Like everyone else, show-biz folk are starting to think about the future after a week or two of virtual inactivity following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Here are some particularly interesting tidbits:
* It has been widely reported that Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones have been tapped for the roles of Roxie and Velma in the on-again, off-again, on-again film version of Kander & Ebb's Chicago. Though word was that Kathy Bates would be playing Matron Mama Morton, I now hear that the part may go to Queen Latifah. But the biggest news regarding the casting of the movie is that Richard Gere is being eyed for the role of the slick lawyer Billy Flynn. Though not exactly famous as a singer-dancer, you may remember (or you may not remember!) that, very early in his career, Gere played Danny Zuko in Grease on Broadway. He is said to be producer Harvey Weinstein's primo choice for Flynn in the Chicago flick and the two are supposed to be meeting soon to discuss it, now that Hugh Jackman has apparently passed on the role.
* The Roundabout Theatre Company's plans to offer the Broadway premiere of Assassins, scuttled by the terrorist attacks on the U.S. (because authors Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman reportedly felt the show's subject matter to be inappropriate at this time), may be revived sooner than expected. I hear that Assassins could go up as early as this spring; director Joe Mantello is reportedly advising cast members to keep themselves available at that time. The cast was to have included Douglas Sills, Neil Patrick Harris, Mario Cantone, Dennis O'Hare, and Raúl Esparza.
* The legendary Uta Hagen is telling people that she and David Hyde-Pierce of Frasier fame will be bringing Richard Alfieri's Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks to Broadway in March. The pair did the show at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles this past spring.
* Bulletin from Millburn, New Jersey: Ben Vereen will star as Midge opposite Judd Hirsch when Hirsch recreates his Tony Award-winning role of Nat in Herb Gardner's I'm Not Rappaport at the Paper Mill Playhouse, February 20-March 24. Though he was laid low for a while by a terrible car accident, Vereen has been very much back on his feet in recent seasons, starring in A Christmas Carol at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden and in Fosse on Broadway. Paper Mill's Rappaport will be directed by the great Daniel Sullivan, who directed the original Broadway production in 1985. Prior to the Paper Mill engagement, this Rappaport revival will play at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami and at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.
* Finally, an e-mailed press release has brought some excellent news: MTV and Immortal Entertainment Group have announced that their first theater partnership will be the co-production in New York of the amazing musical bare, a show I adored in its world premiere at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Los Angeles last year. Also on the producing team for the New York bare are Daryl Roth (Proof, Wit, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, etc.) and her son, Jordan Roth (The Rocky Horror Show, The Donkey Show). A pop opera with a phenomenal score by Damon Intrabartolo and John Hartmere, Jr., bare draws on alternative rock and pop music formats to tell the funny, sad, moving story of five contemporary Catholic high school seniors facing adulthood. Kristin Hanggi, who brilliantly directed the show in L.A., will direct the first staged presentation in New York. The press release didn't specify a venue for the production, but it's worth noting that the authors recently completed a three-week residency at the Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival to further develop the project. (Click here to see TheaterMania's October 2000 interview with Intrabartolo).