King Kong Musical Finds Director For U.S. Premiere

kingkongWho could forget the 8th Wonder Of The World?! I bet Broadway did. It’s been several months since we last brought you an update on the status of the King Kong musical which premiered just about two years ago in Australia. The reason being there hasn’t been any official updates from the production yet. However, word has managed to leak out of a new member joining the creative team as the production takes one step closer to its U.S. premiere and hopeful Broadway bow. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the exciting news that Eric Schaeffer will helm the U.S. premiere of the King Kong musical spectacular! 

Tony and Pulitzer Prize Award winner Marsha Norman broke the news that Eric Schaeffer is now attached to direct the U.S. premiere of the musical spectacular, King Kong. Norman recently became attached to the production herself signing on to write a new book for the production before it heads to Broadway. Norman has penned books for other stage productions such as The Secret Garden, The Bridges of Madison County and ‘Night Mother. While U.S. representatives for the production confirmed Norman joining the team, there has been no official announcement regarding Schaeffer.

eric_schaefferEric Schaeffer is a director who is also the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. He has directed productions for Broadway, regional theaters and at Signature itself for years. On Broadway, Schaeffer has directed Follies, Million Dollar Quartet, Glory Days and Putting It Together. He brought his direction for Million Dollar Quartet not only to the National Tour but also London’s West End. Some of his credits at Signature include Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Grand Hotel, Hedwig And The Angry Inch, Hello, Dolly!, Into The Woods and dozens more! He is currently the director of Gigi, currently in previews on Broadway, and helmed the production during it’s pre-Broadway tryout at The Kennedy Center earlier this year. During his time, he has brought 90 Helen Hayes Awards to Signature as well as 340 nominations. In 2009, Signature Theatre was awarded the Special Tony Award for outstanding Regional Theatre in America.

Sneak Peek at King Kong on Stage!

on the townAs previously reported by Luner on Theatre, King Kong is working a major revamp of the production before heading to Broadway. While producers and creatives furiously circled Broadway in 2014 hoping for the production to bow during the season, they later decided to hold off and rework major portions of the production before a New York bow could happen. During their visit, they also learned that there are only four to five Broadway houses that are capable of holding the size production’s needs. The two main theatres that interested producers, the Broadway Theatre & Lyric Theatre, are currently both filled with new shows this season. The Lyric is currently home to the revival of On The Town and the Broadway is home to the U.S. debut of Dr. Zhivago which began previews just last night. While Zhivago has just started, On The Town has been running since this fall and is counting on recognition this awards season to stay afloat. We believe that producers are mainly interested in The Lyric Theatre on 42nd Street. However, they were deeply interested in having a production bow at the space before they did following Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark.  Read out previous blog post on King Kong revamp details!

Melbourne Dance, theatre, stage, ballet, circus, performance,portfolio, dancer, dancersI think in every blog post I have ever penned about King Kong on stage from the very first when this monster appeared in Australia, I have described how excited I am for this production. Nothing has changed. King Kong looks spectacular and sounds fantastic! If you look into this show, you will be truly won over by what they have already accomplished with just one several month-long run of this show. Did we mention that was its world premiere as well? If you check out our Australian Theatre Page, you will find most news relating to this production. However, we want to remind everyone like we did in our last Kong blog post that musicals and stage spectaculars of this shape and size take time. A lot of time. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. As you can see, the producers of this show are taking their time to find the correct pieces to put down on their chess board. They want a winning match! And who could blame them? Not me. I’m highly looking forward to the U.S. premiere and hopefully Broadway run of King Kong on stage. No matter how long it takes.

Luner on Theatre will continue to keep you updated on the progress of King Kong on stage as it makes its way to the United States and hopefully Broadway! All the pieces must be in place for this monster production not only to bow here on Broadway but also win over audiences and critics in its U.S. premiere! For more information, visit King Kong’s Official Website. And of course, be sure to check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!

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New York Return of Merrily We Roll Along Announces Full Casting

mq1The Astoria Performing Arts Center, located in Queens, New York, will soon be Opening Doors! That is to say, literally and musically. While just about everyone in the musical theatre world can agree Stephen Sondheim is as close to God as we’ve got, the man known for creating some of the greatest and best known musical theatre songs of all time has also suffered failures. One of Sondheim’s most beloved but rarely produced musicals of all time is returning New York City! No, we’re not talking about Passion.  Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the exciting news that full casting has been announced for the New York return of Merrily We Roll Along!

