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Something new on Broadway

Premieres and a renovated theater mark the opening of New York's fall theater lineup.

September 21, 2003|Susan Davidson | Special to The Times

Curtain up! Light the lights! There's an opening on Broadway that is neither a play nor a musical. It's the Biltmore Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., which fell into disrepair and closed in 1987. After a $37-million renovation, it is to become the home of the Manhattan Theatre Club (www.manhattantheatreclub.org).

Its production of "The Violet Hour," a new play by Richard Greenberg, the Tony-winning author of "Take Me Out," begins previews Oct. 16 and opens Nov. 6. Heading the cast is Robert Sean Leonard, playing a publisher whose dilemma about what to publish is further complicated by a machine that produces books written in the future.

Among other offerings this season:

* "The Retreat From Moscow," a new play by William Nicholson (author of "Shadowlands") about infidelity and the sudden breakup of a marriage, starring John Lithgow and Eileen Atkins. Previews begin Oct. 2; opening is Oct. 23 at the Booth, 222 W. 45th St.

* "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," Tennessee Williams' explosive drama about a Southern patriarch, sexuality and secrets. Ned Beatty plays Big Daddy; Jason Patric is Brick, the troubled son and husband of Maggie (the Cat), a frustrated sexpot, played by Ashley Judd. At the Music Box, 239 W. 45th St., for 18 weeks beginning with previews Oct. 9 and opening Nov. 2.

* "I Am My Own Wife," the true story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a transvestite who, having survived the Nazis and the Communists, became a hostess and cult figure in her native Germany. The one-man show performed by Jefferson Mays moves to the Lyceum, 149 W. 45th St., beginning with previews Nov. 11 and opening Dec. 3.

* "The Boy From Oz" (www.boyfromoz.com), the highly anticipated new musical, stars Hugh Jackman. He plays Peter Allen, flamboyant, camp and self-deprecating Australian song and dance man, known for having been Judy Garland's protege, Liza Minnelli's husband and a writer of songs. His signature tune was "I Go to Rio." At the Imperial, 249 W. 45th St., where previews were to have begun last week and opening is Oct. 16.

* "Wicked" (www.wickedthemusical.com), subtitled "The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz," is about what happens in Oz (as in "The Wizard of Oz," not Australia) before Dorothy arrives. Look for Joel Grey as the Wizard to stir things up. The ever-chirpy Kristin Chenoweth is Glinda the Good Witch, and Idina Menzel is the Wicked Witch of the West. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz. Previews begin Oct. 7 at the Gershwin, 222 W. 51st St. It opens Oct. 30, just in time for Halloween.

* "Never Gonna Dance" (www.nevergonnadance.com) is the stage version of Jerome Kern's Fred and Ginger movie "Swing Time." The music is all Kern's, but the lyrics are by such legends of '30s and '40s musicals as Dorothy Fields, Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer and Oscar Hammerstein II. At the Broadhurst, 235 W. 44th St. Previews begin Oct. 7; opening Dec. 4.

For all shows listed above, except "Wicked," tickets are available through Telecharge.com, (800) 432-7250 or (212) 239-6200, www.telecharge.com. Tickets to "Wicked" are available through (800) 755-4000 or (212) 307-4100, www.ticketmaster.com.

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