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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th March 2007

The new musical Xanadu, based on the 1980 film, with book by Douglas Carter Beane, and original film score by John Farrar and Jeff Lynne, featuring Kerry Butler, directed by Christopher Ashley, will preview from May 23rd at the Helen Hayes Theatre, with an official opening on June 26th. It is the story of a Greek muse sent to Earth to inspire mortals and artists in Venice California in the 1980s, who falls in love with an artist while helping him realize his dreams.

Phil Hall's play with music Matthew Passion, telling the stories of the passion of Christ, the murdered Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, and a middle aged HIV positive man, which converge in the final scene, directed by Steve Stringfellow, with choreography by Jacob Brent, will begin previews March 29th at the American Theatre of Actors' Chernuchin Theatre, opening on April 2nd. The cast will comprise Jeff Applegate, James Royce Edwards, Jimmi Kilduff, Timothy John Mandala, Chad McCallon, Craig Ramsey, Andrew Redeker, Matt Shepard and Jay Sullivan. The American Theatre of Actors' Chernuchin Theatre is located at 314 West 54th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

In addition to the upcoming premiere of Essential Self-Defense at Playwright's Horizons, on March 28th, Adam Rapp has two other new plays in the pipeline. American Fligo, with Paul Sparks and Guy Boyd and Marylouise Burke, will open at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater on September 16th; and Bingo With The Indians will open at the Flea Theater in October.

The Work & Show Festival, will feature new works of theatre, dance and music at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center from March 14th to 31st. The events will include a series of short plays responding to neglected works of American drama from the years 1776-1914 by playwrights including Erin Courtney, Les Hunter, Ruth Margraff, Dominic Taylor, Anne Washburn and Gary Winter; Sixteen Stories, a multimedia piece by Christal Brown and INSPIRIT; dance pieces me, myself and lie, with Taye Diggs, Andrew Palermo and the company dre.dance, Mei-Yin Ng's Cinderella Toe Jam II: Royal Pink, Deganit Shemy's Yod and Pedro Ruiz's Passages Of Love - Pasajes de Amor. Tribeca Performing Arts Center is located at the Borough of Manhattan Community College at 199 Chambers Street, at West Street.

The late restaurateur Vincent Sardi Jr, who presided over at the famous theatre district restaurant Sardi's on West 44th Street for 50 years, will be remembered at an event at the Schoenfeld Theatre, at noon on March 13th. Sardi's son, David Sardi, and daughter, Etsko Tazaki, an internationally acclaimed pianist, will appear alongside Broadway legends, including Harold Prince and Elaine Stritch, in a programme of performances and reminiscences, staged by Donald Sadler.

Vital Children's Theatre will present the world premiere of the family friendly musical The Game Boy, book and lyrics by Robin Rothstein, and music and lyrics by Matthew Gandolfo, with Julia Arazi, Kallu Duling, Lance Marshall, Andy McKissick, Kristina Wilson and Tim Woods, directed by Mary Catherine Burke, from March 10th to April 22nd. When a boy gets too wrapped up in his new computer game to spend time with his friends, he learns that computers are no replacement for people, and winning isn't everything. Vital Theatre Company is located at 2162 Broadway, 4th floor, at 76th Street.

On The Casting Couch: Michael Cerveris, Donna Murphy, David Pittu, and John Scherer will be joined by Judith Blazer, Edwin Cahill, Herndon Lackey, Erik Liberman, Ann Morrison, Graham Rowat, Rachel Ulanet and Jessica Wright in LoveMusik, opening at the Biltmore Theatre on May 3rd.

The Musical Mondays Theatre Lab, which presents new work from the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, has announced its spring season: March 12th - a double bill comprising The Mitzvah Of Madison Avenue, a 'spiritual comic tale', music by Carl J. Danielsen, lyrics by Sara Wordsworth, and The Rubberers, a love story based on O Henry's A Comedy In Rubber, book and lyrics by Matthew Hardy, music by Robert Maggio; March 26th - See Rock City (And Other Destinations), book and lyrics by Adam Mathias, music by Brad Alexander; and April 23rd - Queen Esther, a comedy for all ages based on the story of Purim, book and lyrics by Ryan Cunningham, music by Joshua Salzman. Bick Goss and Frank Evans are artistic producing directors of the series, which will be presented at the McGinn/Cazale Theater on Broadway at 76th Street.

As part of the Metropolitan Opera's plan to bring in directors with non-opera experience, the 2007/2008 season will include: Mary Zimmerman staging Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, Adrian Noble directing Verdi's Macbeth, Stephen Wadsworth staging Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride, Richard Jones directing Humperdinck's Hansel And Gretel, John Doyle staging Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes, and Phelim McDermott directing Philip Glass's Satyagraha.

The Rumour Machine says: that Glenn Casale will direct the stage musical Grumpy Old Men, based on the 1993 film about two feuding neighbours who fight over a woman who moves in across the street, with book by Dan Remmes, music by Neil Berg and lyrics by Nick Meglin, which is aiming for a Broadway debut in the spring of 2008. The Rumour Machine grinds on.