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April 10, 2007

By David Lefkowitz

In the 21 years since its founding, off-Broadway's Manhattan Class Company...

In the 21 years since its founding, off-Broadway's Manhattan Class Company has done lots of things. It brought Frozen to Broadway, it gave New York the Pulitzer-winning Wit, it changed venues (from a theater on West 28th Street to its current tenancy at the Lucille Lortel), and it even changed names - to the more succinct "MCC Theater." What the theater company has never done, however, is produce a musical.

That changes in 2008, when MCC will premiere The Black Suits, a rock-n-roll tuner about the dreams of a Long Island garage band. Creators Joe Iconis and Robert Maddock are both NYU grads who've won individual Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Awards for new musical-theater artists.

In his bio for a March appearance at Joe's Pub, composer/lyricist Iconis wrote that he's "greatly inspired by Robert Altman movies, Dunkin Donuts coffee, and the viciously talented gang of actors/singers/musicians he frequently surrounds himself with." For his part, co-librettist Maddock writes on his website that he's "inspired by limericks, vintage comics, Almond Roca, and watching John Waters movies in the wee hours of the night."

The Black Suits (May 14-July 5, 2008) is the third entry in MCC's just-announced season, which will also include Spain (Jan. 23-March 8, 2008), a romantic comedy by playwright and musician Jim Knable; and Grace (Aug. 29-Oct. 20, 2007), a religion-themed drama by Britishers Mick Gordon and AC Grayling.

Closing MCC's current season will be In a Dark Dark House (May 16-June 23, 2007), the latest from Fat Pig and The Shape of Things scribe, Neil Labute. Also on the company's docket will be a presentation of monologues and playlets written and performed by New York City students. Titled "Uncensored," this sixth annual event runs April 12-14 at Baruch Performing Arts Center.