This spring’s theater includes several Academy and Tony award winners. From the old-guard (Angela Lansbury, Christopher Plummer) to relatively young’uns (Laura Bell Bundy, Michael Sheen), this season’s pick of the crop are sure to both entertain and move you. In addition to the open run and limited engagement productions are some theater festivals, which showcase lesser known but provocative talents.
“Inherit the Wind:” Two-time Tony Award winners Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy will play opposing counsels in this fictionalized retelling of the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925, in which a science teacher in Tennessee was tried for teaching Darwin’s evolution theory at a time when that was against state law. Written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Directed by Doug Hughes. Playing at Lyceum Theatre (149 W. 45th St.). Previews: March 19-April 11. Opens: April 12. Closes: July 11.
“Exits and Entrances:” The latest play by South African playwright Athol Fugard premieres in New York this month. A two-character autobiographical play, “Exits and Entrances” is set in 1956 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and chronicles the life of a young playwright (Fugard, played by William Dennis Hurley) and his friendship with an old, fading actor (stage actor Andre Huguenet, played by Morlan Higgins). Directed by Stephen Sachs. Playing at 59E59 (59 E. 59th St.). Previews: March 27-April 3. Opens: April 4. Closes: April 29. primarystages.com
KIDS’ CHOICE: “Anne of Green Gables:” Based on the novel by L.M. Montgomery, this musical by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford tells the story of Anne, a red headed orphan with a wild imagination, who is mistakenly sent to live with an elderly bachelor and his spinster sister. This show is recommended for children 8 years and up. Directed by Tyler Marchant. Playing at the Lucille Lortel Theater in the West Village (121 Christopher St.). Previews: March 21-28. Opens: March 29. Closes: May 6.
“A Moon for the Misbegotten:” Two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey stars in this acclaimed Eugene O’Neill play that’s moving from London to Broadway this spring. The stateside production will also feature original cast members, Eve Best and Colm Meaney, in this tale of two lost souls and a long, moonlit night in which comedy, tragedy and imagination collide. Directed by Howard Davies. Playing at Brook Atkinson Theatre (256 W. 47th St.). Previews: March 29-April 7. Opens: April 8. Closes: June 10.
“Legally Blonde:” Inspired by the novel and then the hit motion picture, this new musical stars Laura Bell Bundy as the incorrigible Elle Woods, a blonde sorority girl who goes from Beverly Hills to Harvard Law School in pursuit of the man she loves. The score is by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, the book by Heather Hach, and the show is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell. Playing at the Palace Theatre (1564 Bwy.). Previews: April 3-28. Opens: April 29.
“Deuce:” Four-time Tony Award winner Angela Lansbury returns to Broadway, starring opposite Marian Seldes in this new play by Terrence McNally about two retired tennis legends who were once a championship doubles team. Directed by Michael Blakemore. Playing at Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street). Previews: April 11-May 5. Opens: May 6.
“110 in the Shade:” This spring’s revival of the N. Richard Nash, Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt musical (based on Nash’s play The Rainmaker) stars four-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as Lizzie Curry, a woman living in drought-ridden 1930s Texas whose life takes an interesting turn when charismatic rainmaker Starbuck comes to town. Directed by Lonny Price. Playing at Studio 54 (254 W. 54th St.). Previews: April 13-May 8. Opens: May 9. Closes: July 15.
“Coram Boy:” Set in 18th century England, Helen Edmundson’s adaptation of the novel by Jamila Gavin tells the tale of two very different young boys at the Coram Hospital for Deserted Children: Aaron (disowned by his wealthy family) and Toby (rescued from an African slave ship). An almost gothic tale filled with adventure, it’s recommended for young adults. Directed by Melly Still. Playing at Imperial Theatre (249 W. 45th St.). Previews: April 16-May 1. Opens: May 2.
“LoveMusik:” Directed by 21-time Tony Award winner Harold Prince, this new musical stars Tony winners Michael Cerveris (as Kurt Weill) and Donna Murphy (as Lotte Lenya). The story follows the life of German composer Weill and his marriage to his muse Lenya. Playing at Biltmore Theatre (261 W. 47th St.). Previews: April 12-May 2. Opens: May 3. Closes: June 17.
“Xanadu:” Based on the 1980 cult classic, this new musical goes into the fantastical world that holds Kira (played by Kerry Butler), a mysterious muse, who inspires artist Sonny and band leader Danny to build a roller-disco. Songs from the film, written by John Farrar and Jeff Lynne, will make an appearance onstage. Directed by Christopher Ashley. Playing at the Helen Hayes Theatre (240 W. 44th St.). Previews: May 23-June 25. Opens: June 26.
“Romeo & Juliet:” Directed by Michael Grief, this production of the epic tale of star-crossed lovers will take place at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park series. Opens: June 5. Closes: July 8. publictheater.org
Gayfest 2007: For a month beginning May 9, a festival of new plays will be presented at the TGB Arts Center on West 36th Street. The festival is produced by Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman and will feature three mainstage productions (2 plays and a musical), a reading series, conversations with authors and the appearance of high-profile members of the LGBT community.
Playing at: 312 W. 36th St. Festival dates: May 9-June 2. sunnyspotproductions.com/currentprojects.html
Brits Off Broadway 2007: Though the entire schedule is TBA, one of the plays that has been announced promises to be very interesting: “Memory” written by Jonathan Lichtenstein and directed by Terry Hands, is timely, linking events of the Holocaust with today’s Israel-Palestine issue. This play runs from the week of May 7 to May 27. Other plays in the festival will have their own schedules between May 4-July 1. britsoffbroadway.com
Summerworks 2007: Formed in 1996, Clubbed Thumb is known for their annual festival of new plays that are at every stage of development – from full productions to just readings. The festival showcases the works of provocative new plays by living American writers. Playing at Ohio Theater. May 30-June 23. clubbedthumb.org
“Frost/Nixon”: Written by Academy Award nominee Peter Morgan (The Queen), this sold-out show is moving from London to Broadway this April. Starring Michael Sheen (Tony Blair in The Queen) as British talk show host Sir David Frost and two-time Tony Award winner Frank Langella as Richard Nixon, this quick-paced play addresses the question of how a British talk show host – and sometimes playboy – got the former American president to come forth with an apology the world had been waiting to hear. The play, directed by Michael Grandage, relives one of the most groundbreaking television interviews of all time. Playing at Jacobs Theatre (242 W. 45 th St.). Previews: March 31-April 21. Opens: April 22. Closes: July 29
Photo: "Frost/Nixon" stars Michael Sheen and Frank Langella