Here’s a quick roundup of stories you might have missed.
Idina Menzel to Star in Redwood at La Jolla Playhouse
Idina Menzel will lead La Jolla Playhouse’s final production for the 2023-2024 season. Set for February-March 2024, the world premiere musical Redwood features a book and direction by Tina Landau, music by Kate Diaz, lyrics by Diaz and Landau with additional contributions by Menzel. The Tony winner will play Jesse, a successful businesswoman, mother and wife, who seems to have it all, but inside, her heart is broken. Finding herself at a turning point, Jesse leaves everyone and everything behind, gets in her car and drives. Thousands of miles later, she hits the ancient forests of Northern California, where a chance meeting and a leap of faith change her life forever. In the presence of the magnificent, towering redwoods, Jesse finds strange and powerful connections, an unexpected sense of community and a chance at healing. “The Playhouse has been developing this piece since we reopened our doors, working with the dynamo team of Tina Landau, Kate Diaz and Idina Menzel–each a visionary artist in her own right–to create an extraordinary work that reaches for the sky and touches the soul,” said Christopher Ashley, Artistic Director of La Jolla Playhouse, in a statement.
Casting Complete for Hercules at Paper Mill
The full cast is set for the previously announced Paper Mill Playhouse production of Hercules, which is scheduled to run from February 16 through March 19. Joining Bradley Gibson as Hercules, Tony winner Shuler Hensley as Hades, Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart as Phil and Isabelle McCalla as Meg will be Jeff Blumenkrantz as Panic and Reggie De Leon as Pain alongside the Muses: Charity Angél Dawson as Clio, Tiffany Mann as Calliope, Anastacia McCleskey as Thalia, Destinee Rea as Terpsichore and Rashidra Scott as Melpomene. The ensemble will feature Kathryn Allison as Despina, Allyson Kaye Daniel as Aunt Tithesis/Lachesis, Lucia Giannetta as Atropos, Jesse Nager as Nessus, Kristen Faith Oei as Hera, Dennis Stowe as Zeus and Anne Fraser Thomas as Clotho, as well as Joshua Buscher, Marcus Cobb, Zachary Downer, Ryan Fitzgerald, Kendall LeShanti, Chani Maisonet, Skye Mattox, Jason W. McCollum, Erin Moore, JJ Niemann, Gabrielle Reid, Adam Roberts, Ben Roseberry, Christine Shepard, Chiara Trentalange and Lamont Walker II.
After 48 Years, Manhattan Theatre Club’s Barry Grove to Step Down
Barry Grove will step down as the Executive Producer of Manhattan Theatre Club at the conclusion of the 2022-2023 season; a nationwide search for his replacement has begun. “I am stepping down to spend more time with my wife Maggie and extended family, and I will continue to explore teaching, mentoring and consulting projects,” Grove said in a statement. “MTC and the theater world have been my village, my Anatevka, my Grover’s Corners and my Brigadoon.” When Grove started in 1975, MTC’s annual budget was $172, 000. In the intervening years, MTC’s operating budget has grown to about $27 million. During his tenure, together with MTC’s Board and development team, he has raised $350 million to support the organization and help realize the mission and vision that Meadow created and launched in 1972. Under Lynne Meadow and Grove’s leadership, MTC has produced nearly 450 American and world premieres and MTC productions have earned 28 Tony Awards, seven Pulitzer Prizes and 50 Drama Desk Awards, as well as numerous Obie, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards and in 2001, the Jujamcyn Award.