripley, Next to Normal
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play — Roger Robinson, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play — Angela Lansbury, Blithe Spirit
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical — Gregory Jbara, Billy Elliot
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical — Karen Olivo, West Side Story
Best Director of a Play — Matthew Warchus, God of Carnage
Best Director of a Musical — Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot
Best Choreography — Peter Darling, Billy Elliot
Best Orchestrations (tie) — Martin Koch, Billy Elliot; Michael Starobin and Tom Kitt, Next to Normal
Regional Theater Tony Award — Signature Theater, Arlington, Va.
Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-awaited sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, is scheduled to open in London’s West End this fall before making its way next year to Toronto and then, around next April, New York. The musical will also open in Shanghai about the same time.
“He [Webber] tried it a couple of times, but it didn’t come out the way he liked,” said Dennis Martin, director of group sales programs for Theatre Direct International. “A year ago, he announced he had hit on the right thing.”
Director Jack O’Brien is simultaneously rehearsing all three companies in London so the shows can open in quick succession.
The plot line is set 10 years later in New York City, where the mysterious Maestro, who runs the theater at Coney Island, announces a special concert by Parisian soprano Christine Daaé, the heroine of Phantom. A casting notice said that the arrival of Daaé; her husband Raoul, Victome de Chagny; and their son, Gustave, in New York and their meeting with the Maestro brings the cataclysmic events at the Paris Opera back into their lives.
It’s not known if there will be a dramatic scene in Love Never Dies similar to the Opera House’s chandelier falling toward the audience in Phantom, but there will be an aerial battle above theatergoers in another Broadway musical opening next year: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
“It’s directed by Julie Taymor and will be pretty incredible,” said Scott Mallalieu, president of Group Sales Box Office. “They are redoing the entire theater. Spider-Man will fly.”
Taymor, who directed The Lion King, is using consultants from Cirque du Soleil to work on the aerial scenes.
“She took theater to a different place with The Lion King, and she hopes to do the same thing in the Hilton Theatre,” said Mallalieu.
The musical Spider-Man will be based on the Peter Parker character from the comic books and movies but will have a plot of its own. “It’s a whole new story,” said Martin. The musical is scheduled to begin previews Jan. 16 and open Feb. 18.
The score for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is being written by U2’s Bono and the Edge, who are part of a movement of country and rock stars toward the Broadway stage.
Dolly Parton made her Broadway debut by composing the score for 9 to 5, the musical adaptation of the hit movie in which she starred, and Bon Jovi’s David Bryan has written the score and lyrics for Memphis, a musical about Memphis’ musical heritage that opens this fall.
Parton received a Tony nomination for her score for 9 to 5, which opened at the Marquis Theater in late April with 16 original songs in addition to the title tune that was written for the movie.
Megan Hilty, who played Glinda in Wicked, revives Parton’s movie role on stage. The musical also features Stephanie Block, who portrayed Liza Minnelli in The Boy From Oz, and Emmy Award-winner Allison Janney, who played presidential press secretary
C.J. Cregg in the television series West Wing and was nominated for a Tony for her 9 to 5 role.
Marc Kudish also received a Tony nomination for his role as the chauvinist boss who is targeted for revenge by the three female characters.
Memphis, which opens in previews in late September at the Shubert Theatre, is set in 1950s Memphis, where white radio DJ Huey Calhoun champions black music and falls for a beautiful black singer.
Rock music is the theme of one of the surprise hits of the season, Rock of Ages, which garnered five Tony nominations for its tribute to 1980s head-banging rock.
Another surprise musical, which ended up with the second most Tony nominations, was Next to Normal. “It’s a contemporary musical,” said Martin. “It’s very interesting. I hate to call it the mental illness musical, but the lead character is a wife and mother who is bipolar, and [the play is about] what she does to keep it together.”
Alice Ripley won a Tony Award for her role as the wife and mother, and Jennifer Daminao was nominated for her role as the daughter.
Several musical revivals hit Broadway this past season, among them Pal Joey, Guys and Dolls, Hair and West Side Story, with Bye Bye Birdie and Finian’s Rainbow slated to open in September. Hair won the Tony for best revival of a musical.
Spider-Man won’t be the only character that will make the leap from cartoons to Broadway next year. The Addams Family, a musical based on the “kooky and spooky” family of characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams who were the subjects of a popular television series and movie, will begin previews on March 4 and open April 8 at a theater to be announced. Tickets are now on sale.
The Addams Family will have a pre-Broadway run from November to January in Chicago with Broadway superstars Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth in the starring roles as Gomez and Morticia Addams.
Liberace wasn’t a cartoon character, but his flamboyant personality left a distinctive mark on American culture. Now, 22 years after his death, the pianist and entertainer is headed to Broadway this fall.
A MILLION–DOLLAR REMAKE
CHICAGO — The stars aligned one magical evening in December 1956 at the Sun Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. “It was an odd night where Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis all happened to be at the studio at the same time,” said Joleen Domaracki, tourism sales manager for the Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“They had a great jam session.”
Their jam session has been re-created in Chicago at the Apollo Theater in Million Dollar Quartet: The Night Rock ’n’ Roll Came Alive. A 21st-century quartet of talented musicians performs rock, rockabilly, gospel, R & B and country standards such as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Who Do You Love?” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Ghost Riders in the Sky” and “Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Goin’ On.”
“All the leads play the same instruments [as the original participants],” said Domaracki. “The lead who plays Lewis does it just as well and just as flamboyant. I was blown away by it.
“It has been extended through the end of the year and possibly longer,” she said. “It is in Lincoln Park. You can eat at one of our local eateries, then go to the theater. It is intimate, very small.”
It won’t be a ghost, but musician and comedian Wayland Pickard, who will re-create a Liberace concert in a Las Vegas showroom for the musical Liberace: The Man, the Music and the Memories.
A seasonal favorite, White Christmas, will make a return limited-engagement run over the holidays. “It did a huge group business in its inaugural season this past winter,” said Mallalieu. “It’s a musical version of the famous movie. It broke records from mid-November through the holidays, and I expect it to be the same.”
The movie A Christmas Story was not a box office smash when it was released in 1983. However, the story of bespectacled Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, despite warnings of “You’ll shoot your eye out,” has become a beloved holiday television tradition.
Now, A Christmas Story may be headed to Broadway. A musical version of the movie will be staged at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre from November 20 to January 3, and its producers hope to eventually land in New York.
Two recent Broadway hits are making their touring debut this year. Mary Poppins opened in March at Chicago’s Cadillac Palace Theatre with two of the original Broadway stars, Ashley Brown as Mary Poppins and Gavin Lee as Bert. After Chicago, Mary Poppins heads to Cleveland, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas and Los Angeles into next year.
In the Heights, last year’s Tony Award-winning musical, will begin its national tour Oct. 27 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa, Florida After Tampa, it will play in Atlanta; Minneapolis; Hartford, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Houston; Austin, Texas; Tempe, Arizona; San Diego; and Costa Mesa, California, into August 2010.
Shrek the Musical will launch its national tour, again in Chicago at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, next June.
Meanwhile, The Lion King opened a long-term engagement in May at the Mandalay Bay Theatre in Las Vegas. It is the first ever sit-down Disney production in the Nevada gaming resort.