50 Plays To Watch in 1996

Special Features   50 Plays To Watch in 1996
Here are 50 premieres or noteworthy adaptations likely to be making waves in theatre during 1996. The preview of Broadway is listed separately.

Here are 50 premieres or noteworthy adaptations likely to be making waves in theatre during 1996. The preview of Broadway is listed separately.


AN AMERICAN DAUGHTER -- New play by Wendy Wasserstein. Venue not set yet. Autumn.


ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA and JULIUS CAESAR (Alley Theatre, Houston) -- Corin Redgrave will make his American stage debut with his sister, Vanessa Redgrave, in a repertory performance of these two Shakespeare dramas. Jan. 12 to Feb. 10.  

APPLAUSE: (Theatres TBA, starting July) -- Stephanie Powers in national touring revival of Charles Strouse/Lee Adams musical based on "All About Eve."


THE BALLAD OF YACHIYO (South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, CA) -- Philip Kan Gotanda's play about the passions awakened in a young Japanese woman in Hawaii during the early 20th Century. Jan. 12-Feb. 11


BLACK RUSSIAN (InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia) -- World premiere of Thomas Gibbon's play about an African-American communist who abandon's America to live in the Soviet "workers' paradise" during the 1930s, then returns to the U.S. with his half-white grandson after the fall of communism. May 1996.


BLACK STAR LINE (Goodman Theatre, Chicago) -- World premiere of epic drama about the life and times of 1920s African-American leader Marcus Garvey, by Charles Smith. Jan. 12-Feb. 17.


BUYING TIME (Seattle Repertory Theatre) -- World premiere of new drama by Michael ("Moonchildren") Weller that offers a "showdown between money and ethics" as a Southwestern law firm famous for serving the public interest is held accountable by those who actually pay the bills. Jan. 27 to Feb. 18.


CARS, DOGS, MONEY AND THE MOON (Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH) -- World premiere musical by David Kisor, consisting of songs and storytelling from present-day West Virginia. June 5-23


THE CIDER HOUSE RULES (Seattle Repertory Theatre) -- World premiere of Peter Parnell's adaptation of John Irving's novel about a young man who has conflicting feelings when he learns his adoptive father was an abortionist. March 2-31


COMFORTABLE SHOES (Paper Mill Playhouse, Milburn, NJ) -- Clint Holmes and La Chanze star in Holmes' autobiographical musical. Feb. 14 to March 24.


COYOTE GOES SALMON FISHING (Perseverance Theatre, Douglas, Alaska) -- "The Marriage of Figaro" retold as a musical native legend, with animal characters replacing people. Jan. 7 - Feb. 4


THE DEAD PRESIDENTS CLUB (Live Oak Theatre, Austin, TX) -- World premiere of new Larry L. King "comedy-fantasy" about Presidents Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman and Calvin Coolidge awaiting their fates in the afterlife. May 3-28.


DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Miami, Memphis, Nashville, Boston, Ft. Worth, Denver, Cerritos) -- National tour of Arthur Miller drama about a man failing to attain the American Dream, starring Hal Holbrook as Willy Loman. Jan. to March.


THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE REST (Seven Stages, Atlanta) -- World-premiere of Jim Grimsley's double-bill, "Touch the Deep" and "Eternal Hunger," described as "two plays about eating and being eaten."


THE ENCHANTED MAZE (Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, OH) -- New play about a young man lost in a magical showbiz garden. Jan. 23-Feb. 18


ENCORES! GREAT AMERICAN MUSICALS IN CONCERT (City Center Theater, Off-Broadway) -- Three rarely seen musicals -- Porter's "DuBarry Was a Lady" (Feb. 15-17), Weill's "One Touch of Venus" (March 28-30) and Kander & Ebb's "Chicago" (May 2-4) in concert with star casts TBA.


EVITA -- The long-awaited film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, starring Madonna as Eva Peron, Jonathan Pryce as Juan Peron and Antonio Banderas as Che Guevara. Summer.


A FAIR COUNTRY (Mitzi Newhouse Theatre, Off-Broadway -- Jon Robin ("Three Hotels") Baitz' drama about an American diplomatic family divided and destroyed by the chaotic politics of South Africa. Begins previews Feb. 1.


FEAR ITSELF (Crossroads Theatre Company, New Brunswick, NJ) -- World premiere of Eugene Lee play about a father and son who must confront their fears. March 2-April 7


FUNNY MONEY (Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, Summit, IL) -- U.S. premiere of new British farce by Ray Cooney, about a suburban accountant who finds a briefcase stuffed with $1.5 million. March 6-May 26.


GOD SAID . . . HA! (Magic Theatre, San Francisco) Premiere of Julia ("Saturday Night Live") Sweeney's one-woman comedy show about her unsettled family life. Jan. 6-Feb.. 4.


GREENSBORO -- A REQUIEM (McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ) -- World premiere of Emily Mann's drama about the aftermath of an anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in North Carolina, at which five protesters were murdered by Klan and Nazi Party members. Feb. 6-25.


THE HANDLER (Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH) -- World premiere of new drama by Robert Schenkkan, Pulitzer-winning author of "The Kentucky Cycle." Described as a "drama of the divine and the ways we respond to it." April 10-28


THE HOUSE OF MARTIN GUERRE (Goodman Theatre, Chicago) -- A new musical based on the story of a medieval woman whose husband abandons her after their wedding night, and doesn't return for eight years. But is the man who returns the REAL Martin Guerre? Already the source for a book, a film and a previous musical, this production also may face competition from Alan Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg ("Les Miserables," "Miss Saigon") who are also planning a musical adaptation. June 14-Aug. 4.


