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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th January 2010

The producers of the musical Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark have announced that the show will not begin previews at the Hilton Theatre on February 25th as originally planned, and despite assurances that the show will go on, have not given any indication of an alternative date. Press reports suggest that previews will begin in September, with an official opening in November. Anyone who has purchased tickets may request an immediate refund, or wait for the announcement of the new performance schedule, at which time they can exchange them for an alternative date.

Shen Yun, a production of classical Chinese music and dance, in which Ancient legends and heroic figures come to life, will play at Radio City Music Hall from February 13th to 21st.

The Broadway League has announced figures for Broadway shows in the calendar year 2009, which broke the $1bn barrier for ticket sales the first time. This is partly a result of the new way the League reports sales, which are now based on 'gross gross' figures, whereas in previous years it reported the lower 'net gross' figures. ('Net gross' reflects the weekly gross with fees or commissions from group sales, pension funds and credit cards subtracted, while 'gross gross' does not). Box office receipts totalled $1,001,765,646, from total attendances of 11.95m (including complimentary tickets), down from 12.32m paid attendances (excluding complimentary tickets) in 2008 (the system of reporting attendance has also changed). The total number of playing weeks was 1,440, down from 1,653 in 2008.

Gabe McKinley's Extinction, with James Roday, Michael Weston, Amanda Detmer and Stefanie E Frame, directed by Wayne Kasserman, will preview from February 13th at the Cherry Lane Theatre, opening on February 17th. It relates what transpires between two college buddies whose annual outing of male bonding and debauchery veers precipitously off course when unmet expectations spiral into a volatile showdown. The producers are Red Dog Squadron, the Cherry Lane Theatre and Dule Hill. The Cherry Lane Theatre is located at 38 Commerce Street, between Barrow and Bedford Streets.

Broadway Bears, the 13th annual auction to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, featuring a host of teddy bears dressed in costume as characters from Broadway shows, many autographed by the original stars, will be held at B B King Blues Club & Grill, on February 14th. Among the bears so far announced are from 33 Variations, A Day In Hollywood, A Night In The Ukraine, Cats, Exit The King, M Butterfly, Shrek The Musical and Ziegfeld Follies Of 1936. Last year's auction raised a total of $152,116, when the top seller was Sir Robin from Spamalot, which went for $16,000. Since its inception the event has raised over $1.65m. B B King Blues Club & Grill is located at 237 West 42nd Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Phone bids, pre-bids and internet bids will all be accepted. Further information can be found on the BC/EFA website, via the link from Organisations & Information in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

The premiere of the musical Good Ol' Girls, written and adapted by Paul Ferguson, from stories written by Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle, score by Matraca Berg and Marshall Chapman, originally conceived by Matraca Berg, with Lauren Kennedy, Sally Mayes, Teri Ralston, Gina Stewart and Liza Vann, directed by Randal Myler, will preview from February 8th in The Black Box Theatre at The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, opening on February 14th. The show tells the story of five modern Southern women through contemporary Nashville songs. The producer is White Sand Entertainment. The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center is located at 111 West 46 Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

Jessica Fleitman's The Average-Sized Mermaid, with Michelle Concha, Jimmy L Allen, Seth Andrew Bridges, Starr Kirkland, Christiane Seidel and Joe Sevier, directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni, will receive its world premiere at the Gene Frankel Theater, from February 3rd. At the moment when a woman's professional and personal lives collapse she turns into a mermaid, and so decides to use her new found fame to take revenge, but finds it's not that simple. The Gene Frankel Theater is located at 24 Bond Street, between Lafayette Street and The Bowery.

Submissions are now being accepted for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals, to be held in the fall. The annual weekend event affords emerging and established theatre writers the opportunity to showcase developing works for an industry only audience, comprising producers from around the world. Many of the new works find life at regional companies, as well as Off-Broadway and on Broadway. Any writer may submit his or her work as long as a NAMT member, agent or other professional theatre organisation also submits a letter of support. Submission deadlines are February 4th for non-NAMT members, and February 18th for NAMT members and Festival alumni. Since 1989 the festival has presented over 225 musicals and 330 writers, and 80% have found subsequent productions as a direct result of the festival, including Tony Award winners The Drowsy Chaperone and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Further information can be found on the NAMT web site, via the link from Organisations in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

The Pearl Theatre Company will stage Charles Dickens's Hard Times, which traces the human cost of industrialisation in a Northern England town, adapted by Stephen Jeffreys, directed by J R Sullivan, previewing from February 5th at New York City Center Stage II, opening on February 14th. The company of Jolly Abraham, Rachel Botchan, Robin Leslie Brown, Bradford Cover, T J Edwards and Sean McNall will play 20 characters between them. New York City Center is located at West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

The Rumour Machine says: that Antonio Banderas will star on Broadway in the Joseph Stein-John Kander-Fred Ebb musical Zorba, next season, directed by Gary Griffin, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo, courtesy of producers Barry and Fran Weissler; and that Ben Andron's White's Lies, in which a womaniser is faced with some life changing decisions that he is determined to duck, directed by Bob Cline, will arrive at New World Stages in March. The Rumour Machine grinds on.