amBroadway: Broadway leaders look to fall reopening, Baryshnikov joins digital ‘Cherry Orchard’ and more

The Cherry Orchard

Industry leaders look to fall for Broadway return

For months, Broadway has been officially on hold through at least May 30, creating speculation over whether shows could return as early as this summer. In an interview with Yahoo Finance Live, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin said “it’s probably six to nine months before we’re actually open,” adding that she did not know whether audience members will need to present proof of recent negative COVID testing. In a separate interview, Broadway producer Kevin McCollum told the Evening Standard that he does not expect Broadway to return until Labor Day.  

‘Cinderella’ with Brandy available on Disney+

The most exciting new streaming content for musical theater fans happens to be the 1997 made-for-TV remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, as well as Bernadette Peters, Whoopi Goldberg, Victor Garber, Jason Alexander and Paolo Montalban. Following months of speculation over why Disney (which originally produced “Cinderella” for the “Wonderful World of Disney” series on ABC) had not made it available on Disney+, “Cinderella” finally appeared on the streaming platform on Feb. 12. The musical not only introduced a new generation to a classic musical (which was previously produced for TV in 1957 with Julie Andrews and 1965 with Lesley Ann Warren), it triumphantly incorporated diverse, colorblind casting on a scale not seen before on mainstream television. 

‘The King and I’ remake in the works

Speaking of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals on film, Paramount is developing a remake of “The King and I,” as per Deadline. The 1956 film version of “The King and I” with Yul Brynner is generally considered the best of the screen adaptations of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Broadway musicals produced by Fox in the 1950s. (The film version of “The Sound of Music” did not come along until 1965.) The critically-maligned 1999 animated film version of “The King and I” is best forgotten. The 2015 Broadway revival of “The King and I” with Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe was filmed when it played London and is available for streaming. 

Baryshnikov joins digital ‘Cherry Orchard’

One of the most unusual digital theater projects I have encountered in recent months was “The Seagull, As Performed on the Sims,” a recreation of the classic play using interactive video game animation. Now comes another mashup of Chekhovian drama and virtual experimentation: “The Cherry Orchard: A New Media Workshop,” which will be presented on Feb. 26 by the Baryshnikov Arts Center and Cherry Orchard Festival Foundation with Jessica Hecht, Melanie Moore and a guest appearance by Mikhail Baryshnikov. According to a press release, “the online event accesses Chekhov’s desktop computer, where viewers discover six of his classic characters living in a virtual space, searching for happiness.”

This week’s streaming recommendations…

“The Night Watcher” (One-woman drama written and performed by Charlayne Woodard about mentoring children), through Feb. 28, 59e59.org…”Julius Caesar” (Patrick Page stars in the first installment of a radio play version of the Shakespeare tragedy produced by [email protected] in Jersey City), Mon. at 7 p.m., Shakespeare-at.org.