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New York Spotlight: November 2006

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John Gallagher, Jr., Jonathan Groff, and Lea Michele
in Spring Awakening
(© Monique Carboni)
Spring Awakening (Eugene O'Neill, previews begin November 16), is one of the most original shows you'll ever see on Broadway -- even though it's based on a play by Frank Wedekind that's more than 100 years old. While this story of the tragic repression of youthful sexuality is still set in Germany in the 1890s, the musical features a pop-rock score by Duncan Sheik and modern colloquial lyrics by Steven Sater (who also wrote the book). The show gained lots of attention when it was presented Off-Broadway by the Atlantic Theater Company earlier this year. The creative team of that production, headed by director Michael Mayer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, is on board for the Broadway engagement, along with most of its cast, including Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele, and John Gallagher, Jr.

High Fidelity (Imperial, previews begin November 20) is based on Nick Hornby's best-selling novel of the same title about Rob, a record store owner who knows almost everything there is to know about pop music but almost nothing about how to hang onto a girlfriend. Will Chase and Jenn Colella star in the musical, which has a score by Amanda Green (daughter of Broadway royalty Adolph Green and Phyllis Newman) and Tom Kitt, and a book by David Lindsay-Abaire. Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie directs.

Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth plays three roles in the Roundabout Theater Company's revival of The Apple Tree (Studio 54, previews begin November 28), which consists of three one-act musicals by Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, and Jerome Coopersmith. The production co-stars Brian d'Arcy James, Walter Charles, and Marc Kudisch -- Chenoweth's former fiancé -- and is based on a highly praised 2004 City Center Encores! presentation of the show that starred Chenoweth and was directed by Gary Griffin, who is again at the helm.

In the non-musical arena, a great stir is sure to be caused by the world premiere of David Hare's The Vertical Hour (Music Box, previews begin November 9), in which movie star Julianne Moore is making her Broadway debut. Sam Mendes, whose credits include the long running Cabaret revival and such films as American Beauty and the Road to Perdition, directs this play about an American war correspondent turned academic whose beliefs and relationship with her boyfriend (Andrew Scott) are challenged when the couple vacations in Wales and she meets his father (Bill Nighy).

Meanwhile, seven Broadway shows that began performances in October open officially this month: Grey Gardens, The Coast of Utopia, Les Misérables, The Little Dog Laughed, Mary Poppins, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Company.

The Off-Broadway scene is even busier. Shows already in previews and set to open officially this month include Evil Dead: The Musical, based on Sam Raimi's 80s cult-classic horror films (New World Stages); Mimi le Duck, with a cast that includes Annie Golden, Candy Buckley, and the legendary Eartha Kitt (New World Stages); Anne Washburn's The Internationalist, starring Annie Parisse and Zak Orth (Vineyard); A.R. Gurney's Post Mortem, about theater as a social force in a society beset by political conservatism and the increasingly powerful Christian Right (Flea); the Roundabout's revival of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly Last Summer, starring Blythe Danner, Carla Gugino, and Gale Harold (Laura Pels); the Transport Group's revival of Tad Mosel's Pultizer Prize-winning play All the Way Home; and Paul Rudnick's new comedy Regrets Only, starring Christine Baranski, George Grizzard, Siân Phillips, and Jackie Hoffman (Manhattan Theatre Club).

November newcomers Off-Broadway include the American premiere production of David Greig's The American Pilot, about a man who crash lands in a rural village in a war-torn country (Manhattan Theatre Club Stage II, previews begin November 2); How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes, billed as "a rollicking musical about hot relations at the United Nations" (New World Stages, previews begin November 4); The Culture Project's provocative political piece Speak Truth to Power (previews begin November 5); the holiday musical Striking 12 (Daryl Roth, previews begin November 6); Signature Theater's revival of August Wilson's Two Trains Running (previews begin November 7); Julia Cho's Durango, about a Korean-American man and his two sons (Public Theater, previews begin November 7); and Theatreworks' new adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, starring Kathleen Chalfant and Christian Campbell (Lucille Lortel, previews begin November 8).

The month continues with David Cale's two-character tuner Floyd and Clea Under The Western Sky (Playwrights Horizons, previews begin November 10); Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's new play Dark Matters (Rattlestick, previews begin November 10); and the Atlantic Theater Company's presentation of David Mamet's adaptation of Harley Granville-Barker's The Voysey Inheritance, starring Tony Award winner Fritz Weaver (previews begin November 15).

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