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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th April 2010

The Vineyard Theatre and Playwrights Horizons will stage the new musical The Burnt Part Boys, book by Mariana Elder, music by Chris Miller, lyrics by Nathan Tysen, with Charlie Brady, Al Calderon, Andrew Durand, Steve French, Noah Galvin, Michael Park, Molly Ranson, Randy Redd and Asa Somers, directed by Joe Calarco, previewing from April 30th at Playwrights Horizons, opening on May 24th. Set in West Virginia in 1962, it is the story of a group of teenagers whose fathers were killed 10 years earlier in a coal mining accident, who, when they learn that the mine will be reopened, are determined to keep it closed. Playwrights Horizons is located at 416 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues.

Harry Connick Jr In Concert will play a season at the Neil Simon Theatre, from July 15th to 26th. It will be presented by James L Nederlander and Broadway Across America.

Folksbiene National Yiddish Theatre will stage the premiere of the musical The Adventures Of Hershele Ostropolyer, about the folk hero who battles injustice armed only with his wits, often referred to as the Jewish Robin Hood, written, directed and choreographed by Eleanor Reissa, with Mike Burstyn, Shane Baker, I W Firestone, Edward Furs, Daniella Rabbani, Nicole Raphael, Steve Sterner, Nimmy Weisbrod and Lori Wilner, previewing from May 25th at The Baruch Performing Arts Center, opening on June 3rd. It will be performed entirely in Yiddish, with English and Russian supertitles. The Baruch Performing Arts Center is located at 55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenues.

On The Casting Couch: Boyd Gaines, Kate Burton, Bobby Steggert and Brenda Wehle will comprise the cast in A R Gurney's The Grand Manner, opening at the Mitzi E Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center on June 24th.

New York Theatre Workshop's 2010/2011 season will include, in addition to the previously mentioned Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, with Elizabeth Marvel, directed by Ivo van Hove, opening in September; the play with music Peter And The Starcatchers, by Rick Elice, music by Wayne Barker, adapted from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's 'prequel' to J M Barrie's Peter Pan, with a company of 12 portraying 50 characters, directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers; and Three Pianos, written, arranged and performed by Rick Burkhardt, Alec Duffy and Dave Malloy, based on Franz Schubert's Winterreise, following three friends (each on a piano) who take the audience on a journey through their love for the song cycle, on a snowy evening in a rustic cabin, directed by Rachel Chavkin. New York Theatre Workshop is located at 79 East 4th Street, between The Bowery and 2nd Avenue.

A 25th anniversary production of Nunsense, the spoof musical comedy about the misadventures of five nuns trying to manage a fundraiser, written and directed by Dan Goggin, will preview from June 15th at the Cherry Lane Theatre, where the musical comedy debuted in 1985, opening on June 22nd. The Cherry Lane Theatre is located at 38 Commerce Street, between Barrow and Bedford Streets.

The Pantomime Life Of Joseph Grimaldi by Andrew McDonnell Stott, published by Cannongate Books, is a fascinating account of the most celebrated of English clowns. Joseph Grimaldi was the first to use white face make up and wear outrageous coloured clothes, transforming the role of the Clown in pantomime. One of the first celebrity comedians, his friends included Lord Byron and the actor Edmund Kean, and his memoirs were edited by Charles Dickens. However, underneath the stage paint, Grimaldi struggled with depression and his life was blighted by tragedy. The outward joy and tomfoolery of his performances masked a dark and depressing personal life, and instituted the modern figure of the glum, brooding comedian. Stott has written both a definitive biography of Grimaldi, and a highly nuanced portrait of Georgian theatre in London, from the frequent riots at Drury Lane, to the spectacular excess of its arch rival Sadler's Wells. Joseph Grimaldi left an indelible mark on the English theatre and the performing arts, but his legacy is one of human struggle, battling demons and giving it his all in the face of adversity.

The Drilling Company will stage its 18th free Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot, season, with Love's Labours Lost, the comedy in which a king and his three companions foreswear the company of women for three years in order to immerse themselves in study - and fail, from July 8th to 24th, and Julius Caesar, reflecting on the spiritual and political consequences of betrayal and the betrayer, from July 29th to August 14th, directed by Hamilton Clancy and Kathy Curtiss, performed in a municipal parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets.

Theater for the New City will stage the My Boyfriend Is A Zombie, book, lyrics and direction by William Electric Black, music by Black and Gary Schreiner, a new 1950's style musical about a girl who falls in love with a zombie, from June 3rd. Theater for the New City's 34th annual free Street Theater production will be the musical Gone Fission, book, lyrics and direction by Crystal Field, music by David Tice, presenting social issues through children's allegories, touring streets, parks and playgrounds throughout the five boroughs, from July 31st to September 12th. The Street Theater combines an elaborate assemblage of trap doors, giant puppets, smoke machines, and a huge running screen or 'cranky' providing continuous movement behind the actors. Theater for the New City is located at 155 1st Avenue at 10th Street.

The Rumour Machine says: that Theresa Rebeck's Poor Behavior, about two couples who spend a weekend in the country irritating the hell out of one another, with Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline, directed by Doug Hughes, is aiming for Broadway in the fall. The Rumour Machine grinds on.