‘Steel Magnolias’ adds to B’way bustle

Burke, Ebersole lead story of Southern belles

The revival of “Steel Magnolias” has secured the Lyceum Theater for a run beginning in March.

Previews begin March 15, with opening night set for April 4, according to producers Roy Gabay and Robyn Goodman.

Delta Burke and Christine Ebersole headline the story about six women in a beauty shop. Casting for the other four roles has not been announced. Production will be directed by Jason Moore (“Avenue Q”).

“Steel Magnolias,” by Robert Harling, opened in 1987 at WPA and transferred to Off Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Theater, where it ran for more than 1,000 perfs. The 2005 revival will be the comedy’s first Broadway incarnation.

The Lyceum’s current tenant, “Whoopi,” is a limited engagement that vacates the theater on its previously announced closing date of Jan. 30.

Nearly all of Broadway’s 39 theaters looks to be occupied this spring. After a desultory autumn in which the weekly box office tally has consistently run about $2 million under 2003 and 2002 levels, the March-May Broadway sked features more than a dozen opening nights. The 623-seat Circle in the Square theater, currently empty, has not officially committed to a new production; the Jan. 1 closing of “Bombay Dreams” (see related story) also opens up the Broadway Theater.

It is a theater owner’s market. Upcoming productions of “The Glass Menagerie,” “Festen,” “Bridge & Tunnel” and “Doubt” have not announced theaters. Winter B.O. tumbles at “Brooklyn” or “Gem of the Ocean,” however, could free up either the Plymouth or the Walter Kerr Theater.

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