"Hit List" at The Fringe
They say the course of true love never does run smooth, but it sounds like the road to Broadway doesn't, either. At least if you ask the beleaguered team behind our favorite star-crossed musical "Bombshell."
The latest piece of bad luck to befall this wannabe Broadway titan is the loss of its director, the legendary - or, if you prefer, notorious - Derek Wills, who is leaving the show and taking his directing skills, his choreography and his womanizing ways with him. Where, we don't know yet, but the show's loss is our gain, because this stuff is gossip gold.
Could the bad luck on "Bombshell" be having a ripple effect on other shows, too? Its star, Karen Cartwright, was supposed to headline a tiny show called "Hit List" at The Winter Fringe Festival, and her presence was enough to pique the interest of some of theater's leading lights. Who doesn't love an uptown girl making her way downtown? But then, the night of the first performance, the curtain came up on her ill-prepared replacement. So either our uptown girl didn't like her stint on the wrong side of the tracks, or there was a bit of a tug-of-war in which Broadway heavyweight and current "Bombshell" producer Jerry Rand had the distinct advantage. We're going with the latter.
By all accounts the result was a fiasco, even for The Fringe. But then, the next night, the (former) director of "Bombshell" was spotted in the audience - and its leading lady on stage. We hear that after that disastrous first night, the house was only half full - but that Cartwright was sensational. Is this Derek Wills' unerring eye for talent at work? And if a girl sings her heart out on stage, but there's only an audience of folding chairs and a few lost Fringe Festival patrons, does it matter?
Derek Wills could make it matter - and we're eager to see if he will...
Dissention in the ranks? That's the 411 from "Bombshell."
Sources tell Act Break that Broadway's own Will and Grace - the perpetually joined-at-the-hip Tom Levitt and Julia Houston - are at odds over the musical's direction, specifically the ever-beleaguered book. Word is, director Derek Wills and the show's new super-producer, Jerry Rand, are also at loggerheads. Downstage Dish thinks it's a dire consequence of Eileen Rand's absence in the rehearsal room.
So what's all the brouhaha about? Seems it's the age-old question of art vs. entertainment, with both the old and new Houston books in contention. We hear Levitt and Jerry Rand want the older, lighter version that's more of a spectacle, while Houston and Will want the new take - a bold, analytic approach in which Marilyn Monroe is seen through the perspective of the men in her life. By all accounts, the new book was well-liked at a recent read-through, but that may not be enough.
Downstage Dish wishes the book could be a combination of the two - an intelligent spectacle, fun but with a voice. However, the time for that collaboration seems to have passed...
The Reinvention of Veronica Moore
Just when Act Break is certain it's the end of the road for Bombshell, some shift in the fabric of the Great White Way occurs and this beleaguered musical manages to live another day. We're hearing that despite getting the green light to resume rehearsals, this last week has been nothing less than humiliating for Bombshell's champion and producer, Eileen Rand. The details are murky, but Rand is suddenly out as producer and her ex-husband, Jerry, is in. It seems two of Broadway's major power players just can't stay away from each other's throats.
Forget about Marilyn's mess for a moment, if you can. The most thrilling thing to happen on stage as of late involves a sultry, all-grown-up Veronica Moore, recently in concert for a one-night engagement. Downstage Dish is still rhapsodizing about her rendition of a showstopper called "I Can't Let Go" - not to mention the previously unheard-of team of Jimmy Collins and Kyle Bishop, who wrote it. It looks like Moore's gamble on director Derek Wills paid off handsomely for all involved - especially for the young songwriting talents who are now very clearly in the spotlight.