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New York Spotlight: October 2006

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Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens
(© Joan Marcus)
October is positively brimming with new Broadway shows. First out of the gate is Grey Gardens (Walter Kerr, previews begin October 3), the Broadway transfer of the musical based on the 1975 documentary of the same title, about an aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis living as virtual recluses in a squalid, 28-room mansion in East Hampton. Christine Ebersole, who won tremendous acclaim for her performance in last season's production at Playwrights Horizons, heads the cast along with Mary Louise Wilson, John McMartin, and Erin Davie.

Another highly anticipated transfer is Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed (Cort, previews begin October 26), about a closeted movie star who becomes involved with a young male prostitute. Julie White (as the actor's harried agent) and Johnny Galecki (as the hustler) repeat their acclaimed Off-Broadway performances, joined by Tom Everett Scott as the actor and Ari Graynor as the hustler's girlfriend.

This month also brings us the Huntington Theatre Company's revival of Simon Gray's dark comedy Butley, starring Nathan Lane as a literature professor whose world is crumbling around him (Booth, October 5-January 14). A very different sort of entertainment is the London hit Mary Poppins, a stage adaptation of the beloved Disney movie musical; Ashley Brown heads the Broadway cast as the practically perfect nanny (New Amsterdam, previews begin October 14).

One of the most ambitious theatrical undertakings in memory begins on October 17 at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater with the first performance of the first of three plays that make up Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, the epic tale of a group of Russian intellectuals who lead a band of their countrymen in a revolutionary movement in which they use their minds as their only weapon. Jack O'Brien directs an awesome cast that includes Billy Crudup, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle, Josh Hamilton, David Harbour, Jason Butler Harner, Ethan Hawke, Amy Irving, Brían F. O'Byrne, and Martha Plimpton.

Les Misérables comes back to the Great White Way for a limited engagement (Broadhurst, previews begin October 24), with a multi-cultural cast headed by Alexander Gemignani, Norm Lewis, and Daphne Rubin-Vega. If you don't think it's too soon to take in a holiday-themed show, you might want to get an early look at How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Hilton, October 25-January 7), a musical based on the Dr. Seuss story. And if you're a real early-bird, you can catch the first performance of Company (Barrymore, previews begin October 30), director John Doyle's bold take on the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical about a marriage-phobic bachelor; Raúl Esparza stars in this production, which was highly praised when it premiered earlier this year in Cincinnati. In addition, A Chorus Line, Heartbreak House, Losing Louie, and The Times They Are A-Changin' all have their official Broadway openings this month.

While planning your theatergoing, keep in mind that a number of very interesting things are also happening Off-Broadway in October. Ed Harris stars in Wrecks (Public Theater, through November 29), a one-actor play about love, family, and marriage by Neil LaBute. In Kathleen Clark's Southern Comforts (Primary Stages, through November 4), directed by Judith Ivey, Penny Fuller, and Larry Keith star as a widow and widower who meet later in life and fall in love. Gerry Bamman and Steve Mellor star in the MCC Theater revival of Russell Lees' Nixon's Nixon (Lucille Lortel, through October 28), once again playing the roles they created 10 years ago in the original MCC production. Another revival is Sam Shepard's The Tooth of Crime, first seen at La MaMa in 1983 and now being "re-presented" at the theater's annex space (October 3-22). And you can watch the amazing André De Shields go mad in the Classical Theatre of Harlem's King Lear (HSA Theatre, through November 5).

2006 Tony Award winner Cynthia Nixon plays the title role in The New Group's revival of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Theatre Row, through November 11), about a charismatic Scottish schoolteacher who tries to mold a group of impressionable young girls in her own image. The controversial My Name is Rachel Corrie, taken from the writings of the 23-year-old American activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza, receives its New York premiere (Minetta Lane, October 5-November 1). Speaking of New York premieres: Jill Clayburgh, Blair Brown, John Dosset, Vanessa Aspillaga, and Concetta Tomei are featured in the Lincoln Center Theater production of Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House (Newhouse, October 5-December 17), about a high-powered doctor whose husband leaves her for a free-spirited older woman; and in Blue Door (Playwrights Horizons, October 8-29), an African-American mathematician begins to lose his grip on reality as the ghosts of his ancestors appear to him during a sleepless night.

Also on tap: Emergence-See! (Public Theater, October 10-November 12), written and performed by Daniel Beaty, is about a slave ship emerging out of the Hudson River in 2006 and appearing in front of the Statue of Liberty. My Deah -- written by John Epperson, a.k.a. the drag performer Lypsinka -- is a "Southern fried" take on Euripides' Medea (Abingdon, October 13-November 12). In Anne Washburn's The Internationalist (Vineyard, October 19-November 26), a young American businessman (Zak Orth) is met at the airport by a beautiful female colleague (Annie Parisse), setting off a series of unforgettable experiences in a country where he doesn't speak the language. And Regrets Only (Manhattan Theatre Club, beginning October 19), a "comedy of Manhattan manners" by Paul Rudnick, features an extraordinary cast headed by Christine Baranski, George Grizzard, Jackie Hoffman, and Siân Phillips.

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