The plot is a comic inversion of King Lear in which the monarch needs to dry out and his Cordelia has fantastic management skills. The new production, at the Atlantic Theatre Company, is a relaxed delight, with stellar work from Martha Plimpton as the charmingly calculating Maggie, David Aaron Baker as her feckless new husband, and the great Brian Murray, who uses every bit of his considerable skills to evoke the pompous, chiseling, self-serving Henry. It's also notable for Laura Bauer's remarkably detailed costumes; every single character, right down to the walk-ons, appears fully turned out in hats, bags, gloves, etc.--an unusual achievement in a not-for-profit theatre production. Several cast members have multiple outfits, as well, because the action covers more than a year and their characters undergo notable changes of fortune. The rest of the design is a bit less interesting. Derek McLane has cleverly provided for three different locations onstage, but his plain wood set is more reminiscent of the Wild West than middle-class England. Fitz Patton's incidental music sounds Celtic rather than English. Kenneth Posner's lighting is a typically professional job in a production where understatement is called for. All in all, this is a rare chance to see a lost gem of a play in a highly effective production.--David Barbour
Heard from Hollywood: Well, it's finally happening: the movie version of the musical Chicago, that is. After 25 years' worth of false starts—following both Bob Fosse's original 1975 production, and the still-running 1996 revival--shooting officially started December 12, 2001 in Toronto, with Miramax producing and distributing. Over the years, names like Liza Minnelli, Goldie Hawn, and Madonna were bandied about as casting possibilities for the lead roles of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly; the lucky gals who actually landed the roles are Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger. Can they sing? Can they dance? We'll have to wait and see. Other roles are filled by Richard Gere (as lawyer Billy Flynn), Queen Latifah (as prison matron Mama Morton), Christine Baranski (as sob sister Mary Sunshine, played onstage by a man in drag), and John C. Reilly (as Amos Hart). The director is Rob Marshall, the stage director/choreographer here making his feature film debut. The adaptation is by Gods and Monsters filmmaker Bill Condon. Lighting designers Jules Fisher (veteran of the original production) and Peggy Eisenhauer have signed on with the film, to help DP Dion Beebe come up with the appropriate look for the musical numbers. Production designer John Myhre has reportedly based designs on Reginald Marsh drawings. Costume design is by Colleen Atwood. "Give 'em the old razzle dazzle"…
A few other movies have gone into production in the last couple of months. Anthony Hopkins is playing charismatic cannibal Hannibal Lecter for the third time in Brett Ratner's Red Dragon, which was previously filmed by Michael Mann in 1986 as Manhunter, with Brian Cox as Lecter. Red Dragon, a Universal film, is being photographed by Dante Spinotti and designed by Kristi Zea, who was also production designer on The Silence of the Lambs…Mulholland Drive sensation Naomi Watts is playing the lead in the DreamWorks thriller The Ring, directed by Gore Verbinski and adapted from a popular Japanese film. Bojan Bazelli is the cinematographer, Tom Duffield is production designer, and costumes are by Julie Weiss…The title of Jon Amiel's science-fiction thriller The Core refers to that sci-fi staple, the Center of the Earth. The hardy souls journeying there in this Paramount picture include Hilary Swank and Aaron Eckhart. Philip Harrison is in charge of designing this environment, while John Lindley is shooting the film and Greg McMurry is in charge of visual effects. Costume designer is Dan Lester…Roger Donaldson's CIA thriller The Farm, from Touchstone, stars Al Pacino and Colin Farrell, with production design by Andrew McAlpine, costumes by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor, and cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh.
Finally, filming on two franchise entries has been underway since late November. Paramount's Star Trek: Nemesis brings back the Next Generation crew for an adventure in the Romulan Star Empire. Star Trek stalwarts Herman F. Zimmerman and Michael Westmore are once again acting as production designer and makeup supervisor. Director of photography is Jeffrey L. Kimball…Mike Myers returns as the dentally challenged secret agent in New Line's Austin Powers: Goldmember. DP Peter Deming, production designer Rusty Smith, and costume designer Deena Appel--all of whom have enjoyed at least one previous outing with the superspy—are on board for his latest caper.--John Calhoun