A Broadway theatre from 42nd Street's golden age, the New Victory Theatre (formerly the Victory Theatre) reopened Dec. 11, 1996. The 500-seat New Victory at 209 W. 42nd St. presents theatre and films geared specifically for children.
Up next, Nov. 20-Jan. 4, 1998, Circus Oz. Madison Square Garden will no doubt bring back their hit staging of The Wizard Of Oz next season - but this is something completely different. Circus Oz is a 20 year-old performance troupe from Australia, specializing in balancing acts, flying through the air -- and, like "Cirque du Soleil," no animals. They do, however, join the funky band to play the show's original music.
Founded in 1977 "to defy the laws of theatre and physics," Circus Oz tries to "reinvent the circus form," says artistic director Tim Coldwell. "Since then we have toured the world, challenging the notion of `what is a circus?' as well as answering the question, `what is an Australian?'".
Still to come in the New Victory season:
Jan. 16-18, 1998: American Ballet Theatre Studio Company.
Jan. 23-Feb. 8, 1998: Romeo & Juliet. William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy will be brought to the stage by the 25-year-old Acting Company, starting place of such performers as Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone. Directed by associate artistic director James Bundy, this R&J will feature sets by Ming Cho Lee and costumes by Ann Hould Ward. The Acting Company was founded in 1972 by John Houseman, best known for his work with Orson Welles and as Professor Kingsfield on TV's "The Paper Chase." Houseman, and that year's acting class at Juilliard, formed the Company to tour the country, bringing the classics to audiences who didn't necessarily have access to that kind of theatre. Feb. 11-22, 1998: S.W.A.R.M. (Symphonic Work Assembly Of Rhythm & Movement).
Feb. 27-March 1, 1998: Forces Of Nature (dance).
March 7-15, 1998: Fred Garbo Inflatable Theatre Company is just what the company promises: an array of blow-up shapes the performers can bounce, juggle and cavort with. Fred Garbo, a "pneumatic wizard," and Brazillian ballerina Daielma Santos star.
March 27-April 5, 1998: The Number 14, a co-production by the Axis Theatre Company and Touchstone Theatre Company, tells the farcical story of folks on a city bus. Six actors play over 60 characters, utilizing masks, puppets and commedia dell'arte techniques.
April 15-26, 1998: The Great Gilly Hopkins. Making its New York debut, Stage One: Professional Theatre For Young Audiences (of Louisville, KY) offers this musical about a brash foster child determined to live with her "real" family. Along with Steve Liebman, David Paterson has adapted the novel by his mother, Katherine Paterson, for the production.
May 1-3, 1998: Peter Pucci Plus Dancers
May 8-17, 1998: Nicky, Somewhere Else comes from Speeltheater Holland, which mixes puppetry and realistic narrative. Nicky tells of a young boy learning that he has a twin brother "somewhere else" and setting off to find the missing sibling.
May 29-June 14, 1998: The Wind In The Willows. From Syracuse Stage comes this musical adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's tale of Toad, Mole, Rat and Badger.
A return of Mabou Mines' Peter And Wendy is also anticipated for this season.
An organization called The New 42nd Street operates the theatre, and worked with Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Bill Irwin, Theatreworks/USA, Warrington Hudlin of the Black Filmmaker Foundation and others to schedule its first season.
The New Victory was the first theatre to reopen its doors under the multi-million dollar rehabilitation of 42nd Street, which also includes the renovation and 1997 reopening of Ziegfeld's old New Amsterdam Theatre (just across the street from the New Victory) as the throne of Disney's new theatre empire.
For tickets and information on New Victory shows, call (212) 382-4020 (memberships) or (212) 239-6200 (individual tickets).
-- By David Lefkowitz