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Theatre News Overload!

By Julienne Bilker in Arts & Entertainment on May 15, 2009 8:30PM

The Theatre Office at Chicagoist Towers almost can't handle the amount of news we’ve heard this week. Here’s everything we’re talking about:

Keyur Khamar/Bloomberg News
Broadway producer Rocco Landesman has been nominated as the next chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Currently President and owner of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns five Broadway houses, Landesman “has not been known for his diplomatic or administrative skills; rather, he has been noted for his energy, intellect and irreverent candor.” [Chicago Tribune] Landesman’s energy could do a lot to shake-up the NEA, and he has some major voices of support in the arts community, including Tony Kushner and George C. Wolfe. He was also instrumental in moving The Goodman’s Desire Under The Elms to Broadway - Jujamcyn Theaters invested $250,000 to house the production at its St. James Theater. [NY Times]

Speaking of Desire Under The Elms - although originally scheduled to run through July 5, the production is closing after just 32 performances. Despite receiving largely positive reviews, the show has had disappointing box office numbers since the Tony nominations were announced (Desire Under The Elms received a grand total of zero).

In "we rule" news, Hypocrites company member Jennifer Grace has won a Theatre World Award for her performance in Our Town, the off-Broadway remount of last year’s Hypocrites production. The award honors actors making their New York stage debut. Congrats Jennifer!

photo of Jon Michael Hill and Michael McKean in Superior Donuts by Michael Brosilow
Last but not least in Chicago-New York news, Steppenwolf may move Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts to the Great White Way in the fall. Already doomed to be viewed in close comparison with August: Osage County, which won five Tony Awards in addition to earning Letts a Pulitzer, Superior Donuts debuted in Chicago last year to mixed reviews. Unfortunately we didn’t see it, but Chris Jones at the Trib described Donuts as a “Chicago play,” and Charles Isherwood of the New York Times wasn’t particularly impressed when he saw it here. We wonder how the rest of New York will feel and we’re still debating the merits of a Broadway remount. We’re glad for Chicago theatre, but anxious about New York’s eagerness to welcome what may not be a great production just because of the awards attached to the playwright.

photo of Neil Patrick Harris and Michael Cerveris in Assassins by Ari Mintz/Newsday
Moving on to the best lil’ award show we’re pretending you love as much as we do: Neil Patrick Harris will host this year’s Tony Awards. If you’re wondering what Doogie Howser and/or Barney from How I Met Your Mother has to do with Broadway, you should know that Harris is a legitimate stage actor. Although we didn’t catch him in Proof or Cabaret (he replaced leading roles in both), we loved him in Assassins. If you think you’ve never heard him sing, you weren’t paying close enough attention to the Prop 8 Musical.

New musical news! Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane have been cast as Morticia and Gomez Addams in the new Addams Family musical, which will premiere in Chicago next fall before transferring to New York. Broadway regulars Terrence Mann and Carolee Carmello will also be part of the cast.

The Weinstein Company
More musical news! The first trailer for Nine has been released. The good news: Fergie (yes, that Fergie), sounds fantastic, and we LOVE the look of the film. The scary news: Our fears about Nicole Kidman or Penelope Cruz’s singing chops have yet to be assuaged, and despite our strongest prayers, Kate Hudson has not landed on the cutting room floor. We’re hoping someone will do us the favor of shouting “Earmuffs!” whenever she graces the screen.

And last, but not least: There are (totally unsubstantiated) rumors that Steppenwolf founding member Gary Sinise may run for President in 2012. We don’t have much to say about this, other than we’d prefer the Lt. Dan Band play an Inaugural Ball instead.

Suzy Evans also contributed to this post.