PLAYBILL PICKS: Anticipation! Playbill Contributors Share Titles They're Eager to See in Fall 2013
By Playbill Staff
Playbill editorial staffers put together individual lists of productions we're especially looking forward to seeing this fall in New York City and London. What are you eagerly awaiting?
Also check out our season previews below to see what's in store this fall.
Click through to read the Playbill.com staff picks.
MATT BLANK, Playbill.com Photo Editor
Big Fish (Broadway). What can I say? I love a big, ambitious new musical, and it doesn't hurt to have a great team behind it. I remember enjoying the movie a decade ago and am really interested to see how this top-notch cast makes that world come alive.
Little Miss Sunshine (Off-Broadway). I was a fan of the film of course, but I'm most personally interested because William Finn remains my favorite modern composer, hands-down. His work on "The Marvin Trilogy" and A New Brain played a big part in my youth and teens, and Elegies makes me feel so many feelings... often against my will. I couldn't be more thrilled to devour a new full-length score from the mind of Finn.
Miss Saigon (Regional and on Tour) What? I've loved Miss Saigon since seeing the 1998 Kristine Remigio/Steven Pasquale tour in San Francisco, and am lucky to be catching two new productions this fall. Heading down to Virginia's Signature Theatre this weekend to see a groundbreaking new "immersive" production in their intimate MAX space, then taking a trip to Hartford in a few weeks for a mini-tour with a stellar cast featuring the brilliant Manna Nichols, Charlie Brady and Orville Mendoza, who promises to be an unforgettable Engineer.
Parade (Regional). Sorry if I'm skewing regional but there are certain musicals that I will happily get on a plane to see. Parade is one of them and, luckily, this production only requires a Chinatown bus ride to Philly, where the Arden Theatre is staging the Jason Robert Brown work. They did an incredible job with Next to Normal, Sunday in the Park with George and Threepenny Opera, so I can't wait to see Parade in their capable hands. It features a cast of Philly's finest (Ben Dibble is born to play Leo Frank) and New York talent (Robi Hager taking on the role of Frankie Epps).
Honeymoon in Vegas (Pre-Broadway Regional Premiere). Speaking of Jason Robert Brown, I've been looking forward to seeing this show get on its feet for almost a decade. I attended a night of Brown's music in 2004 at the now-closed Le Jazz Au Bar, with my childhood friend Sara Morris. The second part of the night was a Songs for a New World original cast reunion; however, that's an entirely different story. The evening's first "Act" consisted of a variety of Brown's songs, new and old. He opened the show on piano with "The Old Red Hills of Home" and we were treated to such songs as "Mr. Hopalong Heartbreak" from Urban Cowboy (Jenn Colella) and "A Friend" from 13 (Krista Pioppi). But most memorable was Kerry Butler singing a brand-new tune written for Honeymoon called, "Anywhere But Here." It blew me away. Very much a JRB-styled "Somewhere That's Green." No idea if the song is still in there, and I hardly recall the movie, but I will be first in line at Paper Mill Playhouse.
MARK EZOVSKI, Playbill.com Video Content Producer
The Glass Menagerie (Broadway). This is one of my all-time favorite works for the stage. I've read the play many times throughout the years, seen multiple productions, and used a Tom Wingfield monologue as my early audition material – so I've lived with these characters for many years. With the soft touch of John Tiffany and a cast headed by Cherry Jones, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Zachary Quinto, it seems like a no-brainer that this is going to be a great production that delivers the complex shading of this great Tennessee Williams work.
Fetch Clay, Make Man (Off-Broadway). The New York Theatre Workshop's production focuses on the relationship between heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali (in my opinion one of the most fascinating and compelling figures of the 20th century) and Stepin Fetchit (born Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry), an African American actor widely disparaged for portraying lazy and shiftless characters. Set in the midst of the Civil Rights era, there's no doubt that director Des McAnuff will mine Will Power's play for compelling moments and messages.
Big Fish (Broadway). I always felt like the Tim Burton film would have been better suited to the stage. With Andrew Lippa (music and lyrics), John August (book and the film's screenplay) and Susan Stroman (director) on board, the creative end is in good hands. The casting of Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert creates a very dynamic version of the Bloom family. I think the actors are going to be able to match the energies of the characters in the film without duplicating them. This is going to be a fun show and I'm looking forward to seeing how the "larger than life" elements are employed.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Broadway). Jefferson Mays gets to strut his stuff as eight different characters in this Edwardian-era-set darkly comic musical. This production looks like a wonderfully enjoyable romp; it reminds me of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and The 39 Steps, two of my favorite shows in recent memory. The production design looks top notch and the Robert L. Freedman (lyrics) and Steven Lutvak (music) tunes are sardonic but very catchy.
Honeymoon in Vegas (Regional Pre-Broadway Premiere). Vegas? Multiple Elvises? What's not to like? Rob McClure and Tony Danza seem like a perfectly matched pair. Add the funky and personally revealing pop tunes of Jason Robert Brown and you have a musical with Broadway written all over it.
