THE WEEK AHEAD, Feb. 23-March 1: Picnic Packs Up, Hands on a Hardbody Drives In and "Les Miz" Competes for Oscars

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23 Feb 2013

Hunter Foster
Hunter Foster
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Playbill.com's weekly planner reminds you that Kelli O'Hara and Nathan Gunn take a ride around the CarouselPicnic packs up and leaves Broadway… Hands on a Hardbody pulls into New York… Tom Hanks works the Broadway beat…. And this year's Oscars pit Jean Valjean against Abe Lincoln! March comes roaring in like a lion this WEEK AHEAD!

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Saturday, February 23
PREVIEWS→ Hands on a Hardbody, the new musical from Phish's Trey Anastasio, Amanda Green and Doug Wright, begins its run on Broadway. The quirky, homegrown musical is based on the 1993 documentary about a Texas auto dealership that launches a competition to win a pickup truck by challenging its contestants to keep their hand on the truck the longest. Tony nominees Keith Carradine and Hunter Foster, Mary Gordon Murray, Allison Case and David Larsen are among those hard-luck Texans competing for what the show bills as "the American dream." Neil Pepe directs. (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave. Click here for Playbill Club discount previews tickets.)

Sunday, February 24
LAST CHANCE→ The Roundabout Theater Company's revival of Picnic, William Inge's 1953 drama about a handsome drifter who invades a sleepy Midwestern town one Labor Day, closes on Broadway. Sebastian Stan plays Hal, the man in question, whose fetching face (and chiseled chest!) arouses the attention of the ladies of the Owens household — matriarch Flo (Mare Winningham), beautiful sister Madge (Maggie Grace) and bookish sister Millie (Madeleine Martin). On the sidelines watching what havoc Hal's presence wreaks in the lives of the Owens ladies are the town doyenne (Ellen Burstyn), Madge's beau (Ben Rappaport), Flo's nosey houseguest (Elizabeth Marvel) and her browbeaten boyfriend (Reed Birney). Directed by Sam Gold. (American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave. Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

WATCH→ The 85th annual Academy Awards airs live on ABC with "Family Guy" creator and sometime crooner Seth MacFarlane serving as host. This year’s telecast will feature appearances by many of Broadway’s brightest (thanks in part to the producing team of Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, both Broadway producers). The starry film adaptation of Les Misérables scored eight nominations and is one of the top contenders for Best Picture along with the 11-time nominated Steven Spielberg epic "Lincoln" (written by Tony winner Tony Kushner), "Life of Pi," "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty," starring The Heiress' Jessica Chastain. This year’s telecast will feature performances by Jennifer Hudson, Russell Crowe, Barbra Streisand, Adele and Norah Jones. The cast of the 2002 film "Chicago," including Renee Zellweger, Tony winner Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere, will reunite to pay homage to stage adaptations of musicals. (7 PM EST/4 PT, ABC, info.)



Monday, February 25
OPENING→ The Signature Theatre Company continues its David Henry Hwang Series with a revival of his 1981 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Dance and the Railroad. It stars Ruy Iskandar and Yuekun Wu as two Chinese workers in 19th-Century California struggling to hold onto their Eastern traditions. May Adrales directs. (Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St., btwn. 9th & 10th Aves., info/tickets.)

Tuesday, February 26
OPENING→ Tony nominee and four-time Emmy winner Edie Falco stars in the world premiere of Liz Flahive's The Madrid. The Leigh Silverman-directed play about a working mom who gives up her seemingly perfect life and devoted family for what is supposed to be greener pastures also features original music by Tony winner Tom Kitt. Frances Sternhagen, John Ellison Conlee, Heidi Schreck, Phoebe Strole and Christopher Evan Welch also star. (Through April 21, Manhattan Theatre Club at New York City Center, 131 W. 55th St., btwn. 6th & 7th Aves. Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

Wednesday, February 27
GO→ Kelli O'Hara and Nathan Gunn star as Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan in the The New York Philharmonic's concert staging of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. Those caught up in the stormy saga between Bigelow, the carnival barker, and Jordan, the millworker, include Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley as Jigger Craigin, Tony Award nominee Jessie Mueller as Carrie Pipperidge, Jason Danieley as Enoch Snow, Kate Burton as Mrs. Mullin and John Cullum the Starkeeper/Dr. Seldon. Tony winner John Rando directs with Warren Carlyle choreographing. (Through March 2, Avery Fisher Hall, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, btwn. 64th and 65th St. off Columbus Ave., info/tickets.)

Thursday, February 28
OPENING→ The eagerly anticipated New York return of Stephen Sondheim's Tony-winning Passion opens Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company. Melissa Errico (as the fair Clara), Judy Kuhn (as sickly recluse, Fosca) and Ryan Silverman (as handsome soldier, Giorgio) make up the bizarre love triangle at the heart of this new John Doyle-helmed production. (Through April 7, Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13, btwn. 3rd & 4th Aves., info/tickets.)

Friday, March 1
PREVIEWS→ Tom Hanks stars as newspaper columnist Mike McAlary in Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy. McAlary had dominated the news in the 1980 and '90s covering the crime beat for the New York Daily News. Famous for exposes like the Abner Louima case, and infamous for falsely accusing a woman of faking her own rape, McAlary was a headstrong New York figure till his death in 1998 of colon cancer. Also starring Maura Tierney, Peter Scolari and Courtney B. Vance. George C. Wolfe directs. (Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave. Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

Blake Ross is the editor of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillBlake.

Watch highlights of Picnic: