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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th March 2008

Roundabout Theatre Company is to stage the musical Pal Joey, with a new book by Richard Greenberg, based on the original by John O'Hara, music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, directed by Joe Mantello, with choreography by Graciela Daniele, previewing from November 21st at Studio 54, with an official opening on December 11th. It is the story of a brash, scheming song and dance man in 1930s Chicago, who has dreams of owning his own nightclub - and doesn't care what he has to do to get it. The production will include a number dropped from the score during its original out of town try out. The design team will comprise scenery by Scott Pask, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Peggy Eisenhauer and Jules Fisher, and sound by Tony Meola. It is a co-production with Marc Platt.

The New Group will present the American premiere of Ayub Khan-Din's Rafta, Rafta..., with Sarita Choudhury, Ranjit Chowdhry, Sean T. Krishnan, Alison Wright, Alok Tewari, Reshma Shetty, Manish Dayal, Satya Bhabha, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Sakina Jaffrey, directed by Scott Elliott, previewing from April 16th at the Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, opening on May 8th. The play is adapted from Bill Naughton's All In Good Time, about family pressures inflicted on a newly married couple, transposed to a contemporary Anglo-Indian community in London. Theatre Row is located at 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Arthur Laurents will direct a radically different contemporary production of the musical West Side Story, which relocates story of Romeo And Juliet to 1950s New York, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, opening on Broadway at a yet to be confirmed theatre next February. The production will feature Jerome Robbins's original choreography re-created by Joey McKneely. It will play a season at The National Theatre in Washington, DC, from December 2nd to January 4th. The producers are Kevin McCollum, James Nederlander Jr and Jeffrey Seller.

The New Globe Theater, a project to transform Castle Williams, the stone fortress on Governor's Island in New York harbour, south east of Manhattan, into an Elizabethan style theatre are in doubt, as the National Park Service, has decided not to support the idea. The circular building, constructed in 1811, and now in a state of advanced disrepair, has 8ft thick walls three storeys high, and was variously a defence fortification, a prison, and a Coastguard station, but has been empty since 1997. It was ceded to the NPS in 2003. The fortress has almost exactly the same floor plan as Shakespeare's Globe in London, and world renowned architect Norman Foster has produced a design broadly similar to this, but with a retractable roof, seating for 1,200 and 400 groundling places for people to stand. Organisers of the New Globe Theater are asking for people to urge the NPS to think again, during the public comment period, which ends on March 18th. Further information about the project, and how to contact NPS, can be found at New Globe Theater.

Lincoln Center Theater has announced the launch of LCT3, a new initiative dedicated to the work of emerging playwrights, directors and designers, which will stage fully produced, modest sized productions of new works, with low seat prices. The aim is to create a permanent 99 seater venue within or near the Lincoln Center complex, but until that is achieved, its shows will be staged at various off site venues. The premiere production will be the hip-hop musical Clay, a coming of age story of a suburban boy who escapes his fractured family and finds a mentor in a master of the spoken word, written and performed by Matt Sax, directed by Eric Rosen, at the Duke Theatre at Theatre Row in October.

Yara Arts Group will stage After The Rain, a collage of Japanese short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagwa, featuring traditional Japanese costumes and folk songs, with contemporary live music and projection images, dance and shadow puppets, created, directed and designed by Watoku Ueno, performed by Robert Torigoe, Kazue Tani and Stephanie Silver, at the First Floor Theater at La MaMa ETC from 4th April. Although the stories Rashomon, Magic, and Mandarins take place in various times, places and contexts, the production weaves them into one man's surrealistic journey. La MaMa E.T.C. is located at 74A East 4th Street, between 2nd Avenue and The Bowery.

The Commercial Theater Institute, created by the Theatre Development Fund and the Broadway League, will hold its annual Broadway Producing Conference at New World Stages, 340 West 50th Street, from May 2nd to 4th. The event will bring together experienced and successful working theater professionals to offer useful and actionable information to aspiring Broadway producers and investors, through 24 hours of lectures, discussions and networking. Topics include legal, marketing, budgets, New York and the Road, case studies, care and feeding of investors, and more. Participants registering by March 14th receive a $100 discount. The Commercial Theater Institute is dedicated to training the next generation of commercial theatre producers by offering workshops and training programs featuring industry professionals. Further information and application forms can be found on the CTI web site, via the link from Organisations, in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

The Juneteenth Legacy Theatre will stage Samuel L Kelley's Faith, Hope And Charity: The Mary McLeod Bethune Story, with Geany Masai, Angela Arnold and Ivan Thomas, directed by Sue Lawless, at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe from 20th March. It is a bio-drama with a gospel score about Bethune, an illiterate sharecropper's daughter, who became an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, founded Bethune-Cookman College in Florida, and served as ambassador to Liberia. The Nuyorican Poets Cafe is located at 236 East 3rd Street, between Avenues B and C.

The Rumour Machine says: that the recent Classic Stage Company production of David Ives's New Jerusalem, about the trials of 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, with Richard Easton, directed by Walter Bobbie, may transfer to Broadway courtesy of producer Bob Boyett; and that Leslie Bricusse is writing a biomusical about Sammy Davis Jr, which is aiming for Broadway, featuring Elijah Kelley and directed by Debbie Allen. The Rumour Machine grinds on.