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September Preview Picks
A chronological monthly
tip sheet
to what's previewing--and opening--in New York.

By Susan Haskins

Sunday, September 9:
"First Love" was inspired by playwright and political historian CHARLES MEE’s collaboration with Mabou Mines veterans RUTH MALECZECH and FREDERICK NEUMANN, who perform the piece. It is the story of a chance encounter on a park bench and is directed by ERIN B. MEE at The New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East 4th Street. For tickets phone Telecharge (212) 239-6200 (http://www.telecharge.com).

Thursday, September 13:
"Urinetown" is a musical about a repressive police state where the citizens must pay big business for the privilege of relieving themselves. Bruce Webber of The New York Times declared Urinetown, “exuberant ... intelligently calibrated” and “gloriously sensible,” when it ran Off Broadway last season, and now its producers have moved the show to Broadway's Henry Miller Theatre at 124 West 43rd Street. I found Urinetown’s non-stop toilet jokes and hipper-than-thou put-downs of musical theater conventions wearing. However, the musical staging by JOHN CARRAFA is inventively engaging, and a talented cast gives it their all. For tickets phone Telecharge (212) 239-6200 (http://www.telecharge.com).

September 16, 23 & 24:
A three-night-only concert performance of Cole Porter’s 1941 musical "Let’s Face It." The show, which originally starred Danny Kaye, Eve Arden and Vivian Vance, is about three married women on a spree with three servicemen. This production is the North American premiere of the series “Lost Musicals,” dedicated to presenting neglected musicals from Broadway's heyday, 1930-1960. Let’s Face It is staged by the series’ artistic director IAN MARSHALL FISHER, who has specialized in presenting American musicals in London for years, and features a top-notch cast, including KEVIN CHAMBERLIN, McINTYRE DIXON and CATHERINE COX. “Lost Musicals” is playing at The New York Historical Society on Central Park West. For tickets phone Applause, Inc. (212) 451-9930. All tickets are $35.

Tuesday, September 18:
Previews begin for "The Dance of Death," August Strindberg’s 1901 exploration of marriage, as exemplified by an aging couple living in an abandoned prison on an island called “Little Hell.” A new adaptation by Richard Greenberg, stars the great actors IAN McKELLEN and HELEN MIRREN with the equally skilled supporting players DAVID STRAITHAIRN and ANN PITONIAK. Officially opens October 11 at The Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th Street. For tickets phone Telecharge (212) 239-6200 (http://www.telecharge.com).

Wednesday, September 19:
Previews begin for "Hedda Gabler," in a new adaptation by JON ROBIN BAITZ, starring KATE BURTON as the frustrated Norwegian homemaker and directed by NICHOLAS MARTIN. The Times’ Ben Brantley caught the show in Boston and called Burton’s Hedda, “one of those rare benchmark performances that redefines a classic character and an actress,” so this production is also braving a move to Broadway. Opening night is October 4 at the Ambassador Theatre, 150 West 46th Street. For tickets phone Telecharge (212) 239-6200 (http://www.telecharge.com).

Thursday, September 20:
Opening night for "Rude Entertainment," a program of three short plays by humorist PAUL RUDNICK ("Jeffrey," "The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told," "In and Out"), directed by CHRISTOPHER ASHLEY and starring the stylish performers PETER BARTLETT and HARRIET HARRIS. The trio of one acts includes: "Very Special Needs,” “On The Fence” and one I’m particularly eager to see "Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Beach," a portrait of an opinionated tastemaker who hosts a low-rent TV show. Any of you familiar with the series, "Theater Talk," that I co-host on Thirteen, will understand why this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Previews began August 31 at Greenwich House, 67 Barrow Street. For tickets phone Telecharge (212) 239-6200 (http://www.telecharge.com).

Thursday, September 20:
Performances begin for "The Shape of Things," a new play written and directed by NEIL LaBUTE and starring GRETCHEN MOL and PAUL RUDD. La BUTE’s plays ("Bash," "Lepers" and "Ravages") and films ("In The Company of Men" and "Nurse Betty") have made him one of America’s most talked-about and influential young dramatists. This production originated last spring at London’s Almeida Theatre, where it received superb reviews and played an extended sold out run. Here it’s at the Promenade Theatre, 2162 Broadway. For tickets phone Telecharge (212) 239-6200 (http://www.telecharge.com).

Thursday, September 20:
Previews begin for "Thou Shalt Not." Director/choreographer SUSAN STROMAN, the reigning queen of Broadway, has paired with pop star/composer HARRY CONNICK, Jr. to create this new musical based on Emile Zola’s 1873 novel and play "Therese Raquin." The score is heavily infused with Connick’s’ distinctive pop/jazz style, and the tragic story of passion, adultery and murder - transposed to post W.W.II New Orleans - offers Stroman terrific choreographic opportunities. Starring recent Tony nominees: CRAIG BIERKO (The Music Man), KATE LEVERING (Forty Second Street) and DEBRA MONK (Steel Pier), this Lincoln Center Production has great expectations and opens October 25 at The Plymouth Theatre, 236 West 45th Street. Telecharge (212) 239-6200 (http://www.telecharge.com).

Friday, September 21-October 9:
"Zulu Time," “a fantasia-in-an-airport,” featuring robots, video projections, acrobats and contortionists, plays a limited engagement at Roseland. Presented by ROBERT LePAGE’s Ex Machina Company in association with musician/video artist PETER GABRIEL’s “Real World,” the production is the centerpiece of Québec New York, a celebration of modern Québecois arts, culture, business and technology. Roseland is 239 West 52nd Street. For tickets phone Ticketmaster (212) 307-7171 (http://www.ticketmaster.com).

Friday, September 28:
Previews begin for "Save It for The Stage: The Life of Reilly," a solo evening with actor/director CHARLES NELSON REILLY, co-written and directed by PAUL LINKE. Long before his career as a quick-witted game show guest, Reilly was one of Broadway's great comic leads, creating the characters of Bud Frump in "How to Succeed..." and Cornelius Hackl in "Hello Dolly," to name but two of his many roles. I'm curious to see whatever it is he does here at The Irish Repertory Theatre, 132 West 22nd Street. For tickets phone (212) 727-2737.

If you never miss a Broadway juggernaut (and have money to burn: $100 for an orchestra seat), get your tickets now for "Mamma Mia." Twenty-two tunes by the Swedish pop group ABBA are the framework for this fluffy, yet highly infectious, rock musical that celebrates the potency of middle-aged women. By the end of the show, every member of the audience is a “Dancing Queen.” A big hit already in London, Toronto, Chicago, Boston and Australia, previews begin here on October 5 at The Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway. For tickets phone Telecharge (212) 239-6200 (http://www.telecharge.com).

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