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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th May 2009

The nominations for this year's New York Tony Awards have been announced. Heading the field are Billy Elliot with 15 nominations (tying with The Producers for the all time record) including Best Musical, Book and Original Score, David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish - Best Actor Musical (Leading), Stephen Daldry - Best Director (Musical) and Peter Darling - Best Choreography; Next To Normal with 11, including Best Musical, Book and Original Score, Alice Ripley - Best Actress Musical (Leading) and Michael Greif - Best Director (Musical); Shrek The Musical with 8, including Best Musical, Book and Original Score, Brian d'Arcy James - Best Actor Musical (Leading) and Sutton Foster - Best Actress Musical (Leading); Mary Stuart with 7, including Best Revival, Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter - Best Actress Play (Leading) and Phyllida Lloyd - Best Director (Play); The Norman Conquests with 7, including Best Revival and Matthew Warchus - Best Director (Play); God Of Carnage with 6, including Best Play, Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini - Best Actor Play (Leading), Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden - Best Actress Play (Leading) and Matthew Warchus - Best Director (Play); and Joe Turner's Come And Gone with 6, including Best Revival and Bartlett Sher - Best Director (Play). The winners will be announced at the 63rd Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on 7th June. The full list of nominees, and further information about the live webcast of the event, can be found on the Tony Awards web site, via the link from Organisations section of New York TheatreNet

It has now been confirmed that the world premiere of Race, written and directed by David Mamet, will preview from November 17th at the Barrymore Theatre, with an official opening on December 6th. No details about the plot have been announced, but given Mamet's past work it is assumed that it will involve racial groups rather than running. The design team will comprise scenery by Santo Loquasto, costumes by Paul Tazewell and lighting by Brian MacDevitt. The producers are Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler.

Future productions at Theatre Row will include: Reflections, a group of short plays on the theme of life, theatre and what comes next, comprising Samuel Beckett's Catastrophe, Anton Chekhov's Swan Song, and the world premieres of Alvin Eng's Their Town, Michael Feingold's What Happened Then and Ian Strasfogel's Compromise, with David Arthur Bachrach, Todd Butera, Bill Fairbairn, Nicole Godino, Grant James Varjas and Christine Verleny, directed by Eric Parness, previewing from May 16th, opening on May 18th in The Lion, produced by Resonance Ensemble; and Pound, written and directed by William Roetzheima, a one person play performed by Jeff Berg, which gives Ezra Pound the trial on charges of treason that he never had during his imprisonment, following the inflammatory radio broadcasts he made from Italy during World War II, from May 27th in The Studio, the third in a series of plays about poets produced by American International Theatre. Theatre Row is located at 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book Of Orchestrators And Orchestrations by Steven Susskind, recently published by Oxford University Press, is the first book ever written about the work of those who play a vital role in musical theatre, but whose names (and precise role) are little known by the public. The book examines the careers of Broadway's major orchestrators, such as Robert Russell Bennett, Don Walker, Philip J Lang and Jonathan Tunick, and follows the journey of a song as it travels from the composer's piano to the orchestra pit. It is in three parts: a biographical section that gives a sense of the life and world of twelve major theatre orchestrators, as well as another thirty arrangers and conductors; a discussion of the art of orchestration; and a listing of more than seven hundred musicals, including a 'who orchestrated what', along with comments from people involved with the productions. Packed with intriguing facts and personal anecdotes, many of which have never before appeared in print, this book offers a fascinating and often surprising insight into the world of musical theatre.

The 14th annual free Lower East Side Festival of the Arts will bring together over 100 performing arts organizations based in the neighborhood at Theater for the New City on Memorial Day Weekend, May 22nd to 24th. This year's participants will include jazz luminary David Amram, talk show host Joe Franklin, actress Vinie Burrows, The Living Theatre's Judith Malina, the New York Theatre Workshop, Rod Rodgers Dance Company, folksinger Judy Gorman, La Mama, comedy performers Epstein & Hassan, Joe's Pub, The Mariana Bekerman Dance Company, DADA New York, excerpts from Theater for the New City's recent and forthcoming shows, the Bangladesh Theater of America, and Kinding Sindaw Dance Company, with writers Eduardo Machado, Barbara Kahn, Lissa Moira and Larry Myers contributing new works. On May 24th the festival offers a day long block party featuring performances and a community arts fair with food and crafts vendors. Theater for the New City is located at 155 1st Avenue, between 9th and 10th Streets. Further information can be found on the TNC web site, via the link from Off Broadway Venues & Companies in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

The final production in the current season at the Irish Repertory Theatre will be Norman Corwin's The Rivalry, with Christian Kauffmann, Peter Cormican, Mary Linda Rapelye and Doug Stender, directed by Vincent Dowling, opening on May 15th. The play recreates the charismatic 1858 debate between the young Abraham Lincoln and senior senator Stephen Douglas on contemporary issues, particularly those of slavery and the American concept of freedom. It is produced in association with the Vincent Dowling Theatre Company. The Irish Repertory Theatre is located at 132 West 22nd Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

TheatreworksUSA's 21st annual Free Summer Theatre Program will feature the world premiere of the musical Click, Clack, Moo, book by Billy Aronson, music by Brad Alexander, lyrics by Kevin Del Aguila, adapted from on the book by Doreen Cronin, with pictures by Betsy Lewin, directed by John Rando, with choreography by Wendy Seyb, playing daytime performances from July 21st at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. The hour long show, aimed at 4 year olds and above, is a tale about the importance of compromise, initiated by cows typing letters protesting about their working conditions. A limited number of free tickets will be available to individuals at the theatre each day one hour prior to show time, while summer camps, youth programs and other social service organizations can make reservations for groups of ten or more. The Lucille Lortel Theatre is located at 121 Christopher Street, between Bleecker and Hudson Streets.

The Rumour Machine says: that last year's Broadway production of Tennessee Williams's Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, featuring a black cast, directed by Debbie Allen, will transfer to London's West End in December, retaining James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad from the original, but with a new British cast that will include Adrian Lester; and that Gwyneth Paltrow may feature in Chekhov's Three Sisters at the Haymarket Theatre in London next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.