The Broadway fall season got off to an uninspiring start this past week with the opening of A Tale of Two Cities, the Les Miserables knockoff that premiered a year ago at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.
New York critics were not kind to the Dickensian musical, with book, music and lyrics by Jill Santoriello. The Wall Street Journal called it "a revolutionary bore'' and the New York Times dismissed it as "lumpish'' and "the son of Les Miz.'' The show drew enthusiastic audiences in its tryout last fall at the Asolo, but the lack of originality was a problem then and obviously remains one.
That opening aside, there's still a buzz on Broadway this fall, thanks to some Hollywood star power.
On Thursday, Daniel Radcliffe leaves aside Harry Potter to star (and briefly appear nude) in Equus, Peter Shaffer's homoerotic psychodrama about a disturbed stable boy who blinds six horses. Richard Griffiths — Harry's mean uncle in the movies — plays the boy's psychiatrist. It's at the Broadhurst Theatre.
St. Petersburg's Patrick Wilson is in the revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, which started in previews late last week and opens Oct. 16. Scientology favorite (and Mrs. Tom Cruise) Katie Holmes makes her Broadway debut as Wilson's fiancee. Husband Tom was, predictably, gushy about his wife's performance at a preview he attended Thursday night.
When asked for his verdict on Holmes' performance, Cruise stopped for a moment while moving through the crowd at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, telling the Associated Press: "Did you see it? ... It was extraordinary."
Other Broadway openings this fall include a pair of musicals adapted from movies: Billy Elliot, about an English boy from a coal mining family who dreams of becoming a dancer, with a score by Elton John, Nov. 13 at the Imperial Theatre; and Shrek, with Brian d'Arcy James as the green one, Dec. 14 at the Broadway Theatre.
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) plays the role originated by Madonna in a revival of Speed-the-Plow, David Mamet's three-character play about Hollywood operators that also stars Jeremy Piven (Entourage) and Raul Esparza. It opens Oct. 23 at the Barrymore Theatre.