Merrily We Roll Along is a musical that features music and lyrics be Stephen Sondheim with a book by George Furth. The musical, which moves backwards in time, follows the life of Franklin Shepard, a talented composer of Broadway musicals. The story begins at the height of Frank’s Hollywood fame and moves backwards showing the steps that made Frank into the person he is today. The story revolves around Frank’s relationships ranging from his writing partner Charley to their shared friend Mary and his wife ex-wife Beth.

101261The return of Merrily We Roll Along to New York will mark the first major production in the city since the 1994 revival. This time, Merrily will come to the Astoria Performing Arts Center with all performances taking place at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church. The show will run April 30th through May 23rd. The production will be directed by the Performing Arts Center artistic director, Dev Bondarin. Misha Shields is set to choreograph with Ming Aldrich-Gan as music director.

The cast of Merrily We Roll Along will be led by Jack Mosbacher as Frank, Nicholas Park as Charley, Rachel Rhodes-Devey as Beth, Ally Bonino (Pictured Above Right) as Mary, LilyAnn Carlson as Gussie, Anne Wechsler as Meg alongside Christopher Darrin as Frank Jr., Greg Horton as Joe, Joanna Carpenter as KT, Luke Hoback as Tyler, Audrey Heffernan Meyer as Mrs. Spencer, Jay Paranada as Scotty, Kevin Ray Johnson as Bunker, Joe Bowen as Mr. Spencer, Matt Welsh as Jerome, Alex Akin as Dory and Jason Pintar as RU.

10556323_678428925571508_7363061852466153238_nWe are so excited that Merrily We Roll Along is returning to New York City! This musical is one of a kind. Being as sophisticated as it is, it failed to win over many critics and audiences during it’s premiere on Broadway 1982. While many complained about problems with the book, Sondheim’s score was highly praised across the board even earning him a nod with a Tony nomination for Best Original Score. The musical is simply stunning. The structure of the piece moving backwards is brilliant because it allows you to see all of the steps that created Frank in opposite order. Just when you think he has made one mistake, we realize he made another one even years earlier. It’s like watching dominos stand themselves back up after they’ve fallen down. Just earlier this year I was lucky enough to catch a production of Merrily at Wagner College Theatre (Currently #1 ranked College Theatre Program in the Country by The Princeton Review) and it was simply stunning. I’m looking forward to catching the Astoria Performing Arts Center’s production and also specifically seeing Anne Wechsler (Pictured Above Left) who is a friend I grew up performing with! Congrats Anne on your success! 

Don’t miss your chance to see one of the most beloved but rarely produced Stephen Sondheim musicals of all time! Merrily We Roll Along returns to New York this spring for a strictly limited engagement. The Astoria Performing Arts Center at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church is located at 30-44 Crescent St in Queens, New York. For more information, visit Astoria Performing Arts Center’s Official Website or Facebook PageAnd of course, be sure to check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!

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Penn & Teller Will Return To Broadway

20140311_085329_Penn and Teller_MediaThe magic of Broadway takes on a whole new meaning this summer as two of the world’s best known illusionists return to the Great White Way! While a magic show may not be your typical production found on Broadway, it seems to be becoming more of a regular this season as the 2015-16 season will feature a magic show located in the heart of Times Square as this past season did! You more than likely know them from their multiple TV appearances and shows but be prepared to see them in a way like never before as a brand new stage production comes to life for the first time this summer. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the exciting news that master magicians Penn & Teller will return to Broadway this summer!

71427_10151416695339222_44781753_nPenn & Teller are American illusionists best known for their comedy and magic they have brought to the world since the 1970’s. The pair has appeared on multiple television shows such as Wizard Wars, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Apprentice, Fear Factor, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Friends and Saturday Night LIVE! just to mention a few. The two have also appeared in several movies. While the pair has made multiple stage appearances and launched multiple tours over the past 30 years, the two currently reside at The Rio in Las Vegas where they are the headlining act and have been for the past 14 years. They are known for a variety of acts but their best known trick may be their famed Bullet Catch. In 2013, they were both honored with a shared star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for 35 years of live entertainment. The star is located just steps away from Houdini and down the street from The Magic Castle. They have also been awarded with the Las Vegas Magicians of the Year award for their current production.

The pair will return to Broadway this summer for a brand new self-titled production at the Marquis Theatre this summer! The show will run for a strictly limited engagement running from July 7th through August 16th only. The production will not extend as the duo will return to The Rio in Las Vegas immediately following their run in New York. This new production is set to include elements from their current Las Vegas production and several classics from their repertoire.

