PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Nov. 30-Dec. 6: Marin Mazzie Nabs Leading Role in Bullets Over Broadway and Ratings Soar for The Sound of Music Live!

By Robert Simonson
December 6, 2013

Three-time Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie landed her biggest stage assignment in some time this week. She won the much-coveted part of temperamental stage diva Helen Sinclair in the new Broadway musical adaptation of Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, producers announced Dec. 5. The role was famously played by Dianne Wiest in the movie.



In the 1990s, Mazzie was a major presence on Broadway, essaying three Tony-nominated performances in a row, in Stephen Sondheim's Passion, the critically acclaimed musical Ragtime and a smash 1999 revival Kiss Me, Kate. Mazzie has continued to work on Broadway since, but has mainly replaced other actresses in already established shows like Spamalot and Next to Normal. Her most recent appearance was in Enron in 2010.

Mazzie was the last major piece in the cast-puzzle for the Susan Stroman-directed show. The cast also features Zach Braff, who makes his Broadway debut as playwright David Shayne, Brooks Ashmanskas as Warner Purcell, Betsy Wolfe as Ellen, Lenny Wolpe as Julian Marx, Helene Yorke as Olive Neal and Vincent Pastore as gangster Nick Valenti.

Bullets Over Broadway will begin previews March 11, 2014, at Broadway's St. James Theatre. It officially opens April 10. The musical incorporates pre-existing songs from the 1920-30s for its score.

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Two (actually, three) popular shows extended their runs this week.

The Public Theater once again extended its critically acclaimed production of the Jeanine Tesori-Lisa Kron musical Fun Home. The world-premiere musical, based on the graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, will now continue through Jan. 12, 2014, Off-Broadway.

Uptown, The Shakespeare's Globe in-rep productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III, starring Mark Rylance, extended their Broadway runs through Feb. 16, 2014. That means two more weeks of very needed work for several medieval instrumentalists.

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The Williamstown Theatre Festival has a new artistic director — its second female leader in a row.

Mandy Greenfield, who is currently the artistic producer of Manhattan Theatre Club, was named the sought-after post. She succeeds Jenny Gersten, who is departing Williamstown to become the executive director of the New York City non-profit Friends of the High Line.

Carrie Underwood
Photo by Nino Munoz/NBC
In 2010 Gersten was appointed the first female artistic director of the Massachusetts theatre company. Prior to that, the summer festival only had male directors.

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Staged plays and musicals were a mainstay of television during the 1950s and early '60s when most shows were filmed in New York and live performances were commonplace. But a few generations have passed since then. So, NBC's live performance of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, which aired Dec. 5 over a full three hours of prime time, was a novelty for many around the nation who watched it.

The show was the brainchild of Hollywood's resident theatre evangelists, producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan ("Chicago," "Smash"), who never tire in their efforts to convince the American public that musical theatre merits the big-screen and small-screen treatment.

The critical reception of the production was mixed. Most critics gave NBC and the cast "props" for attempting such a brave experiment, and encouraged the network to do it again. But they found the show itself rather wooden and uninspired, with country music star Carrie Underwood's limited acting ability in particular coming in for criticism.

Nonetheless, NBC probably feels its $9 million was well spent. Overnight numbers show that The Sound of Music Live! dominated television ratings in each of its six half-hour slots last night, finishing in first place for each.

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Speaking of television, it's always interesting to see what Hollywood thinks life in New York is like. Poorly paid twentysomethings live in huge lofts ("Friends"). Newspaper columnists make enough money to support a serious designer-shoe addiction ("Sex and the City"). Parents who live in Brooklyn Heights brownstones never seem to go to work ("The Cosby Show"). And fashion magazines work out of offices that look like their were designed by Edith Head ("Ugly Betty").

And now, according to "Kirstie", the new TV Land series that stars Kirstie Alley, we learn there are still such creatures as lavishly living Broadway stars who dwell in palatial apartments and employ personal assistants and chauffeurs. (What, no butler?)

The first episode concerns Alley's characters discovery of the son she gave up for adoption 26 years ago. In next week's episode, she gets a visit from Helen Sinclair.