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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th February 2010

The British Royal Shakespeare Company will perform a 6 week, 5 play residency in a full scale replica of its Courtyard Theatre constructed in the historic Park Avenue Armory, as part of the Lincoln Center Festival from July 6th 2011. The current 44 member ensemble will perform 5 plays from the 2009 and 2010 repertoire: Antony And Cleopatra, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Romeo And Juliet and The Winter's Tale.

Stuffed And Unstrung, created by and featuring Brian Henson, directed by Patrick Bristow, will preview from March 17th at the Union Square Theatre, opening on April 1st. The adult themed show will feature 'puppet improv', in which 6 puppeteers will improvise songs and sketches based on audience suggestions. It is a revised version of Puppet Up! - Uncensored, which has played various comedy festivals. The producers are Henson Alternative and WestBeth Entertainment. The Union Square Theatre is located at 100 East 17th Street, between Park Avenue South and Irving Place.

Matthew Freeman's Glee Club, about a high school glee club facing a crisis, with Bruce Barton, Robert Buckwalter, Steven Burns, David DelGrosso, Carter Jackson, Stephen Speights, Tom Staggs and Matthew Trumbull, directed by Kyle Ancowitz, will preview from March 3rd at the Access Theater, opening March 6th. The producer is Blue Coyote Theater Group. The Access Theater is located at 380 Broadway, between Walker and White Streets.

Imaginocean, a new family black light puppet musical, created and written by John Tartaglia, music and lyrics by William Wade, directed by Donna Drake, will preview from March 17th at New World Stages, opening on March 31st. The show follows the undersea adventures of a group of fish friends, who uncover a treasure map that leads them to learn about themselves. The producers are Jellyfish Jive Productions, John Tartaglia, Philip Katz of Broadway Theatrical and Michael Shawn Lewis. New World Stages is located at 340 West 50th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Pulse Ensemble Theatre will stage Edward Percy and Reginald Denham's Ladies In Retirement, a Gothic murder mystery, with Mikel Sarah Lambert, Ashley Taylor, Alexa Kelly, Camille Mazurek, Burt Grinstead, Hanna Hayes and Susan Barrett, directed by Amnon Kabatchnik, opening on March 8th at Theatre 3. Theatre 3 is located at 311 West 43rd Street, 3rd Floor, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

This trial scheme allowing theatregoers to move more freely through Times Square, by pedestrianising Broadway between 42nd Street and 47th Street, has been declared a success, and is to become permanent. Work will now begin to design permanent paving treatments using quality materials. During the trial period, injuries to motorists and passengers in Times Square have fallen by 63%, pedestrian injuries are down by 35%, while the number of pedestrians has risen 11%. 74% of New Yorkers surveyed agree that Times Square has improved dramatically over the last year. The similar trial scheme in Herald Square will also become permanent.

The York Theatre Company's Developmental Reading Series will continue with Wrapped, book, music and lyrics by Craig Michael Nehamen and Dennis Alan Nehamen, a hip-hop musical about a man torn between music industry ambitions and family responsibilities, on March 11th; Mark Twain's Blues, book, music and lyrics by Walter Stepp, in which Mark Twain is confronted by Huckleberry Finn and escaped slave Jim, now middle aged, who accuse their creator of betraying the truth of their lives in order to boost book sales, on March 18th; and Scandalous Behaviour, book, music and lyrics by Jeffrey Lyle Segal, adapted from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 18th century comedy The School For Scandal, on March 23rd. The York Theatre Company's Theatre at Saint Peter's is on 54th Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues.

New York Neo-Futurists will stage The Soup Show, written and performed by Desiree Burch, Cara Francis and Erica Livingston, directed by Lauren Sharpe, opening at the HERE Arts Center on March 4th. Featuring three naked women in a giant pot of soup, the show observes the female as consumer and consumed, and as an agent of conflict and commodity, asking how far has the women's movement moved us. The HERE Arts Center is located at 145 6th Avenue, between Spring and Broome Streets, entrance on Dominick Street.

The 92nd Street Y is to host Broadway Talks, a new conversation series with Jordan Roth and current Broadway stars. The series will begin with Liev Schreiber on March 1st, Laura Linney on March 28th, Nathan Lane on May 23rd, and Sean Hayes on May 24th. Events will be held at the 92nd Street Y, located at 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street, and 92YTribeca, located at 200 Hudson Street, at the corner of Canal Street.

OlentagyMusic will stage the American premiere production of The Mark Twain You Don't Know, written and performed by Chris Wallace, previewing from March 23rd at the Richmond Shepard Theatre, opening on March 25th. The show comprises some of the lesser known writing of Mark Twain, and a mini-musical version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Richmond Shepard Theatre is located at 309 East 26th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues.

The Rumour Machine says: that David Herson's La Bete, a Moliere style comedy pitting the head of the royal court sponsored theatre troupe against a foppish, frivolous street entertainer in 17th century France, with Joanna Lumley, Mark Rylance and David Hyde Pierce, directed by Matthew Warchus, will open in London in the spring, followed by a Broadway transfer in the fall; that Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, which imagines a meeting in a hotel room on the night before the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, in which he is forced to confront his past and the future of his people, directed by Kenny Leon, will open on Broadway in the fall, courtesy of producers Jean Doumanian and Sonia Friedman; and that Lincoln Center Theatre will stage the world premiere of John Guare's A Free Man Of Color, a racially charged re-telling of America's coming of age set in New Orleans in 1802, directed by George C Wolfe. The Rumour Machine grinds on.