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New York Spotlight: September 2006

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Jeffrey Schecter (front) in A Chorus Line
(© Paul Kolnik)
This month, the New York theater is all about gypsies, dummies, Brits, WASPs -- and musicals, musicals, musicals!

Few shows are more hotly anticipated than the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line (Schoenfeld, previews start September 18) , a show that ran 15 years in its first production and won a raft of Tony Awards, not to mention the Pulitzer Prize. This time out, the beloved musical about a diverse group of chorus dancers -- a.k.a. "gypsies" -- is being directed by Bob Avian, who co-choreographed the original production with the legendary Michael Bennett. Charlotte d'Amboise plays Cassie, Michael Berresse plays Zach, Deidre Goodwin plays Sheila, and the rest of the cast is populated by a spectacularly talented group of triple-threats.

How's this for a to-die-for cast: Philip Bosco, Swoosie Kurtz, Byron Jennings, Lily Rabe, and Laila Robins star in the Roundabout Theatre Company's new Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House (American Airlines, previews start September 15), under the direction of Robin Lefevre. The play follows the unlikely romantic encounters that occur in an estate on the English countryside where romance springs eternal and the most successful relationships have the least to do with love.

A very different sort of show is Jay Johnson: The Two and Only (Helen Hayes, previews start September 19). Best known for playing the schizophrenic role of Chuck and Bob on the classic television comedy Soap, Johnson is recognized as one of the world's foremost ventriloquists. Here, he brings to life a plethora of characters ranging from a subversive monkey to a withering tennis ball.

How do our childhood memories affect our lives? How do the mistakes of one generation impact the next? And why does love make us do such crazy things? These and other questions are explored in Simon Mendes da Costa's Losing Louie (Biltmore, previews start September 21), about two generations of family members trying to work things out in the same bedroom, 50 years apart. Jerry Zaks directs Adam Arkin, Scott Cohen, Mark Linn-Baker, Patricia Kalember, Michele Pawk, Ana Reeder, and Jama Williamson.

Tony-winning choreographer Twyla Tharp -- the creative force behind the mega-hit dance musical Movin' Out, which featured the songs of Billy Joel -- has now turned to the words and music of pop legend Bob Dylan and has come up with The Times They Are A-Changin' (Brooks Atkinson, previews start September 25). This time, the cast members -- led by Michael Arden, Thom Sesma, and Caryn Lyn Manuel -- actually sing. And, once again, the dancing is sure to be spectacular.

As usual, Off-Broadway has a show for just about every conceivable taste. The York Theatre Company presents the world premiere production of the musical ASYLUM: The Strange Case of Mary Lincoln, starring Carolann Page (September 5-October 1); the Keen Company offers a rare revival of Thornton Wilder's Theophilus North, about a young man who leaves his job and family and sets out to see the world (Theatre Row, September 5-October 14); Nicola Behrman's WASPs in Bed (Beckett Theatre, September 5-October 15) shows us what happens when three old friends with new partners gather in the Berkshires for a July 4th wedding.

Michael Cumpsty, fresh from his Obie Award-winning performance in last season's Hamlet, reunites with Classic Stage Company artistic director Brian Kulick and takes on the title role in Richard II (September 6-October 15); Jo Bonney directs an updated version of her husband Eric Bogosian's subUrbia, about seven rootless young Americans who gather in the parking lot of a Pakistani family's convenience store (Second Stage, September 6-October 29); and Cynthia Nixon, famous for her exploits on TV's Sex and the City and a Tony Award winner last season for her performance in Rabbit Hole, stars in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (The New Group @ Theatre Row, September 20-November 11).

Finally, this month brings us the third annual New York Musical Theatre Festival (September 10-October 1), presenting an amazing 312 performances of 34 new musicals and 84 musical theater events in various Manhattan venues. Among the potential highlights: Desperate Measures, loosely based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and set in the Wild West; Lunch, a story of love in the eighth grade; Smoking Bloomberg, in which a Korean dry cleaner seeks revenge against New York City's mayor for the smoking ban that has ruined her business; and the intriguingly titled Oedipus for Kids! For a full schedule, visit

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