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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th December 2009

The Actors' Fund of America's annual Auction Of 1000 Stars is running until 10th December, for interested parties to place bids on the host of theatrical memorabilia and once in a lifetime experiences on offer. Among these are: tickets to Billy Elliot, the chance to conduct the orchestra, and a backstage tour; tickets to the Big Apple Circus and the chance to be Ringmaster; tickets to Chicago, a backstage tour, and a violin lesson with Marshall Coid; a chance to sit in the orchestra pit for a performance of Wicked and a backstage tour; VIP tickets to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report or The Martha Stewart Show; and VIP tickets and party pass to the 2010 Nickelodeon's 23rd Annual Kids' Choice Awards. The Actors' Fund is a non profit organization that provides for the social welfare of all entertainment professionals. Further information can be found on the Auction Of 1000 Stars web site, via the link from Festivals & Events in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Kelsey Grammer will join original star Douglas Hodge in the current London production of the Harvey Fierstein-Jerry Herman musical La Cage Aux Folles, opening at the Longacre Theatre on April 18th.

Theater for the New City and The Harlem Repertory Theatre will stage the musical Flahooley, book by E Y Harburg and Fred Saidy, lyrics by E Y Harburg, music by Sammy Fain, adapted, directed and choreographed by Keith Lee Grant, a satire of big business and the McCarthyist witch hunts, involving a toy making company, with Natalia Peguero, Yaritza Pizzaro, Alexandra Bernard, John Wiethorn, Primy Rivera, Daniel Fergus Tamulonis, Ben Harburg, Eric Myles and Bianca Disarro, plus hand, rod and Bunraku puppets, previewing from December 18th, opening on December 20th. Theater for the New City is located at 155 1st Avenue at 10th Street.

On The Casting Couch at Shakespeare In The Park: Al Pacino will take the title role in The Merchant Of Venice, joined by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jesse L Martin, Lily Rabe, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Max Wright, who will also appear in The Winter's Tale, at the Delacorte Theater from June 9th.

The Midtown International Theatre Festival, which offers the chance for self-produced Off Off Broadway plays and musicals to be presented, is seeking submissions for its 11th season, from July 12th to August 1st next year. The MITF presents more than 200 performances of 40-60 shows over a 3 week period each year, in 4 theatres on the same block of 36th Street, between 8th and 9th avenues, and for the first time next year, in 2 theatres at Theatre Row, on 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. The basic deal is that MITF pays the theatre and marketing costs, and individual shows pay for everything else. Submissions must be received by February 19th. Further information and an application form can be found on the MITF web site, via the link from Festivals & Events in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

Dreamscape Theatre will stage Ricardo Perez Gonzalez's In Fields Where They Lay, developed and directed by Brad Raimondo, about the Christmas truce between the British and Germans in World War I, with Zack Calhoon, Pete Forester, Alan McNaney, Jared Sampson, Michael Swartz and Morgan Anne Zipf, previewing on December 11th at the Hudson Guild Theater, opening on December 12th. The Hudson Guild Theatre is located at 441 West 26th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

Talking Theatre: Interviews With Theatre People by Richard Eyre, recently published by Nick Hern Books, comprises a series of engagingly candid interviews offering rare insights 'behind the scenes'. Shortly after he left the directorship of the British National Theatre, Richard Eyre embarked on a series of interviews with people who had played a significant part in making and influencing the theatre of the second half of the 20th century. Forty two of these interviews, threaded through with Eyre's own commentary, cover the topics: Shakespeare; Brecht and Beckett; Ireland and America; the British theatre before and after 1956; and the future. Among the interviewees are John Gielgud, Peter Brook, Peter Hall, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Trevor Nunn, Vanessa Redgrave, Liam Neeson, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, Arthur Miller, August Wilson, Jason Robards, Tony Kushner, Alan Bennett, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, Arnold Wesker, Christopher Hampton, Peter Shaffer, Cameron Mackintosh, Willem Dafoe and Robert Lepage. What emerges is a fascinating account of how theatre is made by the very people who made it. With unrivalled access, Eyre allows readers to eavesdrop on the stories behind many of the most important productions and performances in the theatre of recent times.

The Nature Theater of Oklahoma production of Romeo & Juliet, a fragmented memory piece based on Shakespeare's tragedy, conceived and directed by Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska, with Anne Gridley, Robert M Johanson and Elisabeth Conner, will play at The Kitchen from December 17th. The Kitchen is located at 512 West 19th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Following its recent twice extended run, Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation, a comedy about the forces unleashed when a community center drama class experiments with truth games, with Reed Birney, Peter Friedman, Deirdre O'Connell, Tracee Chimo and Heidi Schreck, directed by Sam Gold, will return to the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons from December 15th. Playwrights Horizons is located at 416 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

The Rumour Machine says: that Matthew Lombardo's Looped, with Valerie Harper as ageing actress Tallulah Bankhead trying to dub a line of dialogue in her final movie, seen recently at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, directed by Rob Ruggiero, may transfer to Broadway in March, courtesy of producers Tony Cacciotti, Chase Mishkin and Leonard Soloway. The Rumour Machine grinds on.