Patrick Wilson and Amanda Peet ina publicity shot for Barefoot in the Park(Photo © Josh Lehrer)
Patrick Wilson and Amanda Peet in
a publicity shot for Barefoot in the Park
(Photo © Josh Lehrer)
From Johnny Cash to Julia Roberts to Tarzan, the first half of 2006 will bring an unusually eclectic line-up of shows and stars to the Great White Way. Here's a look at what ticket buyers will be craving over the next few months, with opening dates and theaters listed for each show.

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Bridge and Tunnel
(January 26, Helen Hayes)
With nothing more than a new piece of clothing and a change in facial expression and accent, the prodigiously talented Sarah Jones moves from one character to another and limns the diverse population of New York's immigrant community, who gather for a poetry slam where they share the troubles, tragedies and triumphs and their lives. This show was a huge hit at downtown's Culture Project in 2004 (where it was co-produced by the one-and-only Meryl Streep), and fans have been anxiously awaiting its return, even if only for an eight-week run.

Rabbit Hole
(February 2, Biltmore)
Long before she gained worldwide fame as Sex and the City's starchy lawyer Miranda Hobbes, Cynthia Nixon was one of the theater's true treasures. For her first Broadway outing in four years, she's chosen this new work by David Lindsay-Abaire about a once-happy couple whose lives suddenly go from bad to worse after a life-shattering accident. Nixon will be joined by the brilliant Tyne Daly in the role of her mother; the handsome John Slattery as her husband; the delightful Mary Catherine Garrison as her reckless sister; and the talented John Gallagher, Jr as the teen who befriends Nixon in her hour of need.

Barefoot in the Park
(February 16, Cort)
Coming on the heels of the smash-hit revival of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple is this new production of another beloved Simon comedy; this one is about a pair of young newlyweds who discover that married life can be challenging, especially when you're living in a less-than-palatial New York apartment. Of course, things are bound to be a little easier when you look like Patrick Wilson and Amanda Peet, who play Paul and Corie Bratter in this production -- and they're sure to look doubly adorable in Isaac Mizrahi's mod costumes! Upping the star quotient, director Scott Elliott has smartly cast the ever-fabulous Jill Clayburgh as Corie's mom and the still-suave Tony Roberts (who played Paul as a replacement for Robert Redford in the original production) as her unlikely suitor, Victor Velasco. Get ready to laugh, laugh, laugh!

Harry Connick, Jr.(Photo © Joseph Marzullo)
Harry Connick, Jr.
(Photo © Joseph Marzullo)
The Pajama Game
(February 23, American Airlines)
The critical lambasting of his musical Thou Shalt Not hasn't scared Harry Connick, Jr. away from Broadway. Far from it! The hunky crooner is raring to sink his teeth into the role of factory superintendent Sid Sorokin in this revival of the Richard Adler-Jerry Ross musical comedy. Director-choreographer Kathleen Marshall is surrounding her star with top-tier talent including the lovely Kelli O'Hara as his feisty love interest, Babe Williams; the hilarious Michael McKean as the time-obsessed Hines; and the very funny Megan Lawrence as the kooky Gladys. Hey there, are you ready for some steam heat?

Ring of Fire
(March 12, Ethel Barrymore)
Just two years after his death, country music legend Johnny Cash is one of the most popular men in town -- first thanks to the hit film Walk the Line and now this revue of his songs created by multiple-Tony Award winner Richard Maltby, Jr. Audiences can expect to hear such Cash classics as "Folsom Prison Blues" and "A Boy Named Sue," plus some more obscure tunes from the Man in Black's enormous repertoire. They will be superbly sung by a large ensemble cast, including Tony winner Jarrod Emick, Grammy winner Lari White, Broadway veteran Cass Morgan, and the big-voiced Beth Malone.

Well
(March 30, Longacre)
One of Downtown's most revered actress/playwrights, Lisa Kron travels north with this provocative comedy-drama based on her real-life relationship with her strong-willed mother, superbly played by Obie winner Jayne Houdyshell. The show wowed audiences last year at The Public Theater, where it was also directed by Leigh Silverman. Both funny and heartbreaking, Well is well worth your time.

Jay Johnson: The Two and Only
(April 3, Helen Hayes)
Johnson's quasi-solo show -- well, the man does work with puppets! -- is another Off-Broadway success that's belatedly transferring to the Main Stem. In this entertaining monologue, Johnson, who is best known for his role(s) of Chuck and Bob on the classic 1970s sitcom Soap, deconstructs his lifelong obsession with ventriloquism while taking audiences on a journey through his fascinating, 30-year-long career. Don't be a dummy; get your tickets now!

