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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th September 2006

It is now confirmed that the British actor Bill Nighy and Julianne Moore will make their Broadway debuts in the world premiere of David Hare's The Vertical Hour, directed by Sam Mendes, opening at The Music Box Theatre on 30th November. The play is the story of an American war correspondent turned academic, who meets (and clashes with) her English boyfriend's father, while on holiday in rural Wales. The producers are Robert Fox, Neal Street Productions and Scott Rudin.

MCC Theater begins its new season with a 10th anniversary staging of Russell Lees's Nixon's Nixon, reuniting its original director and stars, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, previewing from September 20th, with an opening night on October 4th. Jim Simpson directs Gerry Bamman and Steve Mellor, as President Richard M Nixon and Secretary of State Henry A Kissinger, in an imaginary conversation on the night before the Commander in Chief announced his resignation. The season will also include 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', which will preview from May 16th, and open June 7th.

The new season at St Ann's Warehouse, 38 Water Street in DUMBO Brooklyn Riverside, will include Les Freres Corbusier with Hell House, part installation part performance, satirising an Evangelical church's haunted house Halloween event with its contemporary interpretation of sin, both hilarious and horrifying, opening on October 1st; London's Gate Theatre's 2004 rock and roll reinvention of Georg Buchner's 19th century play, Woyzeck, adapted and directed by Daniel Kramer, about a young man's descent into madness, crushed by society, opening on 16th November; the premiere of performance artist Cynthia Hopkins's Must Don't Whip 'Um, a farewell concert by a failed 1970's pop star, blurring the lines between concert, spectacle, narrative and theatre, in collaboration with Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg, and featuring Gloria Deluxe, opening on January 15th; and the Wooster Group production of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, which deconstructs the film of Richard Burton's 1964 Broadway performance of the play, and descends into a kind of madness, replacing its own spirit with that of another, opening on February 27th.

The 20th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction, the outdoor fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, will be held on September 24th in Shubert Alley. It will feature stalls with a host of theatrical memorabilia donated by the theatrical community, plus over a dozen one off theatrical experiences in the Live Auction at 4.30pm. Among the experiences so far announced (with more to come) are 'F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!!!' - two tickets to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, plus dinner following the performance with one of its stars Barrett Foa; 'Fame Becomes You' - an onstage appearance during the Jiminy Glick segment of Fame Becomes Me, a pair of tickets to the show, and a backstage visit with Martin Short; and 'Conduct the Music of the Night' - sit with the orchestra for an entire performance of The Phantom Of The Opera, and then and conduct the exit music from the conductor's podium, plus two house seats for another performance. Last year's Flea Market raised $544,037. Online and phone bids for the auction can be placed until September 23rd. Further information can be found on the BC/EFA web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

The new Disney musical The Little Mermaid, based on the 1989 animated film, will receive its pre Broadway world premiere at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, in June next year. The show, which has a book by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Glen Slater and the late Howard Ashman, will be directed by Francesca Zambello, with choreography by Stephen Mear.

Theatre for a New Audience is to stage William Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice, directed by Darko Tresnjak, and Christopher Marlowe's The Jew Of Malta, directed David Herskovits, with the same company of 14 actors, led by F Murray Abraham and Kate Forbes. The plays will run in repertory at The Duke on 42nd Street, previewing from January 6th and 17th respectively, with both shows opening on February 4th. The company will then take The Merchant Of Venice to Stratford upon Avon in England for the Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival. The play season, which explores Jews as the outsider in society in English literature, will be completed with Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, adapted and directed by Neil Bartlett, at the Gerald W Lynch Theater at John Jay College, previewing from March 29th, and opening on April 1st.

Megan Dodds will reprise her role in the American premiere of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, the acclaimed and controversial 'factional' one person play, developed by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner from the writing of the 23 year old American protester, who perished beneath a bulldozer as she protected a Palestinian home. London's Royal Court Theatre production, directed by Rickman, will open a limited run at the Minetta Lane Theatre, previewing from October 5th, opening on October 15th, and playing through November 19th.

The first production of The Fire Dept, a new theatre company founded by Jessica Blank, Erica Gould and Audrey Rosenberg, will be presented at Joe's Pub, the cabaret venue in the Public Theater, from October 22nd to 24th. The premiere of SpeakEasy, set 'where truth is turned on its head and nothing is as it seems', co-written by Rob Ackerman, Suzanne Bradbeer, Anton Dudley, Brian Keith Jackson, Rajiv Joseph, Laurence Klavan, Carson Kreitzer, Neil LaBute, Theresa Rebeck, Edwin Sanchez and Sheri Wilner, will be directed by Erica Gould.

The 10th annual Broadway Blessing, the interfaith service that brings together members of the theatre community to ask a blessing on the new season, will take place at the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, at 7pm on September 18th. Clergy from the Cathedral, Congregation Ezrath Israel/The Actors' Temple and St Clement's Episcopal Church will participate in the event, together with the Broadway Blessing choir, and Broadway performers including Anna Manahan, Cindy Marchionda, P J Nelson and J Mark McVey, and the music performed will feature a new song composed for the anniversary by Elizabeth Swados. The event was the idea of journalist and author Retta Blaney.