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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd April 2007

The Classic Stage Company, which is committed to exploring classics (and re-imagining the definition of what a classic is) has announced its 40th season, opening on October 31st. It will comprise William Shakespeare's Richard III, with Michael Cumpsty, directed by Brian Kulick; the world premiere of David Ives's New Jerusalem, about the expulsion of the philosopher Baruch de Spinoza from the Jewish community of Amsterdam in the 17th century for his controversial ideas, directed by Walter Bobbie, playing from January 2nd; and Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, in which each character is denied the thing they most crave, with Dianne Wiest, playing from March 5th. The season will also include The First Look Festival, The Young Company program, and the Open Rehearsal Series. The Classic Stage Company is located at 136 East 13th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues.

The two theatre complex at 45 Bleecker Street, recently vacated by the Culture Project, has been leased by the producer Louis S Salamone, in association with Edmund Gaynes, who already operate Actors Temple Theatre and St Luke's Theatre. The venue will be known as Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street, with the larger space, which has flexible seating from 199 to 300 seats, known as the Bleecker Street Theatre, and the smaller space, with 99 to 155 seats, named the Lafayette Street Theatre, although this will also operate as The Green Room, with late night performances by singers, comics, musicians, performance artists, burlesque and spoken word events.

TheatreworksUSA's 19th annual Free Summer Theatre Program will feature the 90 minute young audience version of the musical Seussical, based on characters from the stories of Dr Seuss (children's author Theodore Geisel), directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, playing daytime performances from July 16th at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, opening July 19th. The show was co-conceived by Lyn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Eric Idle, with lyrics by Ahrens, music by Flaherty, and book by Flaherty and Ahrens. The company will include Ebony Marshall, Shorey Walker, Michael Wartella, Karen Weinberg, Leigh Ann Larkin, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Amelia Morgan-Rothschild, Ellen Zolezzi, Willie Lee-Williams, Ben Tostado and Josh Walden. A limited number of free tickets will be available to individuals at the theatre each day one hour prior to show time, while summer camps, youth programs and other social service organizations can make reservations for groups of ten or more. The Lucille Lortel Theatre is located at 121 Christopher Street, between Bleecker and Hudson Streets.

Roundabout Theatre Company will present the American premiere of J T Rogers's The Overwhelming, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, who staged the National Theatre of Great Britain production in London last year, previewing from September 28th at the Laura Pels Theatre, opening on October 17th. It tells the story of an American writer researching a book, who moves his family to Rwanda in 1994 immediately before the genocide, and becomes involved with local politics. The Laura Pels Theatre is located at 111 West 46 Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues.

Make Music New York will hold its debut festival of around 1,200 free concerts, featuring music of all genres and styles, in parks and streets throughout the five boroughs of New York City on June 21st, the summer solstice. The festival is modelled on France's Fete de la Musique, first held in 1982 in Paris, and an annual event throughout the country ever since. The idea has been picked up in various cities around the world, including London, Beijing, Tokyo and Sydney. In New York to date, 87 community groups, 12 Business Improvement Districts, and hundreds of individual artists, both amateurs and professionals, have signed on to produce free concerts on sidewalks, parks, closed streets and community gardens. Further information about taking part or attending an event can be found on the MMNY web site, via the link from Festivals & Events in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

Boyett Ostar Productions has renewed for a further year its $450,000 annual 'first look' arrangement with the National Theatre of Great Britain in London, which began in 2003. This gives Boyett Ostar, led by producers Bob Boyett and Bill Haber, the first option to transfer any of the National's production to New York. So far this has resulted in Broadway stagings of Tom Stoppard's Jumpers, Michael Frayn's Democracy, Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, Alan Bennett's The History Boys, and currently previewing, Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Jamila Gavin's Coram Boy, with Conor McPherson's The Seafarer scheduled for this fall.

Meanwhile Boyett Ostar has announced The Under 18 Project, a ticket initiative that will allow theatregoers aged between 12 and 18 to attend Coram Boy at half price ($51.25) with the purchase of one full priced ticket ($101.25). A similar program was launched during the show's London run. Adapted by Helen Edmundson from the novel by Jamila Gavin, directed by Melly Still, 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.

New Georges will present the world premiere of Jenny Schwartz's play with music God's Ear, about a couple struggling to come to terms with the loss of their young son, with songs by Michael Friedman, directed by Anne Kauffman, previewing from May 2nd at the East 13th Street Theater, opening on May 7th. The cast includes Christina Kirk, Gibson Frazier, Judith Greentree, Raymond McAnally, Annie McNamara, Matthew Montelongo and Monique Vukovic. East 13th Street Theater is located at 136 East 13th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues.