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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th January 2009

The Toxic Avenger, a musical adaptation of Lloyd Kaufman's 1985 movie, book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music by David Bryan, directed by John Rando, seen recently at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse, will preview from March 18th at New World Stages, opening on April 6th. A scientist who falls into a vat of radioactive goo emerges as a 7ft mutant with superhuman strength, who is determined to save New Jersey, end global warming and woo a blind librarian. The producers are Jean Cheever and Tom Polum. New World Stages is located at 340 West 50th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Bill C Davis's Avow, which takes a timely and poignant look at contemporary religion's role in shaping social issues, through the life and ministry of a parish priest, directed by Jerry Less, will preview from February 19th at the 45th Street Theatre, opening on February 25th. The producers are The Cardinal Group. The 45th Street Theatre is located at 354 West 45th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

The annual Broadway Backwards concert, which features male singers performing songs traditionally sung by women and women singing tunes written for men, will take place at the American Airlines Theatre on February 9th. The benefit for New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community, hosted by John Kander and Terrence McNally, will feature Alan Cumming, Whoopi Goldberg, Christopher Sieber, Mario Cantone, Megan Mullally, Jai Rodriguez, Gina Gershon, Aaron Lazar, John Tartaglia, Marty Thomas, Becki Newton and Michael Urie, plus other performers to be announced later, directed by Robert Bartley.

The Lighthouse Theatre Company will stage Joe Penhall's Dumb Show, with Anthony Caronna, Alexander Smith and Heather Daley, directed by Tracy Trevett, previewing from February 11th at the Under St Marks Theatre, opening on February 14th. The dark comedy is the story of a hapless comic who is courted by financial executives promising fat fees and the five star treatment that he thinks he deserves. Under St Marks Theatre is located at 94 St Marks Place, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A.

The 34th annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Original Short Play Festival, Manhattan's oldest short play festival, will take place from July 14th to 19th, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues. Participants are selected based on a rating system developed by Samuel French and Love Creek Productions. The 40 selected plays are performed for a panel of judges, who select 6 finalists to be performed on the last day, with members of Samuel French's editorial department attending, to offer publication contracts to authors of selected plays. Over 360 companies and schools from the U.S. and abroad have participated in the festival through the years, and Samuel French has published 181 of the submitted plays. The closing date for submissions is March 6th. Further information and an application form can be found on the Samuel French web site, via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

Black Henna productions will stage Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song Trilogy, three plays about a torch song singing Jewish drag queen living in New York City in the late '70s and '80s, with Cas Marino, Ian M McDonald, Valerie G Keane, Amie Backner, Christian Thomas, Chris Kelly and Mary Lynch, directed by Malini Singh McDonald, at the Sargent Theatre at the American Theatre of Actors from January 21st. American Theatre of Actors is located at 314 West 54th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Funeralogues, conceived and performed by Stacy Mayer, written by Robert Charles Gompers, directed by Molly Marinik, will return to the All Souls Chapel, from January 16th. The darkly comedic look at the inside of funeral homes, funeral rituals and one woman's personal obsession with death, uses actual text from real life eulogies, from a tribute to soldiers lost in Afghanistan to Martin Luther King's eulogy for three child victims of a Birmingham church bombing. The producer is MC Squared Productions. All Souls Chapel is located at 1157 Lexington Avenue, between 79th and 80th Streets.

The Broadway League has announced figures for Broadway shows in the year December 31st 2007 to December 28th 2008, in which box office receipts totalled $940,871,190 (excluding Young Frankenstein, which did not report its grosses), from paid attendances of 12,319,902, with 75.6% of seats filled. This is very slightly up on 2007, which included the 19 day union strike that shut down much of Broadway, but was a 53 week year. Business was particularly strong in the final 2 Holiday weeks, when receipts totalled $50.99m from 547,575 paid attendances, up from $49.06m from 564,436 paid attendances the previous year. The total number of playing weeks was 1,653, up from 1,552 in 2007.

The Vineyard Theatre has confirmed the New York premiere of The Civilians' production of This Beautiful City, a play with music exploring the Evangelical movement and its unofficial U.S. capital Colorado Springs, created from interviews with church members, written by Steven Cosson and Jim Lewis, music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, directed by Cosson, with choreography by John Carrafa, will preview from February 3rd, opening on February 22nd. The cast, who conducted the interviews over the course of ten weeks, features Emily Ackerman, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Brad Herberlee, Brandon Miller, Stephen Plunkett, and Alison Weller. The Vineyard Theatre is located at 108 East 15th Street, between 4th Avenue and Irving Place.

Christine Jorgensen Reveals, a one man show conceived and performed by Bradford Louryk, which concerns the life of America's first famous transsexual in the 1950s, directed by Josh Hecht, will preview from February 19th at the Lion Theatre at Theatre Row, opening on February 26th. The producer is the Platform Theatre Group. Theatre Row is located at 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.