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Issue #36: December 15, 1999


  • The busy holiday season is offering up great box office for a number of productions. Kiss Me Kate opened to rave reviews all round and even though Saturday Night Fever was panned across the board it is playing to 90% theatre capacity. The sleeper hit though is Dame Edna: The Royal Tour. The audience continues to build following good reviews. Other holiday fare includes Putting It Together with Carol Burnett, the new musical Marie Christine and dance-themed Swing. On the revival front Amadeus arrives before Christmas along with Lauren Bacall in Waiting in the Wings.

Broadway On The Road

  • Look for a sleeper-hit musical called The Drowsy Chaperone to become news in the foreseeable future. Originally part of Toronto’s Fringe Festival last summer, aspiring producer (and Mirvish PR guy) John Karastamatis knew a hit when he saw it. From the Fringe it played a sold-out limited engagement at Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille in early December. A number of out-of-town producers stopped in to see the hilarious spoof on 1920s musicals — look for it to resurface again in Toronto and chances are you’ll be able to catch it in the Big Apple before too long.

London's West End

  • The Americans will be invading the London stage beginning in January with over six major American premieres or revivals. The Bush Theatre is the site of the January 14 opening of Nicky Silver’s off-Broadway play The Maiden’s Prayer. On January 25 the West End welcomes Warren Leight’s Tony-winning Side Man to the Apollo. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit will open in late March at a theatre yet to be determined. The Almeida Theatre will host the premiere February 2 of Bash—this was the off-Broadway hit that Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart played to sold-out houses this past summer. A six-week run beginning March 13 will see the return of David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow at the New Ambassadors Theatre. Along with American Buffalo, Connections and As Bees in Honey Drown you have a very American West End to kick off Y2K.

Broadway Around the World

  • Veteran Italian stage impresario Pietro Garinei negotiated with 20th Century Fox for the rights to transform the movie hit Mrs. Doubtfire into an Italian musical called Thank Goodness for Maria. The run in Rome sold-out at the Teatro Sistina and the show is now on the road for 14 weeks stopping in Turin, Milan and Naples. Given the huge success with this adaptation, Garinei is looking at other hit films to bring to the musical stage in Italy.

Curtain Call

  • The theatre world has lost two veterans recently. First, Tony award-winning actress Madeline Kahn died on Dec. 3 after a yearlong battle with ovarian cancer. To many film buffs her Oscar-nominated performances in Paper Moon (1973) and Blazing Saddles (1974) cemented her talent in the ranks with Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn. Kahn was three times nominated for Tony awards for In the Boom Boom Room (1973), On the 20th Century (1978) and the revival of Born Yesterday (1989). But it was her memorable performance as a ditsy matron in The Sisters Rosensweig that earned her the best actress Tony in 1993. Ms. Kahn made her stage debut in the 1964 revival of Kiss Me Kate that is now enjoying yet another revival currently on Broadway.
  • Director Mike Ockrent, best known for long running musicals Me and My Girl and Crazy For You, passed away the first week of December at the age of 53. Born in London, Ockrent began his career in theatre in Scotland. It was in 1985 in London that he first directed Me and My Girl, which won Tony awards for stars Robert Lindsay and Maryann Plunkett. In 1992 he brought Crazy for You to the Broadway stage where it ran for four years.

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