Theater's Autumn Rush

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It always looks promising this time of year: a new theater season, full of hope for good reviews and dreams of big box office returns. CBS News Sunday Morning Anchor Charles Osgood reports.
One of the first up is The Full Monty, a new musical based on the hit movie from England about six unemployed steelworkers who need cash and decide to strip for it. It is now set in Buffalo, N.Y., and the guys are now Americans.

The Full Monty may be part of a trend: Hit movies turned into musicals are becoming a mainstay of the theater.

Take Disney's The Lion King, still a smash hit in New York and set to open later this month in Los Angeles. But, once upon a time, it was a very popular animated movie.

The movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show was based on a Broadway musical that flopped big time. Now, 25 years later it's is headed back to Broadway. The hope is to capitalize on its cult film status.

Says New York Times theater columnist Jesse McKinley: "More and more often you see that....And that to the extent is the producer just being savvy. They know they've got a property out there where people go, 'Oh, I recognize the title.'"

But it's not just movies that have Broadway singing. The very popular Dr. Seuss books inspired Seussical, The Musical. Says Composer Stephen Flaherty: "There's something about when you look at a Seuss book."

"They're so kinetic," he says. "The characters are just leaping off the page."

Adds lyricist Lynn Ahrens: "You just have to go forward in the spirit of the books and try to channel Dr. Seuss in all of his joy and cynicism and wackiness."

Plays and comedies have always banked on well-known names. This year's roster is no exception.

Kathleeen Turner heads out to 12 cities from Minneapolis to Boston in Tallulah, a one-woman show about Tallulah Bankhead.

"It's about being an actress," she says. "It's about fame. It's about failure. It's about the loss of a control and an excess in your own private life. It's about responsibility," says Turner.

The gold standard for one-person shows may be Lily Tomlin's 1985 performance in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. The search is on again as Lily Tomlin repeats her Tony-winning role this fall in Seattle, Princeton, N.J. and New York.

Playwright Neil Simon returns to Broadway with The Dinner Party starring John Ritter and Henry Winkler.

Best known as TV's Alice, Linda Lavin - along with Michelle Lee from TV's Knot's Landing - team up for a new comedy The Tale of the Allergist's Wife.

And Footnotes stars the young but already legendary tap dancer Savion Glover.

St. Louis, Boston and Los Angeles will see the 50th anniversary production of Death of a Salesman. BriaDennehy repeats his Tony-winning performance as Willy Loman, the over-the-hill salesman whose bad judgment turns his big dreams into tragic nightmares.

And watch for something new and completely different called Blast, headed soon to a theater near you, including a stop at Washington's Kennedy Center.


  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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