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New York Spotlight: July 2008

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Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen
in [title of show]
(© Carol Rosegg)
The Broadway musical season kicks off July 5 with [title of show], a hilarious semi-autobiographical work about two struggling writers and two struggling actresses creating a new musical. Creators Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen are joined by Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff and musical director Larry Pressgrove for this tuner that got its start at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, played Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre, and now makes it all the way to the Lyceum Theatre.

Two musical revivals are generating lots of buzz. New York City Center's Encores! presents Damn Yankees (July 5-27), with a star-studded cast that includes Sean Hayes, Jane Krakowski, Cheyenne Jackson, Megan Lawrence, Randy Graff, Veanne Cox, and Michael Mulheren. Out in Central Park, Diane Paulus directs the Public Theater's free production of the legendary rock tuner Hair (July 22-August 31) with Jonathan Groff, Will Swenson, and Caryn Lyn-Manuel leading the cast. (And yes, nudity is expected!)

The annual Lincoln Center Festival features a number of notable entries, including Alan Cumming starring in The Bacchae (Rose Theatre, July 2-13); German expressionist composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann's music drama, Die Soldaten (Park Avenue Armory, July 5-12); Liam Neeson, Barry McGovern, and Ralph Fiennes in Gate/Beckett (July 16-25), a trio of one-man dramas by Samuel Beckett and presented by Dublin's renowned Gate Theatre; and Laurie Anderson's Homeland (July 22-26), described as a "concert poem" driven by the political urgency of contemporary American culture.

Emmy Award nominee Jamie Farr and Tony Award nominee Anita Gillette star in Luigi Creatore's comedy, Flamingo Court (New World Stages, beginning July 17), about residents of a South Florida apartment complex. A.R. Gurney's Buffalo Gal makes its New York premiere, courtesy of Primary Stages, (July 22-August 30), starring Mark Blum, Susan Sullivan, and James Waterston. SecondStage Theatre presents Rajiv Joseph's Animals Out of Paper (McGinn Cazale, July 15-August 23), about a world renowned origami artist. The cast features Utkarsh Ambudkar, Kellie Overbey, and Jeremy Shamos.

The Potomac Theatre Company comes to New York, hosted by Atlantic Theater's Stage Two. Crave/Somewhere in the Pacific (July 1-26) pairs up late British playwright Sarah Kane's exploration of her seared and segmented inner self, with Neal Bell's maritime drama set at the end of World War II. Howard Barker's Scenes From an Execution (July 3-26) centers on a 15th century Venetian painter, played by Jan Maxwell, whose state-commissioned painting of a navel battle shows a different truth than the one expected.

Irish Repertory Theatre presents Mark Brown's adaptation of the Jules Verne classic, Around the World in 80 Days (July 11-September 7). Don Reed's solo show East 14th, takes up residence at New World Stages, through September 27. The Fringe hit Perfect Harmony makes music at Theatre Row's Clurman, July 6-24. At the Kirk, Tony Glazer's dark comedy Stain makes its world premiere, starring 2008 Drama Desk Award nominee Tobias Segal.

In addition, The Midtown International Theatre Festival returns for its ninth year, with entries including Eighty-1 (June Havoc Theatre, July 14-August 3), described as "Indiana Jones meets When Harry Met Sally"; the name-dropping comedy, Kidnapping Laura Linney (Dorothy Streslin Theatre, July 16-August 2); and the coming-of-age solo drama Flagboy (Where Eagles Dare Theatre, July 14-August 1).

Heading downtown, at the Culture Project, playwright/performer Lenelle Moïse is joined by actress Karla Mosley for an exploration of black womanhood, friendship, sexuality, and freedom in Expatriate, July 7-August 14. Chicago's Theater Oobleck settles into the Barrow Street Theatre with The Strangerer (beginning July 9), a political satire that takes inspiration from the first Bush-Kerry presidential debate via Albert Camus. Writer/performer Taylor Mac returns to HERE Arts Center with two works in rotating repertory, The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac (July 8-August 2) and a reprise of The Young Ladies Of (July 9-August 2). James Braly also brings back his solo piece, Life in a Marital Institution, at the SoHo Playhouse through August 31.

The Classical Theatre of Harlem will present Melvin Van Peebles' musical Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death in various city parks, July 25-August 16. Meanwhile, Hudson Warehouse stages Much Ado About Nothing in Riverside Park, July 10-August 3. For variations on the Bard's works, there's NYU/The Continuum Company's Tempest Tossed (Classic Stage Company, July 10-20), which reimagines Shakespeare's late great play for a versatile three person cast. Meanwhile, the Watershed Collective presents the premiere of Caridad Svich's Twelve Ophelias as a free event at McCarren Park Pool, July 11-August 22.

Kiki & Herb's Kenny Mellman strikes out on his own with Say Seaboy, You Sissy Boy? (Dixon Place, July 24-August 9), a chamber musical inspired by the murder of Navy officer Allen Schindler, Jr. Also off the beaten path is Neal Medlyn's Unpronounceable Symbol (PS 122, July 9-20), the artist's latest pop song tragic-comedic extravaganza, Hana Ichimomme (Bank Street Theatre, July 2-13), based on the famous Japanese children's song of the same name, and the New York premiere of Keith Reddin's All the Rage at Manhattan TheatreSource, July 30-August 23.

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