PBOL'S THEATER WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 15-21: No More Room at the Inn

News   PBOL'S THEATER WEEK IN REVIEW, Feb. 15-21: No More Room at the Inn It's only the middle of February, but if you're a Broadway producer hoping to get a show in before the end of the season and the Tony Award deadline, you're pretty much out of luck. Within the last week or so, the last remaining Broadway houses were claimed.

Last week the long-in-limbo revival of O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night finally found a place to rest: the Plymouth Theatre. This week, Enchanted April, the Matthew Barber play long promised for Broadway in spring 2003, found its home. It will open at the Ethel Barrymore on April 29. The Roundabout Theatre Company's new look at Athol Fugard's South African drama Master Harold...and the boys will play a Shubert theatre on Broadway in May. The production, which will be directed by Lonny Price, has not announced a specific theatre, but sources indicate the Booth, the only Shubert house yet unclaimed for the spring months.

That accounts for every Broadway theatre. The Minskoff has been empty since Dance of the Vampires closed, and the Gershwin will be vacant after Oklahoma! gives its last performance on Feb. 23. But the theatres are the likely fall homes for, respectively, Fiddler on the Roof and Wicked, and any new attraction would have to be of a temporary nature.

One potential loser in the current scenario is the new London-born production of Noel Coward's Fallen Angels, backed by producer Bill Kenwright and promised for the spring. Kenwright had been talking to the Shubert Organization about a free Shubert theatre. However, as of Feb. 20, there ain't no such animal.

Kenwright's not been completely unlucky, Broadway-wise. His new mounting of Cat of a Hot Tin Roof will come to Gotham this fall, with Ashley Judd in the title role of Maggie. Sexually disinterested hubby, Brick, is yet to be cast, but Mark Ruffalo is a possibility. Judd'll be the first actress to wear Maggie's slip since Kathleen Turner in 1990. (Turner has since foregone slips for towels, though she still spends much of her stage time trying to seduce unwilling men.)

Speaking of fall and British imports, the Broadway scene will be short one less Dame than expected in 2003-04. Variety reports that Dame Judi Dench will not repeat her role in David Hare's Breath of Life on Broadway, although her co-star, Dame Maggie Smith, will return to The Great White Way, her first appearance here since her Tony-winning turn in 1990's Lettice and Lovage. Eileen Atkins is a possible Dench replacement. A few noteworthy Off-Broadway projects began previews this week. Stephen Adly Guirgis' Our Lady of 121st Street, which previously ran as a not-for-profit LAByrinth Theater Company production, began its commercial Off-Broadway run Feb. 18. Another LAByrinth undertaking, Dirty Story, the latest work by playwright John Patrick Shanley, began Feb. 18. And Richard Nelson, the playwright who previously made the prose of James Joyce sing, started dramatizing the work of Marcel Proust with the Feb. 18 first preview of the musical, My Life With Albertine, for Playwrights Horizons.

And, finally, Lincoln Center Theater, where the going motto is "Recession? What Recession?," again wins the prize for going where no nonprofit's budget has gone before. It will take on Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, the nine-hour trilogy of plays, which had its premiere at the Royal National Theatre last fall. The huge work will be presented at the Vivian Beaumont in 2005 with Jack O'Brien directing.

Ashley Judd in <i>Picnic</i>, Tom Stoppard, and Maggie Smith in the London produciton of <i>Breath of Life</i>
Ashley Judd in Picnic, Tom Stoppard, and Maggie Smith in the London produciton of Breath of Life (Photo by Judd: Carol Rosegg, Stoppard: Aubrey Reuben)