THEATER: Dan Savage & Ben Cohen Get “Wicked,” Merman Reincarnated, “Rebecca,” And More

This week, theaterland has everything we could want: great gossip, gaggles of gays and a gorgeous guy guest appearing at Wicked.


The vultures are slowing circling Rebecca, the new musical whose road to Broadway has had more twists and turns than a Victorian murder mystery: First an investor contributing a whopping $4.5 million mysteriously died. Then, this week, the New York Times suggested the backer, one Paul Abrams, never existed.

The elusive money man gave up the ghost right when he was supposed to pony up the cash, yet there is no obituary, death notice or other verification of his death. Or his life, for that matter: No one—not even lead Rebecca producer Ben Sprecher—had ever met Abrams in person.

And the representative for Abrams’ estate—who goes by the single name Wexler—never speaks by phone and uses an email address that was just created last month.

Even more bizarrely (or, hilariously), Abrams supposedly died in England of malaria! (What, would leprosy sound too fishy?)

After postponing because of Abrams “death,” Sprecher finally announced yesterday rehearsals would start on Monday—even though it’s not clear if the $4.5 million has been found. The show must go on!

Or will it?


We homosexuals rallied behind President Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign like we’d only done for Garland before. Opening October 19 at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex, the new play The Austerity of Hope (left) centers on a group of queer friends as they juggle romance, work and money against the last election.

“I worked on the play during the historic election of Obama, so it felt natural to use this momentous event as a backdrop to the story,” playwright Dan Fingerman says. “That election awakened in my generation, especially for gays, a deep sense of responsibility and passion.” [The Austerity of Hope]



A new musical about Broadway’s ultimate diva, Ethel Merman?

Oh, hells to the yes!

Set in 1970, Merman’s Apprentice tells the tale of fictional 12-year-old Muriel Plakenstein, who runs off to be a Broadway star and meets Merman, who takes the girl to a rehearsal for Hello, Dolly!, where Muriel sings for that abominable producer David Merrick. After hearing her voice, though, Merrick decides to mount an all-child version of Dolly.

An industry reading of this musical fable is set for next week, with Klea Blackhurst tackling the role of the formidable first lady of Broadway. Apprentice‘s music is by David Evans with book and lyrics by Stephen Cole, who was friends with Merman herself. But can an original score possibly compare to Merman classics like “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”? [Playbill]



What queen could refuse hunky straight jocks, gay-rights advocacy and Broadway showtunes? If you’re in New York, cgeck out the October 11 performance of Wicked, when proceeds will benefit both Dan Savage‘s It Gets Better project and ex-rugby stud Ben Cohen‘s StandUp Foundation.

Of course, Wicked, a young green witch taunted by classmates, is really the perfect show to host an event benefiting anti-bullying campaigns. (Cast members even recorded their own It Gets Better video below)

But don’t delay: Tickets, which include a post-show forum with Cohen, Savage and Wicked cast members, are only available through September 31. [Eventbrite]