Penn-and-Teller-Playbill-12-87This will not be the first time Penn & Teller have taken to Broadway before! The pair first appeared in New York Off-Broadway in 1985 before moving to Broadway in 1987 playing the Walter Kerr Theatre (Then the Ritz Theatre). The pair last returned to Broadway in 1991 making it a stop on their Refrigerator Tour playing the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. They also appeared in New York, not on Broadway, at the Beacon Theatre in 2000. Their appearance in on Broadway this summer is presented by Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel and Steve Baruch. This is also the team who has presented them every other time while in New York.

In a statement to the press, Penn described his excitement to return to Broadway this summer saying:

“When I was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts, I felt I should have been in NYC, and when I moved there I was home. We loved being on Broadway. We love doing our show in Vegas, but even after all this time in Vegas . . . well, coming back to Broadway feels like we’re coming home. Our hearts never left. Do they make Elmo costumes in my size?”

tn-500_theillusionistswm081204279Magic at the Marquis? The Nederlander’s might be on to something here. It’s probably no coincidence that Penn & Teller’s Broadway return this summer will hit the Marquis Theatre. Located in the heart of Times Square, the Marquis was home earlier this season to The Illusionists: Witness The Impossible which broke box offices at the theatre and proved to be the best-selling magic show in Broadway history. I’m sure the Nederlander Organization is hoping Penn & Teller will benefit much the same not only being located in the heart of the theatre district but also bringing magic to the Great White Way which is not your typical Broadway production.

Don’t miss your chance to experience magic on Broadway this summer as Penn & Teller return to New York for the first time in over a decade! As mentioned above, the strictly limited engagement will more than likely not extend as the two return to Las Vegas immediately following their New York run! This brief appearance will be a major draw to tourists filling New York during the summer months who know Penn & Teller from around the world. For more information, visit Penn & Teller’s Official Website or Facebook PageAnd of course, be sure to check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!

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Brandy Will Make Broadway Debut in Chicago

brandy-norwood-2010-9-17-0-10-14Never Say Never! One of the world’s top-selling artists can take her album name and apply it to her next big adventure! It’s been a while since Chicago on Broadway as rocked by a major headliner! Despite the lack of a major name, the production has still presented stellar performances with a strong cast across the board. However, as the summer heats up and tourists begin to fill Manhattan’s theatre district, the producers of Chicago the musical today announced even hotter news regarding their show. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the exciting news that Brandy Norwood will make her Broadway debut in Chicago!

brandy-norwoodBrandy Norwood, best known as just Brandy, is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She has released 6 albums; Brandy in 1994, Never Say Never in 1998, Full Moon in 2002, Afrodisiac in 2004, Human in 2008 and Two Eleven in 2012, and has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. Some of her best known hits include “I Wanna Be Down”, “Baby”, “What About Us?”, “Talk About Our Love” and “Put It Down”. She has won a Grammy Award, three American Music Awards and seven Billboard Music Awards. While she has appeared in many films and TV specials, she is best known for her appearance in the 1997 TV version of Cinderella alongside Whitney Houston. She severed as a judge on Season 1 of America’s Got Talent and also was the 2014 NAACP Image Award for her role as Chardonnay on BET’s “The Game.”

11082644_10155348384780158_3649867433302483424_nBrandy is set to make her Broadway debut starring as Roxie Hart in Chicago beginning April 28th, 2015. She will appear in the musical for a strictly limited engagement of eight weeks only starring through June 21st. The musical, which is the longest running revival in American history, has played Broadway since 1996. The revival launched at City Center ENCORES! series before moving to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. From there, the production has moved to the Shubert Theatre and it’s current home, the Ambassador Theatre. The production is no stranger to star power and has hosted dozens of big names over the past 2 decades in various roles. Some of those stars include Usher, Michael C. Hall, Jerry Springer, Brooke Shields, Patrick Swayze, Billy Ray Cyrus, Wendy Williams, Jennifer Nettles, Christie Brinkley and Sofía Vergara to name a few.

Chicago the Musical is directed by Walter Bobbie with choreography by Ann Reinking. The rest of the creative team includes John Lee Beatty as scenic designer, Tony Award winner William Ivey Long as costume designer, Ken Billington as lighting designer and Scott Lehrer as sound designer. The production features musical supervision by Rob Fisher and Leslie Stifelman serves as the production’s musical director.

