Among all the plays that have been announced for the 2008-09 Theatrical Season, few are more enigmatic than David Mamet's Speed-The-Plow, a work about the cut-throat nature of the Hollywood's film industry.
For example, while the Tony-nominated original production made its debut at Broadway's Royale Theatre on April 9, 1988, it was only because Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theatre proved too small to accommodate demand. And that clamor wasn't to see Joe Mantegna or Ron Silver, who would go on to win a Tony for Best Actor that year.
No, it was the pre-Kabbalah Madonna, who was causing a commotion by taking on her one and only Gotham legit stage appearance. While most critics inevitably found Madonna's participation ironic due to the play's subject matter, Frank Rich of The New York Times was rather gracious:
Madonna is the axis on which the play turns -- an enigma within an enigma, in the manner of the Lindsay Crouse heroine in "House of Games.'' It's a relief to report that this rock star's performance is safely removed from her own Hollywood persona. Madonna serves Mr. Mamet's play much as she did the Susan Seidelman film "Desperately Seeking Susan,'' with intelligent, scrupulously disciplined comic acting. She delivers the shocking transitions essential to the action and needs only more confidence to relax a bit and fully command her speaking voice.Speed-The-Plow would open May 3, 1988 and run through December 31 of the same year.
Another more recent example is that earlier this year, Jeff Goldblum joined with Kevin Spacey in a wildly popular production across the pond at the Old Vic. The two American actors were joined by Laura Michelle Kelly, who achieved lasting fame in London as the stage's first Mary Poppins (although she may be better known to American audiences for her role as the Beggar Woman in the 2007 film Sweeney Todd). Given the success of the London revival, the mystery here is why Spacey wouldn't just transfer it to Broadway.
The third example is that while a Rialto revival was announced in April, this time starring Jeremy Piven in his Main Stem debut, little else is known other than the fact the production is supposedly slated to open October 23.
With the clock ticking, it's a puzzlement to be sure. But you can be sure I'll try to fill in the missing pieces as they come in.
UPDATE (7.8.08, 9:25 a.m.): Thanks to Esther at Gratuitous Violins for providing me with a link to a February Michael Riedel piece that notes why the Kevin Spacey version wouldn't make it to Broadway:
Mamet gave (Jeffrey) Richards the rights to Speed-The-Plow, a comedy about two sleazy Hollywood producers and their secretary, long before the Old Vic secured the play for a London run.Well, that's at least one mystery solved.
Mamet also has promised his loyal lieutenant, Neil Pepe, the opportunity to direct the play on Broadway. Pepe runs Mamet's off-Broadway theater, the Atlantic, and occasionally appears in bit parts in his movies.
UPDATE (7.11.08, 9:45 a.m.) Hat tip to Modern Fabulousity for pointing out that Raúl Esparza has now been cast as Charlie Fox in the upcoming revival that's still due this October. Yet another part of the mystery is solved. All that's left is the casting of Karen and a theatre to house the production.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
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Broadway Preview: To Be Or Not To Be (July 2, 2008)
Broadway Preview: The Seagull (July 1, 2008)
Broadway Preview: Equus (June 30, 2008)
Broadway Preview: A Tale Of Two Cities (June 28, 2008)
Broadway Preview: for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf (June 25, 2008)
Broadway Preview: [title of show] (June 24, 2008)
Broadway: What's Next (June 20, 2008)