When Broadway's Macbeth opened on Sunday, guests were asked to do something a little out of the ordinary: refrain from speaking the play’s name while inside the venue.
Signs were posted on all of Ethel Barrymore Theatre's doors, requesting that audience members adhere to the rule. Written in capital letters, each sign read, "Warning! You are about to enter the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The producers ask that you please refrain from speaking the name of the play you are about to see while inside these walls."
If it sounds weird, that's only because it is, but with good reason. The play is cursed. Or at least it’s believed to be, despite the fact that this version of Macbeth is a one-man show, performed by Alan Cumming, with modern twists that move it away from its traditional Shakespearean roots.
According to the legend, mentioning the title of a Shakespeare while in a theater evokes some type of disaster — but it’s worst for Macbeth, so actors often call it "The Scottish Play" or "The Bard's Play" instead. If an actor accidentally mentions the name of the play (in the theater, prior to a performance), then he or she must leave the building, spin around three times, spit, curse, and then knock in order to be let back in. (There are a few variations, but the gist is always the same.) Other precautions include actors refraining from quoting any of the lines from Macbeth prior to a performance (must make rehearsal a bit challenging?), especially the Witches’ incantations. This is serious stuff, guys!
In just three days, Motown the Musical will open on Broadway. Already tickets have been selling quick, and for the month of April, the musical is just outside of TicketNetwork.com's top 10 best-selling theater acts at number 11. (It beat out shows like Annie and Billy Elliot.) It's no secret why — Berry Gordy, Jr., who founded the record company in 1960, was a bit of a musical genius. He helped launch the careers of artists like The Temptations, The Supremes, and Jackson 5. When the show opens April 14, it'll feature a huge, huge soundtrack. So here are my top picks for the best 10 songs from the classic Motown era — AKA the most difficult list I've ever had to make in my life because there were so many songs that deserved to be there.
The last few weeks have been busy in terms of theater news, with several shows announced for the 2013-2014 Broadway season, as well as some general theater news.
To start: Newsies! The Musical celebrated its one-year anniversary on Broadway, while Once had a cast switch-up, adding four new actors and actresses to its roster. (It also opened in London's West End.)
Meanwhile, Matilda and Motown the Musical had or will have their official debut this week. Here are a few other recent theater-related tidbits to know about:
Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare's classic Romeo and Juliet will hit the Broadway stage September 19, following previews that start August 24. Orlando Bloom — AKA Legolas and That Dude Who Wasn't Captain Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates" franchise — will star opposite Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad. According to NY Theatre Guide, this is the first time in 36 years that Shakespeare's play will be produced on Broadway — and it'll have the new element of an interracial couple. (Yay!)
Not only did Beyonce release a great promo video today, but Kinky Boots opens on Broadway. I'm so stoked because CYNDI! LAUPER! Kinky Boots was originally a 2005 UK film, based on a true story about a struggling shoemaker and his drag queen business partner. But the onstage, musical version features lyrics/music by the one-and-only Cyndi Lauper. In honor of her Broadway debut, here are my picks for top three Cyndi Lauper songs of all time.
#3 True Colors
Listen to the opening notes and it's already obvious that this ballad comes straight out of the 1980s. If that isn't a dead giveaway, then the video is, especially if you skip straight to 2:18 and check out the male love interest whose hair is longer than Cyndi's. The video has drama (sooo much drama) and glitter and neon and jean jackets and a skirt made out of newspapers (perhaps the inspiration behind Leslie Knope's wedding dress this season on "Parks"?). The song itself was from Cyndi's second album and went to #1 on the Billboard charts.
Guys. Have I mentioned Tom Hanks is going to be on Broadway? Well, he is, and we're five days (counting today) from when his show, Lucky Guy, officially opens on April 1.
People. Are. Freaking. Out.
The show has quickly jumped up to one of the top-selling theater shows through TicketNetwork; for the month of March, it was just outside the top 10, beating out already-established Broadway productions, like Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Mamma Mia!. Aside from that, Emmy-nominated actress Maura Tierney, who stars opposite Hanks in the show (bet you didn’t even know this wasn’t a one-man show, huh?), says the preview crowds have been quite enthusiastic.
Tierney told Broadway.com that people are so excited to see Tom Hanks on stage that they hardly have any expectations at all. It makes me think if the show was two hours of Tom Hanks reading a phone book out loud, people would argue that it was riveting and moving, and I can’t say I disagree. It’s Tom Hanks. (Hanks will actually play Mike McAlary, a columnist and reporter for the NY Daily News. A Daily News writer said the play is a "stickler for detail" and that Hanks was determined to accurately portray McAlary — not that it matters, because again, IT'S TOM HANKS.)
Even the stage door crowds have been interesting. When asked how she handles the stage door, Tierney said, "You mean the crazy people? The crazy crowds, I should say. I don’t have to handle it! I walk and go “It’s not Tom!” and they go, “Ohhh, okay.” Chris McDonald (Lucky Guy co-star) told me that there were people outside with bathroom lighting fixtures waiting for Tom to sign them."
So: are you excited about Tom Hanks making his Broadway debut? Will you be getting Lucky Guy tickets to check him out for yourself? Or maybe you'd prefer to get tickets just to say you took a breath of the same air as the legend. It's fine; this is a judgment-free zone.