Lear Window

Kevin Kline prepares to scale the mad king's heroic heights and war-torn politics

Curtains
In previews, opens March 22If not the most eagerly, this new musical is surely the longest awaited show of the Broadway season: John Kander and the late Fred Ebb initially workshopped their "backstage musical murder mystery" around 15 years ago. Its belated arrival, with Ebb's work retouched by Rupert Holmes, features a delectable cast, headed by Debra Monk, David Hyde Pierce, and Obie winner Edward Hibbert. Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W 45th, 212-239-6200 Feingold

Essential Self-Defense
Previews begin March 15, opens March 28 Most city girls know that in the event of an attack, aim for the testicles. Or is it the eyes? Those desiring more specific instruction can attend any number of self-defense classes, many featuring a man in a padded suit on whom students practice their punches. Adam Rapp, whose main characters usually suffer less literal thumpings, centers his newest play on one such pummeled male. Playwrights Horizons, 416 W 42nd, 212-279-4200Soloski

Oliver Twist
Previews begin March 29, opens April 1Charles Dickens once opined that "no objection can exist for a moment where the [adaptation] is so admirably done in every respect," so we hope his shade will feel well served by director Neil Bartlett's adaptation of his novel. Theatre for a New Audience continues its controversial season featuring difficult Jews, placing the fiendish Fagin alongside Shylock and Barabas. The Gerald W. Lynch Theater, 899 Tenth Ave, 212-279-4200Soloski

Blackbird
Previews begin March 15, opens April 10 In David Harrower's ostensibly harrowing play, a pedophile is confronted with his victim, all grown up. Despite the sensational material, Edinburgh and London critics hailed it as a grown-up piece of drama, asking prickly questions about love, desire, and consent. Alison Pill and Jeff Daniels star in the New York debut. Manhattan Theatre Club, 131 W 55th, 212-581-1212 Soloski

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