What's playing on Broadway -- A guide to the new shows like "Show Boat" and "Sunset Boulevard" as well as old favorites like "Guys and Dolls"

By Jess Cagle
Updated December 16, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST
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First there was Rosie O’Donnell, then Maureen ”Marcia Brady” McCormick. Now Brooke Shields is Rizzo in the revival of Grease! And though she could not be reviewed by press time, her Broadway debut should be at least a brief shining moment in a heretofore dim Broadway season. So for the sake of the American theater, break a leg, Brooke — and maybe one of your mother’s for good measure.

NEW ON BROADWAY

THE SHADOW BOX The ailing Circle in the Square theater takes a turn for the worse by reviving this dated 1977 drama about three terminally ill patients. Stars Mercedes Ruehl, which helps considerably, and Marlo Thomas, which doesn’t help at all. B-

SHOW BOAT Mogul/director Harold Prince makes a sporting attempt to update this lumbering 1927 Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical, the granddaddy of all Broadway shows. Don’t miss Lonette McKee singing ”Bill” — then you can go back to sleep. B

SUNSET BOULEVARD Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version of the 1950 Billy Wilder film stars the great Glenn Close, who — as the deranged diva Norma Desmond — juggles camp and pathos as deftly as she navigates John Napier’s astounding set. A-

NEW OFF BROADWAY

LOVE! VALOUR! COMPASSION! Haven’t seen this much male nudity since — well, never mind. A close-knit group of gay men spends three summer weekends in the country, cooking, carousing, and grating on each other’s nerves. Terrence McNally’s script stoops to string pulling, then rises to riotously funny heights — right up there with Nathan Lane’s splendid performance. Moves to Broadway Jan. 20. B

ME AND JEZEBEL The strangest show in town must be comic author Elizabeth Fuller’s allegedly true but ditzy account of a monthlong visit from Bette Davis. Impressionist Louise DuArt admirably sustains her portrayal of Davis — all rolling eyes and twisted mouth — and makes the most of the script’s stale Joan Crawford jokes. Fuller, a Tina Louise look-alike who apparently learned to act by watching The Stepford Wives, plays herself. C-

3 POSTCARDS Playwright Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss) and composer Craig Carnelia rework their obtuse 1987 ”musical play” about three women who meet for a seemingly endless dinner. Nice try, but the play’s confusing before it’s enlightening, and irritating before it’s over. C-

VITA & VIRGINIA Vanessa Redgrave and Eileen Atkins portray the fitful lovers Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West in the years before Woolf’s death in 1941; the play’s script is a mostly verbatim re-creation of their crisp, sexually charged letters. An interesting idea, ignited by indelible performances. A

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