Brandy on Broadway? We love it! While Luner on Theatre is a firm believer that you don’t need to have star power to be a hit, Chicago the musical runs off of star powered names bringing in tourists and locals to their show. Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t downing the fact that Chicago is a stellar production! We love all that jazz! What we are saying is, this is one of the main Broadway productions to consistently switch in star power to continue to bring in a new audience for the production week after week. Brandy will be an excellent addition to the show and definitely has the chops to do so. She performed in the TV version of Cinderella and won over many with her musical talents. That is, musical talents outside of the 40 million albums she has sold worldwide! We are looking forward to welcoming Brandy to Broadway and hope to see her during this limited engagement!

Don’t miss your chance to see one Brandy make her Broadway debut in the smash hit, Chicago, this summer! The summer months are some of the most profitable for Broadway producers as tourists from around the United States and world fill into New York City to explore and often times, are looking to experience their first Broadway show! We know Brandy will be a major ht to anyone who chooses to experience Chicago during her limited engagement this summer. For more information, visit Chicago the Musical’s Official Website, Facebook Page or TwitterAnd of course, be sure to check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!

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The Fantasticks Will Close Again Off-Broadway

fantasticksOff-Broadway will never be the same. Mounting a show in New York City, on or Off-Broadway, is a huge risk. This isn’t a new concept to fans or producers who often times lose everything they have invested in a show. Despite all, there are few shows that triumph and remain through it all. A staple in the Off-Broadway community, The Fantasticks has announced it will shutter this season. Despite closing once before, this most recent revival of the production has still manage to win over those who love this production and story. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the news that The Fantasticks has announced it will close Off-Broadway this May!

The Fantasticks features music by Harvey Schmidt with a book and lyrics by Tom Jones. The musical is a love story about two neighboring fathers who plot for their children to fall in love with one another. The musical is based on of the play Les Romanesques by Edmond Rostand.

fantasticks15f-1-webThe Fantasticks will shutter after 55 years Off-Broadway in New York City. The original production opened May 3rd, 1960. The production is set to shutter on the exact same date 55 years later. The current production, which launched in 2006, is a revival after the original closed in 2002. During it’s time in New York, the production has played two separate theaters. When it closes, the production will have played 20,672 total performances with 17,162 of them taking place at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in the Village. The remaining 3,510 performances have taken place at the Jerry Orbach Theater at the Snapple Theater Center located in Midtown. The musical is the longest running musical in the world and the longest running play of any kind in American history.

250px-Orbach1The Snapple Theatre Center was recently renamed The Theatre Center and Snapple logos located outside have been being removed from the building. Daniel DeMello, the production’s spokesperson, noted that the name change to the building was not a factor in the production’s decision to close. In a statement, DeMello stated, “Sales have been way down, and they (the producers) just don’t have the funding to keep it going anymore. It’s really as simple as that.” DeMello went a step further to mention that the venue’s two other production’s; Perfect Crime, the longest running play in New York, and Sit Down, Shut Up and Eat, would remain in the building indefinitely.

The current cast of The Fantasticks includes Edward Watts as El Gallo, Daniel Berryman as Matt, Samantha Bruce as Luisa, Donald Corren as Hucklebee, Joe Dellger as Bellomy, MacIntyre Dixon as Henry, Michael Nostrand as Mortimer and Drew Siegla as The Mute. The production also features Dave Schoonover, Rita Markova and Tom Flagg. DeMello did not make it clear if the current cast would be the final cast for the production.

The loss of The Fantasticks to the New York theatre scene is a major blow. The Fantasticks has remained an Off-Broadway staple for just as long as anyone remembers. Despite the production having closed once just over a decade ago, this time around a revival just years after closing does not look as promising. Producers are competing with a harder market not only on Broadway but off also. The market has changed drastically since this revival launched in 2006. The nine-year run for the show is still incredibly impressive and the show has served as a launching point for many artists who have taken classic tunes from the musical. The production has also become a staple of regional, university and high school theatre around the country.

The final curtain for off-Broadway’s The Fantasticks comes down May 3rd, 2015, 55 years to the date it originally opened in New York City! Don’t miss your chance to experience the world’s longest running musical in New York before it shutters. This New York staple will be truly missed and now is the time to see it before it’s gone for good. For more information, visit The Fantasticks Official Website, Facebook Page or TwitterAnd of course, be sure to check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!

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Ever After Announces Full Casting

EverafterposterA new spin on a classic! Have you ever wondered what the true story is behind those classic fairy tales we always hear? Wouldn’t it be exciting if there was actually a whole other story behind what we already know? That’s exactly what we are about the find out as Paper Mill Playhouse ends its season with the stage premiere of the 1998 film, Ever After. Don’t be deceived. While this might seem like just your typical fairytale musical coming to the stage, there is a lot more in store as this show makes its debut in New Jersey this summer. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the exciting news of the full casting announced for the Ever After at Paper Mill Playhouse!

