An occasional update of New York theater openings
* NIGHT AND HER STARS (Manhattan Theatre Club): Richard Greenberg's play is a victim of unfortunate timing, since its topic, the television quiz-show scandals of the 1950s, (specifically the case involving Charles Van Doren and ''21'') was recently portrayed to powerful effect in the film ''Quiz Show.'' But this play, which actually predates the film, is a well-written, engrossing account that resonates with superb dialogue. The cast, too, is excellent, with particularly effective performances from Peter Frechette as a manipulative television executive and Patrick Breen as the ill-fated Herb Stempel.
* 2 (Primary Stages Company): Romulus Linney's play deals with the final days of Hitler's No. 2 man, Hermann Goering, during his trial at Nuremberg. The play is concerned less with plot than with character, as we witness Goering's manipulations and self-serving justifications for his war crimes, both in his discussions with his captors, psychiatrist, and lawyer, and in his sparring with the Nuremberg prosecutors. As Goering, Clarence Felder delivers a strong portrayal, letting us see the cunning in the man as well as his self-aggrandizement. The production has been capably directed by Thomas Bullard, but the low-budget nature of the enterprise undercuts some of its effectiveness.
* WORD OF MOUTH
(Promenade Theatre) Mike Nichols and Elaine May are among the producers of this one-person show by James Lescene, which just won the Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performance. In a series of eight skits, with barely a costume change, this talented performer manages to portray a 30-ish Brooklyn man fascinated by radios; his hairdresser mother; an elderly widow living in Africa; a working class British man; a housewife named Shirley who wanders the globe in search of the Virgin Mary; and Trevor, a young gay man obsessed with Diana Ross. The writing isn't as interesting as the performances, but Lescene is definitely a talent on the rise.