Oscar Isaac and Ritchie Coster in Beauty of the Father
(Photo © Joan Marcus)
Oscar Isaac and Ritchie Coster in Beauty of the Father
(Photo © Joan Marcus)
The traditionally quiet month of January is much louder than usual, with works on Broadway and off by many award-winning talents.

With just a new piece of clothing and a change in facial expression and accent, the prodigiously talented Sarah Jones limns the diverse population of New York's immigrant community in Bridge & Tunnel (Helen Hayes, January 26). You will never forget these characters who gather for a poetry slam where they share the troubles, tragedies and triumphs and their lives. The show was a huge hit at downtown's Culture Project in 2004 and fans have been anxiously awaiting its return -- even if it is only for eight weeks.

Some long-running Broadway shows are welcoming some exciting new cast members this month. Over at the super-smash Wicked, Eden Espinosa returns as Elphaba, Derrick Williams takes over as her love interest Fiyero, and Carol Kane comes aboard as the evil Madame Morrible (January 10). Three of Doubt's four leads take on new faces on January 10: the extraordinary Eileen Atkins as Sister Aloysius, handsome Ron Eldard as Father Flynn, and rising film star Jena Malone as Sister James. And on January 17, Tony Award winner Jonathan Pryce takes over the role of con artist Laurence Jameson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels from fellow Tony winner John Lithgow.

Off-Broadway, there is no shortage of provocative and original plays on hand. The hilarious Douglas Carter Beane takes on the hyprocisy of Hollywood in The Little Dog Laughed with the peerless Julie White, Neal Huff, and Johnny Galecki in the leads (January 9, Second Stage); Tony Award winner Priscilla Lopez co-stars in Nilo Cruz's Beauty of the Father about a handsome young man who finds himself caught between an older painter and his daughter -- with the ghost of Federico Garcia Lorca thrown in for good measure (January 10, Manhattan Theater Club); and Richard Foreman offers up Zomboid, which is described as a film/performance project and a new direction for this singular talent (January 25, Ontological Theater).

Elsewhere, Brian Parks Goner is a comedy that uses the attempted assassination of a U.S. president as its starting off point (January 5, Kraine Theater); Clubbed Thumb presents the world premiere of Rinne Groff's What Then about a woman whose dream house is only in her dreams (January 9, Ohio Theater); David Johnston's Candy and Dorothy finds Warhol superstar Candy Darling trapped in the afterlife with activist Dorothy Day (January 9, Theatre Three); the Australian two-man show The Stones is inspired by the real-life incident of two Melbourne teens who killed a driver by throwing a rock off on a overpass (January 9, The Duke).

The life of the great playwright Anton Chekhov is explored in Anton (January 11, Greenwich Street); Storm Theater serves up the romantic comedy House of Desires (January 11); the Obie-winning all-women performance trouple LAVA premieres their new spectacle (w)HOLE (January 12, Flea Theater); Bush Wars is a musical revue parodying the current administration (January 22, Collective: Unconscious), and Girl in Heat is a very adult drama about a pair of office workers who find their connection is deeper than they imagined (January 27, Michael Weller Theater)

Three actors also show off their playwriting skills this month. John Cariani's Almost, Maine is a quirky tale about residents of small town falling in and out of love, co-starring the wonderful Miriam Shor and her real-life beau Justin Hagan (January 12, Daryl Roth); Lesley Ayvazian's Lovely Day, directed by Blair Brown, features Deirdre O'Connell and David Rasche as parents divided by their feelings over war (January 22, The Beckett). And Jeff Daniels' Apartment 3A deals with a women whose downward-spiraling life is changed when she moves into a shabby apartment (January 23, ArcLight Theater).

Those looking for more classic fare have options as well. Columbia Stages and Classic Stage Company are co-presenting The Moliere Cycle, which features three of his greatest plays in repertory (January 3-15); the Vital Theater Company presents A Midsummer's Night Dream (January 9); and the Pearl Theater serves up Euripides' Hecuba with Joanne Camp in the title role (January 15). And as for revivals, the esteemed Classical Theatre of Harlem revives Adrienne Kennedy's Funnyhouse of a Negro (January 20), while musical lovers can feast on a new chamber version of What Makes Sammy Run? (January 19-29, West End Theater).