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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd August 2010

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the just closed Public Theater Shakespeare in the Park production of Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice, in which a Jewish moneylender, angered at the discrimination he has suffered, demands a 'pound of flesh' from someone who has defaulted on a debt, featuring Al Pacino, directed by Daniel Sullivan, will transfer to the Broadhurst Theatre for a 10 week season from from October 19th. Other casting has yet to be confirmed. It is a co-production with Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel.

Freckleface Strawberry, a new children's musical inspired by books by Julianne Moore, about a 7 year old girl whose freckles and red hair mark her as different, book by Rose Caiola and Gary Kupper, music and lyrics by Gary Kupper, directed by Buddy Crutchfield, with choreography by Gail Pennington Crutchfield, will preview from September 9th at New World Stages, opening on October 3rd. The producer is MMAC Productions. New World Stages is located at 340 West 50th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

The Flea Theater's fall season will comprise the world premieres of A R Gurney's Office Hours, a comedy set on a university campus in 1974, when administrators began to doubt the value of a teaching classics, directed by Jim Simpson, previewing from September 21st, opening on September 30th; and Looking At Christmas, by Steven Banks (aka Billy The Mime), in which a recently fired writer and a newly arrived actress find the figures in the 5th Avenue window displays come to life on Christmas Eve, from November 20th. The Flea Theatrer is located at 41 White Street, between Church Street and Broadway.

The Active Theater will stage the world premiere of Anthony Dodge's Venus Flytrap, film-noir inspired mystery featuring the exploits of a female detective, with Xanthe Elbrick, directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, from November 4th at the Workshop Theater, produced in association with Craig Haffner and Karl E Held. The Workshop Theater is located at 312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

The York Theatre Company's next Musicals In Mufti series of semi-staged performances will feature Coco, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Andre Previn, suggested by incidents from the life of Coco Chanel, from September 10th to 12th; The Roar Of The Greasepaint - The Smell Of The Crowd, book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, set in 1960s London, where social norms are thrown out the window as two men of different classes continually try to get the better of each, from October 1st to 3rd; I Remember Mama, book by Thomas Meehan, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Martin Charnin, additional lyrics by Raymond Jessel, based on the play by John Van Druten, about a group of recent Norwegian immigrants as they make new lives in turn of the 20th century San Francisco, from October 8th to 10th; and I Love My Wife, book and lyrics by Michael Stewart, music by Cy Coleman, an irreverent look at relationships and marriage during the sexual revolution of the 1970s, from October 22nd to 24th. The York Theatre Company's Theatre at Saint Peter's is on 54th Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues.

On The Casting Couch: Joseph Alessi, Dorothy Atkinson, Damon Daunno, Gabriel Ebert, Edward Jay, Annette McLaughlin, Tristan Sturrock and Hannah Yelland will head the cast of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter, opening at Studio 54 on September 28th; John Cullum, Sean Bradford, Josh Breckenridge, Derrick Cobey, Colman Domingo, Joshua Henry, Rodney Hicks, Kendrick Jones, Forrest McClendon, Julius Thomas III, Sharon Washington and Christian Dante White will feature in the John Kander-Fred Ebb-David Thompson musical The Scottsboro Boys, opening at the Lyceum Theatre on October 31st; and de'Adre Aziza, Danny Burstein, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Mary Beth Peil and Sherie Rene Scott will feature in the Jeffrey Lane-David Yazbek musical Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, opening at the Belasco Theatre on November 4th.

Psycho Clan's 7th Halloween season haunted house experience Nightmare: Superstitions, created by Timothy Haskell and Chip Meyrelles, will run at the NOHO Event Center, from September 24th to November 6th. Visitors will enter a surreal version of The Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum, one of America's first psychiatric hospitals, now defunct. In the schizophrenic/manic-depressive wing, specializing in extreme paranoia, its patients have voluntarily admitted themselves seeking protection from the danger they perceive is awaiting them because they broke a superstition. They feel that they can be relieved of this burden and set free if the visiting patrons break the superstition and accept the bad luck themselves. The creative team includes production design by Paul Smithyman, art direction by Justin Haskell, lighting by Garin Marshall, sound by David Roy, props by Aaron Haskell and costumes by Candice Thompson, with additional designs by Sylva Ventiko. The NOHO Event Center is located at 623 Broadway at Houston Street, entrance on Mercer Street.

David Bertolino's The Deep Throat Sex Scandal, about the making of the 1970s pornographic film Deep Throat, and the subsequent controversy it generated, with Lori Gardner, Malcolm Madera, Graham Stuart Allen, Frank Blocker, Stephen Hope, John-Charles Kelly, Rita Rehn and Zach Wegner, directed by Jerry Douglas, will preview from September 17th at 45 Bleecker Street Theatre, opening on October 10th. The producer is When Harry Met Linda. 45 Bleecker Street Theatre is located at 45 Bleecker Street, between Lafayette and Mott Streets.

Emerging Artists Theatre will stage The Sensational Josephine Baker, a one woman play with music telling the story of the international Jazz Age star, through women who played important roles in her life, written and performed by Cheryl Howard, directed by directed by Ian Streicher, previewing from September 7th at TADA Theatre, opening on September 14th. TADA Theatre is located at 15 West 28th Street, Second Floor, between Broadway and 5th Avenue.

Pulse Ensemble Theatre will produce the 6th annual free open air Harlem Summer Shakespeare production in Riverbank State Park of Macbeth, directed by Alexa Kelly, playing Wednesdays through Sundays from August 12th to 28th. Performances will also be given on Governer's Island on August 7th and 8th. It is set in a fictional occupied Islamic country, where Macbeth is a power hungry U.S. Army officer, King Duncan is a warlord co-operating with the US troops, and the witches are local war widows. The cast comprises Brian Richardson, Renee Flemings, Jeff Burchfield, Paul Pontrelli, Akeem Folkes, Aam Jonas Segaller, Danny Makali'I Mittermeyer, Shawn Williams, Mathew J. Harris, Mia Anderson, Wendy Snow, Erica Chambers, Regina Gibson, Gregory Wool, Kara Addington and Leigh Ellen Caudill. Riverbank State Park Amphitheatre is located at 145th Street and Riverside Drive, overlooking the Hudson River. Further information can be found on the PET web site, via the link from Off Broadway Venues & Companies in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.