The Year of Magical Theater? Didion, Darwinism And a Ditz

030507 article sp theater The Year of Magical Theater?  Didion, Darwinism And a DitzPhilip Seymour Hoffman, everybody’s favorite Very Serious Actor, will star in his own theater company’s production of Jack Goes Boating. Written by actor turned playwright Bob Glaudini (The Princess Diaries, Mississippi Burning), the play is a demonstration of Manhattan courtship mayhem, with subway attacks, cocaine and mental meltdowns—all on the first date. Mr. Hoffman and John Ortiz, co-founders of the LAByrinth Theater Company, play limo drivers. Daphne Rubin-Vega is taking a breather from her role as Fantine in Les Misérables to perform alongside Beth Cole as relationship-challenged mortuary workers. Directed by Peter DuBois. (LAByrinth Theater Company at the Public Theater, Feb. 27)

Beloved and brilliant author Joan Didion (but will someone please feed her a cheeseburger?) brings her memoir’s cool-headed dissection of her husband’s death and its emotional aftermath to Broadway with The Year of Magical Thinking. Vanessa Redgrave will star in the one-woman show, with just Ms. Didion’s words to guide her. Directed by David Hare. (Booth Theatre, March 29)

Stephanie J. Block (who played Liza Minnelli in The Boy from Oz) will do her best Jack Sparrow impression (minus the dreads) in The Pirate Queen, the latest romp from lyricist Alain Boublil and composer Claude-Michel Schönberg. The much-lauded creators of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon present a swashbuckling new musical comedy about Grace O’Malley, the 16th-century Irish clan chieftain who once had a diplomatic sit-down with Queen Elizabeth I. Since it’s produced by the makers of Riverdance, expect the deadly combination of Stomp-worthy Irish step dancing and smoke machines. (Hilton Theatre, April 5)

Creepy-voiced Kevin Spacey stars in a revival of Eugene O ‘Neill’s classic drama A Moon for the Misbegotten. He plays James Tyrone Jr., a tortured character based on the playwright’s alcoholic brother. Josie Hogan (the “great ugly lump of a woman,” according to the script) tries to change the suave drunkard’s playboy ways with her love. Directed by Howard Davies. (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, April 8)

Two-time Tony Award winner Frank Langella portrays a disgraced Richard Nixon in Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon. Mr. Langella stars opposite David Sheen, who played a steely Tony Blair in The Queen, as British talk-show host Robert Frost, who conducted a series of TV interviews in 1977 with the former President. Directed by Michael Grandage. (Jacobs Theatre, April 22)

OMG, you guys! In Legally Blonde, based on the 2001 blonde-makes-it-big comedy, Laura Bell Bundy replaces Reese Witherspoon as the sorority sister who hits the books and goes to Harvard Law School, pink-sweatered Chihuahua and all. Directed by Jerry Mitchell, a veteran of Hairspray and The Rocky Horror Show productions. (Palace Theatre, April 29)

Jeff Daniels will make his first appearance onstage since 1993’s Redwood Curtain in David Harrower’s much-chirped-about play Blackbird, as a middle-aged man confronted by a young woman (Alison Pill) about the unpleasant consequences of their relationship 15 years prior, when she was 12 and he was 40. After much attention thanks to its rave reviews in London, the play will make its American premiere under the direction of two-time Tony Award winner and Wicked veteran Joe Mantello. (Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center Stage I, April 10)

Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy take Darwinism and the Bible to the courtroom in Inherit the Wind. Based on the famous 1925 Scopes “Monkey” trial, during which two lawyers battled over the right of a science teacher to educate his students on Darwin’s theory of evolution, this revival of the Jerome Lawrence–Robert E. Lee drama was inspired by a December 2005 decision in the federal courts, which ruled that teaching intelligent design in schools is unconstitutional and violates the separation of church and state. Directed by Doug Hughes. (Lyceum Theatre, April 12)

Angela Lansbury, America’s favorite former whodunit sleuth in Murder She Wrote, returns to Broadway after 24 years as a retired tennis champion in Terrence McNally’s new play, Deuce. The four-time Tony Award winner and 18-time Emmy nominee teams with Marian Seldes as her ex-doubles partner in this nostalgic examination of an idealized but complicated relationship. Directed by Michael Blakemore. (Music Box Theatre, May 6)