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EntertainmentColumnistsLinda Winer

11 shows race to Broadway before Tony deadline

Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane in a scene

Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane in a scene from "The Addams Family." Photo Credit: Handout

The sounds of springtime on Broadway are not the chirpings and gurglings that accompany other seasonal bursts of new growth. Instead, the melody of midtown in April is more like a frantic hum, and the unmistakable grinding of teeth.

In other words, the sound you hear is the ruckus of 11 major productions opening between Thursday, April 1 and April 29, the cutoff for Tony Award eligibility and, thus, the official end of the Broadway season.

If the stars had been aligned in the musical heavens as planned, we would already know the fate of the biggest promise of the year - "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." The wildly ambitious, $45-million, infamously troubled new musical, with direction by Julie Taymor ("The Lion King") and music by Bono and The Edge, was supposed to have opened this month. Then, it was supposed to open this summer. Now, it just might be revealed in the fall.

Without Spidey to galvanize the upcoming tourist season, there is just a teensy bit more pressure on the new offerings to ignite anticipation and excitement for the summer. The past fall-winter season depended heavily on big movie stars in strictly limited runs, including the long-gone Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in "A Steady Rain" and Jude Law in "Hamlet." Liev Schreiber and Scarlett Johansson in "A View From the Bridge" closes next Sunday. Laura Linney and Alicia Silverstone closed Saturday night in "Time Stands Still."

"A Little Night Music" will continue, but Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones reportedly finish their contracts in late June, and no replacements have been announced. Still to come is Denzel Washington in August Wilson's "Fences," but that is scheduled to close at the end of June. And "A Behanding in Spokane," starring Christopher Walken, closes June 6. Such are the perils of training audiences on the star system.

Here, in chronological order, is the April 11 - four new musicals, two new plays, two musical revivals and three play revivals.

RED

(April 1, Golden Theatre)

Alfred Molina plays Mark Rothko, the legendary abstract impressionist painter, as he contemplates a 1958 commission to create murals for the Four Seasons restaurant. Eddie Redmayne, who won an Olivier Award this week, co-stars as the artist's young assistant in this drama by American John Logan. It was first produced in London and staged by Michael Grandage ("Frost/Nixon," Law's "Hamlet"). 

LEND ME A TENOR

(April 4, Music Box)

Stanley Tucci makes his Broadway directing debut in this revival of Ken Ludwig's 1989 backstage farce about the misadventures of an opera star at a one-night-only performance of "Otello." Anthony LaPaglia and Tony Shalhoub make a welcome return to the theater after their wonderful TV series.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

(April 8, Lunt-Fontanne)

With "Spider-Man" out of the picture, this is the spring's big family show. With Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia, Nathan Lane as Gomez and the macabre irresistibility of cartoonist Charles Addams, let's not dwell on the show's troubled tryout in Chicago. The book is by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice ("Jersey Boys") and the score is by Andrew Lippa, who wrote the adventurous music for "The Wild Party." A new director has been brought in to "assist" the ones listed on the program.

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

(April 11, Nederlander)

Like "Memphis," one of the season's few original musicals, this one is about breakout pop music in that city in the 1950s. But "Quartet" is a jukebox show that unites Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis in a Memphis recording session that really happened in 1956.

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES

(April 18, Longacre)

Yes, another revival of Jerry Herman's 1983 musical about real family values in a French drag show. The production comes from London's astoundingly fertile Menier Chocolate Factory, but Kelsey Grammer will be playing Georges, the butch half of the loving couple.

AMERICAN IDIOT

(April 20, St. James)

This is the bold curveball of the spring season, a new musical based on the hit album by punk-pop rockers Green Day. The show, like the record, follows alienated suburban kids in their search for meaning and redemption. Michael Mayer, who staged another youth-driven Broadway adventure called "Spring Awakening," directs, with the same producers as that show (which just won the Olivier for best musical in London).

SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM

(April 22, Studio 54)

James Lapine, who collaborated with Stephen Sondheim on "Sunday in the Park With George," "Into the Woods" and "Passion," has devised an "intimate portrait" of the master of grown-up musicals. The production brings the legendary Barbara Cook back from cabaret to Broadway, co-starring with Vanessa Williams and Tom Wopat in a multimedia celebration of Sondheim's "life and artistic process."

PROMISES, PROMISES

(April 25, Broadway)

Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes are an odd couple in this revival of the Burt Bacharach 1968 musical, with book by Neil Simon. It's based on "The Apartment," the Oscar-winning 1960 comedy about a guy who lets his bosses use his flat for extracurricular liaisons.

FENCES

(April 26, Cort)

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis ("Doubt") play a long-married couple struggling with disappointments in August Wilson's drama about the '50s. The Pulitzer-winning play was a vehicle for James Earl Jones in 1987 and has never before been revived on Broadway.

ENRON

(April 27, Broadhurst)

This hit British import is Lucy Prebble's play with music, inspired by the all-too-real financial scandal of 2001. Norbert Leo Butz and Marin Mazzie star in the American version of Rupert Goold's celebrated production.

COLLECTED STORIES

(April 28, Friedman)

Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson star in this revival of the 1996 drama by Donald Margulies ("Time Stands Still") about a distinguished New York author and her protege. Lynne Meadow, artistic director of Manhattan Theatre Club, directs her theater's second Margulies play of the season.

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