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On Broadway: the 2004-2005 season offers a Sondheim revival, a showcase for Jerry Mitchell's choreography, and, finally, Jerry Springer--The Opera.

Tradition, tradition--tradition!" They're singing and dancing its praises in David Leveaux's clear eyed revival of Fiddler on the Roof, and it's to honor tradition that this column once again attempts to look into the future. Close readers know that predicting the Broadway season is a dicey proposition. In previous Septembers, we've described musicals that have still not materialized. And, thanks to air-conditioning, even the tradition of looking ahead in September has its limits--shows now open in summer. By the time yon read this, Steven Sondheim's musical version of the classic Greek comedy The Frogs and Frank Wildhom's take on Brain Stoker's Dracula will have opened. (The first is a Susan Stroman project for Lincoln Center Theater, with the indefatigable Nathan Lane. Dracula, The Musical features a book by Christopher Hampton, lyrics by Hampton and Don Black, direction by Des McAnuff and choreography by Mindy Cooper.) But in yet another triump of hope over experience, we'll take a stab at forecasting the 2004-2005 season of Broadway musicals.

First up will he Brooklyn, which you may remember from last year's forecast. This time the free-form musical about a Parisian girl who comes to New York has a theater, the Brooks Atkinson, and a start date, Nov. 2. Jeff Calhoun is staging the show, which has book, music, and lyrics by Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson. A visitor from far away is also at the heart of Pacific Overtures, set to begin previews at Studio 54 on Nov. 12. In this show, though, the place is Japan and the visitor is Commodore Perry--Amon Miyamoto's production is a kabuki-reflected rethinking of Sondheim's tour-de-force 1976 musical.

Perry was a celebrity' in his day, but Broadway has been exploiting celebrities for decades. In the works this season are Jerry Springer-The Opera, which should finally come after trying out in San Francisco, and Lennon, which Don Scardino is trying out in the same city. The first has been a hit in London, and the second has the music of you-know-who.

David Parsons, who's always brought theatrical flair to his modern dance pieces, tries the real thing this season with Masada, set in World War II-era Warsaw. It has a pre-Broadway tryout in Chicago. Another possible arrival, opening soon in Atlanta, is a musical version of The Color Purple, based on Alice Walker's novel.

The Color Purple is probably best known as a Steven Spielberg movie. And Broadway has never been shy about turning movies in to musicals. This year's out-of-left-field movie transformation is Spamalot, based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and clearly taking aim at Camelot. Audiences in Chicago will be able to tell if it hits the target when it opens at that city's Shubert Theatre on Dec. 21. More movies: Jerry Mitchell is set to direct and choreograph a show based on Legally Blonde; the 1971 cult film Harold and Maude, in which young Bud Cort made love to senior citizen Ruth Gordon, is now a musical aiming at Broadway; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the 1988 crime comedy with Michael Caine, will be bringing John Lithgow back to the musical stage in early 2005; Moonstruck is still out there kicking; and of course, there's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which looks as if it's finally crossing the pond this season, with its flying car and its score by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman. It will begin previews here on March 29, 2005, at the Ford Center.

And there are more revivals: La Cage aux Folles, with direction by Jerry Zaks and choreography by Jerry Mitchell, begins previews in November; Wayne Cilento is going to do new choreography for Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity, to be directed by Walter Bobbie for a spring opening; and Kathleen Marshall will retool the George Abbott-Jerome Robbins classic The Pajama Game.

Also on the way: All Shook Up, which uses the songs of Elvis Presley to tell an updated Shakespearean tale based on A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night; and musical versions of Brave New World, Little Women, and The Vampire Lestat. Those last two may sound familiar from last year and the year before. We'll have to wait and see, won't we?

Sylviane Gold has written about theater for Newsday and The New York Times.
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Author:Gold, Sylviane
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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