Other News: Denzel Washington Seeks Play for Broadway Return

By Carol-Ann Rudy

Tony Award-winning director Jack O’Brien will direct “The Phantom of Manhattan,”Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, which is being based on Frederick Forsyth’s novel, according to London’s Daily Mail. The production is tentatively slated for a 2009 launch. Forsyth is working on the book now after taking over for Ben Elton who was working on the show with less-than-satisfactory results. According to the Daily Mail, a large portion of the music for the sequel has been completed.

The story line for the new production reportedly consists of the Phantom escaping to New York, setting up a fairground world on Coney Island with Madame Giry and daughter Meg. After organizing a concert in Manhattan for his true love, Christine, she arrives in the U.S. with husband Raoul and teenaged son who is a musical genius . . . like the Phantom.

O’Brien’s most recent Tony Award was for his direction of The Coast of Utopia, the trilogy by Tom Stoppard. Other Tonys were for Hairspray and Henry IV. He received numerous Tony nominations for productions including Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Porgy and Bess.

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Five-time Tony Award-winning designer Bob Crowley will be part of the creative team as well; he worked with O’Brien on Coast and has designed sets or costumes or both for numerous other Broadway productions including Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Carousel, and Twelfth Night. He made his Broadway directorial debut with Tarzan.

Separately, this Christmas Eve finds the likes of Denzel Washington looking for something special under his tree: a play to star in on Broadway. The native New Yorker has bought a home in the city where he began his career 30 years ago and states, “I’m trying to spend more time there. Trying to get back home.”

His last appearance on the Broadway stage was three years ago as Brutus in Julius Caesar. He has received top reviews from critics and audiences for his current performance in the movie, “American Gangster” with co-star Russell Crowe. Opening Christmas Day, he stars in the film, “The Great Debaters,” which he also directed, the story of a 1935 Texas African-American debating team’s message of racial equality brought to Harvard University.

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