Van Der Beek Heads to New York Stage

02/21/2003 at 11:00 AM EST

Don't look for "Dawson's Creek" star James Van Der Beek at the unemployment office, despite his show going off the air this May.

The actor, 25, will be returning to his roots on the stage, appearing this spring in the new Off-Broadway play "Rain Dance," by "Burn This" and "Fifth of July" playwright Lanford Wilson, The New York Times reports.

The production will be from the Signature Theater Company. Van Der Beek, right before he became famous on the WB series, appeared in the 1994 Signature production of Edward Albee's "Finding the Sun." The drama marked his last appearance on the stage.

"In TV, you inevitably pick up some bad habits, especially playing the same character for six years," Van Der Beek tells The Times. "So I can't wait to break them."

He'll play a young scientist who's part of the team working to create the atomic bomb, says the paper. Previews of the play are scheduled to begin May 6.

Earlier this week, PEOPLE.com reported that "Dawson's Creek"'s creator, Kevin Williamson, will be returning to the show to handle the series' May 14 two-hour finale.

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