Previews begin May 10; opening night set for June 11

After a few false starts, the much-anticipated musical by rocker Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater has finally found a Gotham home.

Atlantic Theater will give their “Spring Awakening,” based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial first play, a May-July 2006 berth. Previews begin May 10, with opening night set for June 11. Michael Mayer directs.

Sheik and Sater have had to wait a few years. But then, so did Wedekind, who wrote “Spring Awakening” in 1891 and didn’t see it produced in Berlin until 1906. Even then, his drama about 14-year-old lovers who experience parental disapproval, an abortion and death invoked the wrath of the German censors. “Spring Awakening” was not produced again until 1963, in Britain.

“Spring Awakening,” the musical, also has endured its share of delays. After buzz-generating workshops at La Jolla Playhouse, Sundance and, finally, at the Roundabout Theater Company in June 2001, RTC made plans for a full production. Then 9/11 happened, and the nonprofit company underwent some serious financial belt-tightening, which did not permit the production of such a controversial tuner. (“Assassins,” by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, was also dropped from the Roundabout sked but ultimately found a slot there.)

And in the age of “The Producers” and “Mamma Mia!,” commercial producers, too, showed no interest in putting up the capitalization for “Spring Awakening.”

Earlier this year, however, a concert performance of “Spring Awakening,” held under the auspices of the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, reawakened interest in the long-gestating project.

“Spring Awakening” will be the first musical to be produced by the Atlantic Theater.

The company also announced its other fare for the 2005-06 season: “The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow,” by Rolin Jones (Aug. 31-Oct. 16); “Celebration” and “The Room,” by Harold Pinter (Nov. 16-Jan. 8); and “The Lieutenant of Inishmore,” by Martin McDonagh (Feb. 8-April 9).

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Ariel Kaminer replaces Jodi Kantor as editor of Arts & Leisure at the Sunday New York Times. Kaminer was Kantor’s deputy on the section, which saw a marked decrease in theater coverage under Kantor’s tenure. Kantor now wears a reporter hat at the newspaper.

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