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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th June 2008

Playwrights Horizons has announced the final two productions in its 2008/2009 season: the New York premiere of Evan Smith's The Savannah Disputation, in which two spinster sisters, a Pentecostal missionary and a Catholic priest face a showdown of truly biblical proportions, with Dana Ivey, directed by Walter Bobbie; and the world premiere of Christina Anderson's Inked Baby, about a couple unable to conceive a child, who enlist the wife's sister as a surrogate, oblivious to a mysterious contamination spreading outside, directed by Kate Whoriskey. Casting for previously announced shows will include Maura Tierney, Aya Cash and Brian J Smith in Nicky Silver's Three Changes, a comic and darkly suspenseful look at family life, as an Upper West Side couple receive a visit from a wayward brother, directed by Wilson Milam, opening on August 22nd; Annette O'Toole, Ray Anthony Thomas and Katherine Waterston in Kindness, written and directed by Adam Rapp, about the preciousness of life, the possibility for sympathy in a harsh world, and the meaning of mercy in the face of devastating circumstances; and Jonathan Groff, Cassie Beck and Skipp Sudduth in Craig Lucas's Prayer For My Enemy, in which an American family's long held secrets are dragged to the fore in what may be its final reckoning, directed by Bartlett Sher. Playwrights Horizons is located at 416 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

Expatriate, a play with music exploring black womanhood, friendship, sexuality and freedom, written by and featuring Lenelle Moise, with Karla Mosley, directed by Tamilla Woodard, with choreography by Nicco Annan, will preview from July 7th at the Culture Project, opening on July 16th. The Culture Project is located at 55 Mercer Street, between Broome and Grand Streets.

theAtrainplays, vol. XXIII, which will have been created in 24 hours by six writing teams while travelling the entire route of the A train, from 207th Street & Broadway to Far Rockaway and back, will be performed on Wednesday June 25th at New World Stages. On Tuesday evening June 24th, 4 librettists will hop on the A train at 207th Street and begin writing the books for four 15 minute musicals set on the A train, having already decided on the number of characters, and picked headshots from a blind draw to determine who will play them. When they reach Far Rockaway they will randomly select their collaborative lyricists, composers, directors and choreographers, who will be awaiting their arrival, with a further two playwrights, all of whom will climb aboard for the return trip. Two further directors will meet the creators of the now finished shows on arrival at 207th Street, and they will all proceed to Columbus Circle, where they will meet the actors, copy the scripts and begin rehearsals. Ashlie Atkinson, Lisa Barnes, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Natalie Douglas, Lawrence Feeney, Eric Michael Gillett, Cady Huffman, Michael Shawn Lewis, Orville Mendoza, Donovan Patton, Christine Pedi, Michael Pemberton, Darcie Siciliano, Rene Ruiz and Melanie Vaughan are among the actors who will take part. New World Stages is located at 340 West 50th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Anthony Rapp, Emily Bergl, Tom Cavanagh and Halley Feiffer will head the cast in Richard Nelson's Some Americans Abroad, a comedy about a group of American college students and their pretentious professors on an obsessive-compulsive playgoing tour of England, directed by Gordon Edelstein, from June 26th at Second Stage Theatre, 307 West 43rd Street, just off 8th Avenue.

Roundabout Theatre Company will stage the premiere of Steven Levenson's The Language Of Trees, about the fragility of language, the ecology of war and the meaning of neighborliness in an age of terror, directed by Alex Timbers, previewing from October 3rd at Roundabout Underground, opening on October 29th. Roundabout Underground at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre is located at 111 West 46 Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

South Street Seaport is to host the second Seaport Summer Theatre Festival, beginning on June 26th and running throughout the summer. It will include a production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with Stephen Largay, Robyn Payne, Hillel Meltzer, Eric Loscheider, David Beck, Hilary Bettis, Charles Browning, Matthew Erlbach, Adam Hirsch, Jonathon Judge-Russo, Mallory Portnoy, Scott Price and Neil Patrick Stewart, directed by Jeff Cohen, at the @ Seaport space, 210 Front Street; and Broadway At The Seaport, a series of lunchtime concerts at Pier 17 Stage; plus other entertainments, children's shows, music events and a summer theatre camp.

The Abingdon Thatre Company's 2008/2009 season will comprise: Robert Brustein's The English Channel, a comedy examining the proclivity of great writers to 'borrow' ideas and material, tracing Shakespeare's relationship with The Earl of Southampton and Christopher Marlowe, directed by Daniela Varon, from September 13th; Steven Leigh Morris's Beachwood Drive, in which a Ukrainian woman enslaved by a prostitution ring is squeezed between her Russian mafia protectors and an LAPD detective, directed by Alan Mandell, from October 17th; Marvin Lifschitz's Freudian Slips, about Sigmund Freud's struggles and obsessions he prepares to face his rival in a duel for the survival of psychoanalysis, directed by Tom Bloom, from January 24th; Mayo Simon's Greek Holiday, a black comedy about a couple making one last try at reconciliation on a Greek island, directed by Stephen Hollis, from March 6th; and Romulus Linney's Love Drunk, in which an older man picks up a much younger woman in a bar and brings her to his retreat, with Austin Pendleton, directed by Kelly Morgan, from March 28th. The Abingdon Theatre Company is located at 312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Royal Court Theatre London's acclaimed production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, featuring Kristin Scott Thomas, Mackenzie Crook, Katherine Parkinson and Chiwetel Eijiofor, directed by Ian Rickson, will open on Broadway in October; and that Rock Of Ages, the jukebox musical compiled by Chris D'Arienzo, featuring the songs of Journey, Bon Jovi and Styx, previously seen in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, directed by Kristin Hanggi, with choreographer by Kelly Devine, will open at New World Stages, also in October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.