N.Y. theater calendar busy on Broadway and off

N.Y. theater calendar busy on Broadway and off

NEW YORK -- It is a busy week for the new Broadway season: Tonight "Grey Gardens," the musical version of the 1975 Maysles Brothers documentary about the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, begins a month of prevues at the Walter Kerr Theatre, with the same two stars (naturally) -- Christine Ebersole and Mary-Louise Wilson -- who drew such raves when the show premiered off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in March. Its official on-Broadway launch is Nov. 2. ... On Thursday, Simon Gray's "Butley" with Nathan Lane begins its prevue process at the Booth Theatre. Directed by Nicholas Martin, "Butley's" opening is scheduled for Oct. 25. In 2003, Lane had a limited "Butley" run, also was directed by Martin, for the Huntington Theatre Company. The original Broadway production was done in 1972, with Alan Bates toplining. ... Also Thursday, Sarah Ruhl's new play "The Clean House" begins prevuing at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theatre; Bill Rauch directs a cast headed by Jill Clayburgh, Blair Brown and John Dossett. ... That same day, it is a welcome home for "A Chorus Line," 16 years after the original production ended its Broadway run at the Shubert, where it racked up 6,137 performances to become the longest-running show in Broadway history. (It has since been topped by "Cats," then "Les Miserables" and finally "The Phantom of the Opera.") The ambitious "Chorus" redo, which has been garnering great word-of-mouth during its out-of-town pre-Broadway runs, does its high kicks at the Schoenfeld. ... Continuing the activity next week, two more shows make their Broadway bows: The Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of George Bernard Shaw's "Heartbreak House" opens Oct. 11 at the American Airlines Theatre, directed by Robin Lefevre and toplining Swoosie Kurtz and Philip Bosco, and Simon Mendes da Costa's new comedy "Losing Louie" bows Oct. 12 at the Biltmore. Directed by Jerry Zaks, "Louie's" cast is headed by Mark Linn-Baker and Michele Pawk for the Manhattan Theatre Club. ... I erred in last week's column on the opening date of Tina Howe's new comedy "Birth and After Birth" for the Atlantic Theatre Company. It premieres off-Broadway tonight for a limited four-week run. ... Other off-the-Main Stem openings this week include "El Conquistador!" tonight via the New York Theatre Workshop at NYTW on East Fourth Street; the musical parody "Bush Wars" at the Actors' Playhouse and the satire "Nixon's Nixon" at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on Wednesday; and on Thursday, theatergoers get a chance to see a rare revival of Eugene O'Neill's 1922 drama "The Hairy Ape" as it begins a run at the Irish Rep. ... Also on today's docket: A new Sondheim album is being launched. "Simply Sondheim" was recorded in December during a sold-out concert with a talented singing cast at Kanbar Hall in San Francisco to celebrate Stephen Sondheim's 75th birthday. All of the profits from the sale of the album will go to the Theatre Bay Area's Mary Mason Memorial Fund. ... Also today, there will be a memorial service, open to the public, for the multitalented Lloyd Richards at 1 p.m. at the Jacobs Theatre in the heart of the New York theater district. Among those who will be speaking are Brian Stokes Mitchell, Charles Dutton, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee and Courtney Vance. (Richards, who directed the original production of "A Raisin in the Sun" as well as the major works of August Wilson, died June 29, his 87th birthday.)
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