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Broadway Clears The Tracks For New Season

September 06, 1986|DAN SULLIVAN | Times Theater Critic

With "Me and My Girl" an early hit, Broadway is getting in the mood for its new season. Here are some other announced shows:

"Into the Light" (Oct 15). A musical about a young boy who invents an imaginary friend to fill the void left by a too-busy father. Said to be bristling with "technology used by major Hollywood studios."

"Smile" (Nov. 16). A musical about a teen-age beauty pageant, by Marvin Hamlisch ("A Chorus Line") and Howard Ashman ("The Little Shop of Horrors.") Will there be a swimsuit competition?

"The Front Page" (Nov. 16) The great old newspaper comedy, revived at Lincoln Center. John Lithgow plays Walter Burns, world's meanest city editor.

"Broadway Bound" (Dec. 4). Neil Simon's new comedy. His autobiographical hero Eugene gets out of the Army and starts his basic training as a comedy writer.

"Wild Honey" (Dec. 18) Michael Frayn's adaptation of Chekhov's "Platonov," starring Ian McKellen. This has a warm-up engagement at the Ahmanson, opening Oct. 12.

"Starlight Express" (Feb. 26) Andrew Lloyd Webber's London extravaganza--"Rollerball" mated with "The Little Engine That Could."

"Les Miserables" (Feb 28) The Royal Shakespeare Company's version of the 1980 Paris musical, based on Victor Hugo's novel. A very big show.

"Chess" (spring) Tim Rice's musical, also big, also from London, about a Soviet-American chess competition.

Well, it's a start.

Mystery train rides are usually fun, but that's not the aim of "Train of Destiny," which pulls out of a Swiss railroad station every night at 8.

Hanns Neuerbourg of the Associated Press reports from Bern that the train's 50 seats are filled for every performance. The journey--staged by Bern's MAD Theatre--takes the passengers back to 1939, when Switzerland signed a pact with the Nazis to turn back non-Aryan passengers from Germany.

"Spectators become eavesdropping extras on the one-hour train ride, with the actors playing the parts of refugees scattered among them--a fur-coated blonde, an unshaven youth, a bespectacled man carrying a huge, well-worn suitcase.

"The spectators' self-conscious smile vanishes as the train rattles on and they hear the dialogue. Tension builds as the young Jew tries to flee at the train's first stop. . . At the last stop, Swiss police are there to pick up the Jews."

The play calls attention to what one Swiss historian calls "an ugly blot" on the country's wartime record. "I believe that most Swiss my age are still not aware of it," said actor Goegi Hofmann, 30.

The piece also relates to new pressures in Switzerland to tighten up immigration restrictions against interlopers from the Third World. The final moral, according to director Peter Kopf, is that "we are all on the same train."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Playwright Emily Mann, quoted in the Village Voice: "A passion for the absolute is a passion for unhappiness."

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