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'Producers' will be new theater's first play

  • Hairspray, Sept. 9-21, Mechanic. Adapted from John Waters' 1988 movie, the musical focuses on a rotund, socially conscious Bawlamer teen named Tracy Turnblad, who wins a coveted spot on a local 1960s TV dance show. "I can't wait for Baltimoreans to experience this celebration of their city. How fitting it is to bring it all home," said the musical's Baltimore-born producer, Margo Lion, who will be honored by Mayor Martin O'Malley today. Bruce Vilanch is expected to star as Tracy's mom.

  • A Night with Dame Edna, The Show That Cares, Oct. 21-Nov. 2, Mechanic. Created and performed by Australian Barry Humphries, Dame Edna Everage comes to Baltimore for the first time. Known for localizing the show (winner of a 2000 special event Tony Award), Humphries' outrageous, rhinestone-bespectacled alter ego will undoubtedly have some colorful things to say about Charm City.

  • The Exonerated, Nov. 11-23, Mechanic. Jessica Bank and Erik Jensen created this documentary work from court testimony and verbatim interviews with former death-row inmates. Presented as a staged reading, the off-Broadway show continues to attract celebrity performers; casting for Baltimore is yet to be announced.

  • The Graduate, Jan. 6-18, Mechanic. Terry Johnson's stage version of the classic 1967 movie about a recent college graduate and a seductive older woman broke box-office records at the Mechanic when it played a pre-Broadway engagement there last season. After finding more box-office gold on Broadway, the play is going on tour; no word on who will shed the towel worn by Anne Bancroft on film and Kathleen Turner in the original stage incarnation.

  • The Producers, Feb. 10-March 14, Hippodrome. One reason for renovating the Hippodrome was to be able to bring in large-scale shows that wouldn't fit in any other local venue. This record-breaking, 12 Tony Award-winning musical is an example. Its run will be the longest Baltimore has seen since Rent played a five-week engagement at the Mechanic in 1998.

  • Les Miserables, April 13-25, Hippodrome. Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel played the Mechanic six times. Chowning justifies bringing it back by saying that, with the Broadway production scheduled to close in May, this could be the last chance to see the show in its full glory."

  • Mamma Mia!, May 11-30, Hippodrome. Playwright Catherine Johnson tucks nearly two dozen ABBA songs - from the title number to "Dancing Queen" - into this tale of a soon-to-be-married young woman's search for the father she never knew. Though the story is small, the production is not. "This is another example of a type of show that couldn't play Baltimore if it weren't for this theater," Chowning said.

    Subscriptions to the seven-show season cost $204-$602. For more information, call 800-343- 3103 or visit www.broadway acrossamerica.com/baltimore.

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