amBroadway | ‘Illinois’ gets last-minute Broadway run

"Illinois" is getting a run on Broadway.
“Illinois” is getting a run on Broadway.
Photo: Liz Lauren

“Illinois,” a new dance-centric musical which just played the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper West Side, is making a last-minute transfer to Broadway for a limited run at the St. James Theatre, opening just in time to be considered for this year’s Tony Awards and making the April schedule of Broadway openings even more insanely jam-packed. It has direction and choreography by Justin Peck, songs by Sufjan Stevens (based on his album of the same name), and a story by Peck and experimental playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury. The official website describes the show as “an original coming-of-age story that takes the audience on a journey through the American heartland — from campfire storytelling to the edges of the cosmos — all told through a unique blend of live music, dance, and theater.”

Following the run of “Illinois,” the upcoming Broadway revival of “Sunset Boulevard” will play the St. James Theatre, with preview performances beginning Sept. 28, an acclaimed experimental London revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” directed by Jamie Lloyd (“A Doll’s House,” “Betrayal”) will play the St. James Theatre, with preview performances beginning on Sept. 28. Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls) will reprise her performance as the faded silent screen diva Norma Desmond. In the London production, Tom Francis (who will reprise his performance as screenwriter Joe Gillis on Broadway) performed much of the title song from on a street outside the theater (while being trailed by a video camera), eventually making his way into the theater. One expects that Francis will soon be breaking into song on Eighth Avenue.

Seeing Seinfeld in Atlantic City

For a long time, I have been meaning to check out one of Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy shows in New York or on tour. Earlier this month, Seinfeld played the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side, but the date didn’t work for me. Instead, I ended up catching Seinfeld’s show at the Borgata while on an overnight trip to Atlantic City, which provided a change of pace and scenery compared to my regular Broadway and Off-Broadway outings.

Back in 1998, right after the final episode of “Seinfeld,” Seinfeld did a short engagement on Broadway, which was filmed for HBO and billed as a sort of farewell show. Given Bruce Springsteen’s mega-successful residency on Broadway, one wonders if Seinfeld might consider a similar kind of Broadway engagement.

Seinfeld’s set at the Borgata (which ran slightly longer than an hour) hit on familiar topics that were probably intended to appeal to the kind of broad and diverse audience you might find at an Atlantic City casino and resort on a Saturday night, including marriage, going on vacation, smart phones, and television. When an excited audience member mentioned  the TV show “Friends” at one point, Seinfeld commented that he viewed “Friends” as another version of “Seinfeld” with more attractive people.

Seinfeld’s stand-up humor is a bit tame for my taste, but it did make me nostalgic for the days of “Must See TV” NBC sitcoms, when it seemed like all of America was tuning into broadcast television. Think of the most popular episode of a prestigious premium cable drama in recent years – chances are that far more people tuned in to any random episode of “Seinfeld.”