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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st July 2008

It has now been confirmed that the musical West Side Story, which relocates story of Romeo And Juliet to Hell's Kitchen in 1950s New York, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Arthur Laurents, will preview on Broadway at a Nederlander theatre yet to be confirmed from February 23rd. The production will feature Jerome Robbins's original choreography re-created by Joey McKneely, but will be radically different in tone, selectively weaving Spanish throughout both the book and songs, to give the characters greater authenticity. It will play a pre Boradway season at The National Theatre in Washington, DC, from December 2nd to January 4th. The producers are Kevin McCollum, James Nederlander Jr and Jeffrey Seller.

The Off Broadway company Second Stage Theatre has followed the lead of Roundabout Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club and bought itself a Broadway home, with the purchase of the Helen Hayes Theatre. From 2010 Second Stage will produce a repertoire there dedicated exclusively to the development and presentation of innovative contemporary American theatre. The company will begin a fundraising campaign for $35m to fund the acquisition, renovation and endowment of the 597 seater venue. Second Stage Theatre was founded to give 'second stagings' to contemporary American plays that originally failed to find an audience due to scheduling problems, inappropriate venues or limited performance runs. Since then, the company has evolved from a small theatre into an Off Broadway institution, dedicated to developing plays, artists and audiences.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, 9 To 5, the musical adaptation of the 1980 film about three secretaries taking revenge on their chauvinist boss, with a book by Patricia Resnick, based on her screenplay, and music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, featuring Allison Janney, Stephanie J Block, Megan Hilty and Marc Kudisch, directed by Joe Mantello, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, will preview from March 24th at the Marquis Theatre, with an official opening on April 23rd. The design team comprises scenery by Scott Pask, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, and sound by John Shivers. The producer is Robert Greenblatt. The show will play a pre Broadway season at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles from September 20th to October 19th.

Producers Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza have joined forces to create Global Broadway Productions to develop and produce new musicals for Broadway and around the world. Their initial rosta comprises Little House On The Prairie, book by Rachel Sheinken, music by Rachel Portman, lyrics by Donna DiNovelli, adapted from the semiautobiographical book by Laura Ingalls Wilder, directed by Francesca Zambello, which will premiere August 15th at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, aiming for a Broadway transfer; Rebecca, book and lyrics by Michael Kunze, music by Sylvester Levay, adapted from the Daphne Du Maurier novel, also directed by Francesca Zambello, currently playing in Vienna, aiming for Broadway in spring 2010; and Havana, book by Nilo Cruz, music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Jack Murphy, an original story set in the days leading up to Castro's seizure of power in Cuba, co-produced with Kathleen Raitt, William Franzblau and Jerry Frankel, aiming for Broadway in fall 2010.

On The Casting Couch: Haydn Gwynne from the original London production will be joined by Gregory Jbara, Carole Shelley, Santino Fontana, Stephen Hanna, Joel Hatch, Leah Hocking, Thommie Retter and Erin Whyland, with David Alvarez, Kiril Kulish and Trent Kowalik alternating in the title role, in Billy Elliot - The Musical, opening at the Imperial Theatre on November 13th.

It has been confirmed that David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, a behind the camera look at Hollywood, centring on a producer's decision to film a novel about a nuclear catastrophe and the end of the world, rather than his usual star laden surefire hit, with Raśl Esparza and Jeremy Piven, directed by Neil Pepe, will preview from October 3rd at the Belasco Theatre, with an official opening on October 23rd. The design team will include scenery by Scott Pask and costumes by Laura Bauer. The producers are Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler.

The Mitzi E Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center Theater has announced a further production in its 2008/2009 season. The musical Happiness, book by John Weidman, music by Scott Frankel, lyrics Michael Korie, about a disparate group of New Yorkers caught on a subway train under unusual circumstances, directed by Susan Stroman, will receive its world premiere next spring. The design team will comprise scenery by Thomas Lynch, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski and sound by Scott Lehrer.

The 2005 Donmar Warehouse London production Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart, in a new version by Peter Oswald, about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots, who was beheaded for treason following an attempt to seize the English throne, with Harriet Walter and Janet McTeer, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, will open on Broadway next spring at a Shubert theatre yet to be announced. The producers are Arielle Tepper Madover and Debra Black.

The Seduction Of Edgar Degas, written and directed by Le Wilhelm, about the painter's obsession with Eugenie Fiocre, considered to be the most beautiful woman in Paris, after seeing her dance in the revolutionary ballet La Source, will receive its world premiere previewing from August 14th at 59E59 Theaters, opening on August 17th. The play has two alternate casts: Kristin Carter, Lauren Ford, Mark A Kinch, Bob Manus, Maria Psomas, Gabrielle Rosen, Colleen Summa, Kirsten Walsh and Tony White; and Valerie Austin, Dustin C Burrell, Bob Manus, Jessica Mazo, Jennifer Perrotta, Maria Psomas, Gabrielle Rosen, Alan Salsbury and Colleen Summa. 59E59 Theaters is located at 59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues.

stageFARM will stage the world premiere of Spin, a bill of contemporary short plays and sketches on the theme of hype and disinformation, by Adam Rapp, Gina Gionfriddo, Judith Thompson, Elizabeth Meriwether and Mark Schultz, directed by Alex Kilgore and Evan Cabnet, previewing from October 3rd at the Cherry Lane Theatre, opening on October 11th. The Cherry Lane Theatre is located at 38 Commerce Street, near 7th Avenue, between Bedford and Barrow Streets.