amBroadway: ‘Perfect Crime’ is first to reopen, ‘Phantom’ commits to full return and more

Phantom of the Opera
Ben Crawford as The Phantom. Phantom of the Opera opens on Broadway on Oct. 22
Photo by Matthew Murphy

‘Perfect Crime’ becomes first Equity play to reopen

Last week “Blindness” became the first professional Off-Broadway show to open following the pandemic.  But all things considered, “Blindness” is not a play but rather an experimental sound-and-light installation, without any live actors, where audience members listen to recorded narration via headphones. Now word comes that the long-running Off-Broadway mystery-thriller “Perfect Crime” will become the first NYC play to reopen with actors who are members of Actors’ Equity Association. Following a single preview performance on Saturday, it will officially reopen on Sunday, which coincides with the show’s 34th anniversary, at the Theater Center in Times Square. Actress Catherine Russell, who has starred in “Perfect Crime” since 1987, leads the fully-vaccinated cast. 

Trump removed from ‘In the Heights’

When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s breakout musical “In the Heights” opened on Broadway in 2008, the song “96,000” (where the characters dream of winning a $96,000 lottery) contained a lyric where Benny (originally played by Christopher Jackson) imagined “Donald Trump and I on the links, and he’s my caddy.” Needless to say, public perception of Trump has shifted somewhat since 2008, and the Trump reference has been removed from the show’s film version, which premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on June 11. Explaining his decision to excise Trump, Miranda told Variety that “when I wrote it, he was an avatar for the Monopoly man. He was just, like, a famous rich person. Then when time moves on and he becomes the stain on American democracy, you change the lyric. Time made a fool of that lyric, and so we changed it.”

Lincoln Center is going grassy green

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is currently in the process of relaunching as “Restart Stages,” a massive, socially-distanced, outdoor performance performing arts complex. As part of “Restart Stages,” its iconic plaza space will be transformed using recyclable materials to resemble a grassy park, which will open on May 10 and be known as “The Green” and designed by Mimi Lien. “When invited to consider how the physical space of Josie Robertson Plaza could be re-envisioned to be a more inclusive and inviting environment, I immediately thought that by changing the ground surface from hard paving stones with no seating to a material like grass, suddenly anyone would be able to wit anywhere,” Lien said in a statement. 

Broadway ‘Phantom’ commits to returning with full orchestra 

Musical theater fans were alarmed on Monday to learn that when the long-running London production of “The Phantom of the Opera” reopens in June, the size of its pit orchestra will be cut in half, from 27 to 14 musicians, leading to concern over whether the same will happen when the Broadway production of “Phantom” (which is the longest-running musical in Broadway history) returns. A day later, Playbill.com reported that the Broadway production plans on reopening with the full orchestra intact. That being said, it remains unclear whether other long-running musicals may downsize the size of their orchestras using digital technology in an attempt to cut costs. 

This week’s streaming recommendations…

“The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)” (starry presentation of 2003 parody of Broadway musicals to benefit the York Theatre Company, which recently sustained flooding damage), Sun to Weds, yorktheatre.org…”Tell the Story: Celebrating Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Assassins” (Classic Stage Company, which was on the verge of reviving the musical “Assassins” prior to the pandemic, brings together the casts of the original Off-Broadway, Broadway and CSC productions), Thurs at 8 p.m., classicstage.org.