This Month in Theater: November 2010

Tom Murrin
You read the comic, you saw the movie(s); it's time for the Broadway musical, with music and lyrics by the new-to-Broadway twosome, Bono and The Edge and directed by Julie Taymor. Taymor, something of a super-hero, big-budget stage artist herself (Lion King), has spent the past six years on this project, and promises that only the Peter Parker character will sing, while the masked and tights-wearing Spidee will handle all the flying and fighting.  Reeve Carney, leader of an L.A. rock band, plays the double-role lead, with Patrick Page as the primary villain, the Green Goblin; the choreography is by Daniel Ezralow and the book is by Glen Berger.
Foxwoods Theatre, 213 W. 42nd St., (877) 250-2929. Previews Nov. 14, opens Dec. 21.
In other movie-to-musical news, there's Elf, based on the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel. The songs are by Matthew Sklar (music) and Chad Beguelin (lyrics), with book by Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and the formidable Thomas Meehan (The Producers and Hairspray).  Casey Nicholaw, who staged the delightful Drowsy Chaperone, is handling the direction and choreography.  The story is about Buddy, a young orphan child, who crawls into Santa's bag and is taken to the North Pole. As he grows older into a normal-sized man, he becomes less useful as en elf. Santa, played by George Wendt, lets him return to Earth to find his real father.
Hirschfield Theatre, 302 W. 45th St., (212) 239-6200. Previews Nov. 2, opens Nov. 14-Jan. 2.
I have seen two plays by The Amoralists (The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side and Happy in the Poorhouse) and I am now a believer.  This fearless and funny, actor-driven downtown troupe brings it.  I have also seen a few Adam Rapp plays -- like Red Light Winter and The Metal Children -- and his hard-edged dramas have a similar real-life grit and powerful impact.  Here Rapp directs the Amoralists in his earliest full-length play. The setting is a cabin in the woods during a storm.  A single mother and her younger son await the arrival of  her oldest son, who has just broken out of prison.  But a stranger with a wounded leg and a girl with a suitcase show up before him.
Theatre 80 St. Marks, 80 St. Marks Pl., (212) 388- 0388. Previews Nov. 11, opens Nov. 13-Dec. 6.
This is a new play with music by that wonderful investigative theater company, The Civilians, written and directed by Steven Cossan (with co-writer's credit to Jocelyn Clarke), music and lyrics by downtown great Michael Friedman (who just made the well-earned jump to Broadway with Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson), and featuring a cast of six, including the always sterling Colleen Werthmann.  The Civilians make their plays by interviewing people first, and here they sought out  politicians and residents, from Borough Hall to barber shops, in the downtown Brooklyn neighborhood where builders want to put high rise condos and a pro basketball court.  You invariably learn a lot at a Civilians show, while at the same time being charmingly entertained.
Irondale Center (ironically located two blocks from the Atlantic Yards site), 85 So. Oxford St., Fort Greene, Brooklyn, (866) 811-4111. Previews Nov. 13, opens Nov. 22.
This is a  new and timely play written and directed by Richard Nelson (James Joyce's The Dead), produced by Public Lab, a collaboration between The Public Theater and LAByrinth, a partnership that likes to get strong work out there, saving money on production costs but passing it on to the audience by only charging $15 admission.  The drama is set at a family gathering (a cast of six; three men and three women) on election day, Nov. 2, 2010, in Rhinebeck, New York.  Uncle Benjamin's dog has died and his nieces and nephews show up to surprise him with a new one.  Politics and family memories are on the table for discussion.
The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., (212) 967-7555. Previews Oct. 26, opens Nov. 2-Nov. 14.

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