Theatre News: ‘The Wiz,’ ‘Cats,’ and ‘Groundhog Day,’ Plus Jason Alexander and Linda Lavin on Broadway
> NBC announced last week that The Wiz will be its next live broadcast musical, with an air date set for December 3. Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, newly freed from their two-year stint producing the Oscar telecast, have also teamed with Cirque du Soleil to bring the production to Broadway in 2016. Tony award-winner Kenny Leon is set to direct, with Harvey Fierstein contributing additional material to the original book by William F. Brown. No casting has yet been announced.
> Tony Award-winning Seinfeld vet Jason Alexander will replace Larry David in Fish in the Dark beginning performances on June 9, producer Scott Rudin announced. The comedy about a death in the family written by Mr. David has enjoyed major box office success, and was scheduled to play the Cort Theatre through June 7. With the casting of Alexander, the play, which also stars Rita Wilson and Rosie Perez, has extended its limited run through July 19.
> Andrew Lloyd-Webber revealed further details on the likely Broadway transfer of the current London revival of Cats. In an interview with The Telegraph, the composer noted that his company is working out the details of transferring the production sometime in 2016, following the premiere of his new musical School of Rock in December of this year. The question is whether the musical, which originally ran on Broadway for nearly 18 years, will return in the spring or the fall. In either case, gird your loins.
> Atlantic Theatre Company’s 2015-2016 season will include a new musical with songs by Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, the company announced last week. These Paper Bullets!, written by Rolin Jones, was previously produced at the Yale Repertory Theatre and will begin performances at the Linda Gross Theatre in November. Also on the company’s docket are a new musical, The Band’s Visit, with book by Itamar Moses, music and lyrics by David Yazbek, and direction by Hal Prince, and a revival of Carol Churchill’s seminal play Cloud Nine, directed by James Macdonald.
> Linda Lavin will star in the Broadway premiere of Richard Greenberg’s play Our Mother’s Brief Affair at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman theatre, the company announced last week. Artistic Director Lynne Meadow will direct the play, about a mother who reveals a shocking affair to her grown children. The production will begin previews on December 28 for an opening night of January 20, 2016.
> Another popular ‘90s film is getting the Broadway treatment: Producer Scott Rudin announced that a new musical based on Groundhog Day is aiming for Broadway in spring 2017. Four of the collaborators behind the musical Matilda, director Matthew Warchus, choreographer Peter Darling, composer and lyricist Tim Minchin, and designer Rob Howell, will team up with writer Danny Rubin, one of the movie’s screenwriters. The movie starring Bill Murray follows a Pittsburgh weatherman who gets caught in a time loop while reporting on Groundhog Day.
(Armstrong: chad batka)