PLAYBILL.COM’S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 16-22: Start Your Engines

News   PLAYBILL.COM’S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 16-22: Start Your Engines Last week this time, there were no new Broadway shows. Seven days later—four new marquees are ablaze in the West 40s. The season has begun.
Jay Johnson and
Jay Johnson and "Darwin." Photo by Carol Rosegg

The four shows in question are as different as the seasons of the year: ventriloquist Jay Johnson's autobiographical show The Two and Only! ; the new revival of the musical A Chorus Line ; a Roundabout Theatre Company mounting of Shaw's classic Heartbreak House; and Manhattan Theatre Club's British import Losing Louie . The latter is the least-known quantity. Author Simon Mendes da Costa is an unknown on these shores. It is only the second play by the former actor-computer programmer-real estate agent-civil engineer. The play uses the not-unfamiliar gambit of setting the action years apart, but in the same room, as a couple generations of a family try to work out their respective problems. Opening at the Biltmore is Oct. 12.

Heartbreak House gives New York's Shaw fans a break from the usual rotating line-up of Major Barbara, Arms and the Man, Candida and Pygmalion . Robin Lefevre directs a cast headed by the Captain Shotover of Philip Bosco, who probably has more Shaw credits on his resume than plays by any other writer. (He was Tony-nominated for his Boss Mangan in a 1983 Broadway production of the play.) Opening is Oct. 11.

A Chorus Line is only the second Broadway coming of that masterpiece and many are wondering how it will look in 2006, 31 years after it was conceived. Similarly, Johnson comes back to us roughly three decades after his day in the sun, as the disturbed Chuck and his nasty wooden sidekick Bob on the TV sitcom "Soap." Openings are Oct. 5 and Sept. 28, respectively.

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Off-Broadway this week, Russell Lees' Nixon's Nixon returned to MCC Theatre a decade after it was a hit, to remind us what happens when the executive branch runs amok (like we need a reminder). Actors Gerry Bamman and Steve Mellor reteam with director Jim Simpson for the play. And, over at the Acorn Theatre, The New Group's revival of Jay Presson Allen's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie reminds us what happens when you idolize a leader who's just a little too in love with things like war (like we needed a reminder of that, either). Cynthia Nixon stars.