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Theater old and new

Here's the 411 on two productions set in days gone by, both with Florida connections.

Bartholmew_fair Miami's New World School of the Arts is about to tackle a play that no professional theater here would dare touch -- if only because it has five acts and requires a cast of 25.  (That's the polar opposite of the one-set solo shows that seem to make so much sense to budget-minded artistic directors.)  The play is Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, a comedy from 1614, and faculty director Andrew Noble describes it as  "...multiple stories which are interwoven to create a rich and varied portrait of life in London."

Featuring Ashley Price, David Hemphill and Rachel Clark in its sizable company, Bartholomew Fair runs April 9-13 at New World, 25 NE Second Ave., Miami.  Performances are at 7:30 nightly except Sunday's, which is at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $12 ($5 for students and seniors).  Call 305-237-3541 or visit the New World web site.

Twocities Just announced is the Broadway run of the new musical version of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. The show, with a book, music and lyrics by Jill Santoriello, got its start at Sarasota's Asolo Repertory Theatre last fall.  It will begin previews at Broadway's Al Hirschfeld Theatre (currently home to the musical Curtains, which closes June 29) on Aug. 19.  Its official opening is set for Sept. 19.

When the musical set against the backdrop of the French Revolution had its world premiere at the Asolo, Broadway baritone James Barbour (who played the Broward Center last season as Sir Lancelot in Camelot), starred as the heroic Sydney Carton.  In January, Barbour pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a minor, stemming from sexual contact he had with a then-15-year-old girl when he was starring on Broadway in Jane Eyre.  He was sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years' probation -- and, as part of his plea bargain, had to admit that the young woman's account of their past relationship was true, something he had denied.  So: no word on whether Barbour will be Broadway's Sydney Carton.

(Carol Rosegg photo of the Asolo production)