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New Zagat Book Rates NY Theater Productions

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Theatergoers can buy some word-of-mouth about which Broadway shows are hot and which are not with the "NYC Theater Guide," which made its debut in bookstores on Monday.

The folks that brought hungry New Yorkers the Zagat Survey of restaurants have turned their spotlight on the theater with a slender purple volume that rates 56 productions on acting, story and production based on a survey of 8,625 people.

The guide, priced at $9.95, rates Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and will be published three times each year to update the roster of shows that are playing.

Maps of the theater district and seating charts for the theaters are included, as is a ratings list of restaurants and nightclubs in the area.

Shows, also referenced by genre, get an overall rating, which in the debut volume lists musicals "Hairspray" and "The Producers" at the top with a 95 percent approval, one notch better than "Cabaret," and "The Lion King."

Thumbnail descriptions of the shows also include comments from those surveyed.

For "Stomp," a long-running Off-Broadway show about creating dance rhythm and percussion from unusual props, comments range from "great for kids," to "bring earplugs."

For the new hit drama "Take Me Out," about a baseball star who reveals he is gay, theatergoers are told that overall it's a "home run," though its "full-frontal" shower scenes might suggest it's for "mature audiences."

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