2007 on Broadway

Grease: You're The One that I Want! (wikipedia, DASHbot)

Over on Broadway 2007 was once again another bountiful season with over 12.3 million tickets sold. Shows grossed on average 8% more than the previous year, and with 35 new shows opening, among them some brand new musicals and some celebrity revivals, it wasn’t hard to see why. One reason for this however may have been that Producers of the hit musical Jersey Boys finally pushed up their top price (non premium) seats to a staggering $120. The show continued to play to capacity audiences and added a Grammy Award for Best Show Album to its already lengthy string of awards.

 

After a number of successful outings in the UK, Broadway go involved with the reality TV casting process. Producer David Ian and Director Kathleen Marshall began the televised search to find a new Danny and Sandy for the upcoming summer revival of Grease in a wittingly titled prime-time show ‘You’re The One That I Want’. After seeing thousands of applicants, America voted their favourites Maxx Crumm and Laura Osnes as the leads. The tepid and pedestrian revival opened during the summer, to mainly negative reviews, but had a big enough pull to please tourists and ‘out of towners’.

 

 

LoveMusik Poser (Wikipedia, Flami72)

The only other musical revivals of the year came in the form of 110 in the Shade which played at Studio 54 and LoveMusik at the Biltmore. Both productions presented ‘classy’ revivals, the former starring beautiful stage siren Audra Macdonald as Lizzie, the girl whose life is turned upside down in a drought stricken town in Texas and the latter staring Broadway Legends Donna Murphy and Michael Cerveris. LoveMusik told the story of composer Kurt Weill and his wife Lotte Lenya with a book by Alfred Uhry and songs  by Weill. The production was directed by twenty one times Tony Award winner Hal Prince.

 

The London production of Frost/Nixon transferred to the Bernard B Jacobs Theatre starring original cast members Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, who would go on to win the Tony Award for Best Actor. Fellow Brit Vanessa Redgrave also starred in a phenomenal one woman show The Year of Magical Thinking which was based on Joan Didion’s book about the death of her husband and the decline in her daughter’s health, directed by David Hare.

 

Journey’s End opened on February 22 at the Belasco Theatre and went on to win the Tony for Best Revival. R.C. Sherriff’s play is set in the trenches of World War One over a short period of time in 1918. The production was directed by David Grindley and starred Boyd Gaines as Lieutenant Osbourne and Stark Sands as the young officer Raleigh. Brian Friel’s new play Translations opened at the Biltmore Theatre for a limited number of performances in January directed by Garry Hynes. The play is set in Ireland in 1833 before the Great Famine which sparked a cultural and political change. The production was presented by the Manhattan Theatre Club and the McCarther Theatre Centre and ran until March 11. Angela Lansbury took to the stage with Marian Seldes in Terrence McNally’s new play Deuce at the Music Box Theatre with a small cast directed by Michael Blakemore. The production won the Outer Critics Circle Awards for Special Achievement for the two veteran performers.

 

August: Osage County Poster (wikipedia, LiamFitzpatrick)

The biggest play of the season came as a dark comedy from Tracey Letts. August: Osage County premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in June, before transferring to Broadway’s Imperial Theatre on December 4.  The play is set outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma and follows the actions of Beverly and Violet Weston over the course of several weeks. The show was an instant success and has since opened productions all over the world as well as a number of US national tours.

 

As the motion picture version of Dreamgirls took home two Oscar Awards, new musicals sprouted up on Broadway throughout the year. The biggest of these came as another film to stage adaptation as Legally Blonde opened at the Palace Theatre on April 29. Starring Laura Bell Bundy as the feisty Elle Woods (the role made famous by Reece Witherspoon in the film) the show was a surprise success. With witty songs by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hatch the show was feel-good beyond measure. Sticking closely to the plot of the film, sorority sister Elle Woods follows her teenage heartthrob to Harvard Law School to prove that blondes really do have all the fun. In a similarly silly move to make money from an already established audience, Xanadu opened its doors at the Helen Hayes Theatre on July 10. Based on the 1980 cult film which starred Olivia Newton John and the Electric Light Orchestra, the roller disco show presented a wafer thin plot and a number of cheesy songs to create the 80s vibe. The show found an audience base and managed to run for over 500 performances, aided by celebrity cameo performances over the run.

 

 

Two new musicals from long standing theatre composers also opened in 2007. The first of which highlighted Kander and Ebb’s (Cabaret, Chicago) lighter side in a musical murder mystery entitled Curtains. The production was directed by Scott Ellis and featured sensational choreography by Rob Ashford and starred ‘Fraiser’ actor David Hyde Pierce as the Lieutenant. The show ran at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre for 15 months. In complete contrast musical legends Claude-Michel Shonberg and Alain Boublil offered a new musical The Pirate Queen about the 16th Century Irish Pirate Grainne O’Malley. Featuring Stephanie J Block as the lead role, the show only managed to run for little over 3 months, due to critical backlash and poor audience figures. Musical many found the show to be comparative to the collaborators earlier work Les Miserables and Miss Saigon. Problems within the book however were cited as being a major cause in its failure to find an audience.

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