Spinning Into Prominence
Out in the Midwest, in what you might call Mamet-land (i.e., Chicago), a new theatrical voice appears to be taking hold and, ever so slowly, spreading eastward. Rebecca Gilman, 35, hails originally from Trussville, Alabam', so you could with some justification call her work "Southern Gothic." Her first play, Always Open--written when she was 18--concerns a group of disgruntled Krispy Kreme doughnut-shop workers who kill their manager by dumping him into a vat of dough. The die--er, dough--was pretty much cast for this playwright back then. Gilman's latest, which just opened at the Goodman--Boy Gets Girl--is less romantic than it sounds, pushing infatuation into obsession and dealing with the issue of stalking.
With this play, Gilman is said to have gone even darker than in her previous efforts. Which is really saying something, given that The Glory of Living, the play that established her in Chicago (and also got her a production at London's Royal Court and won her the Evening Standard award as most promising playwright), chronicles the bloody trail of two young serial killers. Not to mention Gilman's The Crime of the Century, which bowed at suburban Chicago's Forest Park last December, recounting Richard Speck's grisly murders of eight student nurses in July 1966. Finally, the playwright's most acclaimed and controversial hit--Spinning Into Butter--won her the 1999 Joseph Jefferson Award for best new work staged in Chicago, and this is the opus that will introduce her to New York audiences come July 17 at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theatre. The inestimable Dan Sullivan will direct, with Hope Davis (of Ivanov and The Food Chain) set to star as a liberal East Coast college dean who delivers an unsettling second-act monologue in which she articulates her buried racial rage.
The Bluesical and Seussical
At least half the cast of the recent John Latouche musical revue Taking a Chance on Love knows what their next job will be: Eddie Korbich will be executing The Lorax portion of the program in the Dr. Seuss musical Seussical, slated for next season at the Richard Rodgers (following its world-premiere August 27 at Boston's Colonial), and Terry Burrell has landed a role in Thunder Knockin' at My Door, a "bluesical" moving into the Minetta Lane this June 11 (with previews beginning May 12). Sez Burrell: "It's about a family in the South, and into their home comes a mysterious stranger by the name of Mr. Thunder. All kinds of delicious things happen when he's around." Written and directed by Keith (no relation to Danny) Glover, Thunder has songs by Grammy-winning Keb' Mo' and Anderson Edwards. It has already played Arena Stage, the Guthrie, and the Old Globe, and will stop April 25 through April 30 at the Stamford Center for the Arts before heading Off-Broadway. Joining Burrell will be Doug Eskew, Peter Jay Fernandez, Marva Hicks, and Kevyn Morrow.
Also soon to Seuss up is Kevin Chamberlin, who has a particularly busy time ahead of him. First, he'll play the men in Mae West's life this season in the Broadway transfer of Dirty Blonde, bowing May 1 at the Helen Hayes, and then, next season, will be Horton the Elephant in Seussical. Chamberlin even has time for a workshop--this one at Manhattan Theater Club in a yet-to-be-titled satirical look at NYC, written by Glenn Slater and Steve Weiner, directed by Christopher Ashley, and co-featuring Pam Isaacs and Norm Lewis.