Three pieces of news were announced this week that inspired responses too long to be Twitter-length, but still not meaty enough to warrant their own pieces. Thus, enjoy this written roundup:
I love this: Jon Michael Hill and Namir Smallwood, both of whom are ensemble members of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre — AKA they’re part of the theatre’s in-house company; Steppenwolf’s one of the few places that still relies on a homegrown company — will both star in Lincoln Center’s production of Pass Over, a play that premiered at Steppenwolf…Then they’ll go back to Steppenwolf next summer to star in Sam Shepard’s famed two-handed True West together.
This is why I need a cheap bullet train between New York and Chicago; get on it, Elon!
Now that I’ve appeased the defensively-proud Chicago crowd, let me just say that Jon Michael Hill’s career is an example of why I always get scared when theatre artists leave for TV Land. Yes, he’s graced Chicago stages frequently, but has he really not been back to NYC since Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts?! I just can’t help but believe that he would’ve made more appearances here if not for his steady TV gigs. I support anyone trying to pay the bills — the boob tube helps in that regard more than most other mediums — but being deprived of their goodness still makes me sad.
And yes, I’m aware that this whole sentiment reeks of NYC-centrism. Deal with it.
It’s unclear if Marilyn! The New Music has New York aspirations, but since this Marilyn Monroe musical boasts an original score, it’s not out of the question. I’m actually surprised that Las Vegas hasn’t become a better incubator of new Broadway musicals. Yes, more intimate work is definitely commercially viable on the Great White Way right now, but Sin City-style spectacle can still rake in the dough. I do think theatrical entertainment plays a very different role in each city; NYC’s theatre scene is probably considered a bit more prestigious, whereas Vegas is friendlier to entertainment purely for entertainment’s sake — unlike in NYC, no one in Vegas seems to have a problem with nothing more than a good night out on the town. But that doesn’t mean Vegas couldn’t develop a type of musical that would find similar success on Broadway; audiences didn’t turn Rock of Ages into a multi-year success because of its substance…
Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group — which produces shows at their Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, and Kirk Douglas Theatre, in addition to random other spaces on occasion — just announced their next season, and it’s a doozy. New Tracy Letts and Lucas Hnath! Return engagements of Ruben Santiago-Hudson in his Lackawanna Blues, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sweat, Dianne Wiest in Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, and School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play! Also, the Gob Squad and Joan Didion! A great balance between importing productions from elsewhere (mainly NYC), premieres by major writers of all kinds, and supporting local talent.
The ascendent LA theatre scene is on the rise again.