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New York Spotlight: February 2008

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Robin De Jesús and Lin-Manuel Miranda
in In the Heights
(© Joan Marcus)
This month sees the Broadway transfers of two award-winning musicals. In the Heights -- which received Outer Critics and Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Musical and Choreography, and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Choreography and Ensemble Performance -- begins previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on February 14. The show, which focuses on the hopes and dreams of three generations living in Washington Heights, features music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Most of the original cast returns for the Broadway run, including Miranda, Mandy Gonzalez, Christopher Jackson, Priscilla Lopez, and Karen Olivo.

Following a successful run at the Public Theater last summer, the AUDELCO Award-winning Passing Strange arrives at the Belasco Theatre, beginning February 8. Featuring book and lyrics by Stew, the musical tells a semi-autobiographical story about an African-American artist, searching for his identity. The terrific score, by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, mixes blues, rock and roll, gospel, and pop music. The entire original company -- de'Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Chad Goodridge, and Rebecca Naomi Jones, as well as Stew and Rodewald -- makes the transfer to the Main Stem.

The third Broadway show to start up this month is the all-African-American reinterpretation of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Broadhurst Theatre, beginning February 12). Terrence Howard, Anika Noni Rose, James Earl Jones, and Phylicia Rashad head the cast, which is directed by Debbie Allen.

Off-Broadway, Mary-Louise Parker, Bill Camp, Kathleen Chalfant, and David Aaron Baker star in Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone at Playwrights Horizons (February 8-March 16), which, revolves around a woman who answers a ringing cell phone that belongs to a dead man, and then gets caught up in his life. On Monday nights, Chalfant will also be co-starring with Patricia Elliott in Vita & Virginia (Zipper Factory, February 11-April 28), Eileen Atkins' stage adaptation of the correspondence between Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West.

Additional stars can be seen shining all over the city. At BAM, Patrick Stewart plays the title role in Macbeth (February 12-March 22). Alan Cumming and Dianne Wiest star in Classic Stage Company's The Seagull (February 20-March 30). Brian Dennehy, Joe Grifasi, Gloria Reuben, David Strathairn, Maria Tucci, and Aidan Quinn are featured in the world premiere of Richard Nelson's Conversations in Tusculum (Public Theater, February 19-March 23), a history play that focuses on the people entangled in Julius Caesar's world of manipulation and power. Meanwhile, Chris Bauer, Jonathan Cake, and Emily Mortimer star in Jez Butterworth's Parlour Song (Atlantic Theater, February 15-March 29), about two ordinary people who discover they hate who they have become.

Gaius Charles, James McDaniel, and Gbenga Akkinagbe star in Beau Willimon's Lower Ninth (Flea Theater, February 14-April 5), inspired by the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. Veanne Cox and Christopher McCann are among the ensemble cast of Paradise Park (February 12-April 6), which concludes the Signature Theatre Company's Charles Mee season. Jenn Colella, David Greenspan, and Marin Ireland star in the lesbian-oriented melodrama Beebo Brinker Chronicles (February 19-April 27), which transfers to 37 Arts. Logan Marshall-Green, Matthew Stadelmann, and Audrey Lynn Weston are featured in stageFarm THEATRE's presentation of U.S. Drag (Beckett Theatre, beginning February 23), by Gina Gionfriddo, about two women who quit their low-paying jobs and rely on their wits to survive in New York City.

Musical lovers will delight in the City Center Encores! staging of Applause, starring Christine Ebersole, Erin Davie, Kate Burton, Mario Cantone, and Tom Hewitt. Meanwhile, the Vineyard is premiering Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy's The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island (Or, The Friends of Dr. Rushower) (through March 2), starring Tom Riis Farrell, Peter Friedman, and Bobby Steggert. Second Stage presents Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's Next to Normal (through March 8), originally seen at NYMF as Feeling Electric in 2005, with Alice Ripley and Brian d'Arcy James leading the cast. And Prospect Theater Company stages The Blue Flower (West End Theatre, February 2-March 2), a Dada-inspired musical romp through pre-WWI Paris, the Great War, and Weimar Germany. Nancy Anderson, Marcus Neville, and Robert Petkoff star.

New York Theatre Workshop presents Liberty City (February 15-March 16), April Yvette Thompson's autobiographical solo, co-written by director Jessica Blank. LAByrinth Theater Company has got Brett C. Leonard's UNCONDITIONAL (Public Theater, February 7-March 2), in which nine New York stories converge in a racially and sexually charged tale of love, justice, rage, and betrayal. Theatre for a New Audience stages Nigerian author Biyi Bandele's adaptation of Aphra Behn's 1688 novella Oroonoko (Duke on 42nd Street, February 2-March 9), which combines words, drumming, and dance to tell a tragic love story.

Michael Domitrovich's's provocatively titled Artfuckers (DR2 Theater, beginning February 8) follows the second generation artistic elite of Downtown Manhattan. Finally, at the Mint, is the long-delayed world premiere of Ernest Hemingway's The Fifth Column (February 26-May 5), which revolves around the personal and political passions of a counter-espionage agent.

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