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New York Spotlight: February 2005

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Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sarah Saltzberg, and
Derrick Baskin in The 25th Annual Putnam
County Spelling Bee

(Photo © Joan Marcus)
Yes, it's February already, and for many people, that means only one thing: Valentine's Day. But if you're looking for a special gift for that special someone in your life (or you want something to help you forget you don't have a special someone in your life), rather than flowers or chocolates, have you considered theater? Maybe most of this month's offerings aren't romantic, but what makes a better evening than dinner and a show?

There are two Broadway openings this month: The first, on February 2, is the Beach Boys musical Good Vibrations at the Eugene O'Neill. The second is the following night at the Biltmore: Brooklyn Boy, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies, is about a hard-working writer (played by Adam Arkin) who finally finds the success he's long sought, but might find himself changed because of it. Tony winner Daniel Sullivan (Proof) directs.

And there are tons of intriguing offerings Off-Broadway, too. If you're into musicals, you won't want to miss the latest by William Finn (Falsettos), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, about a group of ambitious youngsters in the competition of their lives. It opens at Second Stage on February 7. And the City Center Encores! series is offering a rare chance to see A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. This concert presentation of the 1951 musical, which features a score with Arthur Schwartz and Dorothy Fields and a book by George Abbott and Betty Smith (based on her classic novel), will now feature a revised book by Eleanor Renfield. The concert runs for five performances only, beginning February 10.

There's a wide variety of Off-Broadway plays, as well. Two open on February 1: Kirk Marcoe's I See Fire in the Dead Man's Eyes is a vividly theatrical exploration of how a man watches his already troubled life fall completely apart. And Thom Pain (based on nothing), written by Will Eno, focuses on an ordinary man who catalogues the agonies of the human condition in search of empathy and enlightenment. February 2 sees the opening of Willy Holtzman's Sabina at Primary Stages; this story about a Russian woman who ignites the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung will be directed by Ethan McSweeny and feature Marin Ireland, Victor Slezak, Adam Stein, and Peter Strauss. The latest play by Stephen Adly Guirgis (Our Lady of 121st Street) and the LAByrinth Theater, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, starts previews at the Public Theater on February 8; this serio-comic examination of one of history's most famous sinners is directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and stars Sam Rockwell.

Downtown favorites Lea Delaria and David Greenspan tackle Samuel Beckett's absurdist drama Happy Days at Classic Stage Company; the show opens on February 15. Anthony Mackie (Drowning Crow) stars in the world premiere of Stephen Belber's McReele at the Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre; this story about a death row inmate and the journalist who exonerates him opens on February 17. And Playwrights Horizons will present the New York premiere of Christopher Shinn's new play On the Mountain, opening on February 24 -- it tells the story of a mother and daughter who cling to the past in the form of a late rock star's lost last song. Finally, on February 28, After Ashley opens at the Vineyard Theatre; starring Kieran Culkin, Anna Paquin, Tim Hopper and Grant Shaud, Gina Gionfriddo's play follows the life of a teenage boy who finds himself in the media spotlight when a family tragedy makes him a public figure.

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