Guilty of fraud: Poducers of “Ragtime” and “Kiss of Spider Woman”

Livent Producers Drabinsky and Gottlieb Are Guilty of Fraud, Canadian Courts Say

Garth Drabinsky of Livent Productions

Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, the producers who gave North American theatre a shot in the arm with award-winning productions of Show Boat, Ragtime, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Fosse and more, were found guilty of fraud and forgery carried out at their production company Livent, Inc., a Canadian court ruled March 25.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Mary Lou Benotto made her judgment in Toronto, 11 months after the trial began.  The judge asserted that the producing duo’s “creative success” was “spectacular” but that “widespread and long-standing” fraud and “deliberate misrepresentation” clouded their success and theatrical contributions.

There’s a Chicago connection to Drabinsky and Livent: the company refurbished Chicago’s ornate Oriental Theatre, where they produced a successful run of their Tony Award winning musical Ragtime.  (personal note: Ragtime is easily one of my top 3 musicals, along with Parade and Sweeney Todd)

Story courtesy of Kenneth Jones of Playbill.com.

photo by Michael Cooper

Cast of Sondheim’s new musical "Road Show" record album.

per Adam Hetrick

"Road Show" cast member Alexander Gemignani, taken by Joan Marcus.The recent cast of the Public Theater production of the new Stephen Sondheim musical Road Show  (originally entitled Bounce— including Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris and Alexander Gemignani — head to a Manhattan recording studio Feb. 23 to preserve the score for PS Classics and Nonesuch Records.

The musical penned by composer Sondheim and book writer John Weidman tells the life of the eccentric Mizner brothers – Addison and Wilson.

The single-disc recording of Road Show, featuring orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, is aiming to be in stores this spring.

photo of Alexander Gemignani taken by Joan Marcus

‘Rod Blagojevich Superstar’ moving to Chicago Shakespeare

secondcity_blagojevich 

Following a sold out run at Second City e.t.c., the popular comedy review “Rod Blagojevich Superstarwill be playing a limited engagement Chicago Shakes on Navy Pier.  The Navy Pier version has been updated with new sketches and music to include recent Blago happenings, such as his 6-figure book deal and Roland Burris’ son (and, as the Blago drama proceeds, so will Second City’s improv show!).  After each performance, the famed improv theatre troupe will improvise a 20-minute political comedy set based on audience suggestions.

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Superstar has book by Ed Furman, music and lyrics by T.J. Shanoff and direction by Matt Hovde. The cast includes Joey Bland as Rod Blagojvich, Mike Bradecich as Richard Mell/Pat Fitzgerald, Lauren Dowden as Lisa Madigan, Lori McClain as Patti Blagojevich and Sam Richardson as Senator Roland Burris.

According to Second City notes,

“Politics and parody take center stage Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare with the Second City’s rollicking musical parody of the rise and fall of ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich. A faux tribute to the man who compares himself to Gandhi, King and Mandela, Rod Blagojevich Superstar presents the story of the former governor in the style of a ’70s rock musical. Jesus and Mary Magdalene have been replaced by Rod and Patti Blagojevich, with appearances by Alderman Dick Mell, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and Senator Roland Burris. The jury is still out on Blagojevich, but of the five other Illinois governors who have been charged with crimes, three have done time.”

More info at ChicagoShakes.com.

Rave reviews after the fold.

See video preview of the show here.

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Theater-related passings: Broussard, Blau, Bridges, Lang

There were a number of theater-related passings recently, including:

 Dorothy Bridges  Eric Blau

Dorothy Bridges                                        Eric Blau   

 

  • Pearl Lang, 87, dancer, choreographer and teacher who founded the Pearl Lang Dance Theater.  Ms. Lang began her dance training as a child and studied acting at the Goodman Theatre.  She is survived by her husband, actor Joseph Wiseman, to whom she had been married for over sixty years.  Entire obit here.
  • Stephen Broussard, 61, distinguished attorney whose skills as an actor in community theater often transferred neatly to his work as a defense attorney in the courtroom.  Mr. Broussard majored in journalism at Northwestern University, and received his law degree from Northwestern as well.  He is survived by a daugher, maya-Camille; and a sister, Sandra.  Entire obit here and here.
 

"Addams Family – The Musical" – Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth participate in first public reading

 

UPDATE: Read our review3 stars!!    review

 

bebeneuwirth nathanlane 

Wow – Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have this same list of Broadway stars headline the pre-Broadway Chicago production?  And doesn’t Bebe Neuwirth seem like the perfect Morticia Addams? 

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Excerpts from the Playbill-Online article:

The cast of this developmental workshop includes Nathan Lane as Gomez, Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia, Kevin Chamberlin as Fester, Zachary James as Lurch, Mary Louise Burke as Grandmama, Terrence Mann, Jan Maxwell and more. As is often the case with readings and workshops, this does not necessarily reflect what the final production casting will be.

As previously announced, the musical will make its world premiere Nov. 13, 2009-Jan. 10, 2010, at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre in Chicago, prior to a spring 2010 launch on Broadway.

