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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd February 2009

The new musical Next To Normal, music by Tom Kitt, book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey, a contemporary story of how an almost average suburban family comes to grips with a long buried secret, directed by Michael Greif, with musical staging by Sergio Trujillo, seen last year at Second Stage and recently at Arlington's Arena Stage, will transfer to Broadway, previewing from March 27th at the Longacre Theatre, with an official opening on April 15th. It will feature the entire Arena Stage cast, Alice Ripley, J Robert Spencer, Aaron Tveit, Jennifer Damiano, Adam Chanler-Berat and Louis Hobson. The design team comprises scenery by Mark Wendland, costumes by Jeff Mahshie, lighting by Kevin Adams and sound by Brian Ronan. The producers are David Stone, James L Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo and Second Stage Theatre.

The Goodman Theatre Chicag's production of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under The Elms, with Brian Dennehy, Carla Gugino, Pablo Schreiber, Boris McGiver and Daniel Stewart Sherman, directed by Robert Falls, will transfer to Broadway, previewing from April 14th at the St James Theatre, with an official opening on April 27th. It is a revised version of the tale of lust, possessions, promises, property and familial bonds broken, which excises 10 characters and trims the running time to 100 minutes, focusing on the turbulent family drama at its core. The design team comprises scenery by Walt Spangler, costumes by Ana Kuzmanic, lighting by Michael Philippi and sound by Richard Woodbury. The producers are Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Steve Traxler.

Soho Think Tank will stage Robert Lyons's Red-Haired Thomas, in which a gambler descends into a desperation filled dreamscape, where he meets Thomas Jefferson, with Danny Beiruti, Alan Benditt, Nicole Raphael, Danielle Skraastad and Peter Sprague, directed by Oliver Butler, previewing from March 7th at the Ohio Theatre, opening on March 9th. Ohio Theatre is located at 66 Wooster Street, between Spring and Broome Streets.

The Broadway League has released its audience demographic analysis of the 2007/2008 season. The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 41.5 years old, the same as the previous season, but 1.5m tickets were purchased by under 18 year olds, accounting for 12.4% of the total, the highest proportion ever. Online remained the most popular method of purchasing tickets, growing 471% since the 1999/2000 season, and rising from 7% to 40% of total sales. The typical playgoer saw 8 shows, while the musical attendee saw 4. Those who saw 15 or more shows comprised 5% of the audience, and represented 30% of all tickets sold. Of the total of almost 12.3m tickets sold, 31% were bought by residents of New York State, while tourists purchased approximately 65%, split 50:50 between domestic and foreign visitors.

The Wild Project and Push Productions will stage Colin McKenna's The Secret Agenda Of Trees, with Lillian Wright, Reyna de Courcy, Michael Tisdale, Brian Reilly and Christian Navarro, directed by Michael Kimmel, previewing from March 15th, opening on March 19th. It is set in a backwoods rural community, where escape and fantasy substitute for hope, in increasingly desperate lives. The Wild Project is located at 195 East 3rd Street, between Avenues A and B.

Abingdon Theatre Company will stage Mayo Simon's Greek Holiday, a black comedy about a married couple making one last try at reconciliation during a holiday on a Greek island, with Sarah Knapp, Kathleen McElfresh and Tommy Schrider, directed by Stephen Hollis, previewing from March 6th at the June Havoc Theatre, opening on March 18th. The June Havoc Theatre is located at 312 West 36th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.

The national touring production of The Wizard Of Oz, John Kane's adaptation of the 1939 movie from the books of L Frank Baum, with songs by Harold Arlen and E Y Harburg, featuring Cassie Okenna, Noah Aberlin, Chris Kind, Jason Simon, Pat Sibley, Robert John Biedermann and Caitlin Maloney, directed by Nigel West, with choreography be Leigh Constantine, is to play at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden from 26th March to 5th April.

Alan Lyddiard's stage adaptation of the George Orwell's 1984, with Katherine Boynton, Enid Cortes, Gregory Konow, Deanna McGovern, Dustin Olson, Nick Paglino, Aaron Paternoster, Michael Shimkin, Scarlett Thiele, Michael Tranzilli and Sammy Tunis, directed by Joe Tantalo, with choreography by Hachi Yu, will preview from March 13th at 59E59 Theaters, opening on March 25th. The story is a chronicle of one man's struggle against the ubiquitous, menacing state power Big Brother that tries to dictate nearly every aspect of human life. 59E59 Theaters is located at 59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues.

Shotgun Players will stage Beowulf: A Thousand Years Of Baggage, by Jason Craig, with music by Dave Malloy, which combines the epic poem with Weillian cabaret, '40s jazz harmony, indie rock, electronica and Romantic lieder, featuring Jason Craig, Jessica Jelliffe, Chris Kuckenbaker, Anna Ishida, Shaye Troha and Beth Wilmurt, directed by Rod Hipskind, previewing from March 31st at The Abrons Arts Center, opening on open April 5th. The Abrons Arts Center is located at 566 Grand Street at Pitt Street.

The final production in Atlantic Theater Company's 2008/2009 season will be the world premiere of Leslie Ayvazian's Make Me, in which six pent-up Americans in three different relationships have reached the end of their ropes in a comic fuge, directed by Christian Parker, previewing from May 19th at Atlantic Stage 2, opening May 31st. Atlantic Stage 2 is located at 330 West 16th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues.