An occasional update of New York theater openings

* NIGHT SEASONS (Signature Theatre Company): The New York premiere of Horton Foote's play, directed by the author, is the second entry in the Signature's season devoted entirely to the playwright. It is a moving tale chronicling a prosperous Texas family over 40 years, and relating the devastating effects of a matriarch's selfishness and pettiness upon her daughter. Like most Foote plays, ``Night Season'' works because of its quiet and steady accumulation of details. But this one also has more ambitious themes than usual. It is beautifully acted by a large cast, including Jean Stapleton and Hallie Foote, the playwright's daughter.

* UNSUNG MUSICALS (Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse): One of the highlights of the musical-theater season so far. This was the first in a series of AIDS benefit concerts, inspired by the record label Varese Sarabande's outstanding new theater recordings. It was devoted to songs from unrecorded Broadway shows, as performed by a host of theater veterans, including Christine Baranski, Crista Moore, Laurie Beechman, Jason Graae, Lynne Wintersteller, Liz Callaway, and Page O'Hara, among others. Hosted by Karen Ziemba and Harry Groener (costars of ``Crazy For You''), it was an evening of musical delights. The next concert, scheduled for January, will be an evening devoted to songs on the disc ``Lost in Boston.''

* PUBLIC ENEMY (Irish Arts Center): The North American premiere of a play by Kenneth Branagh. Branagh originally starred in the play, and one can imagine his delight in creating this vehicle for himself. Set in strife-torn Belfast, it tells of Tommy Black, a young man obsessed with Jimmy Cagney. When Tommy begins to relate too strongly to Cagney as ``The Public Enemy,'' rather than as a song-and-dance man, he impulsively murders a shopkeeper, and winds up being hunted by both the authorities and the Irish Republican Army. The play is mostly effective as a showcase for its impressive leading man, actor Paul Ronan.

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