Broadway Update: Some Like It Hot; Robert Morse Dies; Drama Desk Dates
By: David Sheward
April 21, 2022: Some Like It Hot, a new musical version of Billy Wilder’s 1960 film classic about two musicians who don drag to escape the mob, will be coming to Broadway this winter. Previews begin Nov. 1 at the Shubert Theater prior to an opening of Dec. 11. The book will be Matthew Lopez (The Inheritance) and Amber Ruffin (The Amber Ruffin Show) with music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray). Tony winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Something Rotten) directs and choreographs. The cast will be headed by Tony winner Christian Borle (Something Rotten) and J. Harrison Ghee (Mrs. Doutfire) as the cross-dressers and Adrianna Hicks in the Marilyn Monroe role of Sugar, the alluring star feature of the all-female orchestra the boys join. Also in the cast will be Kevin Del Aguila as Osgood, NaTasha Yvette Williams as Sweet Sue, Adam Heller as Mulligan and Mark Lotito as Spats.
The original film starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Monroe and is regarded as one of the classic comedies of the tail-end of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The American Film Institute voted it “the Funniest American Movie of All Time.”
A previous musical incarnation called Sugar opened in 1972, starred Robert Morse, Tony Roberts, and Elaine Joyce and featured a book by Peter Stone, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Bob Merrill. It ran for 505 performances. A revival tour was renamed Some Like It Hot and featured Curtis as Osgood.
Speaking of Robert Morse, the Tony-winning star just passed away at age 90. Morse is best known for his star-making role in both the film and Broadway versions of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. He won a Tony for playing the boyishly charming, gap-toothed but ruthless schemer J. Pierrepont Finch. Succeed ran for over 1,400 performances, and won seven Tonys as well as the Pulitzer Prize, a rarity for a comic musical. Morse won his second Tony for playing another impish character, Truman Capote in the solo play Tru. He made a late-career triumph in the TV series Mad Men as Bertram Cooper, one of the senior partners at the ad agency which provided the focus for the satirical show. He was nominated for five Emmys and won a SAG Ensemble Award for the series in 2010. His last Broadway performance was in an all-star revival of The Front Page in 2016.
Morse made his Broadway debut as the eager Barnaby opposite in Ruth Gordon in Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker which served as the basis for Hello, Dolly. He later reprised the role in the film version with Shirley Booth. He continued to make positive impressions in Say, Darling and Take Me Along before starring in How to Succeed. He later played another eager young man in So Long, 174th Street, a musical based on Carl Reiner’s memoir of his days as an aspiring actor.
Morse played in many films, but never achieved Hollywood stardom. He specialized in farcical comedies such as Honeymoon Hotel, The Loved One, A Guide for the Married Man, Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?, and The Boatniks.
He turned to TV and found it more hospitable. He starred in a short-lived innovative series called That’s Life which chronicled a young couple’s romance from courtship to parenthood over 26 episodes through monologues, sketches, and musical numbers. His numerous guest-star credits include Love, American Style, Night Gallery, All My Children, The Dukes of Hazzard, Murder She Wrote, Suddenly Susan, and American Crime Story.
His career sported some oddball assignments such as playing the vampirish Grampa Munster in a 1995 TV-movie Here Come the Munsters, the voice of Santa Claus in Teen Titans GO!, the character Howler on Pound Puppies, and Jack Frost in an animated musical TV special.
The 2021-22 New York theater season is in the home stretch and the awards calendar is filling up. The dates for the Drama Desk Awards have just been added to the mix, after a hiatus of two years. The last DDs were presented remotely via NY1-News in June of 2020, after a delay due to coverage of the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests. Since all New York theaters were closed due to the COVID pandemic, the awards were suspended in 2021. Now they are back.
The cut-off for Drama Desk Award eligibility is May 1 and the nominations will be announced on May 2 (one day before the Tony nominations come out and one day after the Lortels are presented). It has not been announced if the nominations will be given out by press release or if there will be a press conference as has been the case prior to 2020. Voting for the awards ends at midnight June 6. The date and location of the ceremony has yet to be announced. The Tony Awards are June 12.
The Drama Desks are the only major New York theater awards to include on and Off-Broadway in all of its multiple categories. The nominations are chosen by a seven-member nominating committee consisting of Martha Wade Steketee (Chair; freelance, UrbanExcavations.com) Peter Filichia (Broadway Radio), Kenji Fujishima (freelance: Theatermania), Juan Michael Porter II (TheBody.com; freelance: TDF Stages, Did They Like It?, New York Theatre Guide), Ayanna Prescod (freelance: Variety, New York Theatre Guide, Today Tix), Zachary Stewart (TheaterMania), and Diep Tran (freelance: Backstage, American Theatre, Broadway News, New York Theater Guide). The awards are voted on by the 110 active members of the Drama Desk, a New York-based organization of theater critics, reporters, journalists and publishers.
In previous years, the DDs have been presented at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, the Hammerstein Ballroom, and Town Hall, and broadcast on NY-1 News, public TV stations, and on the Ovation Network. Past hosts have included Michael Urie, Laura Benanti, Kristin Chenoweth, Patti LuPone, Lily Tomlin, Bernadette Peters, Harvey Fierstein and the cast of [title of show].