The Season in Theater

Photo: Courtesy of BC Studios (Little Miss Sunshine); Jim Cox (Janis Joplin); Courtesy of O and M Co (Fantasia); Paul Kolnik (Big Fish); Courtesy of the Hartman Group (Romeo and Juliet); Mark Seliger (Danner); Nathan Johnson (Mueller)



Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare’s lusty teens haven’t been on Broadway in almost four decades. They’re back in this Bard-heavy season (see Scott Brown’s picks on page 106), and this production stands out for Condola Rashad, rapidly becoming a major stage star. Orlando Bloom plays her star-crossed love. Richard Rodgers Theatre; in previews now, opening Sept. 19.

Big Fish
Yes, it’s another screen-to-stage adaptation—but one from an inherently theatrical story. Plus, it’s got Susan Stroman at the helm and a dream leading trio in Kate Baldwin, Bobby Steggert, and the infallible Norbert Leo Butz. Neil Simon Theatre; in previews Sept. 5, opening Oct. 6.

A Night With Janis Joplin
More of a concert than a traditional musical, with a leading performance-impersonation-tribute by Mary Bridget Davies that is, by all advance reports, incendiary. Lyceum Theatre; in previews Sept. 20, opening Oct. 10.

The Winslow Boy
Michael Cumpsty, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Alessandro Nivola, and Roger Rees star in Terence Rattigan’s rarely seen drama about the unforeseen consequences of a son’s expulsion from school. American Airlines Theatre; in previews Sept. 20, opening Oct. 17.

A Time to Kill
John Grisham’s wildly popular courtroom drama about a racially divided small town in Mississippi makes it to Broadway, with Tom Skerritt and former Law & Order D.A. (and real-life presidential candidate) Fred Dalton Thompson. Golden Theatre; in previews Sept. 28, opening Oct. 20.


Fetch Clay, Make Man
Will Power, whose plays ride the line between speech and rap, finds an ideal topic: Muhammad Ali’s real-life friendship with Stepin Fetchit. New York Theatre Workshop; in previews now, opening Sept. 12.

Women or Nothing
Ethan “Half of the Coen Brothers” Coen has been dabbling in one-acts for a few years; his first full-length play, directed by David Cromer, is about two lesbians so desperate to have a baby that one of them is willing to sleep with a man. Atlantic Theater Company; in previews Aug. 28, opening Sept. 16.

Even in a Public season that also includes the return of Mike Daisey and Richard Nelson’s fourth Apple Family play, Arguendo, from the sui generis Elevator Repair Service company, stands out. Drawn from the text of the 1991 Supreme Court case Barnes v. Glen Theatre—a challenge to a ban on public nudity—it’s billed as a “playful riff,” but expect more than light burlesque. Public Theater, Sept. 10–Oct. 6.

The Film Society
Following the success of Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities, the Keen Company is reviving this early play, set in a boys’ school in seventies South Africa. The excellent Euan Morton stars. Clurman Theatre; in previews Sept. 10, opening Oct. 1.



After Midnight
This revue—formerly called Cotton Club Parade—has picked up a new name and will be taking its large cast, unbeatable Duke Ellington arrangements, and seventeen-piece band cherry-picked by Wynton Marsalis to Broadway. It’ll feature stars for limited engagements, starting off with the American Idol and Color Purple veteran Fantasia. Brooks Atkinson Theatre; in previews Oct. 18, opening Nov. 3.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Another bit of British murder and mayhem, in the frock-coat tradition of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The key attraction in this new musical is multiple-role maestro Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife), who’ll be playing each of the eight relatives that stand between one man and his large inheritance. Walter Kerr Theatre; in previews Oct. 22, opening Nov. 17.

Ethan Hawke’s small-scale star turn, right on the blood-spattered heels of Alan Cumming’s. Jack O’Brien directs. Vivian Beaumont Theater; in previews Oct. 24, opening Nov. 21.

Waiting for Godot/No Man’s Land
A stone’s throw from the Mark Rylance double-Shakespeare-in-rep performance, the X-Men are touching down with a similar twofer: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, playing the leads in Beckett and Pinter. It’s the kind of super-duper casting exercise where you might not even notice that the other two actors, Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley, are pretty damn accomplished themselves. Cort Theatre; in previews Oct. 26; opens Nov. 24.


The Hawke Macbeth is sure to get lots of attention, but we’re more excited for what’s just downstairs: the new play from Clybourne Park’s Bruce Norris, starring Jeff Goldblum and the always mind-blowing Laurie Metcalf. This time, instead of addressing race, Norris takes a hard look at gender. Lincoln Center Theater/Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater; in previews Oct. 10, opening Nov. 4.

Little Miss Sunshine
The sweet indie film, a surprise hit in 2006, is being adapted by director and book writer James Lapine and the wry composer-lyricist William Finn, from whom we haven’t seen a new score since The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Second Stage Theatre; in previews Oct. 15, opening mid-November.

Good Person of Szechwan
The Foundry Theatre’s revival of this Brecht play, which premiered at La MaMa in February, graduates to a bigger stage at the Public. It’s got indie-rock tunes and a nifty cardboard set, but the main attraction is Taylor Mac, who has achieved must-see status.Public Theater; in previews Oct. 18, opening Oct. 29.

The Commons of Pensacola
The world premiere of actress Amanda Peet’s play, with echoes of Blue Jasmine and the Madoff scandal, about a woman who trades her luxurious New York life for a one-bedroom condo in Florida after her husband’s Wall Street scam blows up. Look for Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker to create a buzz with their fraught mother-daughter dynamic. New York City Center–Stage 1; in previews Oct. 22, opening Nov. 21.

How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them
The young actress-playwright Halley Feiffer is, like her The Squid and the Whale co-star Jesse Eisenberg, getting her first produced play onstage at the Rattlestick. The script examines the unhealthy co-dependent friendship of three troubled girls. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater; in previews Oct. 23, opening Nov. 7.



Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
How Brooklyn’s Carol Klein became everyone’s favorite Brill Building tapestry-spinner. Starring Jessie Mueller. Stephen Sondheim Theatre; in previews Nov. 21, opening Jan. 12.


All That Fall
Who knew Samuel Beckett did radio? First aired on the BBC in 1957, this play will come onstage with Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon leading a cast of nine. Trevor Nunn directs. 59E59 Theaters; in previews Nov. 5, opening Nov. 12.

The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence
What do Sherlock Holmes’s sidekick, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone-inventing partner, IBM’s Jeopardy!-winning computer, and a lovelorn techno-dweeb have in common? Find out in Madeleine George’s time-jumping tribute to all four Watsons. Playwrights Horizons; in previews Nov. 17, opening Dec. 9.

La Belle et la Bête
Even on BAM’s reliably excellent Next Wave Festival bill, this one stands out: a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that not only updates the story but has the actors interacting with projected imagery (a ghostly horse, a shattered mirror). BAM; Nov. 21–23.

How I Learned What I Learned
The New York premiere of a one-man autobiographical show by August Wilson, theater’s preeminent documentarian of African-American life. His longtime collaborator Ruben Santiago-Hudson stars. Signature Theatre Company; opens Nov. 24.

The Season in Theater