May 3, 2008

"Stalag 17" Has Been Spiked

As regular readers know, I don't usually post twice in one day. And, as I said in my earlier entry, I don't feel that I can pass on the off-the-record anecdotes (a couple quite juicy) that speakers are sharing at the Commercial Theater Institute I'm attending this weekend. But this one is bound to break into the news sooner or later and is just too good to pass up: When producer Ben Sprecher was introduced as the man behind the upcoming production of one of the most intriguing theatrical match-ups in a long time—a first-ever Broadway revival of Stalag 17, the 1951 play about POWs in WWII, and the movie director Spike Lee—he yelled out "Canceled."

The deal had been widely reported last year in part because Lee has never directed a play and probably even more so because he made a point of saying he couldn't remember the last time he'd gone to the theater (click here to read the New York Times story about the deal) although I remember seeing and speaking to Lee in the lobby of the Laura Pels Theater during the intermission of Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel in 2004. But Michael Abbott, who produced the original Broadway production of Stalag 17 when he was just 21 and had brought Lee into the revival project, died in January.
I didn't get a chance to ask Sprecher what had happened but it seems that the project succumbed along with Abbott. It's not the same as seeing it on the stage, of course, but for now we'll have to content ourselves with the classic movie version of "Stalag 17" with William Holden.

1 comment:

Esther said...

Wow, what a scoop! I was really looking forward to Spike Lee's first theatrical venture. I hope he finds something else he'd like to direct in the theatre, but it doesn't sound promising. Thanks for the update. I guess I have to learn not to get too excited when these things are announced!