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Theater Ink by John Rowell

PAVED WITH GOLDEN: The immigrant experience in America has netted countless novels, movies and plays, and Off-Broadway’s The Golden Land is one of the most recent—and most successful—examples of this sub-genre. A dark horse hit from the National Yiddish Theatre—Folksbiene, this mostly English-language musical vividly evokes New York’s Lower East Side by interpolating Yiddish and English period songs into its klezmer-inflected score. Now the show is set to re-open on December 20, with performances continuing through January 6 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.

HAROLD, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL: Is there anyone alive who hasn’t crossed musical paths with a Harold Arlen song? Even those who may not know his name know some of his catalog, if for nothing else but one of Hollywood’s (and American culture’s) most beloved tunes, “Over The Rainbow.” Yet he also penned “Stormy Weather,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Paper Moon” and “Accentuate-the-Positive,” not to mention “The Man That Got Away”(nearly everybody’s theme song at some point in life—sob!) What a career, and now that career is about to be celebrated in The Wonderful Wizard of Song: The Music of Harold Arlen, a new revue featuring The Three Crooners (Marcus Goldhaber, Joe Shepherd, Antoinette Henry) under Gene Castle’s direction. Performances have just begun at St. Luke’s Theatre, and opening night is set for January 10.

PAGING PATTI: And I don’t mean the great LuPone as you may think I mean. I’m talking about another Patti, from another generation, a singing star who had maybe one of pop music’s least likeliest hits (“How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?”) yet also a remarkable and varied recording career. I’m speaking of Patti Page, who netted 111 hits on the Billboard charts and sold more than 100 million records when all was sung and done (fortunately, Ms. Page is still with us at the age of 85!) Now comes an Off-Broadway show to celebrate this fondly remembered and mega-successful pop artist entitled Flipside: The Patti Page Story, a new revuesical featuring 28 of the singer’s hit songs, written and directed by Gregg White and featuring Haley Jane Pierce, Lindsie VanWinkle, Willy Welch, Justin Larman, Jenny Rottmayer and Kassie Carroll. Opening night is set for Dec. 21 at 59E59 Theaters, and performances continue through Dec. 30.

FLASH IN THE PAN: Jamie’s life in Brooklyn seems just fine: a beautiful girlfriend, a budding journalism career, and parents who live just far enough away. But when a possible childhood trauma comes to light, lives are thrown into a tailspin. That’s the premise for the latest effort by Obie Award-winning playwright Amy Herzog (400 Miles) entitled The Great God Pan, which has just opened at Playwrights Horizons and continues performances through January 6. A stellar group of both theater vets and relative newcomers includes Becky Ann Baker, Peter Friedman, Sarah Goldberg, Keith Nobbs, Jeremy Strong, Joyce Van Patten and Erin Wilhelmi make up the cast; Carolyn Cantor directs.

TAR SEARCH: It took over 200 years to build race relations in America, but international performer and comedian Desiree Burch intends to take just two hours to dismantle them in her startling new solo show Tar Baby, co-written with Dan Kitrosser and directed by Isaac Byrne. Drawing on folktales, history and autobiography, Burch offers up a socially conscious comedic style reminiscent of Richard Pryor and Louis C.K. as she takes on the story of America’s infamous black and white love affair—from shotgun weddings to “post-racial” open relationships. Opening night is set for January 5 at DR2 Theatre. 212-239-6200.

THE NEW NORMAL? What, exactly, is “normal?” The very word now seems to have more mystery surrounding it than ever before, and perhaps that’s as it should be. In Richard Ploetz’s suspenseful new play Deceit, an outwardly “normal” investment banker with a loving wife and eight-year-old son embroils himself in a secret life of gay love affairs and Internet dating. But what happens when he suddenly becomes the subject of a journalism exposé—written by the star reporter for the magazine edited by his wife? Can one truly ever be oneself in the era of Craigslist, Facebook and Twitter when artificial user names and profiles are rampant, perhaps the new normal? Provocative stuff, and Ploetz’s play receives an upcoming production at Theater for the New City’s Cino Theater beginning January 10. Andreas Robertz directs.

Theater Ink wishes all readers a great holiday season and much success in the coming New Year!