Despite reports that the first few preview performances of Into the Woods in Central Park were far from happily ever after, the Stephen Sondheim revival opened this week to generally mixed reviews (including a rave from EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum for stars Amy Adams and Donna Murphy). It’s not the only fairytale story in the theater world this week: The musical version of the Will Ferrell movie Elf will return to Broadway after a one-year hiatus, and producers announced plans to bring Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (which the famed songwriting team wrote for television in 1957) to Broadway this spring. Tony-nominated Grease and Bonnie & Clyde star Laura Osnes will star as the glass-slippered heroine in a new production with an updated book by Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed).
Broadway also found an unlikely new star in the form of a boxer whom even caustic New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel might not want to mess with. In its first week on Broadway, Mike Tyson’s one-man show Undisputed Truth earned nearly $625,000, an impressive 78 percent of the potential gross at the Longacre Theatre. (It even outgrossed long-running hits like Chicago, War Horse, and Rock of Ages.) Personally, I can’t wait for him to return to the stage. Perhaps the Public could build a revival of Julius Caesar around him. “Friends, Romans, Holyfields, lend me your ears…”
The theater world also lost two giants this week: Marvin Hamlisch, the Tony- and Oscar-winning composer behind such hits as A Chorus Line and The Sting, and Mark O’Donnell, the Tony-winning writer whose credits include the book-to-stage musicals Hairspray and Cry-Baby. They were both singular sensations. As for this week’s new openings, here’s EW’s quick take:
Into the Woods Donna Murphy, Amy Adams, and Denis O’Hare all star in an open-air revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1987 musical about fairytale characters in Central Park’s Shakespeare in the Park series. EW critic Lisa Schwarzbaum raves: “Director Timothy Sheader’s buoyantly inventive, into-the-trees production makes room for every emotion.” EW grade: A
Bullet for Adolf Woody Harrelson directs and co-writes an Off Broadway comedy about three slackerish guys in 1980s Houston. Keith Staskiewicz compares the show to “a pot-addled jaw session: You’ll laugh way more than you were expecting, everything meanders rather pleasantly, but by the end you won’t really remember much of it at all.” EW grade: B+
Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth In a one-man production first staged earlier this year in Las Vegas and directed by Spike Lee, the famed boxer recounts his life story and verbally spars with detractors such as ex-wife Robin Givens. “Tyson is certainly not a natural-born orator,” writes EW’s Melissa Rose Bernardo, “but Tyson lands an impressive number of jabs.” EW grade: B–
Closer Than Ever I belatedly caught up to York Theatre’s Off Broadway revival of Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire’s 1989 musical revue, which I describe as an “enchanting evening” and a paean to middle age starring two guys and two ladies “well past their ingenue years.” EW grade: B+