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New York Spotlight: July 2007

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Laura Benanti and Patti LuPone star in Gypsy
(© Joan Marcus)
One of the most eagerly awaited shows in town is about to happen, but only for three weeks: The City Center Encores! revival of Gypsy (July 9-29), starring Patti LuPone as Mama Rose, Boyd Gaines as Herbie, and Laura Benanti as Gypsy/Louise. Arthur Laurents, who wrote the musical's book, directs this high-profile production.

Did you watch Grease: You're the One That I Want, the TV talent competition in which America voted on who should play Danny and Sandy in the new Broadway incarnation of the perennially popular musical? Well, that production is soon to open. Grease begins previews at the Brooks Atkinson on July 24 with winners Max Crumm and Laura Osnes in front of the footlights, under the direction of Tony winner Kathleen Marshall.

Xanadu, the high-camp musical about a mysterious woman who inspires an artist and a former band leader to build a big roller disco, opens at the Helen Hayes on July 10 after a two-week delay; Cheyenne Jackson was brought in to replace original leading man James Carpinello, who was injured during previews. Kerry Butler plays the Olivia Newton-John role of Kira, and the cast also includes Tony Roberts, Jackie Hoffman, and Mary Testa.

Spiegelworld is back at the Fulton Fish Market (July 2-September 30). Last summer, New Yorkers first experienced this unique entertainment venue, which has been popular in Europe for generations. The 2007 edition features a new version of the popular acro-burlesque show Absinthe, as well as the acclaimed Montreal circus-arts theatre company Les 7 Doigts de La Main in La Vie.

Off-Broadway is quite busy this month. The Peccadillo Theater Company revives Sylvia Regan's 1940 play Morning Star, about the hopes and struggles of an immigrant Jewish family living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (Bank Street Theatre, through July 28). The Cell Theatre Company presents Nancy Manocherian's Guilty, which follows the unraveling of a group of friends in the top echelon of New York society (The Acorn at Theater Row, through July 29). Lois Smith and Cady Huffman head the cast of David Epstein's Surface to Air, about how a family reacts when the remains of their son are returned to them 30 years after his plane was shot down over Vietnam (Symphony Space, July 11-August 5).

Angry Young Women in Low-Rise Jeans With High-Class Issues is the witty title of writer-director Matt Morillo's comedy about the psychology of nervous urban goddesses (Players Theatre, beginning July 12). My First Time collects true stories of when, where, and why real people lost their virginity (New World Stages, beginning July 12). The People vs. Mona, a new Southern murder mystery musical by Jim Wann and Patricia Miller, is about a woman accused of killing her husband on their wedding day (Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex, July 12-August 4). The Woodshed Theater Collective revives John Logan's Never the Sinner, based on the true story of the notorious child murderers Leopold and Loeb (Flamboyan Theater, July 13-28).

Josh Tobiessen's Election Day, a dark comedy about the price of political (and personal) campaigns, receives its world premiere production as part of the Second Stage Theatre Uptown Festival (McGinn/Cazale Theatre, performances begin July 16). TheatreWorks/USA offers an adaptation of Flaherty and Ahrens' Seussical for young audiences (Lucille Lortel Theatre, July 16-August 17). Tom Crean: Antarctic Explorer, written and performed by Aidan Dooley, is about one of Ireland's unsung heroes (Irish Repertory Theatre, beginning July 17).

In Michael Hollinger's Opus, the rehearsal room of a world-renowned string quartet becomes a pressure cooker as passions rise, personalities clash, and the musicians are forced to face the ephemeral nature of their life's work (Primary Stages, July 24-September 1). Betty Shamieh's The Black Eyed depicts four Arab women from across the ages -- the Biblical Delilah, a modern suicide bomber, a victim of medieval Christian crusaders, and a contemporary, secular Arab-American -- who meet in the afterlife (New York Theatre Workshop, July 17-August 19).

Last but not least, summer is a popular time for theater festivals, and this year is no exception. The Ice Factory offers its 14th annual summer festival of new work, featuring seven New York premieres in seven weeks (Ohio Theatre, July 4-August 18). The Lincoln Center Festival (July 10-29) features an extraordinary array of international offerings, including Robert Wilson's Fables de la Fontaine. The Summer Play Festival at Theatre Row (July 10-August 5) offers sixteen new plays by up-and-coming writers. Twelve American shows that have been selected for presentation at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will be seen first in New York under the umbrella title East to Edinburgh (59E59 Theaters, July 10-29). Finally, the eighth annual Midtown International Theatre Festival runs July 16-August 5.

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