To Be or Not To Be Opening Night, or: do we really need another movie remake?

To Be or Not To Be, the new stage version of Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 film comedy about Polish theatre troupers trying to outsmart the Nazis, opens tonight on Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (formerly the Biltmore).

The production, which was originally scheduled to begin previews on Sept. 11, and then Sept. 13, began previews Sept. 16. The limited engagement plays to Nov. 23. There were two principal cast changes since rehearsals began, necessitating extra rehearsal time.

Nick Whitby has provided the stage adaptation for the Casey Nicholaw directed play which features Peter Benson, Robert Dorfman, Steve Kazee, Peter Maloney, Jan Maxwell, Michael McCarty, Kristine Nielsen, Brandon Perler, David Rasche, Rocco Sisto, Jimmy Smagula, Marina Squerciati, and Mark J. Sullivan.

According to MTC,
At the Polski Theatre in 1939 Warsaw, Josef (Rasche) and Maria Tura (Maxwell) are about to open yet another smash with their theatrical troupe. As the German invasion gets underway, the theatre is closed by the censors, forcing the troupe to face desperate times. But when a handsome young bomber pilot enlists their help to catch a spy, what is a group of actors to do? This hilarious black comedy is an ingenious commentary on the World War II era and an inspired tribute to the timeless joys of the theatre.
Early reports have not been good for the production. Citing everything from bad writing, bad acting, and bad directing, Michael Riedel has some disheartening insider talk over at his column for the NY Post.

The film starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard is a complex and timely satire. Lubitsch is known for providing charming characters throughout all of his films. The approach lends itself well to his comedies and is known in film circles as "the Lubitsch touch."

This is particularly evident in his 1940 romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner starring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan. This film is of special interest to musical theatre fans as it provides the first adaptation to the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklos Laszlo, which in return provided the story for the wonderfully perfect musical comedy She Loves Me.

In the book Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise, Lubitsch called this film "the best picture I ever made in my life."


SarahB said...

I adore Jan Maxwell. We're seeing this on Sunday.

Meanwhile, you've been tagged:


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