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Broadway News - Celebrate the New Year All January Long

January 3, 2012 - by Griffin Miller

As you greet 2012 with a list of resolutions that, face it, generally manage to come wrapped in deprivation -- lose weight; put an end to a favorite vice; give until it hurts -- you owe it to yourself to place at least one pledge in the plus column: New York theatre!

To wit, if you thought “’tis the season” was strictly a December slogan, you ain’t seen nothing yet! When it comes to hitting the ticket jackpot for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows in January, everyone wins. Except for a wee handful of exceptions, most Big Apple musicals and plays are at their peak of availability now, with many offering deals and discounts hot enough to take the sting out of the brisk winter air and melt any residual Scrooge-iness that may have slipped across the 2011-2012 border. Or, should you be flush and craving full-price-to-premium tickets, consider yourself privy to the best seats in the house!

Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

But accessibility is only part of the January theatrical picture. For one thing, there are three star-spangled Broadway shows with official openings this month: The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess starring veteran musical theatre actor Norm Lewis (Disney’s The Little Mermaid) as Porgy, multi-Tony winner Audra McDonald as Bess (above with Lewis), and David Alan Grier (who picked up a Tony nomination in 2009 for his role in Race) as Sportin’ Life; Athol Fugard’s compelling play, The Road to Mecca, starring Tony winners Jim Dale and Rosemary Harris, and Carla Gugino; and Tony winner Cynthia Nixon in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Wit.

One of New York’s finest character actors, Julie Halston (The Divine Sister; Hairspray; The Twentieth Century), is joining Tony winners Sutton Foster and Joel Grey in one of Broadway’s most deliciously madcap musicals, Anything Goes. Julie hits the deck of the S.S. American on Jan. 13, assuming the role of Evangeline Harcourt (originated in this revival by Jessica Walter) on the same date Robert Petkoff (Ragtime) becomes the new Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the dynamite happenings Off-Broadway, including Tony winner David Hyde Pierce and Rosie Perez appearing together in one of the funniest new plays of the season, MTC’s Close Up Space at New York City Center. (Catch it now, though, as it only runs through Feb. 5).

Meanwhile, beginning Jan. 24, Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Elizabeth Reaser (Twilight, Grey’s Anatomy) will be performing opposite each other in Second Stage’s revival of Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, How I Learned to Drive.

As for “last chance” opportunities on Broadway, the long-running hit Billy Elliot closes on Jan. 8; An Evening With Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin bows out on Jan. 13; and the stunning revival of Follies with Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein, and Ron Raines will be leaving on Jan. 22. Still, you can console yourselves with such past-season musical must-sees as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Sister Act, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and, in the drama department, the haunting War Horse, with its Tony-winning puppet equines, as well as Other Desert Cities and Seminar.

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