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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th November 2006

The Manhattan Theatre Club will present the world premiere of the musical LoveMusik, starring Donna Murphy, Michael Cerveris, David Pittu and John Scherer, directed by Harold Prince, previewing from April 12th, at the Biltmore Theatre, with an official opening on May 3rd. Using Kurt Weil's songs, with book by Alfred Uhry, the show charts the relationship of the composer Weil, and his wife and muse Lotte Lenya, over 25 years in Berlin, Paris, Broadway and Hollywood. It was suggested by the book Speak Low (When You Speak Love), The Letters Of Kurt Weill And Lotte Lenya.

The latest free exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Stars And Treasures: 75 Years Of Collecting Theatre, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the library's Billy Rose Theatre Division, will run from November 21st to May 5th. A selection from the collection of over 9m artefacts, it includes early drafts of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Gypsy Rose Lee's diploma from Minsky University of Strip-Tease, and a letter from John Wilkes Booth's brother telling of his first presidential vote, for Abraham Lincoln, together with items relating to artists such as Truman Capote, Toulouse-Lautrec, Sarah Bernhardt and Houdini. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza.

Marionette maker and avant garde musician Erik Sanko's play The Fortune Teller, which includes puppetry by Sanko, Matthew Acheson, Liam Hurley and Randall Whittinghill, and narration by Gavin Friday, with music by Sanko and Danny Elfman, will make a swift return to HERE Arts Center from November 29th to December 23rd, where it previously played during October. The show features seven characters, each representing a deadly sin, who find themselves benefactors of a late millionaire, with the fate of their inheritances in the hands of a fortune teller. It was developed through HERE's Dream Music puppetry program, led by Basil Twist. HERE Arts Center is located at 145 6th Avenue, at Dominick Street, between Spring and Broome Streets.

Ethan Mordden, who has written a series of books charting the history of Broadway musicals decade by decade from the 1920s to the 1970s, has thrown up his hands in horror at the development of musicals of last 25 years in The Happiest Corpse I've Ever Seen, published by Palgrave Macmillan. Mourning the fact that big orchestras, real voices, recognizable books and intelligent lyrics have gone out the window, Mordden catalogues the deficiencies of 'stupendous flops' such as Dance Of The Vampires, Jekyll & Hyde and The Capeman, while also saluting the widely different qualities of successes such as The Phantom Of The Opera Rent and The Producers. Mordden contends that Broadway musical is dead, but the funeral has yet to take place, so he invites readers to the wake, and takes an acerbic and witty look at the condition of the corpse. A must for anyone with a real interest in the Broadway musical and of theatre in general.

Productions visiting the Brooklyn Academy of Music next year will include the U.S. premieres of: the all male Propeller Theatre productions of Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew and Twelfth Night, both directed by Edward Hall, from March 17th to April 1st, following a season at London's Old Vic Theatre; the Cheek by Jowl company production of Shakespeare's Cymbeline, directed by Declan Donnellan, from May 2nd to 12th; and Ian McKellen in the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of Shakespeare's King Lear and Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, both directed by Trevor Nunn, from September 6th to 30th, following their world premieres in Stratford upon Avon; all at BAM's Harvey Theater, at 651 Fulton Street in Brooklyn. Other productions will include Edward Scissorhands, the dance show devised, directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, adapted from Tim Burton's 1990 film, with music by Terry Davies based on the original score by Danny Elfman, featuring Sam Archer and Richard Winsor alternating the title role, from March 14th to 31st, at BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House, at 30 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn.

John Patrick Shanley's The Dreamer Examines His Pillow, with Eleni Tzimas, Joe Petcka and David Ditto Tawil, directed by Rusty Owen, will open at the Ohio Theater, 66 Wooster Street, between Spring and Broome Streets, on November 30th. The play involves a would be painter confronted by his girlfriend with the knowledge that he's been cheating on her with her kid sister. The producer is Ditto Productions.

London's National Theatre production of Coram Boy, adapted by Helen Edmundson from the novel by Jamila Gavin, directed by Melly Still, which begins its second season in London on November 29th, is to open on Broadway, previewing from April 10th, at a yet to be announced theatre, with an official opening on May 1st. The story follows the intertwined fortunes of two orphans at the Coram Hospital for Deserted Children in 18th century England, one rescued from an African slave ship, the other an abandoned son of the heir to a great estate. The New York producer is Boyett Ostar.

Steven Lutvak and Robert L Freedman are the winners of the second annual Fred Ebb Award, established to recognize excellence in musical theatre song writing by a lyricist, composer, or song writing team that has not yet achieved significant commercial success. Debra Monk will present the award, which includes a $50,000 prize, on behalf of The Fred Ebb Foundation and the Roundabout Theatre Company at The Penthouse Lounge at The American Airlines Theatre on November 28th. There will be an al star performance of three numbers from Lutvak and Freedman current collaboration, Kind Hearts And Coronets, which was developed at the Sundance Theater Lab and presented as part of the Huntington Theater Company's Breaking Ground Series in Boston. Further information can be found on the Fred Ebb Foundation website, via the link from Organizations in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.