With a book by Marshall Brickman and partner Rick Elice (librettists of the 2006 Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Jersey Boys) and music and lyrics by Drama Desk Award-winning composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa (The Wild Party), the musical is wholly original and not based on Addams Family material from other media.

Produced by Elephant Eye Theatrical and Roy Furman, The Addams Family has direction and design by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, the creators of Shockheaded Peter.

The Addams Family creative team also includes choreographer Sergio Trujillo, lighting designer Natasha Katz and musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

For more information on the premiere engagement of The Addams Family, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.  Read the entire article here.

UPDATE: Addams Family opens in Chicago!!!

David Cromer’s "Our Town" coming to NYC

Cromer_inOurTown

As reported on Playbill.com and the Chicago Tribune’s blog “The Theater Loop” by Chris Jones, David Cromer’s acclaimed Chicago production of Our Town, by Thorton Wilder, will make a reappearance in Spring 2009 at an Off-Broadway theatre.  This is becoming something of a trend for David Cromer, as his production of The Adding Machine recently finished an award-winning run at Off-Broadway’s Minetta Lane Theatre.

Other info:

  • Auditions are currently under way
  • Ont The Town will be produced by Scott Morfee (who also financially-backed Adding Machine)
  • Begins in February at the Barrow Street Theatre in Greenwich Village.
  • The cast is expected to be a mix of Chicago and New York actors.
  • Cromer directed and played the Stage Manager in the Windy City run, but it is not yet known whether Cromer will reprise the Stage Manager role.
  • In regards to the set, the Barrow Street stage will be stripped bare to echo Cromer’s earlier concept.

As for The Adding Machine, which premiered at Evanston’s Next Theatre (see my review here), Playbill relays:

Cromer’s intensely visual staging of the musical Adding Machine was one of the best-reviewed productions of the 2007-08 season in New York City. The musical by composer and co-librettist Josh Schmidt and co-librettist Jason Loewith played the Minetta Lane Theatre Feb. 8-July 20.

For its New York run Adding Machine was awarded two Outer Critics Circle Awards (Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical, Outstanding New Score), four Lucille Lortel Awards (Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Director, Outstanding Lead Actor, Outstanding Lighting Design) and four Obie Awards as well as nominations from the Drama Desk and Drama League awards.

More links of interest:

Goodman Theatre’s 6th Annual New Stages Series

Via Kenneth Jones at Playbill Online

Goodman’s New Stages Series – September 12th to 21st

goodmantheatre

The free series of script-in-hand staged readings of six emerging American playwrights takes place in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre, and is open to the public. Tickets are free, but reservations are required at (312) 443-3800.

Now in its sixth year, the Goodman’s New Stages Series has provided the first look at nearly 30 new plays, many of which have gone on to receive world-premiere productions at the Goodman.

 

 

2008 New Stages Series

Pa’s Hat: A Liberian Legacy by Cori Thomas, directed by Chuck Smith, Sept. 12 at 7 PM “Civil unrest, national heritage and family responsibility converge in this one-act drama that follows an elderly former ambassador and his daughter as they are abducted by a child soldier in war-torn Liberia.”

Safe House by Keith Josef Adkins, directed by Hallie Gordon, Sept. 13 at 7 PM. “A family of color, free since their great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, cannot resist the temptation to help a young woman escape from slavery along the Underground Railroad. In the great American tradition of historical romance, two brothers compete for their birthright of freedom.”

Household Spirits by Mia McCullough, directed by Meghan Beals McCarthy, Sept. 14 at 7 PM. “It’s Christmas Eve in Westchester County and Philip, an entertainment lawyer, and Evelyn, his new wife and agent to the stars, are preparing for a party. Unfortunately, Philip has recently revealed that he’s an alcoholic, and the couple’s teenage children are conspiring to complicate Evelyn’s perfect soirée. In this bitingly funny and unexpectedly thoughtful new play, Chicago playwright Mia McCullough grapples with the complicated nature of family and inheritance.”

Without by Sean Graney, Sept. 19 at 7 PM. “In the back room of a space-themed bar, Rocketman and White White meet for the first time in 15 years. White White has something she needs Rocketman to do – but does he have what it takes to do it? Chicago writer/director Sean Graney (The Hypocrites) pens a devastating look at responsibility and regret.”

Marie Antoinette by David Adjmi, directed by Jackson Gay, Sept. 20 at 7 PM. “How’s a queen to keep her head in the middle of a revolution? A satirical, irreverent portrait of the famous queen and her downfall, this vividly rendered study of celebrity, power and privilege is painted in sad, funny and surrealistic strokes.”

The Long Red Road by Brett C. Leonard, Sept. 21 at 7 PM.

“A devastating new play about the impact of addiction, The Long Red Road introduces Sammy, who has fled his past and landed in South Dakota where he is slowly drinking himself to death. When his young daughter arrives desperate to reunite with her father, Sammy must decide between the self-hatred that consumes him and the responsibilities he has tried to leave behind.”

The free series of script-in-hand staged readings takes place in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre and is open to the public. Tickets are free, but reservations are required at (312) 443-3800. For more information visit the Goodman Theatre website.  

For the entire article, visit (and subscribe to) Playbill Online, at www.playbill.com