Broadway’s latest replacements
When Broadway shows celebrate their first birthday, cast changes inevitably follow. Here’s who’s new in four recent hits that are still going strong.
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS
Stage vet Jonathan Pryce steps in for John Lithgow as a suave con man; Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz remains as his protégé and comic foil; Rachel York replaces Sherie Rene Scott as their mark. THE VERDICT Still masters of deception: Pryce generously plays straight man to the outrageously inventive Butz. York charms but could use a jolt of Scott’s sass.
Eileen Atkins (Gosford Park) takes over as a nun with grave suspicions about a priest (Freedomland‘s Ron Eldard); Jena Malone (Pride & Prejudice) plays a novice nun. THE VERDICT Not enough doubt: A lack of chemistry between Atkins, who’s too old for the part as written, and the all-American Eldard robs John Patrick Shanley’s acclaimed script of its nuance and dark humor.
MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT
British Bard specialist Simon Russell Beale assumes Arthur’s crown from Tim Curry; Lauren Kennedy is the new Lady of the Lake. THE VERDICT Faster and funnier: Beale is delightful as a wild-eyed, strong-voiced king, Kennedy is sweetly seductive, and holdovers like David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria have relaxed and fully embraced the show’s casual lunacy.
THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA
Katie Clarke and Aaron Lazar now play the young lovers in 1953 Florence. THE VERDICT More moving than on opening night: Adam Guettel’s operatic score needs big-voiced actors unafraid of expressing old-fashioned emotion, and the new stars embody romantic ardor. Tony winner Victoria Clark still excels as the mom of Clarke’s vulnerable American.