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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st June 2009

The 39th annual Lincoln Center Out Of Doors Festival, presenting free performances on the plazas of the Lincoln Center and the Bandshell in Damrosch Park, will run from August 5th to 23rd. Performances will include the debut of the Asphalt Orchestra; The Dave Brubeck Quartet with Simon Shaheen and Amir ElSaffar leading the New York debut of his Two Rivers Large Ensemble; Hip Hop Generation Next showcasing b-boy culture from across the world, including artists from Philadelphia, Chicago and Seoul, plus a rap crew from Sierra Leone, Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew; The Plastic People of the Universe, who figure in Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll; The Broadway Problem, in which Stew, Heidi Rodewald and Tanya Tagaq deconstruct some of their favourite Broadway songs; Four Women, a tribute to Odetta, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Eartha Kitt, featuring Jayne Cortez, Tamar-Kali, Abena Koomson and Alkebulan; and Bubbles Do Beatles, a child friendly performance of the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, performed by a 30 piece orchestra.

The New Group's 2009/2010 season will comprise the world premiere of The Starry Messenger, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, with Matthew Broderick as a forty-something married man working at the Hayden Planetarium, who meets a young single mother, and begins to reassess both his relationship with his wife and his career, from October; Sam Shepard's A Lie Of The Mind, a final collision of two families after a severe incident of spousal abuse leaves their lives altered, directed by Ethan Hawke, opening in January; and the world premiere of The Kid, a musical adaptation of Dan Savage's The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend And I Decided To Go Get Pregnant, book by Michael Zam, music by Andy Monroe, lyrics by Jack Lechner, directed by Scott Elliott, opening next spring.

On The Casting Couch: Jonathan Groff, Andre De Shields, George Bartenieff, Karen Kandel, Joan MacIntosh, Steven Rishard and Rocco Sisto will feature in the Public Theater's Shakespeare In The Park production of Euripides's The Bacchae, opening on August 24th; John Stamos, Gina Gershon, Bill Irwin and Jayne Houdyshell will be joined by Nolan Gerard Funk, Allie Trimm and Dee Hoty in the musical Bye Bye Birdie, reopening Henry Miller's Theatre on October 14th; and Noah Robbins, Josh Grisetti, Laurie Metcalf, Santino Fontana will lead the cast in the Broadway productions of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs opening on October 25th and Broadway Bound, opening on December 10th.

The Broadway League has announced that despite the harsh economic situation (and the record number of show closures in January) Broadway shows grossed a record breaking $943.3m during the 2008/2009 theatre season, up from $937.5m in 2007/2008, with 12.15m paid attendances, compared to 12.27m the previous year. In 2008/2009 there were 43 new productions, the second highest ever, comprising 10 new musicals, 8 new plays, 4 musical revivals, 16 play revivals and 5 special performances. The number of playing weeks (the sum total of all shows multiplied by the number of weeks each show played) was the third highest on record at 1,548 weeks. The record was the 2007/2008 season with 1,560 weeks.

The Public Theater has announced its 2009/2010 season, which will include William Shakespeare's Othello, with John Ortiz and Seymour Hoffman, directed by Peter Sellars, playing at the NYU Skirball Center from September 12th, produced in association with LAByrinth Theater Company, Wiener Festwochen and K15 Festival; the world premiere of Idiot Savant, a 'philosophical comedy' written and directed by Richard Foreman, with Willem Dafoe, from October 27th, produced in association with Ontological-Hysteric Theater; the premiere production of Tarell Alvin McCraney's trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays, contemporary stories of kinship, love, heartache and coming of age, comprising In The Red And Brown Water, directed by Tina Landau, and a double bill The Brothers Size and Marcus , Or The Secret Of Sweet, directed by Robert O'Hara, from October 21st, a co-production with McCarter Theatre Center New Jersey; Mike Daisey performing his new monologue, The Last Cargo Cult, inspired by time he spent on a South Pacific island, directed by Jean-Michele Gregory, opening in December; and the world premiere of Suzan-Lori Parks's Snake, a family portrait shattered by issues of rage, revenge, power and betrayal, directed by James Macdonald, from March 2nd. NYU Skirball Center is located at 556 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square South; and The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street, between Astor Place and East 4th Street.

Concert performances of the new musical Kristina, music by Benny Andersson, lyrics by Bjorn Ulvaeus, and English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, with Helen Sjoholm, who originated the title role in the Swedish premiere, and Russell Watson, directed by Lars Rudolfsson, will be staged at Carnegie Hall on September 23rd and 24th. The show is based on four novels by Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg, about immigrants from the south of Sweden to America in the 1850s

Classical Theatre of Harlem will stage Alfred Preisser and Randy Weiner's Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe, inspired by Moliere's Tartuffe, relocating the story of a con man attempting to deceive a wealthy family with a show of piety to contemporary church in Harlem, with a series of songs, dances, sermons and feats of divine inspiration, directed by Preisser, previewing from June 12th at the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row, opening on June 25th. The cast comprises Andre De Shields, Ted Lange, Kim Brockington, Jennifer Akabue, Gerron Atkinson, Jabari Brisport, Tyrone Davis, Soneelea Nankani, Gina Marie Rivera, Charletta Rozzell, Lawrence Street, Kisa Willis and Reji Woods. Theatre Row is located at 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

Pearl Theatre Company, which has been bringing classical theatre to the East Village for 25 years, will relocate to midtown at New York City Center Stage II for its 2009/2010 season, which will comprise J M Synge's The Playboy Of The Western World, the turn of the 20th century rural comedy of self discovery, directed by J R Sullivan, opening on October 11th; Bernard Shaw's Misalliance, a comedy about the dangerous joys of love, sex and marriage, opening December 13th; Charles Dickens's Hard Times, adapted by Stephen Jeffreys, exposing the harsh realities of the industrial revolution in Victorian England, directed by J R Sullivan, opening on February 14th; and Frank Gilroy's The Subject Was Roses, in which an innocent bunch of roses and a well meaning lie sets a family's world reeling, opening on April 18th. The resident company will include Jolly Abraham, Rachel Botchan, Robin Leslie Brown, Bradford Cover, Dominic Cuskern, Dan Daily, T J Edwards, Robert Hock, Sean McNall, Carol Schultz and Edward Seamon. New York City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

The Rumour Machine says: that Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig will star on Broadway in the fall in the premiere of Keith Huff's A Steady Rain, about two cops whose lifelong friendship is severely tested when a seemingly routine domestic disturbance call results in the death of a young boy; and that a Goodman Theatre Chicago production of a double bill featuring Brian Dennehy, comprising Eugene O'Neill's Hughie, the tales of a small time gambler and drunk, directed by Robert Falls, and Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, in which an old man looks back on his life listening to tapes he has made, directed by Jennifer Tarver, will open on Broadway next April. The Rumour Machine grinds on.