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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th April 2009

Roundabout Theatre Company will stage 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, in the fall, at a Broadway theatre yet to be announced.

Off Broadway, Roundabout will stage Mark Saltzman's The Tin Pan Alley Rag, a play with music by Irving Berlin and Scott Joplin, set in 1915 in New York's Tin Pan Alley, the music publishing centre of the world, in which composers Berlin and Joplin meet, directed by Stafford Arima, with choreography by Liza Gennaro, previewing from June 12th at the Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, opening on July 14th. It will be produced in association with Rodger Hess Productions. The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center is located at 111 West 46 Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

Manhattan Theatre Club has announced the first productions in its 2009/20010 season. At the Samuel J Friedman Theatre: George S Kaufman and Edna Ferber's The Royal Family, the classic comedy charting the off stage dramas of a family of actors, with John Glover, Rosemary Harris, Jan Maxwell and Reg Rogers, directed by Doug Hughes, previewing from September 15th, opening on October 8th; and Donald Margulies's Collected Stories, chronicling the relationship between a celebrated New York author and her young protege, with Linda Lavin, directed by Lynne Meadow, previewing from April 6th, opening on April 28th. At New York City Center Stage I: Donald Margulies's Time Stands Still, about war a journalist and a photographer, whose injuries force them to return home to New York, and confront the prospect of a more conventional life, directed by Daniel Sullivan, previewing from October 15th, opening on November 3rd.

Finding The Rooster, written and directed by Terence Patrick Hughes, with Jonathan Schlieman, Kathryn Browne, Dave Benger, Kevin Hauver and Reggie Oldham, will preview from May 1st at 13th Street Rep, opening on May 8th. It is the second instalment in Hughes's 10 play cycle The Trials Of Oscar The Great. In New England in 1965, lawyers have been summoned to draw up divorce papers, after the alleged affair of the wife of a wealthy weapons manufacturer. The 13th Street Rep is located at 50 West 13th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

The 2008/2009 City Center Encores! series, presenting great but less often performed American musicals in concert, will comprise: Girl Crazy, book by Guy Bolton and Jack McGowan, music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, the tale of a sophisticated New Yorker marooned in a dusty Western town, playing from November 19th to 22nd; Fanny, book by S N Behrman and Joshua Logan, music and lyrics by Harold Rome, the story of a girl in Marseilles, left pregnant by her sailor boyfriend, who marries an older man desperate for an heir, but finds her life complicated by the sailor's return years later, playing from February 4th to 7th; and Anyone Can Whistle, book by Arthur Laurents, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, a surrealistic satire about madness and nonconformity, set in a small bankrupt town, where the Mayoress invents a miracle to improve her cash flow, playing from April 8th to 11th. New York City Center is located 131 West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

Catherine Russell, the veteran of the Off Broadway show A Perfect Crime, is to be inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for her run in the play. Russell has performed the role of psychiatrist Margaret Thorne Brent consistently for 8,963 performances since Warren Manzi's thriller, directed by Jeffrey Hyatt, debuted in 1987. Russell has only missed 4 performances during the run, and also serves as the general manager of the Snapple Theatre Center, where the show currently plays. The induction ceremony will take place following the 8pm performance on April 18th, which marks the 22nd anniversary of the show, the longest running play in the history of Off Broadway theatre. All ticket holders for the performance will be invited to attend the induction and after party. The Snapple Theater Center is located at 210 West 50th Street at Broadway.

Brandt Reiter's End Of Play, with Mark Doherty, Justine Cotsonas, Dean Imperial, Connor Fox, Eli Ganias, Cailin McDonald, Hilary Bettis, Jacob Troy and Christopher Randolph, directed by Dave McRee, will preview from April 17th at Center Stage NY, opening on April 23rd. When a Hollywood outcast abandons his NYU teaching post for Los Angeles to support his young girlfriend's fledgling career, he finds himself caught between the depth of her ambition and his own tarnished soul. Center Stage NY is located at 48 West 21st Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues.

The Rumour Machine says: that Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera, will rehearse 3 companies simultaneously in London, with the first opening at the Adelphi Theatre on October 26th, featuring Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Bogess, the second opening in Toronto in November, prior to Broadway, and the third opening in Shanghai in February; and that Lloyd Webber will produce a revised stage version of The Wizard Of Oz, with new songs by Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater added to the original score by E Y Harburg and Harold Arlen, probably directed by Jeremy Sams, in London late next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.