“When it seems as if I’m sabotaging my own career,” Jeff Goldblum was saying, leaning back in his booth at Josephine Café Français in Tribeca, “you find out that it’s still very much alive and flourishing. I’m in a growth spurt. I’m actually very open to this new creativity.”
In a black leather jacket and a faded pink Thelonious Monk shirt, Mr. Goldblum looked astonishingly young for a man who will be turning 60 this year. But the bigger surprise was his candor about his career. After becoming an unlikely sex symbol in the ’80s and ’90s for movies like Jurassic Park, Independence Day and David Cronenberg’s The Fly, Mr. Goldblum had fallen into semi-obscurity in the new millennium—popping up in the occasional indie film (Igby Goes Down, The Life Aquatic) or Broadway show (Pillowman), but mostly languishing in a number of unremarkable flops.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is too young to play Willy Loman, the worn-out failure in Mike Nichols’s new revival of Arthur Miller’s masterful tragedy Death of a Salesman. Despite his drooped posture, crippling exhaustion and inability to stand proud—not to mention his preppie haircut, white as snow—he often looks no older than the two actors playing his sons. Still, he’s such an inventive and resourceful young character actor that he is never less than fascinating. To paraphrase the most famous line in the play, attention must still be paid.
Thank goodness Mr. Nichols is so obviously respectful of this high-water mark in American theater that he is reluctant to change, modify or jazz it up in any way to suit contemporary audiences. He has even restored much of Jo Mielziner’s moody set design, Alex North’s somber music and Elia Kazan’s electrifying direction from the original 1949 Broadway production starring the incomparably powerful Lee J. Cobb—all to brilliant effect, illuminating a sad, deeply analytical portrait of the death of the American Dream. And if Mr. Hoffman is not Lee J. Cobb or even Brian Dennehy in the latest Broadway revival, he serves the play in an oddly benevolent way.
“Pulitzer and Hearst, they think we’re nothing! Are we nothing?”
The opening chords of “The World Will Know,” the anthem of 1992’s live-action Disney film Newsies, are as recognizable to a generation of cult fans as “A Whole New World,” “Under the Sea” or Celine Dion crooning “Beauty and the Beast.”
Led by Christian Bale’s horrendous “New Yoik” accent, first-time director Kenny Ortega’s film about the 1899 newsboy strike was, superficially, a huge flop. It cost $15 million to make and brought in only $2 million at the box office. And the critics hated it: Roger Ebert called it “warmed-over Horatio Alger” and included his review in his 2000 book, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie!
David Rooney of The New York Times was even harsher, saying that the film “suffers from sluggish storytelling, a vocally challenged cast (led by an uncomfortable-looking Christian Bale) and poorly shot dance numbers bursting with anachronisms.
“It’s Oliver! meets Annie with quasi-breakdance moves,” he added derisively.
Yet somehow the cult of Newsies survived the film and now, two decades later, it’s back and headed for Broadway; the show begins previews next week at the Nederlander Theater. And this time, it has the whole world on its side.
If the theater isn’t your thing, you might want to reconsider renouncing the Great White Way (thanks, Smash, for making that term ubiquitous again) until after buying tickets for Seminar. Jeff Goldblum, who is second maybe only to Neil Patrick Harris and John Malkovich in self-satirizing, told Jimmy Kimmel last night that he will be taking over for Alan Rickman in Theresa Rebeck‘s Seminar as the grumpy teacher, Leonard. Oh man, but will he be doing it as drunk Jeff Goldblum??
The arrival of Look Back in Anger, John Osborne’s revolutionary play about anger, decay and the rage simmering beneath the surface of British losers in the 1950s, revolutionized play writing and marked the beginning of a new decade of torn T-shirts and kitchen-sink misery on the London stage and the end of the well-written, elegantly staged works of Terence Rattigan, Enid Bagnold and Noël Coward. It was hailed as an important work when it opened in 1956 at the small, experimental Royal Court Theatre off Sloane Square, an alternative to the glossy productions in the West End. It was filled with hell and fury and shouted obscenities, a “protest” play unlike any slice of realism ever witnessed by refined London audiences weaned on Ibsen and Shaw. The excitement faded fast. By the time it was turned into a film of sweat, grief and brimstone in 1958 starring a young, virile Richard Burton, its time had passed. The movie was a flop and Look Back in Anger was toothless history. Mr. Osborne was credited (and cursed) with shuttering the complacency of well-ordered British dramaturgy. Time has now born witness to a desperate need to bring back Rattigan, Coward and the others. And not a moment to soon.
Since we first saw Christian Bale prancing across dusty Manhattan streets belting “Santa Fe,” we’ve held a torch in our heart for the 1992 Disney live-action flop Newsies. We don’t even care the Roger Ebert once likened the film to “warmed-over Horatio Alger,” since deep down we knew that one day, we’d have the chance to audition for a stage production of the show. (In our fantasy, we weren’t Christian Bale/Jack Kelly’s love interest, Sarah, because she was a goody-goody. We were always Ann-Margret‘s brassy saloon singer, Medda Larkson.)
Now our dreams are that much closer to coming true, as the New Jersey production of Newsies at the Paper Mill Theater has just announced the full line-up for its Broadway debut on March 15th.
Though the production has been accident free since its official premiere at the Foxwood Theatre in June, there’s still more blood to be spilled over Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. On November 8th, Julie Taymor, the ousted director of the play (along with her production company, LOH, Inc.) filed suit against the producers of the once-cursed production, saying that they had violated her creative rights and haven’t compensated her for her work on the play.
The lead producers–who are listed in the Playbill item about the lawsuit–disagreed, and filed their own counter-suit in response to Ms. Taymor.
The book of mormon
The Book of Mormon, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical co-created by the South Park team and Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez raked in an astounding $1,428,663 last week for eight performances at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre this weekend. On January 3rd it was reported that the previous week had shattered the theater’s box office records for the 24th consecutive week in a row by bringing in $1,752,601. The show opened in March, and its cast soundtrack also debuted the best Billboard sales since The Little Mermaid‘s Broadway edition. (Though considering how that play sank, maybe that’s not much of a recommendation.)
Why should you care? (Besides the fact that the profits of just one month of this play are enough to feed all of Northern Uganda for ten years?)
Despite being currently tied to other projects, actor/Wolverine Hugh Jackman and Social Network scribe/cocaine-craver Aaron Sorkin have signed on to do a musical for Broadway’s 2013-14 season. Here’s the pitch: it’s about Harry Houdini, and, wait for it, it’s a musical! (Obviously it’s a musical, Hugh Jackman’s contract demands that he must be singing and dancing for at least 90% of any stage appearance.)
But that’s not all.
Occupy Wall Street
If you worked anywhere along NYC’s longest street, you may have seen a familiar sight yesterday evening: the Occupy Wall Street protesters! They were back!