Here are two bold predictions about what will not be coming to Broadway anytime soon: Duck Dynasty: The Musical, and Allison Williams as Peter Pan in Finding Neverland. Anything else you read about either show is speculation. Kindly unknot your knickers.
First, the Duck decoy: The New York Times did a rather extraordinary favor on Thursday for the producers of a Las Vegas revue based on A&E’s Duck Dynasty franchise. The Times put this very silly story on page A1 and, in the headline, attached the word “Broadway” to the enterprise. This caused a number of otherwise sane theater denizens to foam at the mouth over the prospect of an invasion by reckless red-state redneck homophobes into the sacred PC precincts of Times Square, which must by any means necessary be kept safe for the roving gangs of Elmos, Batmen and premium-price ticket sellers desperately trying to sink their hooks, fangs, claws and incisors into your wallet.
The Vegas revue, called The Duck Commander Family Musical, is set to join the ranks of brainless entertainment at the Rio that includes Chippendales and Penn & Teller. Plotting these three offerings on New York magazine’s Approval Matrix might go something like this: Chippendale’s: Lowbrow/Brilliant. Penn & Teller: Middlebrow/Smart. Commander Family: Unibrow/Despicable.
You have to dig long and deep in the Times story to unearth the tidbit that, despite the alluring headline “Bayou Meets Broadway,” there are no plans whatsoever to bring the Robertson family East anytime soon. Or anytime at all. Possibly the producers, a group called Dodger Productions that once was proudly known as Broadway’s Young Turks and now are known as Broadway’s Aging Establishment, have heard that what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas.
Or perhaps Dodger First-Among-Equals Michael David knows that when he says, “The show will end up challenging the views and assumptions of of people across the political spectrum, more than most theater does,” he’s talking trash. You’ve been to Las Vegas. Me, too — I reviewed Vegas shows for Variety. Vegas shows don’t even challenge the assumptions of Flat Earth Society members, let alone “people across the political spectrum.” Maybe the Ducksters will challenge the idea that being a big hit makes the Dodgers’ meal ticket, Jersey Boys, a challenging Broadway show. Whatever the case, you can be sure of one thing: An A1 Broadway story based on nothing in the New York Times could be viewed as a pretty nice thanks-so-much for nine years of Jersey Boys ads.
Also in the news from the Rialto this week: Well, we already told you several weeks ago that Jeremy Jordan would not be making the trip from Cambridge, MA to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre when Finding Neverland opens there in the spring. That has come to pass, and the lead role of Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie will be played by Matthew Morrison, in the hope that his fame (get it?) from Glee will have TV fans lining up at the box office. In yet another shift in the most shape-shifting musical since, hmmmm, Peter Pan, the key role of Barrie’s American theatrical producer Charles Frohman — once rehearsed by Roger Bart, then played by Michael McGrath in Cambridge — now has been turned over to Frasier himself, Kelsey Grammer.
With all those changes afoot, I’m thinking that maybe producer Harvey Weinstein should carpe the diem and make Allison Williams his new Gwyneth Paltrow by casting her in the show. After all, she’s about to crow her way through the title role in the upcoming live NBC broadcast of the ur-Pan musical. Why not sign her to the new Peter Pan musical as well? Now that woman would sell some tickets. Put it in the headline!