HUMANA FESTIVAL OF NEW PLAYS (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Louisville, KY) -- New plays by Tony Kushner, Henry David Hwang, Jane Martin, many more. Feb. 27-April 6.


KING DAVID (Roman Theatre, Caesaria, Israel) -- World premiere of new musical by Alan Menken and Tim Rice ("Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin"), based on the Biblical story.


THE LOVER (Center Stage, Baltimore) -- World premiere of Elizabeth Egloff's adaptation of the Phaedra legend. Feb 16 - March 31, 1996.


MATING HABITS OF THE URBAN MAMMAL (Actors' Playhouse, Miami) -- New musical revue taking a sharply humorous look at contemporary love. Music and lyrics by Michael Leeds. Book and lyrics by Leeds and Peggy Gordon. May 15-June.


MIRETTE (Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut, Aug. 1-22) -- New musical by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt ("The Fantasticks"), based on Emily Arnold McCully's Caldecott Award-winning 1992 children's story "Mirette on the High Wire," about a young girl who becomes obsessed with a former high-wire acrobat who has lost his nerve.


MYTH (Atlanta Shakespeare Co., Atlanta) -- World premiere of a new rock musical epic based on "The Odyssey," set in outer space. Music by Bo Ketchin and Matthew Trautwein. Jan. 12-Feb. 18.


NJINGA: THE QUEEN KING (Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC) -- Traditional music, drums and dance are used to tell the story of a young African-American woman discovering her ties to a 17th century African queen.


PORTRAIT OF A NUDE (West Coast Ensemble, Hollywood, CA) -- U.S. premiere of Laura Shamas play tracing the historical response to Francisco Goya's painting, "Naked Maja," as a way of exploring contemporary reaction to erotic art.


PSYCHOPATHIA SEXUALIS (Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle; and the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles) -- World premiere of John Patrick Shanley farce about a man who cannot make love without wearing his father's argyle socks. March 23-April 20 in Seattle; May 12-June 30 in Los Angeles.


RAGTIME (Toronto, Canada) -- World premiere of new musical based on E.L. Doctorow's novel "Ragtime." The show has a book is by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ehrens, choreography by Graciela Daniele and direction by Frank Galati. Autumn.


SAME TIME, ANOTHER YEAR (Pasadena Playhouse, Pasadena, CA) -- World premiere of Bernard Slade's sequel to his hit 1975 comedy "Same Time, Next Year," continuing his saga about a philandering couple who meet once a year. Jan. 14-Feb. 18.


THE SCREENED-IN PORCH (Crossroads Theatre Company, New Brunswick, NJ) -- World premiere of drama by Marian X, about two women neighbors who have been friends for 35 years. April 20-May 26.


SKYLIGHT (National Theatre, London) -- New drama by David ("Racing Demon") Hare, about a man and a woman who once had an affair, but whose lives have taken radically different paths. February.



Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH) -- A young man comes of age in the 1960s in this drama by Emmy-winning producer and writer Tom Fontana (TV's "St. Elsewhere" and "Homicide: A Life on the Street"). Feb. 14-March 3


SONDHEIM PROJECT (Kennedy Center, Washington DC) -- Yet-untitled new musical by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman ("Assassins," "Pacific Overtures") about the zany brothers Addison and Wilson Mizner during the years 1895 to 1935. Autumn.


THE STERNHEIM PROJECT (Dallas Theatre Center, Dallas) -- Contemporary adaptation of two plays by the author known as the "German Moliere": "The Unmentionables" and "The Snob." Jan. 11-Feb. 4


SUPPLE IN COMBAT (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago) -- John ("Frasier") Mahoney stars in Alexandra Gersten's new drama about a married CIA agent. Starts May 8.


THIS PASSION THING (Horizon Theatre, Atlanta) -- World premiere of Steve Murray's comedy about passion, obsession, vampirism and romance. May 10-June 23.


TURKISH FAVORS (American Place Theatre, Off-Broadway) -- Mary Steenburgen stars in Ron Ribman's play about a movie star who has an affair with a failed painter in World War II Paris to assure her daughter's safety in a concentration camp.


TWIST (George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick, N.J) -- New musical that sets Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" in multi-cultural 1920s New Orleans. The musical has a libretto by William F. Brown, who wrote the book of the 1975 musical "The Wiz." Music is by Tena Clark and Gary Prim, lyrics by Tena Clark. May 4 to June 2.


UNMERCIFUL GOOD FORTUNE (Northlight Theatre and Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago) -- World premiere of Edwin Sanchez' drama about the meeting between an assistant district attorney and a woman who claims she can divine the future by touching a person's hand. Jan. 12-March 3.


UNSUNG COLE . . . AND CLASSICS, TOO (Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, OH) -- Revue featuring some rarely-heard Cole Porter songs.


VENUS (Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT) -- Suzan-Lori Parks' new drama about the "Hottentot Venus," an African woman brought to Europe as a curiosity in the 19th century, and how she changes the perceptions of the people she meets. April, 1996.


-- By Robert Viagas

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