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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th August 2006

The new Manhattan Theatre Club season at City Center will comprise world or American premieres of Paul Rudnick's Regrets Only, a comedy of Manhattan manners, exploring contemporary marriage and friendship, with Christine Baranski, Sian Phillips, George Grizzard, Jackie Hoffman, Diane Davis and David Rasche, directed by Christopher Ashley; David Harrower's Blackbird, a series of untoward events ensue when a woman with whom he has begun a relationship appears at a man's office, with Jeff Daniels, Matthew Arkin and Michele Pawk, directed by Joe Mantello; and Charles Busch's Our Leading Lady, directed by Lynne Meadow; plus Clifford Odets's The Country Girl. Further information can be found on the Manhattan Theatre Club web site via the link from Major Venues & Companies in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

Joan Collins and Linda Evans will play two fading movie stars in James Kirkwood's Legends!, with Joe Farrell, Tonye Patano, Will Holman and Ethan Matthews, directed by John Bowab, which opens an extensive North American tour at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto on 12th September. In the backstage comedy, the actresses are persuaded to star together in a Broadway show (despite the fact that they have hated each other for decades) by an unscrupulous producer who misleads them into believing that they will be appearing with Paul Newman. Life imitated art in the ill fated original pre-Broadway tour, starring Carol Channing and Mary Martin, directed (or refereed) by Clifford Williams, which never made it to the Great White Way, spawning Kirkwood's infamous backstage expose Diary Of A Mad Playwright.

Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! - The Musical, the American classic tale of a grumpy hermit who hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville, directed by Matt August, with choreography by John DeLuca, will open a Christmas season at the Hilton Theatre from 8th November to 7th January. The stage adaptation, with book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, and music by Mel Marvin, includes 2 songs from the 1966 film. The show, which was conceived and created by Jack O'Brien, has been staged at Christmas at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego for the last 8 years. It will set a new performance record for a Broadway theatre by playing 12 shows a week, including 8 on weekends alone. The producer is Running Subway Productions.

The third New York Musical Theatre Festival, running from 10th September to 1st October, aims to help new writing in musical theatre move forward into production. Over 30 musicals will be premiering, with more than 100 concerts and special events, 300 performances, given by over 1000 performers and musicians, in 12 venues around midtown Manhattan, all open to the public. Among the shows will be Journey To The West, book and lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker, music by Richard Oberacker, combining elements of Peking Opera, kabuki, modern dance and martial arts to tell the story of a scholar's messianic quest across the Asia in search of mankind's salvation; Oedipus For Kids!, book and lyrics by Kimberly Patterson and Gil Varod, music by Robert J. Saferstein, in which a child friendly production of Oedipus Rex goes horribly, horribly wrong; Smoking Bloomberg, book, music and lyrics by David Cornue, Sam Holtzapple, Warren Loy and Chris Todd, about a Korean dry cleaner's quest for revenge against Mayor Bloomberg and the smoking ban that has ruined her business; J.O.B. The Hip-Hopera, book and lyrics by Jerome Sable and Eli Batalion, music by Jerome Sable, Eli Batalion and Joe Barrucco, the book of Job - remixed. Further information can be found on the NYMTF web site via the link Festivals & Events in the Lonks section of New York TheatreNet.

The autumn season at the Public Theater will include Kevin Kline in King Lear, directed by James Lapine, plus a series of premieres: Wrecks, written and directed by Neil LaBute, with Ed Harris as a newly bereaved husband in a story of love, family and marriage; Julie Cho's Durango, about two brothers' struggle to escape the shadow of their immigrant Korean father, directed by Chay Yew; Emergence-See!, written and performed by Daniel Beaty, telling of slave ship's sudden appearance in contemporary New York Harbour though 'slam poetry and song'; the musical Passing Strange, with book and lyrics by Stew, and music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, charting the journey of a young black bohemian searching for himself, directed by Annie Dorsen; and Craig Lucas's The Singing Forest, interweaving the stories of three generations of one family, from New York in 2000 to post Second World War Paris to Vienna in the 1930s, directed by Bartlett Sher. Further information can be found on the Public Theater web site via the link from Major Venues & Companies in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

The New Group's autumn season will open in September with Cynthia Nixon in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, adapted by Jay Presson Allen from the novel by Muriel Spark, about the idiosyncratic 1930s Edinburgh school teacher, with Emily Bicks, Ritchie Coster, Lisa Emery, Betsy Hogg, Zoe Kazan, Caroline Lagerfelt, John Pankow, Caity Quinn, Matthew Rauch, Sarah Steele and Halley Wegryn Gross, directed by Scott Elliott.

The dance musical The Times They Are A-Changin', using the music of Bob Dylan, conceived, directed and choreographed by Twyla Tharp, which premiered at Old Globe Theatre in San Diego earlier this year, will make its Broadway debut at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on 26th October. The show has a 'coming of age' storyline, set in a travelling circus, featuring Michael Arden, Caren Lyn Manuel and Thom Sesma. The producers are James L. Nederlander, Hal Luftig/Warren Trepp, Debra Black, Terry Allen Kramer, Patrick Catullo and Rick Steiner.

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