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A 'Miracle,' a hand and a punk rock band: Spring Theater

By David Gordon, News Editor

Christopher Walken goes searching for his missing hand. Dame Edna makes her triumphant return. Denzel Washington stars in an August Wilson classic. Members of the Addams Family sing. Oh, what the theater gods have in store for us this spring.

As of now, there are six shows set to open on Broadway in March and 11 in April (April 29 is the cut off for Tony nominations). These shows will begin preview performances generally a few weeks before the opening dates detailed below.

First up in March are a revival of William Gibson's play "The Miracle Worker," and the world premiere of the newest play from Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh, "A Behanding in Spokane." Abigail Breslin (yep, Little Miss Sunshine) will star in Gibson's play as Helen Keller, opposite Tony nominee Alison Pill as Annie Sullivan. Jennifer Morrison (Cameron on "House") and Matthew Modine are also featured in the cast.

Walken, one of Hofstra's finest one-year alums, will star in McDonagh's "Behanding," as a man searching for his missing hand. A couple (played by Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan) is selling a hand. And there's a hotel clerk (Sam Rockwell) with an aversion to gunfire. Expect a lot of blood.

"Next Fall," a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway play by Geoffrey Nauffts about a gay couple dealing with religion, opens at the Helen Hayes Theatre on March 11, just days before four-time Emmy Award winner Valerie Harper opens in "Looped," (March 14) a play about the actress Tallulah Bankhead in the final years of her life.

Dame Edna will be swinging her gladiolas yet again in a new one-person show called "All About Me," which she will share with the crooner Michael Feinstein (March 18). Rounding out the month is the newest dance musical from Twyla Tharp, called "Come Fly Away." This one uses the music of Frank Sinatra.

On April 4, Stanley Tucci directs an impressive cast that includes Anthony LaPaglia, Tony Shalhoub, Justin Bartha and Jan Maxwell in Ken Ludwig's farce "Lend Me a Tenor." On April 8, Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth star as Gomez and Morticia Addams in "The Addams Family," the musical. Rumored to be in trouble out-of-town, Lane brought on director Jerry Zaks to supplement the work done by directors Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch. The script is by "Jersey Boys" scribes Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice and the score was written by Andrew Lippa.

At the Nederlander theater, the jukebox musical "Million Dollar Quartet" opens on Aprill 11. The show details the recording session of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, using their songs. Following that on the 18th is a sensational, scaled down revival of the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein musical "La Cage aux Folles." A transfer from London, this revival stars Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge, who won the Olivier Award for his performance in London.

Green Day is hoping that the "Spring Awakening" formula will pay off once again when that show's creative team and Tony winning star (John Gallagher, Jr.) reunite to bring the album "American Idiot" to the stage on April 20. It also uses songs from Green Day's newest release, "21st Century Breakdown."

There are openings every day of the next week. On April 22 at Studio 54, Roundabout Theatre Company opens "Sondheim on Sondheim," a piece formerly titled "iSondheim," which mixes videos of the composer talking about his songs and then actors (namely Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat) singing them. The Roundabout will open a revival of Terrence McNally's Fire Island-set "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" at the American Airlines Theatre on April 29, with a cast that features Megan Mullally, Patton Oswalt and Lili Taylor. The day before, Manhattan Theatre Club, will open a revival of Donald Margulies' "Collected Stories" starring Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson.

April 25, 26 and 27 will respectively bring Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth in Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Neil Simon's "Promises, Promises" (the musical where "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" originated), Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in August Wilson's "Fences," and Norbert Leo Butz in Lucy Prebble's British play "Enron," about the rise and fall of the American company.

Rumored, though not announced yet, for April is Brian Dennehy in a double-bill of Eugene O'Neill's "Hughie" and Samuel Beckett's "Krapp's Last Tape. A late addition is the transfer-from-London of John Logan's acclaimed play, "Red," starring Alfred Molina as the painter Mark Rothko. It opens on April 11.

And then we can breathe again.

Douglas Hodge (left) and Kelsey Grammer (right) star in a revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's musical "La Cage aux Folles." (Photo courtesy of Boneau/Bryan-Brown)

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