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Lately In Strange And / Or Unsettling Theatrical Choices

By Julienne Bilker in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 23, 2009 9:40PM

It seems like every other day we're reading about yet another theatrical project that makes us wonder if the success of Glee has caused some kind of collective brain short-circuiting. [Ed. note: I can't wait for Glee to die. How has no one else noticed it's just a cross between American Pie and the 4th season of Ally McBeal?!] Read for yourself.

Last week, we received a press release announcing the strangest cast of any show, ever. Apparently, F. Murray Abraham, Timothy Hutton, James Garner, Stockard Channing, Wayne Knight and George Wendt were going to star in a production of A Christmas Carol at the Civic Opera House. We say “were,” because two days later, we received another press release stating that Hutton and Channing were no longer involved in the production. Without Stockard Channing, we’re not interested - but you can find more on the drama surrounding the show here.

Just this morning, we learned that Victory Gardens will be hosting a “casting auction,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Roles for a two-night only production of Anything Goes will be auctioned off at the 28th incarnation of this fundraiser on November 14. We admit, it sounds like a great way to build funds for the company’s new play development and education/outreach programs, but seeing as we already attended high school (and despite the fact that we may or may not still have our “Heaven Hop” tap shoes), we’ll be skipping this “all-amateur” production.

Warner Brothers is developing a stage musical version of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory in conjunction with Sam Mendes. We don’t know how we feel about a movie production company heading up the production of a stage musical. Perhaps more importantly, we don’t really understand why this is necessary. Call us stubborn, but we’re happy having Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” firmly implanted in our minds. We’re sure Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who both worked on the non-John Waters Hairspray musical and movie, will do a fine job composing new music, but…we don’t want it. And yes, we know Danny Elfman composed new music for the 2005 Tim Burton movie version, but we didn’t really want that either. Hrmph. In related news: get off our lawn.

Apparently not satisfied with their most prominent current representation being the upcoming season of Run’s House, the members of Run-DMC are working on a stage musical about, what else, Run-DMC. Although the project is in the very early planning stages, producer Paula Wagner has indicated that the show will include original Run-DMC music, and possibly new music by the group or even an outside composer. We’re not sure how we feel about this one. What say you, Chicagoist readers?

Contrary to our prediction that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera would be titled “The Phantom Takes Manhattan,” Baron Lloyd Webber has introduced his new work as Love Never Dies. Set to premiere in London in March 2010, the production will star a performer from the original Phantom, Ramin Karimloo. In light of that news, allow us to offer a new title suggestion: “The Phantom of the Geriatic Ward.”

Bonus Totally Awesome News:

Production is set to begin next month on a new movie musical entitled Burlesque. Why is this totally awesome news? Four words: Cher and Christina Aguilera. According to Variety, “Aguilera will play an ambitious small-town Iowa girl with a big voice who comes of age in a neo-burlesque club on Sunset Boulevard that’s run by Tess (Cher), a former dancer who struggles to keep the club open and gives the young girl a chance to shine.” This almost makes up for the fact that Nine’s release date was recently moved to Christmas. Almost.