To be or not to be: A full slate of maybes

NEW YORK — The new Broadway season always looks great this time of year.

Exactly 12 months ago, “Seussical” had all the makings of a huge hit and everyone anticipated Angela Lansbury’s return in “The Visit.” So who knows the final shape of things to come?

Herewith a progress report on shows that might open in 2001-02 but have not yet been officially announced.

In a season with few new plays, the expected world premiere of Edward Albee’s “The Goat,” directed by David Esbjornson, has to top any wish list. The playwright’s last Broadway production was “The Man who had Three Arms” in 1983.

Producer Elizabeth I. McCann said “The Goat” would go into rehearsals first of the year with a mid-February opening at a theater to be announced. No casting yet, but last month Albee’s latest had its first reading, with Mercedes Ruehl, Campbell Scott and newcomer Jeffrey Carlson (“Thief River”).

Speaking of “The Visit,” producer Barry Brown says “the intention remains” to bring the John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical to New York in the spring, pending theater availability and a great reception at Chi’s Goodman Theater, where Chita Rivera and John McMartin star this fall.

Busy with the incoming “Hedda Gabler,” Randall L. Wreghitt says the retooled “Little Women” will not make it this season but he hopes to stage Martin McDonagh’s “The Cripple of Inishmaan” on Broadway in the spring. Wreghitt was a producer on the playwright’s other Broadway outings, “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” and “The Lonesome West.”

In the spring, the Dodgers are looking to bring in “Into the Woods” from L.A.’s Ahmanson and “Dracula” from La Jolla Playhouse, where Des McAnuff helms the Frank Wildhorn/Christopher Hampton/Don Black tuner next month. Gotham could boast back-to-back singing bloodsuckers if “Dracula” opens and the officially announced “Dance of the Vampires” goes to the Minskoff in April as planned.

Another fun battle could develop if Matthew Bourne’s “The Car Man,” using Bizet’s “Carmen” score, appeared in the same season with the first Broadway offering of “La Boheme,” due in spring, with Baz Luhrman directing. Emanuel Azenberg, Jeffrey Seller and Kevin McCollum are producing the Puccini, with several other producers reportedly circling the Bourne project, which opens this week at L.A.’s Ahmanson after playing Minneapolis’ Ordway Center, where McCollum is prexy.

Gerald Schoenfeld says the new Michel Legrand musical “Le Passe Muraille” could be ready for spring or the following fall. If it’s the former, James Lapine is very busy, since he’s directing “Into the Woods.” The Legrand show, which will be retitled for Gotham, goes into workshop this October.

Schoenfeld also reveals the Shubert Org had “abandoned” plans to bring in Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s “Le Visiteur,” making it two for two for the playwright whose “Enigma Variations” also evaporated on its way to Gotham.

Adam Epstein announces that Thomas Meehan (“The Producers”) has joined Mark O’Donnell on the book of the Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman musical “Hairspray,” which has had two readings with workshops to come. The producers are eyeballing either spring or fall 2002 for the preem.

The producers of Richard Alfieri’s “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” are debating whether the Uta Hagen/David Hyde Pierce duet belongs on Broadway or Off Broadway in the spring.

Kathleen Turner and Alicia Silverstone continue to circle an undisclosed Broadway theater for Terry Johnson’s stage adaptation of “The Graduate,” with Benjamin still to be cast.

Jeffrey Richards says Gore Vidal’s updated “Visit to a Small Planet” will most likely go the route of his ‘The Best Man” revival and begin previews on Broadway in August-September, with one possible out-of-town date before then. Beyond Brian Dennehy, there’s no casting yet on “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” although Robert Sean Leonard has been mentioned. It’s due on Broadway in late April.

Michael Ritchie confirmed that Vernel Bagneris 1979 Off Broadway show, “One Mo’ Time,” will open in February on Broadway in a Shubert Theater to be announced.

And here’s an eyeball roller: Everyone’s fave producer Mitchell Maxwell told Playbill Online that his Broadway-bound “Summer of ’42” will open Off Broadway in winter 2002. No theater was mentioned, but due to the show’s size it would have to go into either the Union Square (“Bat Boy”) or the Variety Arts (“Reefer Madness”). Maybe the SoHo Playhouse would be a better fit.

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