Celebrities on Broadway -- does it promise a hit?

Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:28pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A slew of Hollywood stars led by Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig will open the new season of Broadway, as producers test whether star power will keep the Great White Way sparkling in tough times.

Jackman and Craig are teaming up for "A Steady Rain," Jude Law will appear in "Hamlet" and Sienna Miller will make her Broadway debut in "After Miss Julie," all opening in the Fall.

Last season's celebrities to take to the Great White Way included James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Geoffrey Rush, Katie Holmes and Will Ferrell.

Stars boost sales, no small matter in the risky business of Broadway, said John Breglio, who is producing the musical "Dreamgirls," which is set to open in November.

"It is absolutely essential now to have a major star, a major star, to put on a play. And unless you have that, it's very hard," he told Reuters. "You know with stars in it you are guaranteed to at least get your money back."

He described as "stupendous" the pairing of Jackman, known for the "X-Men" films and winner of a Tony in 2004 for his role in the musical "The Boy From Oz," and Craig, star of the latest "James Bond" films and a performer on the London stage.

"Just the two of them will sell out every ticket. That is a huge coup," Breglio said.

But he is producing "Dreamgirls" with a cast of relative unknowns and said he believes musicals, more than plays, can still be financially successful without a celebrity.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Hugh Jackman poses at an industry screening of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California April 28, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>