Ever After is a brand new musical that features music by Zina Goldrich with a book and lyrics by Marcy Heisler. The story, based off of a 1998 film starring Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston, sets the record straight on the classic fairytale of Cinderella. The story follows Danielle (Cinderella) as she works to make her own dreams come through working her wit, charisma and strengths alongside her good friend Leonardo da Vinci.

SeibertMargo_288x375Leading the musical will be Christine Ebersole as Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent, Emmy Award winner Charles Shaugnessy as King Francis, Margo Seibert (Rocky & Pictured Right) as Danielle de Barbarac, James Snyder (If/Then) as Prince Henry as well as Tony Award nominee Tony Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Leonardo da Vinci. They will be joined alongside Tony Award nominee Charl Brown (Motown the Musical), Mara Davi (The Drowsy Chaperone), Annie Funke (Punk Rock), Julie Halston (You Can’t Take It With You) and Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Newsies).

Rounding out the ensemble of the production is Jill Abramovitz, Ashley Blanchet, Nick Corley, Stephanie Elise Gandolfo, Gregg Goodbrod, John Hillner, Sean Martin Hingston, Gwen Hollander, Fred Inkley, Will Mann, Liz McCartney, Alison Morooney, Kevin Munhall, Kevin Michael Raponey, Rachael Scarr, Justin Schuman, Jonathan Shew and Aléna Watters.

Kathleen+Marshall+Nice+Work+Can+Get+Open+Rehersal+aaPBVKGH502lThe musical will be helmed by Tony and Drama Desk Award Winner Kathleen Marshall as director and choreographer. David Gardos will serve as the musical director. The rest of the creative team includes Derek McLane as scenic designer, Jess Goldstein as costume designer, Peter Kaczorowski as lighting designer and Nevin Steinberg as sound designer. Leah Loukas will provide a hair and wig design while Mary-Mitchell Campbell will act as music supervisor. Rick Sordelet is fight director.

pmpEver After will be the final production for Paper Mill Playhouse’s 2014-15 season which was filled with stellar productions including the a Broadway bound Can Can revival, Elf, Vanya Sonia Masha and Spike as well as the East Coast premiere of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Ever After, which seems to have hope of a Broadway run some day, will have its first staging at Paper Mill as many productions do before they go on to even bigger lives on stages across the country. What is truly exciting about Ever After is that it takes a brand new spin on a classic fairytale. Many fairy tales are brought to life on stage in different versions and settings. However, this one is about setting the story straight. I’m very excited for Ever After and the new story it will bring to life. I hope to see it during its premiere!

Ever After will make its stage debut at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse beginning May 21st. The show is scheduled for a limited month-long run with performances through June 21st, 2015. Paper Mill Playhouse has also announced it’s 2015-16 season which we will be bringing you in a separate blog post very soon! For now, don’t miss your chance to experience this take on one of the best known and beloved fairytale classics of all time! For more information, visit Paper Mill Playhouse’s Official Website, Facebook Page or TwitterAnd of course, be sure to check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!

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On the Twentieth Century (Photos)

All aboard! Hop on the Twentieth Century, a luxury coach traveling from Chicago to New York, as business and love collide in a hilarious musical comedy! Bankrupt theatre producer Oscar Jaffe tries to convince Hollywood star Lily Garland to star in his new epic drama! However, not only does Jaffe not have the money to produce the drama but it doesn’t actually exist yet! Is the train ride long enough to find the money he needs, write a play from scratch and convince Garland to star in his drama? Led by Tony Award nominee Peter Gallagher as Oscar Jaffe and Tony & Emmy Award winner Kristin Chenoweth as Lily Garland, Roundabout Theatre Company proudly brings to life this musical revival! Today, Luner on Theatre brings you an exciting first look at Roundabout Theatre Company’s On the Twentieth Century!

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Roundabout Theatre Company’s On the Twentieth Century is playing a strictly limited engagement running on Broadway through July 5th, 2015 only! The musical can be found at The American Airlines Theatre on 42nd Street. The musical features a book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green with music by Cy Coleman. The revival is directed by six-time Tony Award nominee Scott Ellis with choreography by two-time Tony Award nominee Warren Carlyle. For more information, visit Roundabout Theatre Company’s Official Website, Facebook Page or TwitterAnd of course, be sure to check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know!

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