THE WEEK AHEAD, Dec. 3-9: Opening Night Comes for Stick Fly, Once and Cherry Orchard

Inside Track   THE WEEK AHEAD, Dec. 3-9: Opening Night Comes for Stick Fly, Once and Cherry Orchard's weekly planner reminds you that Dianne Wiest and John Turturro battle over the Cherry Orchard… Paying Rent is essential this holiday season… She Loves Me has a one-night-stand on Broadway… the 23rd Annual Gypsy of the Year competition… and the story continues for Albert and Joey of War Horse.
Dianne Wiest in The Cherry Orchard.
Dianne Wiest in The Cherry Orchard. Photo by Carol Rosegg


Saturday, December 3
GO→ Jazz crooner and record producer Steve Tyrell returns to the Café Carlyle for his seventh season. Expect romance in spades — especially when Tyrell sings his rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight," which he famously performed in the 1991 remake of "Father of the Bride," starring Steve Martin. (Through Dec. 31, Café Carlyle, 35 E. 76th St., at Park Ave., info/tickets.)

Sunday, December 4
OPENING→ Dianne Wiest and John Turturro star in Anton Chekhov's masterpiece The Cherry Orchard. The revival of the Russian master's last play, about the fate of an aristocratic family's ancestral land and their beloved cherry orchard, marks the end of Class Stage's Chekhov Cycle which included high-profile productions of Uncle Vanya, The Seagull and Three Sisters, with acclaimed actors like Denis O'Hare, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Alan Cumming. (Through Dec. 30, Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St., btwn. 3rd Ave. and Bowery, info/tickets.)

Monday, December 5
GO→ The kids from Rent will celebrate the holiday season with a special late-night benefit performance entitled 2011 Rent Holiday Christmas Pageant Extravaganza Spectacular. Expect Rent-ified versions of holiday tunes, recreations of scenes from classic Christmas films, and comedy sketches. Proceeds go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. (11 PM, New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St., btwn. 8th & 9th Aves., $15-$50, info/tickets.)

Kelli O'Hara
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

GO→ Roundabout Theatre Company celebrates its 20th anniversary of producing Broadway shows with a one-night-only concert version of the first musical they ever produced on Broadway, the 1993 revival of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's She Loves Me. The musical tale of two feuding shop clerks who fall in love with their mysterious pen pals (who turn out to be not-so-mysterious), is directed by Scott Ellis and stars Jane Krakowski, Kelli O'Hara, Josh Radnor, Gavin Creel, Rory O'Malley and Victor Garber, backed by a Paul Gemignani-led 15-piece orchestra. (7:30 PM, Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 W. 43rd St., btwn. 6th & 7th Aves., info/tickets.) GO→ The 23rd Annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Gypsy of the Year competition promises to be chock-a-block with Broadway’s biggest celebrities and most talented casts! Gypsy of the Year, one of Broadway’s most highly anticipated annual events, is the culmination of six weeks of intensive fundraising by Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies, and raises millions of dollars for the over 500 AIDS and family service organizations that BC/EFA supports. It's also an amazing show! Playbill’s own Seth Rudetsky will again act as master of ceremonies, with performances and appearances by Hugh Jackman, Bernadette Peters, Daniel Radcliffe, Judith Light, Kim Cattrall, the original cast of Grease, and much more! (Through Dec. 6, New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 W. 42nd St., btwn. 7th & 8th Aves., info/tickets.)

Tuesday, December 6
PREVIEWS→ Tony nominee Gabriel Byrne directs Gerard Mannix Flynn's solo drama James X, about a man who recalls his childhood as a prisoner in an inhumane Irish institutional system. Presented by Byrne, Liam Neeson and the Culture Project. (Through Dec. 18, 45 Bleecker Theatre, 45 Bleecker St., btwn. Bowery & Lafayette, info/tickets. Officially opens Dec. 9.)

OPENING→ The indie film "Once," which chronicled the burgeoning love affair between a Guy and a Girl (real-life musicians/actors Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová) became a runaway hit thanks to the Oscar-winning song from the film "Falling Slowly." The pair has expanded the love story (with playwright Enda Walsh, director John Tiffany and choreographer Steven Hoggett) for a stage musical version, debuting at New York Theatre Workshop. The new musical, which is aiming for Broadway, stars Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti as the star-crossed lovers. (Through Jan. 1, NYTW, 79 E. 4th St., btwn. 2nd Ave.& Bowery, info/tickets.)

GO (Pennsylvania)→ Four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh takes her turn as Rose in Bristol Riverside Theatre's production of Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim's iconic musical Gypsy. Emmy nominee Robert Newman and Amanda Rose will join Feldshuh for the run staged by BRT's artistic director Keith Baker. (Through Jan. 15, Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, PA., info/tickets.)

Samuel L. Jackson in The Mountaintop.
photo by Joan Marcus

Wednesday, December 7
GO→ The Mountaintop is the third show to partner with Playbill and NY1 for $30 for 30, a special initiative offering evenings of affordable theatre and intelligent conversation to a new generation of theatregoers. The Mountaintop stars Samuel L. Jackson as a doomed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who is visited at the infamous Lorraine Motel by a mysterious maid (Angela Bassett) who seems to have an otherworldly connection to the icon. After the 90-minute play, I'll host a special talkback with NY1 theatre reporter Frank DiLella and members of the cast. (8 PM, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St., btwn. Broadway and 8th Ave., Playbill Club members 30 or younger can purchase $30 tickets by going to the box office and showing a valid I.D., other members can purchase discount tickets here.) GO (FREE)→ Stephen Sondheim celebrates the release of "Look, I Made a Hat" (the follow-up to his New York Times best-seller "Finishing the Hat") with a special discussion with Newsweek's Anna Quindlen. "Hat" explores Sondheim's later work from 1981 to the present. (7 PM, Barnes and Noble Union Square, 33 E. 17th St., btwn. Park Ave. & Broadway, info, purchase.)

OPENING→ Farm Boy, the sequel to the epic Tony Award-winning play War Horse, takes off as part of the annual Brits Off-Broadway Festival. Farm Boy chronicles the years after Albert and his beloved horse Joey have been reunited following World War I. The Festival continues in the New Year with the New York premiere of Alan Ayckbourn's Neighbourhood Watch. (59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St., info/tickets.)

Thursday, December 8
OPENING→ Tony winner Ruben Santiago Hudson, Dulé Hill and Mekhi Phifer make up the LeVay clan of Lydia R. Diamond's new comedy Stick Fly. When the brothers LeVay come home to their family's summer home on Martha's Vineyard with two very different girls on their respective arms, issues of race, class and sibling rivalry come to a head. Directed by Kenny Leon with music by producer Alicia Keys. (Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St., btwn. 6th & 7th Aves., Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

Friday, December 9
GO→ Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell rings in the holidays with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in "Home for the Holidays." Expect a heavy helping of classic carols like "The Little Drummer Boy" and "The Christmas Song," as well as a special performance with the New Jersey Youth Chorus and the Masterwork Chorus. Of course, no Stokes concert would be complete without a few Broadway tunes — namely the famous baritone's rendition of "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha. (Through Dec. 10, *Please note that the performance on Fri., Dec. 9 takes place at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, while the performance on Sat., Dec. 10 takes place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, $20-$80, info/tickets.)

Blake Ross is the editor of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillBlake. Watch highlights from The Mountaintop:

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