amBroadway | ‘Ain’t No Mo’ extends run, ‘Stranger Things’ star added to ‘Sweeney Todd’ cast, and more

Ain't No Mo on Broadway
4.Fedna Jacquet, Shannon Matesky, Marchant Davis, Crystal Lucas-Perry, Ebony Marshall-Oliver in “Ain’t No Mo.”
Photo by Joan Marcus/provided

On Dec. 8, shortly after its opening night, the producers of Jordan E. Cooper’s “Ain’t No Mo’” announced that the raucous, racially-charged sketch comedy would play its final performance on Sunday, Dec. 18 due to disappointing ticket sales.

One week later, however, the show’s run was extended through at least Friday, Dec. 23 thanks to a grassroots publicity campaign that has been embraced by public figures, some of whom have even bought out performances, including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Tyler Perry, and Shonda Rhimes.

“People are coming, loving the show and calling it the best theatrical experience of their life, but traditional Broadway marketing doesn’t work for this kind of show,” Cooper wrote in an open letter on social media.

With “Ain’t No Mo’,” Cooper became the youngest Black American playwright in Broadway history.

‘Merrily’ set to transfer to Broadway

It’s now official: as long suspected, the sold-out and starry Off-Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s “Merrily We Roll Along,” which opened at New York Theatre Workshop last Monday night, will transfer to Broadway with current cast members Jonathan Groff, Daniel Radcliffe, and Lindsey Mendez.

Notably, it will not arrive on Broadway until the fall – perhaps to not draw attention away from the revival of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” which opens during the spring.

This will mark the first Broadway revival of the 1981 musical, which notoriously flopped during its original run but has since undergone significant reworking and has received many regional and Off-Broadway productions.

Matarazzo and Miles join ‘Sweeney Todd’ cast

“Stranger Things” star Gaten Matarazzo, who recently appeared in City Center’s acclaimed revival of “Parade,” will play Tobias in the Broadway revival of “Sweeney Todd” alongside Josh Groban as Sweeney and Annaleigh Ashford as Mrs. Lovett.

Also new to the cast are Tony Award winner Ruthie Ann Miles (“The King and I”) as Beggar Woman, Jordan Fisher (“Dear Evan Hansen”) as Anthony, Nicholas Christopher as Pirelli/Standby for Sweeney Todd, and Jeanna de Waal (“Diana”) as Standby for Mrs. Lovett and Beggar Woman.

‘Sound of Music’ is ideal holiday fare at Paper Mill

New Jersey theatergoers looking for a family-friendly musical for the holidays need look no further than Paper Mill Playhouse’s superb, large-scale production of “The Sound of Music,” led by Ashley Blanchet as Maria, Graham Rowat as Captain von Trapp, and Gavin Lee (“Mary Poppins”) as Max Detweiler.

The musical was originally announced for 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic. Paper Mill’s season will continue in February with the first production of “Disney’s Hercules” since it premiered in Central Park in 2019.