January 21, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

Broadway seems to have taken on a schizophrenic new role model: Hollywood. In the sort of foolhardy doppelganger battles we’ve come to expect from Tinseltown (Deep Impact versus Armageddon), stage producers are gearing up two rival musical productions of The Wild Party, based on Joseph Moncure March’s once-banned 1928 jazz-age poem about a boozy, bawdy affair. Hot Hollywood property Taye Diggs heads up this month’s Off Broadway edition, while Toni Collette, Mandy Patinkin, and Eartha Kitt will Party on Broadway in March. Next to this showdown, the rest of 2000 is stacking up as a predictable mix of star vehicles and familiar properties. Here are some of the tantalizing prospects:


Elaine May’s oddly titled new comedy, Taller Than a Dwarf, teams Matthew Broderick with Parker Posey in a play about a young couple dealing with life in the 21st century (debuting in March)…. Paul Thomas Anderson could very well be in the house when his Magnolia/ Boogie Nights troupers Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly appear in a revival of Sam Shepard’s always-hip True West (Feb.).


Patrick Stewart repeats his 1998 Off Broadway success as the polygamist at the center of Arthur Miller’s The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (March)…. On the heels of Kevin Spacey in The Iceman Cometh, Gabriel Byrne takes the stage in Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten (March)…. Philip Bosco and Blair Brown arrive in the Brit hit Copenhagen (March)…. The sitcom-less Nathan Lane is an acerbic critic in The Man Who Came to Dinner (June), while everyone’s favorite unemployed nanny, Fran Drescher, is back with the suicide comedy Sweet Deliverance (late spring)…. And there are possible year-end musicals for theater dames Chita Rivera (Tropicana: The Musical) and Angela Lansbury (The Visit).


Uncle Vanya on 42nd St.? It’s true. Tony winner Derek Jacobi headlines Chekhov’s classic in Roundabout Theatre’s new digs (March)…. The Music Man marches on to Broadway with Craig Bierko (The Long Kiss Goodnight). Also: Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing heads over from London with Jennifer Ehle (A&E’s Pride and Prejudice) (March).


Pie-in-the-sky rumors suggest Alanis Morissette and Lenny Kravitz as possible stars of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, which opens (probably Alanis-less) in April…. Hopes are high for the Disney/Elton John Aida, which arrives in February despite a problematic Chicago run…. The writings of Dr. Seuss are musicalized in Seussical (fall). And Mamma Mia!, the blockbuster London ABBA musical (see page 65), should take a chance on New York following its Toronto engagement (May).


Two stripping movies, The Full Monty (May) and The Night They Raided Minsky’s (July), take to California’s musical-comedy stage. And in an odd twist, 2000 will see the premiere of an all-singing take on The Witches of Eastwick (May in London) and possibly Mask, based on Peter Bogdanovich’s 1985 weepie. Note to Cher: Yes, this is a sign. Come back to the five-and-dime.

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