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All Plays, No Waiting

Date: Dec 19, 2007


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The "plays only" line at the TKTS Discount Booth has seldom offered so many rich choices for the discerning playgoer. Whether it's farce or tragedy, classical drama or contemporary realism, British or American you're looking for, Broadway at the end of 2007 has something for every taste.

In the straight-up comedy column, there's the "new" Mark Twain play Is He Dead? This two-act farce, featuring Dirty Rotten Scoundrel Norbert Leo Butz having the time of his life bustling about in a huge 19th-century dress, evokes classic laughfests from the Greeks to Shakespeare all the way up to Wilde and Orton, and the supporting cast is to die for. In previews for its January opening is David Mamet's new comedy, November, which stars the indomitable Nathan Lane as a sitting (and squirming) U.S. president running for re-election.

If it's a classic you're hankering for, there's Shakespeare's seldom-produced late work Cymbeline, in a lavish and acclaimed production from director Mark Lamos at Lincoln Center, and there's the popular costume romance Cyrano de Bergerac, starring Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner. For a more recent classic, there's the starry revival of Pinter's The Homecoming, starring Ian McShane, Eve Best and Raul Esparza. And for a play some are already hailing as a freshly minted classic-to-be, Tracy Letts' sprawling family drama August: Osage County, has more laughs than many comedies despite its serious themes and its 3-hour-plus running time.

The best of contemporary British playwriting is blazing on Broadway, as well: Conor McPherson, who previously brought us the affecting The Weir and Shining City, is now represented by a boisterous shanty of a play, The Seafarer, and the new work by the always-brilliant Tom Stoppard, Rock 'N' Roll, has been called his most intimate and personal yet, dealing as it does with his native Czech homeland under Soviet rule.

For a pair of dazzling multi-character plays, you couldn't find two more different than The Farnsworth Invention, Aaron Sorkin's riveting, rat-a-tat history of the invention of television, with a busy cast of 19, and A Bronx Tale, Chazz Palminteri's one-man memoir of his upbringing, in which he deftly assumes all the roles.

Plays this good aren't rare in New York City, but this kind of selection is almost an embarrassment of riches. The "plays only" line at the TKTS Discount Booth can be your ticket to a theatregoing experience you'll never forget.