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New York Spotlight: January 2007

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Alan Cox and Morgan Hallett in Translations
(© Joan Marcus)
January is typically a slow month for theater, but 2007 is starting fast out of the gate with a slew of shows that will warm the hearts of theatergoers.

Manhattan Theatre Club starts things off with a revival of Brian Friel's Translations (Biltmore; previews begin January 4). This beautiful play concerns the clash of cultures and the tragedies of miscommunication in the fictional Irish county of Ballybeg. The production, which was seen last year at Princeton's McCarter Theatre, is directed by Garry Hynes, a Tony Award winner for The Beauty Queen of Leenane.

Several blocks uptown, The Coast of Utopia: Salvage begins performances at the Vivian Beaumont on January 30. This is the third and final part of Tom Stoppard's epic trilogy about a group of Russian intellectuals who strive to effect political change by using their minds as their only weapon. The starry cast includes Ethan Hawke, Brían F. O'Byrne, Josh Hamilton, Martha Plimpton, and Richard Easton. Salvage will play in repertory with the first two parts of the trilogy, Voyage and Shipwreck, through May 13.

Lincoln Center is also the site of what's sure to be one of the season's most talked-about events: Kristin Chenoweth: Live at the Met. The January 19 concert will be directed by Kathleen Marshall, with music direction by Andrew Lippa. Currently lighting up Broadway in The Apple Tree, and beloved for her roles in Wicked and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the gorgeous star with the gorgeous voice will offer a program of signature songs, new selections, and opera arias, supported by dancers and a 12-piece orchestra.

The Public Theater hosts Under the Radar 2007, a 12-day festival of cutting-edge theater from across the country (January 16-28). Among the most intriguing entries are Canada's Famous Puppet Death Scenes, presented by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop; Another You, Allen Johnson's solo performance piece about human recklessness and vulnerability; and Bolivia's En Un Sol Amarillo, which deals with the aftermath of a huge earthquake that rocked the country in 1998.

The Off-Broadway arena is quite star-studded this month. At The Duke on 42nd Street, Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham appears in two plays presented in repertory by Theatre for a New Audience: Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (previews begin January 4) and Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta (previews begin January 17). Emmy Award winners Patricia Heaton and Tony Shalhoub co-star with Christopher Evan Welch and Anna Camp in Theresa Rebeck's bitter comedy The Scene (Second Stage, through February 4). Yasmina Reza's A Spanish Play, in which the line between real life and the theater begins to blur, features a cast headed by Tony Award winners Zoe Caldwell and Denis O'Hare (Classic Stage Company, January 10-February 18); and Tony winner Priscilla Lopez heads the cast of the new musical In the Heights (37 Arts, previews begin January 9).

More stars abound: The Fever is writer/performer Wallace Shawn's meditation on affluence vs. poverty (The New Group at Theatre Row, January 9-March 3). Frank's Home, Richard Nelson's play about the iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is directed by Robert Falls and stars Peter Weller and Harris Yulin (Playwrights Horizons, January 12-February 18). Amiri Baraka's Dutchman, the story of a white woman who seduces a naïve, bourgeois black man on a train, stars Dulé Hill (of TV's The West Wing) and Jennifer Mudge (Cherry Lane, January 16-February 10).

Also on tap: the world premiere of All That I Will Ever Be, a play about cultural imperialism by Alan Ball, creator of HBO's Six Feet Under and the Oscar-winning screenwriter of American Beauty (New York Theatre Workshop, January 17-March 11); the HoNkBarK! and Vital Theatre Company production of William Wycherley's naughty, bawdy Restoration comedy The Country Wife (McGinn/Cazale, January 5-27); and a rare revival of Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic, about the dark side of the American dream (Pearl Theatre Company, January 5-February 18).

Finally, the brilliantly witty playwright Christopher Durang is represented by two shows this month: The Vietnamization of New Jersey, described as "an outrageous, diabolical romp through 1960s suburbia" (Beckett Theatre, January 11-28); and the musical Adrift in Macao, an irreverent parody of film noir with book and lyrics by Durang and music by Peter Melnick (Primary Stages at 59E59 Theaters, January 23-March 4).

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