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amBroadway | Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford join ‘Sweeney Todd’ revival, Free Curtain Up Festival returns and more

Annaleigh-Ashford-and-Josh-Groban-Photo-by-Franz-Szony
Annaleigh Ashford and Josh Groban.
Photo by Franz-Szony

‘Sweeney’ revival with Groban and Ashford finally confirmed

Swing your razor wide, Sweeney – because it’s official at last. As previously reported and rumored, a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 masterpiece “Sweeney Todd” starring Josh Groban as Sweeney and Annaleigh Ashford as Mrs. Lovett will play Broadway this season, with performances beginning in late February at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. On Monday, right before the production was officially announced via press release, performances were showing up on Ticketmaster. Unlike recent New York revivals of the musical that were scaled down, this production (to be directed by Thomas Kail, “Hamilton”) will feature the original 26-player orchestration.

Free Curtain Up Festival returning to Times Square

The Curtain Up Broadway Festival, a free multi-day event in Times Square that marked the return of Broadway following the pandemic shutdown last September, will return from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. It will include concerts (including a finale concert that will be broadcast live on WABC), sing-alongs, DJ sets, dueling pianos, a game show, and a dance workshop. 

Gabriel Byrne’s autobiographical solo show to play Broadway

Gabriel Byrne will return to Broadway in the fall in “Walking with Ghosts,” an autobiographical one-man show based on his memoir of the same name, which will play the Music Box Theatre beginning Oct. 18. The contemplative and lyrical book covered such topics as Byrne’s working-class Irish roots, Catholic seminary education, earlier gigs as a door-to-door salesman and apprentice plumber, late night drinking with Richard Burton, and the never-ending goal of achieving authenticity as an actor. 

Robert LuPone dies at age 76

Stage and screen actor Robert LuPone, who originated the role of Zach in “A Chorus Line” and later became a co-founder of the Off-Broadway company MCC Theater, died last week at age 76 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. LuPone was also the older brother of Patti LuPone. 

Ars Nova introduces pay-what-you-can ticket price

To mark its 20th anniversary season, the experimental Off-Broadway company Ars Nova is introducing a “name your price” ticket initiative, in which audience members will be able to choose the price for tickets for every performance all season. “I’m so excited to throw our doors wide open and meet our community where they are and as they are,” producing executive director Renee Blinkwolt said in a statement. 

Sondheim-inspired ‘Candida’ to play Off-Broadway

Stephen Sondheim, who never musicalized a play by George Bernard Shaw, was nevertheless a voracious reader of Shaw and even turned Shaw into a character in his musical adaptation of Aristophanes’ “The Frogs.” In Sondheim’s memory, David Staller will direct a new production of Shaw’s “Candida” (a romantic comedy about a preacher, his wife, and a young poet who falls for the wife) that will incorporate a concept that Sondheim suggested to Staller: resetting the play to 1920s New York, “when the church (desperate to get people to come back for Sunday services) began sending their rock-star ministers to underserved communities…which paralleled the time when Shaw wrote the play in London’s 1890s,” Staller said in a statement. The production will begin performances at Off-Broadway’s Theater Row on Oct. 5.

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