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'Fidelity' taking spin in Broadway staging

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NEW YORK -- This week's Broadway barnstormers: On Thursday, the new musical "High Fidelity," based on Nick Hornby's novel, opens at the Imperial, directed by Walter Bobbie, book by David Lindsay-Abaire of "Rabbit Hole" fame, music by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Amanda Green, the talented daughter of Adolph Green and Phyllis Newman. ("Fidelity" also was a 2000 film starring John Cusack and directed by Stephen Frears.) ... The same day, prevues begin on the second stanza of the three-part Tom Stoppard extravaganza "The Coast of Utopia" at the Vivian Beaumont, this section called "Shipwreck," and like its predecessor also directed by Jack O'Brien and featuring Billy Crudup, Ethan Hawke and Amy Irving among a cast of 44. ... Another musical debuts Sunday, as "Spring Awakening" moves onto Broadway after an off-Broadway premiere in June at the Atlantic Theatre Company, directed by Michael Mayer, book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik, with a cast that includes multiple Tony winner Stephen Spinella. Among the "Spring" producers are Jeffrey Richards and one of my favorite actors, Tom Hulce. ... A spring tour for "Shout! The Mod Musical" has been announced. The current off-Broadway edition closes Dec. 31 after 179 performances and 20 prevues at the Julia Miles Theatre. The first edition of "Shout" opened at the Duplex in New York in 2000, then tranferred to London's Jermyn Street Theatre. ... One of the best destinations for New Yorkers or tourists during the ho-ho-ho season is Feinstein's at the Regency, where tonight Michael Feinstein launches his 2006 Christmas show, this year called "Home for the Holidays." I caught the show last week when Feinstein did three nights of prevues, and it's a delightful one. Besides incorporating a great sprinkling of holiday songs, with a great six-piece combo and three terrific backup singers, Feinstein himself is hitting a new high. He has never been savvier, in better voice or a more consummate performer. There's no one I know today who can match him as a musical performer, whether in cabaret or big theater venues. ... Come Dec. 12, the city's theater community will pay its respects to Tony winner Barnard Hughes, who died in July at age 90 after a brief illness. A 2 p.m. memorial service will be held for Hughes at the Walter Kerr Theatre, where the actor gave his last Broadway performance in 2000, appearing with his wife, Helen Stenborg, as well as Lauren Bacall, Rosemary Harris, Dana Ivey, Simon Jones, Elizabeth Wilson and Rosemary Murphy in Noel Coward's "Waiting in the Wings." His last public appearance, however, was June 1 at the Shubert Theatre, where he was photographed with 110 best actor and best actress Tony winners in celebration of the awards' 60th anniversary. Hughes won his Tony in 1978 for "Da." Among those performing at the memorial will be the town's current rage Christine Ebersole ("Grey Gardens"), James Naughton and pianist Paul Sullivan; expected to be there to speak about the magnificent Hughes are Bacall, Wilson, Sam Waterston, Brian Dennehy, Alec Baldwin, Bernie Gersten, Lynne Meadow and Hughes' son, director Doug Hughes. Seating for the public will be first-come, first-served. ... A great CD for the holiday: "Irving Berlin's White Christmas -- The Musical," the original cast album from Ghostlight Records, based on the legit version that was adapted from the 1954 film, with several additional (and great) Berlin songs. Among those performing: Karen Morrow and Brian d'Arcy James. The stage version, for the record, has never played in a New York venue, but it has been a crowd-pleaser elsewhere in the U.S.