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Mike Birbiglia searches for his 'understudy,' and more theater news

Apollo Theater adding two new performance spaces; Neil La Bute returning to Off-Broadway.

Mike Birbiglia, star of the one-man show "The

Mike Birbiglia, star of the one-man show "The New One," is searching for an understudy. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

THE SHOW "The New One"

THE DEAL Considering how relatable Mike Birbiglia comes across in the one-man show about his life as a new dad, it makes sense that he is reaching out to the public with the opportunity to become his “understudy.” “I’d love to have an understudy. I’d love to see what it would like look, if someone else were performing my lines,” Birbiglia said on the show’s website. To be considered, film yourself doing a short monologue from one of Birbiglia’s earlier shows. The winner — who will not actually become his understudy — will receive $1,000 and the chance to perform the monologue onstage at the Cort Theatre.

WHAT Apollo Theater

THE DEAL The Harlem showplace will soon be known as the Apollo Performing Arts Center. As part of the Victoria Theater Redevelopment Project, the historic venue confirmed this week that it has begun the process of building two new theaters (99 seats and 199 seats, respectively), which are expected to open in 2020. The Classical Theatre of Harlem, which is currently presenting “A Christmas Carol in Harlem,” will be one of the resident companies. In a statement, CEO Jonelle Procope said the theater is “reaffirming its deep responsibility to our community … and safeguarding the spirit and cultural character of Harlem.”

WHAT National Disability Theatre

THE DEAL The new theater company composed exclusively of people with disabilities, will premiere next fall with a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Members of the company’s advisory committee include Ali Stroker (“Oklahoma!”), Katy Sullivan (“The Cost of Living”) and Jamie Brewer (“Amy and the Orphans”). “People with disabilities deserve to see successful professionals at the top of their game. … Americans will get to encounter many such artists at NDT,” co-executive director Mickey Rowe said in a welcome letter.

WHO Neil LaBute

THE DEAL A year ago, MCC Theater inexplicably terminated its longstanding relationship with LaBute, the Off-Broadway company’s playwright-in-residence, and canceled a planned production of his new play, “Reasons to Be Pretty Happy.” While the MCC situation remains a mystery, three new one-act plays by LaBute will be presented Off-Broadway next month by the St. Louis Actors’ Studio as part of “The LaBute New Theater Festival” at the Davenport Theatre.

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