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From Cat to Bat Boy

Chris Coleman starts his fourth season as artistic director at Portland Center Stage by adding another show to the next season.

Among shows announced Monday are a couple of pocket-sized productions bound for the 288-seat Winningstad Theatre, a fantasy musical, a modern 'Merchant of Venice' and the Tennessee Williams' classic 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.' Other productions take place in the Newmark Theatre.

'The Santaland Diaries' returns for Christmas, and there's also '36 Views,' a promising new work by Naomi Iizuka.

Coleman said Monday that annual subscriptions to Center Stage have regained the 8,000 mark. They have topped 11,000 in the past.

The 2003-2004 schedule:

• 'Topdog/Underdog,' by Suzan-Lori Parks. This is a Pulitzer Prize winner about two lowlife brothers obsessed with a card game. Sept. 23-Nov. 8, Winningstad Theatre.

• 'Bat Boy: The Musical,' by Keythe Farley, Brian Flemming and Laurence O'Keefe. An alien child disrupts a family. Oct. 28-Nov. 23.

• 'The Santaland Diaries,' by David Sedaris, and 'A Christmas Memory,' by Truman Capote. Actor Steve Wilkerson reprises successes in both. Dec. 2-Dec. 23.

• 'The Merchant of Venice,' by William Shakespeare. Hungarian hot shot Robert Alfoldi directs a modern version in his U.S. debut. Jan. 13-Feb. 1.

• '36 Views,' by Naomi Iizuka. Art hunters in Southeast Asia discover an important Japanese pillow book that might be fake. Feb. 10-Feb. 29.

• 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,' by Tennessee Williams. Coleman directs Williams' best play, about the ultimate dysfunctional Southern family. March 9-April 4.

• 'Fully Committed,' by Becky Mode. Mark Setlock repeats his off-Broadway hit role as a reservations clerk at New York's ritziest restaurant. April 13-May 30, Winningstad Theatre.

Center stage subscriptions are $56-$322. Renewals on sale through March 31; new subscriptions from June 2. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 1. Call 503-274-6588.