The production division of the Off-Broadway troupe will kick off its third season with the two works — to be presented in repertory May 14-June 3 — at Theatre Row. Marie Masters directs Strangers Knocking, and Ari Edelson stages Expats.
Strangers Knocking "takes place the day of Sophie's first big high school dance as her budding sexuality throws into relief the strains in her parents' marriage and the rippling effect this has on all their relationships," according to an announcement.
Halston (Gypsy, Hairspray, "The Class") and Pankow (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, "Mad About You") will be featured in a cast with Talia Balsam (Jake's Women), Stella Maeve ("Transamerica") and Michael Stahl-David (The Diary of Anne Frank, "The Black Donnellys").
The design team includes Peter R. Feuchtwanger (set), Kristine Koury (costumes), Nicole Pearce (lighting) with Bart Fasbender (sound - Strangers) and Travis Walker (sound - Expats).
Expats, which is set in post-Soviet Union Moscow, "looks at American twenty somethings trying to make their mark amidst the sex, death and corruption of Russia's emerging marketplace," following the lives of "a beer-selling entrepreneur, a young woman who volunteers at an abortion clinic, and two cynical young journalists running an English-language tabloid." Former "24" stars Aylesworth (Top Girls) and Dale (Burleigh Grimes) will appear alongside Jesse Hooker (Some Men), Jay Klaitz (High Fidelity), Matthew Rauch (The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Hurlyburly), Taylor Wilcox (Mother Courage) and Natalia Zvereva (Memory House).
The lower-budget New Group division, known as New Group (naked), presents two new plays each season "on a modest scale" that allow artists a place "free from commercial pressures." Previous productions include David Cale's A Likely Story and Barry Levey's Critical Darling as well as Michael Brandt's solo A Spalding Gray Matter and Darci Picoult's Jayson with a Y.
The New Group kicked off its 2006-2007 season with a revival of Jay Presson Allen's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, followed by Wallace Shawn's The Fever (both directed by Scott Elliott), which extended due to popular demand. They currently present Bernard Weinraub's The Accomplices (through May 5).
For tickets for Strangers Knocking and Expats at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street (between Ninth and Tenth Ave.), call (212) 279-4200. For more information, visit the website at http://www.thenewgroup.org.