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(Mostly) new theater at New Theatre

As South Florida companies are assembling and announcing their 2008-2009 theater seasons, it is becoming clear that the bad economy and cuts in arts funding are affecting programming decisions.  Certainly, that's the case at Coral Gables' New Theatre, which is coming at the problem in several ways.

Rickymartinez Though the company had planned to present a three-show "Shakespeare and Friends" summer season -- George Bernard Shaw's Heartbreak House, Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie and the bard's As You Like It -- artistic director Ricky J. Martinez (right) has scrapped the Shaw and folded the other two productions into an elongated regular season.

New Theatre's 2008-2009 lineup begins with As You Like It Aug. 14-Sept. 7.  Then come three world premieres: Andrew Case's The Rant, a play about an investigator looking into the fatal shooting of a black teen by a New York police officer, Sept. 25-Oct. 26; Michelle Rosenfarb's The Gates of Choice, about a young Hasidic woman in a forbidden relationship with a soldier, Nov. 13-Dec. 14; and Robert Caisley's Kissing, about the aftermath of an illicit office kiss, Jan. 8-Feb. 8.  Williams' The Glass Menagerie will run Feb. 26-March 29, followed by the regional premiere of Theresa Rebeck's Broadway play Mauritius, about the battle over a rare stamp collection.

What this means is that instead of presenting eight plays, New Theatre is mixing its summertime classics and regular-season new works into a six-show lineup -- something managing director Eileen Suarez calls a "nouveau classic season."

The company is also trying to tackle funding issues with a campaign it calls "Act 10," seeking 1,000 people to donate $10 each.  Need info? Call 305-443-5909 or visit the website.