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New York Spotlight: August 2007

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Laila Robins
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
There are no new Broadway shows starting performances this month, although the much-heralded revival of Grease, starring reality show winners Max Crumm and Laura Osnes, gets its official opening at the Brooks Atkinson on August 19. Will Grease be the word? We'll all soon find out.

The Shakespeare in the Park season at the Delacorte closes with A Midsummer Night's Dream (August 7-September 9). The star-studded cast, under the direction of Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan, includes Keith David as Oberon, Mireille Enos as Hermia, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Flute, Austin Lysy as Lysander, Tim Blake Nelson as Peter Quince, Martha Plimpton as Helena, Laila Robins as Titania, and Jay O. Sanders as Bottom.

Another August highlight is the one-act festival Summer Shorts at 59 E 59 Theatres (August 2-30), featuring works by writers such as Tina Howe, Warren Leight, Eduardo Machado, and Keith Reddin. Meanwhile, The Atlantic will be presenting the world premiere of Reddin's Human Error (August 1-26) at its Stage Two space. The play takes place in the aftermath of a plane crash, when two investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board find themselves surprisingly involved in the life of a survivor.

Atlantic's first mainstage production of the 2007-2008 season is the world premiere of Lucy Thurber's Scarcity (August 29-October 14). In it, a poverty-stricken rural Massachusetts family starts to unravel when 16-year-old Billy is given the opportunity to change schools and move out of town by an unusually attentive young teacher. Emmy Award winner Kristen Johnston heads a cast that also includes such major names as Jesse Eisenberg, Miriam Shor, and Michael T. Weiss.

The Signature Theatre Company begins its year-long celebration of playwright Charles Mee with Iphigenia 2.0 (August 7-September 30), a radical reinvention of Euripides' classic play that examines the costs of war and loss of innocence. Tina Landau directs the production, which stars Star Trek: Voyager's Kate Mulgrew as Clytemnestra.

Playwrights Horizons presents the world premiere of Kate Fodor's 100 Saints You Should Know (previews start August 24). The play tells the story of cleaning woman Theresa, who pursues a parish priest that has left the church under uncertain circumstances. Janel Moloney, late of TV's The West Wing, and the great Lois Smith head the cast. Meanwhile, The Flea presents Billy the Mime's America LoveSexDeath (August 23-September 29), which tackles controversial subject matter with such routines as "The Priest and The Altar Boy," "Terry Schiavo, Adieu," and "Virginia Tech 4/16/07."

Other notable Off Broadway productions this month include The All-American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing by political satirist and pundit Will Durst (beginning August 6); Rites of Privacy (August 16-September 23), playwright/performer David Rhodes' multi-character solo piece; the new musical Celia (previews begin August 28), based on the life of the late Cuban singer Celia Cruz; and Walmartopia! The Musical (beginning August 21), a musical satire about a single mom and Wal-Mart employee who speaks out against her company's working conditions.

Last but not least, the New York International Fringe Festival (August 10-26) dominates the downtown Off Off Broadway scene. This year's Fringe festival promises even more wacky musicals, solo pieces, and theatrical oddities. Some highlights include Bye Bye, Big Guy (August 20-25), a musical satire of some of some of your favorite fairy tale characters, starring Broadway talents Jill Abramovitz, Danielle Lee Greaves, Carly Jibson, and Orville Mendoza; Andy Gershenzon's post-apocalyptic comedy The End (August 11-25), directed by Lucille Lortel winner Christopher Denham; the pop/rock parody Williamsburg the Musical (August 11-24); the U.S. premiere of Dirt (August 10-22), an award-winning one-man drama about prejudice against foreigners; and John Goldfarb Please Come Home August 20-25), a musical comedy about love, spy planes, harem girls, and the Notre Dame football team, featuring a book by Oscar winner William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist) with music and lyrics by Michael Garin, Robert Hipkens, and Erik Frandsen.

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