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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th February 2008

Morgan Freeman, Frances McDormand, Peter Gallagher, Chip Zien, Remy Auberjonois, Anna Camp and Lucas Caleb will head the cast of Clifford Odets's The Country Girl, directed by Mike Nichols, which will preview from April 3rd at the Jacobs Theatre, with an official opening on April 27th. The play is a backstage drama about a down on his luck alcoholic actor, once a great theatre star, now attempting a comeback, thanks to an offer from a hot new director. It features scenic design by Tim Hatley, costumes by Albert Wolsky, lighting by Natasha Katz and sound by Acme Sound Partners. The producer is Ostar Enterprises and Bob Boyett.

Take Me Along, the musical adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness! , book by Joseph Stein and Robert Russell, score by Bob Merrill, directed by Charlotte Moore, with choreography by Barry McNabb, will preview from February 23rd at the Irish Repertory Theatre, opening on February 28th. The unashamedly romantic story set in a small Connecticut community in 1906 will feature Teddy Eck, William Parry, Donna Bullock, Dewey Cadell, Noah Ruff, Don Stephenson, Beth Glover, Anastasia Barzee, Justin Packard and Emily Skeggs. The Irish Repertory Theatre is located at 132 West 22nd Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

New York City Ballet will mark the 90th anniversary of the birth of Jerome Robbins with The Jerome Robbins Celebration, comprising 33 Robbins created ballets, playing at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center, between April 29th and June 29th. The season will launch with a programme featuring Circus Polka, The Four Seasons and the West Side Story Suite, Robbins's distillation of the dance sequences from the musical. Other events will include 10 programs focusing on various aspects of Robbins's work for the ballet stage, including Fancy Free, Dybbuk, Mother Goose, Antique Epigraphs, I'm Old Fashioned, Les Noces, and his Twyla Tharp collaboration Brahms/Handel, together with his NYCB works The Cage, Afternoon Of A Faun, Fanfare, The Concert and Dances At A Gathering.

The premiere of the potentially Broadway bound musical The Gershwins' An American In Paris, Ken Ludwig's adaptation of the 1951 film, directed by Gregory Boyd, with choreography by Randy Skinner, will take place at the Alley Theatre in Houston, previewing from April 26th, with an official opening on May 18th. The cast will be headed by Harry Groener, Erin Dilly, Felicia Finley, Jeffrey Denman, Meredith Patterson, Stephen DeRosa and Alix Korey. Using most of the original score, together with other Gershwin songs, Ludwig's new concept tells a fictional behind-the-scenes story about the making of a movie entitled An American In Paris. It features scenic design by Doug Schmidt, costumes by Carrie F Robbins, and lighting by Paul Gallo.

Gina Gionfriddo's U.S. Drag, with Tanya Fischer, Logan Marshall Green, Rebecca Henderson, Lisa Joyce, James Martinez, Michael Mosley, Matthew Stadelmann and Audrey Lynn Weston, directed by Trip Cullman, will preview from February 23rd at the Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row, opening on March 1st. It is a dark comedy about two recent college grads on the hunt for love, money, meaning, and Ed - New York's most elusive serial attacker. The producer is stageFARM. Theatre Row is located in Manhattan at 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

The concluding New York Pops concerts at Carnegie Hall in this season will be Swingin' With Marvin, a concert of swing-era favourites from the big band era, with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Nikki Yanofsky, conducted by Marvin Hamlisch, on February 8th; and Oscar Hammerstein II: The Song Is You, with Sutton Foster and Rosena Hill, on April 4th. The 2008/2009 season will comprise The Bernstein Songbook, featuring Christiane Noll, on October 17th, New York Songs: A Love Letter To The City, with Laura Bell Bundy, Linda Hart, Jack Jones and Clint Holmes, on November 7th; The King's Singers Holiday, with the British group The King's Singers performing seasonal favourites, on December 19th and 20th; The Music Of James Bond, an evening of tunes from the films, on March 6th; and Once Upon A Time And Tomorrow: The Best Of Charles Strouse, on April 3rd.

Paul Rudnick's The New Century, with Peter Bartlett, Mike Doyle, Jayne Houdyshell, Linda Lavin and Christy Pusz, directed by Nicholas Martin, will begin previews on March 20th at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, opening on April 14th. It comprises four short plays, featuring diverse characters from a concerned Long Island mother of at least three gay children, to an accomplished Midwestern craftswoman, to a flamboyant resident of Palm Beach, who meet under surprising and comic circumstances.

Brian Dykstra is performing his latest solo work The Jesus Factor, an uncensored and darkly comic view on religious hypocrisy and power, directed by Margarett Perry, seen recently as part of the Barrow Street Fortnight, at the Barrow Street Theatre for an unlimited run, opening officially on February 7th. The producers are Fresh Ice Productions and Jack W Batman. The Barrow Street Theatre is located at 27 Barrow Street, at 7th Avenue, south of Christopher Street.

The Actors Repertory Theatre will stage Tanya Marten's Euphoric Tendencies, with Katherine Barron, Nandita Chandra, Lizzie Czerner, Nicole Godino, Dona Elena Hatcher, Johnny Blaze Leavitt, Tanya Marten, Jonathan Marten, Gary Mink, Carol Padiernos, Dayle Pivetta, Stephanie Sellars and Bella Vendramini, directed by Jonathan Marten, at the Access Theater from 6th March. It is the tale of a young writer whose rocky path to creative fulfilment is smoothed when she meets a free spirit who introduces her to a different world. The Access Theater is located at 380 Broadway, 4th floor, just below Canal Street.

The remaining productions in the current season at the Metropolitan Playhouse will comprise: Elinor Fuchs and Joyce Antler's Year One Of The Empire, the story of how at the dawn of the 20th century, a company of American idealists and powerbrokers plotted to give birth to an American empire, drawn entirely from historical documents, directed by Alex Roe, previewing from 29th February, opening on 7th March; The Devil And Tom Walker, a new musical adaptation by Anthony P Pennino and Yvonne Conybeare of Washington Irving's tale of temptation and acceptance in New England, performed by a company of actor/musicians, previewing from April 18th, opening on April 25th; and East Village Chronicles No 5, a collection of 8 new plays about locations in the area, from June 5th to 22nd. The Metropolitan Playhouse is located in the Cornelia Connelly Center at 220 East 4th Street, between Avenues A and B.