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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th April 2007

MCC has announced its 2007/08 season at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, comprising: the New York premiere of Mick Gordon and A C Grayling's Grace, in which a family confronts the issues of faith and religion, opening on August 29th; Jim Knable's Spain, the tale of a recent divorcee who retreats into her very active imagination and embarks on a fanciful journey to a country she has long dreamed of visiting, opening on January 23rd; and the company's first ever musical, The Black Suits, by Joe Iconis and Robert Maddock, about a band rehearsing in a Long Island garage with the dream of a breakthrough to fame and escape, opening on May 14th. The current season will conclude with the world premiere of Neil LaBute's In A Dark, Dark House, a drama about 'a man and his complicated relationship with a complicated father', with Jason Patric and Ron Livingston, directed by Carolyn Cantor, which will preview from May 16th, and open June 7th. The Lucille Lortel Theatre is located at 121 Christopher Street, between Bleecker and Hudson Streets.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music has announced The Bridge Project, a three year initiative in which Sam Mendes will direct two classic plays each year to run in repertoire, with a company of British and American actors, that will play at the BAM, the Old Vic Theatre in London, and at another international venue, initially the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. The project will begin in 2008, when Mendes will direct William Shakespeare's Hamlet and The Tempest, with a cast led by Stephen Dillane, opening at BAM in January, which will transfer to the Piccolo Teatro in March, and the Old Vic in May. They will be followed in 2009 by The Winter's Tale and Chekov's The Cherry Orchard, with Simon Russell Beale.

The Lark Play Development Center in partnership with Queens Theatre in the Park, will present a 'BareBones' simply staged production of Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo, directed by Giovanna Sardelli, playing at the Lark on April 13th, 14th, 16th and 21st, and Queens Theatre from April 26th to 29th. The darkly comedic contemporary drama set on the streets of Baghdad, which was inspired by a recent news story, is about the interaction of two American soldiers, an Iraqi translator and a tiger. The cast includes Hend Ayoub, Joseph Kamal, Ryan King, Tom Ligon, LeRoy McClain, Sharone Sayegh and Alok Tewari. The Lark is located at 939 8th Avenue, between 55th and 56th streets, and the Queens Theatre is in Flushing Meadows Park.

Paper Mill Playhouse, the not for profit theatre in Millburn New Jersey, which specialises in rediscovering forgotten musicals, is facing an imminent financial crisis, and may have to close if $1.5m cannot be raised to support the launch of the final productions in the current season, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Pirates!. A bank loan to keep the 69 year old company going fell through recently, and a reapplication process is being pursued. Prior to the 2006/07 season, the board of governors approved a $17m budget, which included a planned deficit of $2.8m that was thought could be made up with board and outside contributions, but this was not achieved. The company relies heavily on selling subscriptions, but over the last 20 years its list of subscribers has dropped from 45,000 to 19,500. In recent times it has pursued a less populist repertoire to its detriment. The 2007/2008 season is planned to feature a new musical version of Frankenstein, Meet Me In St. Louis, Kiss Me, Kate, Little Shop Of Horrors and the plays The Miracle Worker and Steel Magnolias. Messages of support have come from many of the stars who began their careers at Paper Mill, and information about making a donation to save the theatre can be found at Paper Mill Playhouse.

Don't Quit Your Night Job, a monthly late night revue conceived by Dan Lipton, Steve Rosen, David Rossmer and Sarah Saltzberg, featuring a rotating core of Broadway performers with surprise celebrity guests, which has been playing at Joe's Pub since last June, is moving uptown. The mixture of music, comedy and improvisation will play Thursdays to Mondays at the HA! Comedy Club, at 163 West 46th Street at the corner of 7th Avenue, from April 26th, with an official opening on May 17th.

John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, with Vincent Allocca, James Broderick, Elizabeth A Davis, General Fermon Judd Jr, Eirik Gislason, Jason Grossman, Matthew Floyd Miller, Trip Plymale, Justin Swain and Douglas Taurel, directed by Pat Diamond, will open at Urban Stages on May 10th. The classic tale of the great depression is the story of two itinerant farm workers who buy a small farm of their own, but find the ensuing hardship tests their friendship to its limits. Urban Stages is located at 259 West 30th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues.