Smits, Esparza may board for ‘Tropics’

Play follows cigar makers in Depression-era Florida

Jimmy Smits and Raul Esparza are circling the McCarter Theater of Princeton, N.J.’s upcoming production of “Anna in the Tropics,” winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in drama.

This fall, Chicago’s Victory Garden and Costa Mesa’s South Coast Rep also will stage Nilo Cruz’s drama about cigar makers in Depression-era Florida. Under the direction of Emily Mann, the McCarter production is the one most likely to transfer to Gotham, especially if Smits and Esparza sign on.

Both actors have participated in separate readings of “Anna” — Smits at the Public Theater and Esparza at the McCarter. (Smits is doing readings of “Anna in the Tropics” this weekend at South Coast Rep.)

The McCarter’s production of “Anna in the Tropics” opens the Roger Berlind Theater on Sept. 17.

Other news:

  • The producers of “Enchanted April” have announced a national tour for Matthew Barber’s play in fall 2004. Current Broadway headliners Elizabeth Ashley, Jayne Atkinson, Michael Hayden and Molly Ringwald have signed on.

  • “Movin’ Out” swept the 2003 TDF/Astaire Awards Thursday. It is the first time in the org’s 22-year history that one show took the top three honors.

  • Twyla Tharp was named best choreographer, with John Selya and Elizabeth Parkinson named best dancers. Chita Rivera received a lifetime achievement award.

  • Ethan Hawke (Hotspur) and Billy Crudup (Prince Hal) join Kevin Kline (Falstaff) and Richard Easton (Henry IV) in the upcoming production of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” at Lincoln Center. Previews begin in October.

  • Phyllis Frelich returns to Broadway in the Roundabout’s production of “Big River.” Her last appearance on Broadway was her Tony-winning turn in 1980’s “Children of a Lesser God.”

  • Frelich reprises the roles of Miss Watson and Sally that she previously played the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Previews begin July 1, with the New York preem set for July 24.

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