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Replacement roundup: Sting and other stars dropping into Broadway shows

By David Cote
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The year is barreling to a close and 2015 is ready to begin and that means new actors taking over various roles. Some are big names meant to light up the box office; others are troupers stepping into well-established hits. See below for the fresh faces you should expect to see very soon.

Sting in The Last Ship
Despite earlier reports to the contrary, the beloved rocker (pictured above) steps into his own show, starting Dec 9. He will take over the role of hearty shipbuilding foreman Jackie White, currently played by Jimmy Nail.

Caroline Bowman and Kara Lindsay in Wicked
Which witch is which? Beginning Dec 16, two lovely ladies will face off in the verdant megahit. Bowman (national tour of Evita) plays Elphaba and Lindsay (Newsies) glitters gaily as Galinda.

Stacy Keach and Diana Rigg in Love Letters
A.R. Gurney’s un-staged reading of half a century of correspondence is meant to have regular cast turnover. Keach (Other Desert Cities) and Rigg (Game of Thrones) play friends and lovers from Dec 19 through Jan 9.

Anna Chlumsky and Richard Thomas in You Can’t Take It With You
If you’ve seen her work on HBO’s Veep, you know that Chlumsky has excellent comedy chops. As for Thomas, he reunites with You Can’t Take It’s James Earl Jones after 56 years. The two previously appeared in Sunrise at Campobello (1958), when Thomas was seven years old. They join the production on Jan 6.

Martin Short in It’s Only a Play
It will be hard to replace Nathan Lane in this heavily rewritten version of Terrence McNally’s show business comedy—especially since Lane is the best thing in it. But Short is no slouch in the laugh-getting department. We’ll see when he takes his first bow on Jan 7. Update: Just now it was announced that Tony Award-winner Katie Finneran and 30 Rock alum Maulik Pancholy will assume the roles of ditzy producer Julia Budder and enfant terrible director Frank Finger, respectively, also on Jan 7.

Off Broadway bonus: Ron Cephas Jones in Between Riverside and Crazy
Easily one of the best actors in New York City, Jones returns to a Stephen Adly Guirgis play for the first time since 2003’s Our Lady of 121st Street. This hasn’t officially been announced, but Jones broke the news on Facebook. He plays Junior when the play (which had its initial run this summer at Atlantic Theater Company) resurfaces at Second Stage Theatre, starting Jan 16.

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