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Curtain Rises on Chock-Full Broadway Season

From glittery musicals to renowned dramas, shows with many famous faces will open through early 1998

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In a true embarrassment of riches, Broadway has so many shows on tap for the fall season that producers aren't sure where they'll put all the goodies.

Big-budget musicals and smaller-scale comedies and dramas will be elbowing one another for space on a limited number of desirable stages. Most of the competitors will find their way to opening night one way or another, but audiences and reviewers will have a challenge keeping up.

So will theatergoers outside New York, when the most-praised offerings start spinning off touring editions and regional productions.

Musicals may garner most of the attention, partly because they remain widely popular, and also because they represent the most crowded category. As counted by Variety, the entertainment trade paper, no fewer than nine will have arrived by the first weeks of 1998, which is more than the past two fall seasons put together.

Some will aim for impact through costly production values and fancy effects - nobody expects "The Lion King," said to be bankrolled at more than $12 million, to earn points for modesty - while others may tone down their trappings in order to distinguish themselves from the glitz-and-glitter shows.

Offerings will also seek attention via major names on the marquee. These range from performers like Betty Buckley and F. Murray Abraham, teaming up for "Triumph of Love," to composer Paul Simon and Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott, who hope "The Capeman" will be a socially conscious hit.

Almost as many nonmusicals are expected during the autumn months, with additional famous faces in the spotlight - Kevin Kline in "Ivanov" should lend class to the season - and even more in the titles, as plays like "The Diary of Anne Frank" and "Jackie: An American Life" raise their curtains. Many major playwrights will also be represented, as when Neil Simon unveils his new "Proposals" and Arthur Miller revives his 1955 stunner, "A View From the Bridge."

Attractions receiving the most advance attention include these, listed with their expected opening dates:

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