It finally happened this week: Ending speculation that Julie Taymor would be booted off Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, producers announced on Tuesday that she’s being relieved of her day-to-day directorial duties on the troubled musical. They also revealed that Bono and The Edge are penning new songs, The Boy From Oz director Philip William McKinley is joining the creative team, and Spider-Man comic book writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will retool the book. As expected, the play won’t make its scheduled March 15 opening, which will be rescheduled for early summer.
In non-Spidey news, The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons and Pushing Daisies’ Lee Pace joined the cast of The Normal Heart. (The show sill mark the first time on Broadway for both actors). Billie Joe Armstrong confirmed he will return as American Idiot‘s St. Jimmy on April 5, and will stay in the part until the show closes three weeks later. And Kiefer Sutherland made his well-received Broadway debut in That Championship Season alongside Jason Patric, Chris Noth, Brian Cox, and Jim Gaffigan. For highlights from EW.com editor Jeff Labrecque’s review, as well as from Melissa Rose Bernardo’s write-ups on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Peter and the Starcatchers, see below.
That Championship Season: Labrecque calls the ’70s-set story of four middle-aged former high school basketball players and their ex-coach an “enjoyable, though somewhat outdated look at a time when leaders, like Nixon and Lombardi, were still blindly obeyed.” Giving the play a solid B, he praises Sutherland for showing his versatility, writing that the actor “masterfully submits to the role of the perfect, obedient team player… a total departure for Sutherland, who’s most famous for playing clear-eyed heroes and hot-blooded derelicts.”
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: It was apparently worth the trip to Washington for Bernardo to review the Steppenwolf Theatre’s “nail-biting” revival of the Edward Albee classic at D.C.’s Arena Stage. The drama earned an A and some serious praise from the critic, who credits actors Tracy Letts, Amy Morton, and the rest of the team for producing “a thing of rare beauty.”
Peter and the Starcatchers: The “rollicking good time to be had” at this off-Broadway prequel to Peter Pan may be meant for all ages, but Bernardo found the play’s pop culture humor to fall flat on very young ears. Otherwise, she thought it funny and occasionally inspired, with “pinpoint comic timing” by actor Christian Borle in the villain role. She graded it B.