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End of reign for ‘Queen’

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Eileen Murphy

The producers of Martin McDonagh’s Tony Award-winning drama, “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” have announced that the show will end its run at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theater on March 21. The show will make way for another Irish play, “The Weir,” written by Conor McPhereson.

Of course, this being the theater, nothing is as simple as it sounds. The New York Times reports that the date of the show’s closing has become a bone of contention between the producers of the two shows. What sparked the controversy was a magazine ad.

Producers of “The Weir” planned to place an ad in this week’s New Yorker announcing that the show would open for previews at the Walter Kerr on March 23. This came as a surprise to the “Queen” team, who had been considering plans to keep their show open through April 4, when Anna Manahan, the sole remaining original cast member, reaches the end of her contract. The ad spurred producers to announce that the show would end its run early, on March 21.

This makes for a rather sticky situation. If “Beauty Queen” stays at the Kerr until March 21, then there’s no way “The Weir” can open there on the 23rd — it would take at least a week to load their sets and equipment. Ironically, “Weir” is produced by the same team that mounted the show “Forever Tango” — which vacated the Walter Kerr Theater to make way for “Beauty Queen.”

Of course, this all may wind up being a tempest in a teapot. Rocco Landesman, president of Jujamcyn, the company that owns the Walter Kerr, has assured the “Queen” team that if need be, he’ll find them a home through April 4, and pay the moving costs.

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“Nobody’s going to be without a theater,” he said.

Follow her up to Carlow

Those of you who’ve been losing sleep worrying about Kate Moss, what with her recent stint in rehab and her newly brunette tresses, take heart. The superwaif catwalk cutie has a safe haven (and a sympathetic shoulder on which to cry) in scenic Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow.

We hear that after her last breakup with the equally photogenic Johnny Depp, but before her London health farm stint, Kate took refuge in Ireland. She spent Christmas with the family of Cranberries-discoverer Denny Cordell family, weeping on the shoulder of Cordell’s son, Tarka.

Of course, Kate seems all right now — she’s been flitting all around Europe, and recently celebrated her 25th birthday with a celebrity-studded bash in gay Paree. But we’re sure she can’t wait to get back to Ireland sometime soon — we hear Tarka looks a lot like her old squeeze, J.D. . . .

The tough get going . . .

You know you’re getting old when the pop songs of your youth are pure, campy nostalgia to the young whippersnappers on the music scene today. A case in point is this quote from Boyzone’s Ronan Keating, regarding the song he and the band are recording for the charity album “Comic Relief.”

“Next week we’re off to London to record . . . a number called ‘When the Going Gets Tough,’ ” he wrote in his Sunday World column. “It was a hit for a guy called Billy Ocean, and I’m sure mums and dads will remember him. He’s not that far back, really.”

Mums and dads!?!?! Not that far back?? Geez, it seems like only yesterday that we were wearing shoulder pads the size of couch cushions, Stiff Stuff-ing our hair into gravity-defying coifs, and stacking 45s (by geezer bands like Duran Duran, U2 and, er, Billy Ocean) on the record player. Sigh.

By the way, for more insights into the mind and soul of Ronan Keating, turn to Page 28. He’s this week’s guest in the Echo Chamber.

Colin’s happy to be MisTrable

Stage star Colin Wilkinson, who starred in some of the most popular musicals of the 1980s, including “Evita,” “Les MisTrables” and “Phantom of the Opera,” is returning to his roots in more ways than one.

The Dublin-born singer will lead the cast of “Les Mis” when it opens at the Point Depot for a limited run next month. This will be the first time that Wilkinson has performed his most famous role — he won a Tony award for his performance as Jean Valjean in the Broadway production — in his hometown, and he’s raring to go. Well, sort of.

Wilkinson first had to run the Irish press gauntlet, and geez, they tend to ask the most uncomfortable questions . . .

So is he a millionaire? they wanted to know.

“You know, the Irish are always into that,” he huffed. “They’re always into money.”

OK, so they’re always into money. Are ye a millionaire, Colin?

“I don’t know what you’d call a millionaire. What’s a millionaire nowadays?”

Er, wouldn’t that be someone with a few million dollars or punts or, (in these days of unified currency) euros?

“Millionaire doesn’t mean anything anymore,” he sniffed. “Let’s say I’ve made enough to retire.”

So would you need a few million to retire . . . ah, forget it. Next question.

Would he partake of the delights of the Irish social scene? Would he be spotted in places like Lily’s Bordello or The Kitchen?

Fat chance.

“I live like a Trappist monk when I’m doing a show,” he said. “When I do a job I like to do it well. I gave up booze about 25 years ago. When I was doing ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ I’d go out with guys like Luke Kelly, God bless him, and you can imagine how I’d be the next day.”

But surely he’ll go out on his nights off?

“I won’t be going out in Dublin . . . until it’s over,” he said firmly.

Colin is proud of his stage work, and of the influence he’s had on other performers. Hollywood heartthrob Antonio Banderas, who starred with Madonna in the film version of “Evita,” has said that he prepared for the role of Che by listening to Wilkinson sing the same part on the original cast recording.

“I didn’t like Madonna in it, but I thought he was excellent,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson, who’s been living in Canada for the last 10 years, plans to remain in Ireland when the show ends its run. He’ll be building a new house in Connemara and intends to play a lot of golf, and work on a book about his life.

Talking at the top

They say politics makes strange bedfellows, but we think it would be hard to find a more eclectic bunch than the people honored by socialite and author Tina Flaherty.

The author of the new book “How to Talk Your Way to the Top” threw a party at the Four Seasons last week, at which she honored the “Top Talkers of 1998.” The winner was John Hume, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, real estate magnate Lew Rudin, producer Marty Richards and syndicated gossip diva Liz Smith.

Hume is justifiably proud of the progress that’s been made in Northern Ireland. “People who have lived all their lives with barbed wire, guns pointed at them and soldiers all over the streets hardly believe it,” he told Smith. “Young people now relish the peace and its freeing effect in their lives.”

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