Theatre lovers will have plenty of opportunities to celebrate this New Year's Eve in a dramatic way, with special performances taking place in theatres across the nation.
Furthermore, there is no reason to fret that being cooped up in a stuffy auditorium will bar you from any of the traditional pleasures of the holiday. Worried that attending the theatre will keep you from the bubbly? That won't be the case at Hartford Stage. Hartford's 10 PM performance of A Christmas Carol rings down at 11:55 and will be followed by a champagne toast with Hartford artistic director Michael Wilson. Tickets are $45. Call (860) 527-5151 for information. Free champagne will also be on hand for the love-hungry singles attending the special 8 PM show of the revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Westside Theatre. (The show is normally dark on Thursdays.) Call (212) 239-6200 for information.
So, you're afraid going to a late theatre show will keep you from that New Year's bash across town? That's not the case with The Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre and Jekyll & Hyde at the Plymouth, both of which are providing special 7 PM performances on Dec. 31. Also, the Off-Broadway show, Over the River and Through the Woods at the John Houseman Theatre, typically dark on Thursday, is presenting a special 2:30 matinee, as well as an 8 PM show. For info on all three, call (212) 239-6200.
For West Coasters, the Santa Monica Playhouse will present a 5:30 PM performances of Author! Author! -- An Evening With Sholom Aleichem . Starring Chris DeCarlo as the legendary Yiddish author, the musical has been seen by more than a quarter of a million people over the past twenty years. In what has become a Los Angeles theatre tradition, audiences will receive a complimentary buffet supper, champagne, hats, noise makers and special surprises. Call (310) 394-9779 ext. 1.
Hoping to claim a good view of the festivities in Times Square? Well, the theatre can help you there, too. The Scarlet Pimpernel , situated in the Minskoff Theatre, has a glassed-in lobby which overlooks the melee. Since the show lets out at 10:30, you won't see the ball drop, but you can gets a peek at the crowds before and after the show and during intermission. Call (212) 307-4100. If you're a news buff, and like to spend New Year's taking in the various year-end, wrap-up news programs, you could do no better than Chicago City Limits' "1998 Year in Review" at the Chicago City Limits Theatre. The special performance finds the improvisational comedy group examining such recent current events as the NBA lockout, the Mideast peace process, the Lewinsky affair, John Glenn's space ride and the political demises of Newt Gingrich and Al D'Amato. The audience members at the 8 PM and 11 PM shows receive free champagne, noisemakers and party hats. Call (212) 888-5233.
For celebrants who want everything mapped out for them, San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre is offering a special New Year's package connected with their presentation of Spalding Gray's Morning, Noon and Night . The offer includes a room for two at the Grand Hyatt, an optional three-course prix-fixe menu in the Grandviews restaurant and an optional post-show party. For info, call the Grand Hyatt at (415) 398 1234 and ask for the ACT package.
Attendees of the Dec. 31 7 PM performance of Inspecting Carol at New Brunswick, NJ's George Street Playhouse will, for a special $45 ticket price, get to hobnob with the show's stars Dan Lauria and Kelly Bishop at a post-show gala hosted by Lauria. Also in the cast are Denny Dillon ("Dream On"), Jane Connell (Lend me a Tenor) and Michael Countryman (Laughter on the 23rd Floor). For information, call (732) 246-7717.
-- By Robert Simonson