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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th May 2009

Roundabout Theatre Company has been announced as the producer at the reconstructed Henry Miller's Theatre on West 43rd Street. The 1,055 seater theatre is located behind the preserved and restored neo-Georgian facade of the original 1918 theatre, the interior of which was demolished to make way for the new Bank of America tower. Roundabout has confirmed that its first production will be the previously announced revival of the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie, book by Michael Stewart, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Lee Adams, about an Elvis like rock star being inducted into the Army, and his agent-songwriter's plan to exploit the situation, with John Stamos, Gina Gershon, Bill Irwin and Jayne Houdyshell, directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom, previewing from September 10th, with an official opening on October 15th. The design team comprises scenery by Andrew Jackness, costumes by Gregg Barnes, lighting by Ken Billington and sound by Acme Sound.

Meanwhile Roundabout Theatre Company, in association with Jonathan Reinis, Jamie Cesa, Eva Price and Berkeley Repertory Theatre, will present the New York premiere of Carrie Fisher's darkly comic autobiographical solo show Wishful Drinking, directed by Tony Taccone, previewing from September 22nd at Studio 54, opening on October 4th. Alexander V Nichols will provide scenic, lighting and projection design.

The 10th annual Midtown International Theatre Festival, which runs from July 13th to August 2nd, has announced the list of over 40 productions that will feature. The MITF will present more than 200 performances of the shows in 5 theatres on the same block of 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues, encompassing fully staged performances, world premieres, revivals, staged readings, solo shows, multimedia presentations and talkbacks. Among the shows selected are: A Night In The Kremlin, a Marx Brothers style musical that imagines meetings between Stalin and Harpo Marx during Harpo's tour of Russia in the 1930s; Whiskey, Beer And Apple Pie, a trio of quirky New York breakup stories about love lost, gone wrong, and gone awkward; The Broken Jug, in which a judge and witnesses know more than they dare say in a riot of an antique roadshow; 1812 The Musical, telling the adventures of French soldiers trapped in Russia; and A Time To Dance, a biographical piece about the Austrian dancer and American dance therapy pioneer Elizabeth Polk, expressed through dance and spoken word. Further information can be found on the MITF web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

Milk Can Theatre Company are currently staging Bertolt Brecht's Galileo, which chronicles the life and fall from grace of 17th century Italian philosopher and mathematician Galileo Galilei, forced to choose between his scientific discoveries and the beliefs of the Catholic Church, with Matt Biagini, Natalie Caruncho, James Caulfield, Ryan Clardy, Robert A. Felbinger, Alex Herrald, Jed Peterson and Maria Silverman, directed by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer; and a play collection entitled The Science Plays, documenting different moments in the history of science, in repertory at Urban Stages. The Science Plays comprise: Cheryl L Davis's The Sense Of Genius, with Craig Klein and Amy Windle, directed by Riv Massey, Bethany Larsen's Gertrude & Alyce Will Serve Ye Soone, with Katie Northlich and Cynthia Rice, directed by Ryan Ratelle, M L Kinney's Newton's Genesis, with Meg Mark, J J von Mehren and Nicholas Wilder, directed by Bobbi Masters, Riv Massey's Unraveled, with Nick Brown, Misty Coy, Dan Evers and Susan Levin, directed by Bethany Larsen; Andy Snyder's Drill, with Matthew Campbell, Matthew Minor and Miriam Mintz, directed by Kimberly VerSteeg, and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's Greener Grass, with Mary Cavett and Aryeh Lappin, directed by Seth Gamble. Urban Stages is located at 259 West 30th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.

The Public Theater has plans for a $35m renovation of the facade and lobby of its 158 year old home, the former Astor Library on Lafayette Street. Polshek Partnership Architects have designed a new mezzanine that will overlook the current lobby area and increase the capacity from 250 to 690, with glass enclosures around the staircases leading into the lobby, and new signs to help patrons locate the building's individual theatres more easily. The facade will feature a new glass canopied granite veranda, including an outer staircase and two ramps flanking the building to provide easier access for disabled patrons. Construction is scheduled to start next February and take 18 months to complete.

New York Theatre Workshop has announced its 2009/2010 season, which will include Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen's Aftermath, based on interviews of Iraqi civilians who fled to Jordan after the arrival of American troops, directed by Blank, opening in September; The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, adapted by Rebecca Gilman from the novel by Carson McCullers, which follows the story of a deaf man as he navigates the world without his dearest friend who has been committed to an insane asylum, directed by Doug Hughes, opening in November, a co-production with The Acting Company; and Geoffrey Cowan and Leroy Aarons's Top Secret: The Battle For The Pentagon Papers, an inside look at The Washington Post's decision to publish the classified study documenting U.S. involvement in Vietnam, directed by John Rubinstein, opening next spring, a co-production with L A Theatre Works and Affinity Collaborative Theater. NYTW is located at 79 East 4th Street, between 2nd Avenue and Bowery.

Manhattan Theatre Source will stage the world premiere of Ex-Patriate, the tale of a woman who leaves her home and husband after a disastrous Thanksgiving, written and directed by Bill C Davis, with Tandy Cronyn, Brad Fraizer and Jefferson Slinkard, from May 20th. It is a co-production with MAN underdog LLC. Manhattan Theatre Source is located at 177 MacDougal Street, between Waverly Place and West 8th Street.

Manhattan Theatre Club has announced two additions to its 2009/2010 Off Broadway season at New York City Center Stage I. Lynn Redgrave's Nightingale, a solo show inspired by memories of her maternal grandmother Beatrice Kempson, directed by Joseph Hardy, will preview from February 11th, opening on February 24th. Polly Stenham's That Face, about two children who have become parents to their parents because of their mother's alcoholism, will preview from April 29th, opening on May 18th. New York City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Menier Chocolate Factory London production of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music, directed by Trevor Nunn, currently running in the West End, will transfer to Broadway in December, but it is unlikely that any of the original cast will come with it; and that a stage version of Breakfast At Tiffany's, adapted by Samuel Adamson directly from Truman Capote's book, rather than the movie, directed by Sean Mathias, may be the next production in the London Theatre Royal Haymarket season. The Rumour Machine grinds on.