1. So they’re casting for the Spider-man musical, and I’ve got say that I’m excited about the potential of the whole project. If you haven’t heard, Julie Taymor is directing/creating, and U2 (or at least Bono and The Edge) are doing the score. I’ve heard good things from folks involved. The casting notice is interesting for a couple of reasons, first of which is the line “all ethnicities are encouraged to audition.” Now, while my friend Burl would make a perfect Spidey (and I’ve got the pictures to prove it), are we really going to see a Spider-man or even Mary Jane of color? The fanboys wouldn’t stand for it, I don’t think. (Although if Stephanie Beatriz was Mary Jane, I’d be there, no questions asked.)
The other weird tidbit from the casting notice is this mysterious “Principal Woman,” described as “Sinead O’Connor with a Middle Eastern/Bulgarian/Greek twist.” Okay. I have absolutely no clue what that’s all about–a new villain? Should they really be adding to the cannon like this? Maybe a Spidey fan will read this and school me on how this character fits into everything, and I definitely will reserve judgment, but I’m already questioning where they’re taking this.
2. Whoopi is the new Rosie, as she signs on to join the cast of Xanadu shortly after doing a good job hosting this year’s Tony’s (go back and check out the running diary if you haven’t already). The difference, of course, is that Whoopi already has a Tony. I was pretty excited about seeing Xanadu even before this announcement, and I’d like to see it with Whoopi in it, but I’ll probably wait out the crowds and check it out after she leaves. Xanadu is an interesting case right now–the theater is almost full every night (at least as of the latest Variety charts), but ticket receipts are only about half of what they could be. Lots of discounted tickets to that show. So Whoopi would, it would seem, allow them to start selling more full price tickets, hopefully while maintaining that seating capacity. I hope Xanadu keeps doing well–I didn’t want it to win the Tony (for obvious reasons), but it sounds like a fun little show.
3. Tickets are still available for Passing Strange‘s closing weekend, including the two shows Spike Lee is going to film. Seriously. Buy tickets. See the show. Be there for the taping and/or the closing. I’m looking into it myself. You’re going to be real sad when you watch the filmed version and realize you could have been there.
4. My boy Rajiv wrote a play about origami. Yes. Origami. It’s called Animals Out of Paper, and it’s pretty damn good. Full disclosure: I recently wrote a piece about this play for the Brooklyn Rail (should be out soon), and I served as the (super informal) “hip-hop consultant” for the show (I didn’t write the rhymes, just discussed them, and basically just quoted Eminem lyrics at that). So yeah, I’m biased. And one of my favorite actors in the world, Utkarsh Ambudkar, is in it–you may remember him as Nelson from The Lark production of Welcome to Arroyo’s. Either way, this is a play with a lot of heart, some great performances (from what I saw in the first reading), and a deceptive simplicity that pulls back to reveal incredible emotional complexity underneath. It’s like origami, come to think of it.
5. Also happening right now in NYC is 12 Ophelias by the wildly prolific Caridad Svich. If you saw Aya Ogawa’s Oph3lia, you kind of have to see this one, if only to make it a total of 15 Ophelias this summer (plus, of course, Lauren Ambrose, who makes 16–sixteen Ophelias! *cue Count Von Count’s thunder*). It happens to be free and site-specific in Williamsburg’s McCarren Park Pool (or as El Puente students would say “MacCarrien Park” — there’s an awfully inside joke for you), and it features bluegrass and a Hamlet with a black eye, so go see it already. Here’s a blog review of it if you haven’t made up your mind.
I know there’s a lot more, but I’m stopping there–oh wait, no I’m not.
6. Hair. It’s in Central Park starting July 22. I’m a little bummed about only having ten days or so to try to see it (and my birthday is right in there, so that knocks a bunch of nights out of the realm of possibility), but I am going to find a way to make it happen. It’s Hair, people. And it’s in Central Park. Outside. And there’s a war going on–a war with a “back-door draft.” I’m not going to tell you about the virtual line, because (a) I’ve already written about it (I think) and (b) I don’t want you beating me to the punch. I’ll link it all up after I’ve seen it, suckas.
7. This last one isn’t theater, but it’s the biggest deal in entertainment this summer. I will be seeing the IMAX. Somehow. Possibly at 2am next week.