Lestat
(April 13, Palace)
Talk about the music of the night! This tuner based on Anne Rice's series of novels about the bloodthirsty vampire Lestat and his otherworldly family features a score by the legendary songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Director Robert Jess Roth -- returning to the Rialto for the first time since Beauty and the Beast -- has assembled a top-notch cast led by ex-Phantom Hugh Panaro (in the title role) and the absolutely fabulous Carolee Carmello. Want to take a bite?

Julia Roberts(Photo © Timothy White)
Julia Roberts
(Photo © Timothy White)
Awake and Sing!
(April 17, Belasco)
To commemorate the centenary of Clifford Odets, Lincoln Center Theater serves up a revival of his 1935 play about a Jewish family in the Bronx falling on hard times during the Depression. Ben Gazzara, Zoe Wanamaker, and Lauren Ambrose head the cast, under the guidance of Light in the Piazza director Bartlett Sher.

Three Days of Rain
(April 19, Bernard B. Jacobs)
No show is more wildly anticipated than this one, which will mark the Broadway debut of international film superstar Julia Roberts. No dope she, Roberts has picked Tony-winning director Joe Mantello to guide her, the smoking-hot Bradley Cooper and Paul Rudd to share the stage with her, and a worthy property: a 1997 Richard Greenberg drama in which the three actors play characters of two different generations. Will Roberts soon be adding a Tony to her awards mantle?

The Threepenny Opera
(April 20, Studio 54)
For the Roundabout Theater Company's revival of this chilling musical by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, the shark with the pretty teeth -- a.k.a. Macheath -- will be played by Tony winner Alan Cumming. If that's not enough star-power for you, consider this lineup: director Scott Elliott (yep, him again) has recruited Grammy winner Cyndi Lauper as Jenny, Tony winner Jim Dale as Mr. Peachum, the wonderful Ana Gasteyer as his wife, and rising pop star Nellie McKay as Polly. The ticket line forms to the right.

The History Boys
(April 23, Broadhurst)
It wouldn't be a Broadway season without at least one prestigious British import, would it? A huge hit in London for over 18 months, where it won every award known to man, Alan Bennett's play concerns a bunch of bright schoolboys in pursuit of sex, sport, and knowledge, a maverick young English teacher, a headstrong headmaster, and a history teacher who doesn't suffer fools gladly.

The Wedding Singer
(April 27, Hirschfeld)
The latest film-to-stage vehicle is a musical version of the popular Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore film about a young wedding singer who falls for another guy's fiancée. Directed by Tony winner John Rando and featuring choreography by Tony winner Rob Ashford, the show stars television comedian Stephen Lynch and the beautiful Broadway actress-singer Laura Benanti as the adorable leads, while the first-rate supporting cast includes Amy Spanger, Richard Blake, Kevin Cahoon, Felicia Finley, Rita Gardner, and Matthew Saldivar.

Hot Feet
(April 30, theater TBA)
The great song-and-dance man Maurice Hines is the driving force between this new musical, which takes the classic tale of "The Red Shoes" and gives it a new spin. The score is by Maurice White, leader of the legendary R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire, and the book is by novelist Heru Ptah. As for those devilish shoes, you know what they say about being careful what you wish for.

David Schwimmer
David Schwimmer
Shining City
(May 3, Biltmore)
Manhattan Theatre Club concludes its 2005-2006 season with the American premiere of Conor McPherson's critically acclaimed drama about a man (played by film and television star Oliver Platt) who, while trying to recover from the loss of his wife, finds that something startling is going on his house. Can his therapist help? Tony winner Robert Falls directs this intriguing work by the author of The Weir and Dublin Carol.

The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
(May 7, theater TBA)
Former Friends star David Schwimmer and two-time Tony Award nominee Zjelko Ivanek will headline this revival of Herman Wouk's classic 1954 play about a Navy lieutenant who is brought up on charges of mutiny by his power-hungry commander. Jerry Zaks, who has four Tonys under his belt, will be at the helm of this sure-to-be-powerful production.

Tarzan
(May 10, Richard Rodgers)
Edgar Rich Burroughs' famous he-man swings into midtown Manhattan - in the person of former American Idol contestant Josh Strickland -- in this new Disney production based on the animated film. The show features sets, costumes, and direction by Tony winner Bob Crowley, a book by Tony winner David Henry Hwang, a cast that includes Tony winner Shuler Hensley, and a score by Grammy winner Phil Collins that includes the Oscar-winning ballad "You'll Be in My Heart." If that's not enough to rope you in, I don't know what is.