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Joan Marcus, Associated Press
Tony Award-winning "Rent" will close its doors on Broadway June 1 and begin national tour in 2009.

Come with me, if you will, to the Big Apple. The theater district. It's my goal to not only keep you informed of all things theater in Salt Lake City but to make sure you have the best Broadway news, too.

Let's get going!

We're not gonna pay Rent! — But you might be willing to pay top dollar to catch the upcoming tour of the Tony Award-winning musical "Rent." Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal, the original Mark and Roger, have signed on to headline a national tour that starts in January 2009. The megahit musical is also set to close its doors on Broadway June 1.

Under the Sea — When was the last time a Broadway soundtrack debuted at No. 26 on the Billboard charts? Let's just say the Broadway cast recording of the new Disney musical, "The Little Mermaid," is the highest debut since "Rent" debuted at No. 19 in 1996. The soundtrack has your favorite tunes from the animated classic as well as 11 new songs (and boasts the fab vocals of Sherie Rene Scott).

Like Everyone Else — The Tony-nominated musical with the cult following, "Side Show," is hitting the stage again. This is great news for theater geeks who love singing along with Alice and Emily (the original Siamese twins ... actually they'd be called conjoined twins now). Roundabout Theatre Company will have a reading this spring. It's not a guarantee that they'll mount a full production of the reworked musical, but it's certainly a good sign.

Dimples on Broadway — He's referred to as "Dancing With the Stars" Mario Lopez, but I prefer to call him "Saved by the Bell" Mario Lopez. Lopez will be on the Great White Way. He'll be in "A Chorus Line," playing the role of Zach, the director. Personally, I think he's too young. When I see Lopez I just want to pinch his cheeks, put a baseball cap on his head and send him off with Screech and the gang.

Twitty? — Conway Twitty the musical? I'm not making this up. "It's Only Make Believe," billed as "The Man ... The Music ... The Legend," tells the story of Twitty through the eyes and heart of his children. The musical will go on a national tour. No word yet if it will be stopping in Salt Lake City, but keep your credit card handy.

Belting Butler — Perhaps you, like me, first fell in love with Kerry Butler as Penny Pingleton, the ditsy best friend in "Hairspray." She now lights up the stage wearing leg warmers and roller skates as the star of "Xanadu the Musical," and she's finally recording a solo album. "Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust" will be filled with songs from the Disney catalog. What took her so long? The album will be out in May.

Lastly — Next week we'll talk about "Happy Days the Musical." Truthfully, I wouldn't make this up.

E-mail: ehansen@desnews.com