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New York Spotlight: January 2009

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Mary-Louise Parker in Hedda Gabler
(© Nigel Parry)
As the New Year begins, so do a number of new Broadway shows. Mary-Louise Parker plays the title role in the Roundabout's much anticipated revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler (American Airlines Theatre, January 6-March 28), presented in a new adaptation by Christopher Shinn. The cast also includes Michael Cerveris, Paul Sparks, Peter Stormare, Lois Markle, Ana Reeder, and Helen Carey.

Mercedes Ruhl and Lili Rabe lead the revival cast of Richard Greenberg's The American Plan, which begins performances at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on January 2. Set in the Catskills in the early 1960s, the play focuses on an elegant and imperious German-Jewish refugee mother, her eccentric daughter, and the mysterious young man who enters their lives.

Will Ferrell makes his Broadway debut in the one-man show, You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush (Cort Theatre, January 20-March 15), in which he reprises his impersonation of the outgoing President. As a special New Year's treat, the Chinese martial arts spectacle Soul of Shaolin arrives on Broadway, playing a limited engagement at the Marquis Theatre, January 13-31.

Off-Broadway, Simon Russell Beale, Sinéad Cusack, Richard Easton, Rebecca Hall, Josh Hamilton, and Ethan Hawke star in Tom Stoppard's new version of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (BAM Harvey Theatre, January 2-March 8), to be directed by Sam Mendes as the first production in The Bridge Project, a transatlantic partnership uniting BAM, The Old Vic, and Neal Street Productions. Another star-studded staging of Chekhov can be found at Classic Stage Company, where Denis O'Hare takes on the title role in Uncle Vanya (January 17-March 1), with the cast also including Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard.

Kathleen Turner and Charles Busch headline Busch's The Third Story, composed of three interconnected stories and presented by MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel, January 14-February 28. Second Stage presents Gina Gionfriddo's Becky Shaw, in which a newlywed couple fixes up two romantically challenged friends. Annie Parisse plays the title role, with the cast also including David Wilson Barnes, Emily Bergl, Kelly Bishop, and Thomas Sadoski. Lynn Nottage's new play, Ruined makes its New York premiere at Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage 1 beginning January 21, with a cast including Saidah Arrika Ekulona, Cherise Boothe, and Chris Chalk.

Stars can also be seen in various productions all over town. John Cullum, Jena Malone, and Lili Taylor star in New Group Theatre's production of Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra (Theatre Row, beginning January 27), directed by Scott Elliot. Tony nominees Euan Morton and Xanthe Elbrick are featured in Leaves of Glass (Peter Jay Sharp Theater, January 14-February 8), Philip Ridley's family drama, set in East London. J. Smith-Cameron and Deirdre O'Connell head the cast of Andrea Lepcio's Looking for the Pony (McGinn/Cazale Theatre, January 21-February 8), about two sisters who come together when one is diagnosed with breast cancer.

David Greenspan and Everett Quinton star in the world premiere of William M. Hoffman and Anthony Holland's Cornbury: The Queen's Governor (Hudson Guild Theatre, January 24-February 8), about the controversial cross-dressing 18th-century English governor of New York and New Jersey. Mike Burstyn stars in the solo drama Lansky (St. Luke's Theatre, beginning January 23), about the notorious businessman and gangster Meyer Lansky. Michael Countryman stars in Primary Stages' presentation of Donald Margulies' latest, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment -- The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself), to be directed by Lisa Peterson at 59E59 Theaters, January 27-March 7.

Celebrated novelist Edmund White's new play Terre Haute (59E59 Theaters, January 13-February 15) examines what happens when a famous author comes face-to-face with America's most notorious terrorist. Living Theatre co-founder Judith Malina directs and stars in a 50th anniversary production of The Connection (through February 13), Jack Gelber's groundbreaking play about drug addition. Anne Bogart directs Women's Project and SITI Company's co-production of Virginia Woolf's Freshwater, to play the Women's Project, January 15-February 15. OBIE award winners Ruth Maleczech and Greg Mehrten star in Pataphysics Penyeach, a pair of one-acts written and directed by avant-garde legend Lee Breuer, presented by Mabou Mines at PS 122, January 8-18. Young Jean Lee's latest, The Shipment (The Kitchen, January 8-24), addresses racist attitudes towards black people, as well as the history of black Americans in entertainment.

Irish Rep mounts a revival of Brian Friel's Aristocrats (beginning January 16), about a once powerful family in its days of decline. Target Margin presents Tennessee Williams' rarely-seen Ten Blocks on the Camino Real (Ohio Theatre, January 14-31), a one-act, "first draft" version of the work that eventually became Williams' Camino Real. Dan LeFranc's new play Sixty Miles to Silver Lake (Soho Rep, January 15-February 8) explores the relationship between a father and son over the sixty miles between the boy's soccer practice and his father's new apartment.

Finally, the Public Theater hosts the annual Under the Radar Festival, January 7-18. Curated by Marc Russell, the festival tracks new theater from across the U.S. and around the world and includes performers Lemon Anderson, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Reggie Watts, as well as international companies such as Netherlands troupe, Kassys; Korea's Sadari Movement Laboratory in association with AsiaNow; and the National Theatre of Scotland.

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