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August Preview Picks
A chronological monthly
tip sheet
to what's previewing--and opening--in New York.

By Jerry Tallmer
Rae C. Wright as the vain, charminng, calamitous Madame Arkadina. See: "The Moon in Vain" (Catherine Nance photo)


Saturday, Aug. 4:

Theater for the New City launches its 25th annual free five-borough traveling summer street theater with a 2 p.m. performance on East 10th Street at First Avenue of Crystal Field's latest rip-roaring epic, "The Patients Are Running the Asylum." The playwright/director describes it as "a play about coming to sanity in a world where concepts of right and wrong, love and life, compassion and hate, have been turned upside down." It will hit various locales in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and back in Manhattan on a weekend schedule through Sept. 16. For complete schedule, see our feature story. Call (212) 254-1109 for further details.

Monday, Aug. 6:

Opening night at the Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th Street, of "If You Ever Leave Me, I'm Coming With You," the no doubt autobiographical new comedy by, starring, and directed by the husband-and-wife team (36 years and counting) of Renée Taylor and Joe Bologna. Reservations through Telecharge, (212) 239-6200.

Tuesday, Aug. 7:

Opening at Dixon Place, 309 E. 26th Street, of "The Moon in Vain," a "fifth act" by Rae C. Wright and Lee Gundersheimer of Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull," taking place exactly one year after Arkadina's son Konstantin has shot himself to death -- and, believe it or not, an amazingly beautiful, faithful projection of what that might have been for her, the vain, charminng, calamitous, talented actress-mother whose suppression of her son's rebellious creativity (or non-creativity) contributed to his death. Ms. Wright plays her, Ethan Cohn plays Konstantin, Mr. Gundersheimer directs. Reservations: (212) 532-1546.

NOTE: This fascinating endeavor, as it happens, falls on the calendar directly opposite the all-star production of Anton Chekhov's "The Sea Gull," in a translation by Tom Stoppard, that Mike Nichols has directed for the Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, opening formally on Aug. 12 but already in existence since July 24 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Whatever the Klieg-light candlepower under the stars -- John Goodman, Marcia Gay Hardin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Debra Monk, Larry Pine, Natalie Portman, Stephen Spinella, Meryl Streep, Christopher Walken, et al -- an inner truth might just bite harder down at Dixon Place. The park "Sea Gull" will be there, admission free once you buck the ticket line, through Aug. 19; (212) 539-8750 for any other information.

Friday, Aug. 10:

Opening of the 5th annual New York International Fringe Festival, which will offer 198 shows in various outdoor and indoor downtown venues through Aug. 26, under the aegis of The Present Company. Of particular interest -- from advance releases -- might be (1) "21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com," a confessional chronicle of an industry's riise and fall, by Amazon.com alumnus Mike Daisey; (2) "Life's Call," by Arthur ("La Ronde") Schnitzler, in a "world-premiere translation" by Ryan Suda and Greg Vargo; (3) "Doing Justice," a one-woman piece written and performed by Adina Taubman, based on the Columbine, Colorado, High School shootings. For all Fringe Festival tickets and information, call (212) 420-8877 or 1-(888) FringeNYC.

Friday, Aug. 24:

Opening of the 31st season of the Jean Cocteau Repertory, Bouwerie Lane Theater, 330 Bowery at Bond Street, with a revival of "Small Craft Warnings," one of Tennessee Williams's most inherently personal and most underrated plays. Tickets: (212) 877-0060. It is to be followed in the Cocteau's 2001-2002 season by "Oedipus the King," "Arms and the Man,: "The Dance of Death," and "The Marriage of Figaro."

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