There were lots of April Fool’s doing the rounds yesterday, amongst which my favourite non-theatrical one was the Independent’s story that London Underground was in talks with Cern (The European Organisation for Nuclear Research) about “the possibility of using the 23km tunnel of the Circle Line to house a new type of particle accelerator similar to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva”. The online version rather undermines the joke, by saying: “Added at noon on 1 April; Before you read, check the date!”
But on the theatrical front, The Stage scored a particular bulls-eye with its story of how Nimax Theatres plan to tackle the rat infestations in the West End: it will release pythons into its auditoriums. Nica Burns is quoted saying, “Ferrets were our first option, but because of the pheromones they excrete when in season, we felt that it might be unpleasant for theatre workers and audiences alike. On the other hand, snakes are quiet and unobtrusive, and we are confident that performers and audiences won’t even notice they are there. They can be released after the performance overnight and returned to their handlers in the morning, in plenty of time for them to be removed before the matinee.”
Broadway had some marvellous ones, too.
I particularly liked the one on Broadwayworld.com, that suggested that Roundabout Theatre Company, who have just cancelled its projected production of a revival of Terrence McNally’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart after its star Megan Mullally walked out, will replace it with a revival of Les Miserables. Roundabout artistic director Todd Haimes is quoted saying, “Though the original Broadway production of Les Misérables ran for over sixteen years, and the first Broadway revival just closed a little more than two year ago, we feel that Roundabout subscribers who did not have the opportunity to see this wonderful production during the seventeen and a half total years it has been on Broadway since 1987 will enjoy the opportunity to finally experience what they’ve been missing. So when Cameron Mackintosh offered us a chance to put one of his very fine touring companies into the American Airlines Theater we jumped at the chance.”
And Cameron adds, “We’re celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Les Misérables’ West End premiere. For twenty-five years I’ve had productions of this show playing every corner of the planet. I got sets to fit any stage, costumes to fit any actor and a couple thousand performers who can do this show in their sleep. And often do. Until I fire them. Just kidding. You want a production of Les Misérables? Give me an hour to make some phone calls and when your check clears it’s all yours. Glad to be back, Broadway. Let me know when you’re ready for another Cats.”
Meanwhile, the “chatterati” on Talkin’ Broadway bulletin board were rife with contributions of their own. My favourite offering there was one headlined, “ALW’s Phantom sequel headed to Broadway in November”, below which it said, “April’s Fool!!!!”, then, after a gap, “Oh wait.”
In fact, Broadway may indeed be doing just that: in today’s New York Post, Michael Riedel reports that there are “lots of rumblings” that the production may delay its scheduled November opening, “so Andrew Lloyd Webber and his minions (director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell) can give it some zip. In terms of pacing, a snail’s got more wind at its back than this show has.”
But there’s a problem: O’Brien and Mitchell are trying to move another show they have collaborated on, a musical version of Catch Me If You Can which they have already tried out in Seattle, to Broadway - and a revised schedule for Love Never Dies could clash. Riedel reports, “This hasn’t been a happy experience for O’Brien and Mitchell. Sources say they’re worn out by the chaos of the London previews — Lloyd Webber at one point threatened to shut down the production — and are eager to get on with their next show, Catch Me If You Can. ‘They did it for the money and, boy, are they going to have to earn it now,’ says a Broadway producer, chuckling.” And Riedel suggests, “Unless O’Brien and Mitchell can clone themselves, it’s hard to see how they’ll be able to work on two shows at once.” Watch this space for further developments.