ANDREW GANS, Playbill.com Senior Editor
The Old Friends (Off-Broadway). Tony winner Betty Buckley's New York stage appearances are an all-too-rare treat, so the combination of Buckley's innumerable talents with a never-before-produced Horton Foote play, The Old Friends, is high on my list of "Great Expectations" for the fall season. Add Lois Smith and Hallie Foote to the company, and the Signature Theatre production is surely not to be missed.
Far Away Places (Carnegie Hall). Another of my very favorite artists, Patti LuPone, will take to the stage of Carnegie Hall—her third solo performance at the famed concert hall—in November. The evening will feature a two-act version of her latest concert act, Far Away Places. The one-act Places, which Tony and Olivier winner LuPone debuted to rave reviews at 54 Below, was completely thrilling, so my expectations are especially high for Carnegie Hall.
The Glass Menagerie (Broadway). The idea of Cherry Jones, one of the great stage actresses of our time, taking on the role of faded Southern belle Amanda Wingfield in the Tennessee Williams classic The Glass Menagerie is also an exciting prospect. Added to the mix are Broadway favorite Celia Keenan-Bolger as Laura, screen star Zachary Quinto as Tom and Tony-winning Once director John Tiffany.
The Snow Geese (Broadway). One of the more underrated (and the most compelling) dramas of the previous Broadway season was Sharr White's The Other Place, so I'm looking forward to this writer's newest offering, The Snow Geese, a Manhattan Theatre Club production that marks the Broadway return of stage and screen star Mary-Louise Parker. The cast also boasts Tony winners Victoria Clark and Danny Burstein under the direction of Daniel Sullivan.
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Broadway). One of the most tantalizing prospects on the new musicals front is the chance to see star-in-the-making Jessie Mueller play Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which will arrive on Broadway — following an out-of-town engagement at San Francisco's Curran Theatre — Nov. 21 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. Mueller, who made her Broadway debut opposite Harry Connick, Jr. in the 2011 revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, has also appeared in the Broadway productions of Nice Work If You Can Get It and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the New York Philharmonic mounting of Carousel and Shakespeare in the Park's staging of Into the Woods, but this high-profile musical could catapult the singing actress into a new stratosphere.
I'm also intrigued by three Off-Broadway musicals: the world premiere of Fun Home, by Tony nominees Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (book and lyrics), which begins Sept. 30 at the Public Theater with a cast led by Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris and Tony nominee Judy Kuhn; John Kander and Greg Pierce's The Landing, starring Tony and Emmy winner David Hyde Pierce and Julia Murney, which will begin Oct. 3 at the Vineyard under the direction of Tony winner Walter Bobbie; and the eagerly awaited William Finn-James Lapine musical Little Miss Sunshine, based on the quirky film of the same name, which begins previews Oct. 15 at Second Stage. The cast of theatre favorites includes Will Swenson, Stephanie J. Block, Josh Lamon, Rory O'Malley, David Rasche, Logan Rowland, Wesley Taylor and Hanna Rose Nordberg as Olive Hoover.
DAVID GEWIRTZMAN, Playbill Special Projects
Beautiful (Broadway). I don't really know much about Carole King or her music, but what I do know is that Jessie Mueller has never been less than sensational in anything I've seen her in since her smashing Broadway debut in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. I'd see Mueller in any show she happened to be doing on a New York stage, and since this is the show she's doing this season, I'm ready. I've already added King's "Tapestry" album to my music library to prepare.
Domesticated (Off-Broadway). I never really know what to expect from (Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright) Bruce Norris: sometimes it's a sprawling three-hour drama with a scene in which a spaceship holding enormous bee-aliens lands on stage, and sometimes it's Clybourne Park. This particular drama is about a couple (played by Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Goldblum) whose marriage is tested by a major scandal, so I'm guessing there won't be any aliens this time. But it's a pretty safe bet that this play will be shocking and funny and very entertaining.
The Last Two People On Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville (Off-Broadway). So there's this massive flood, and everyone on Earth dies except for two men who decide to chronicle the rise and fall of humanity through the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, R.E.M. and Queen (to name a few). And playing those last two men on Earth are Taylor Mac and Mandy Patinkin, as directed and choreographed by the ever-busy Susan Stroman. As Anna Russell would say, "I'm not making this up, you know." It all sounds a bit "The Twilight Zone," and a bit "WALL-E," and mostly just totally mad and brilliant, but how could a collaboration between Stroman, Patinkin and Mac be anything less than fascinating?
Regular Singing (Off-Broadway). For the past three years, each of Richard Nelson's Apple Family plays has been a highlight of its respective season, with the anticipation of the premiere of a new one as exciting to me as I'm sure the arrival of The Nutcracker or The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is to others. This year, alas, brings the last one in the series, but I have no doubt this final visit with the Apple family of Reinbeck, NY, will not let me down.
Richard II (Stratford/London/US Cinemas). Yes, New York is getting its fill of Shakespeare this season on Broadway and Off — mostly the ones that star characters named Romeo or Macbeth — but it's one happening across the pond at the RSC (and happily in American movie theatres, thanks to the recently announced "Live From Stratford-upon-Avon" series) that has me most excited. Though, to be honest, the play and playwright are beside the point here. It's the casting of David Tennant - the uber-talented actor who, though he's given acclaimed performances in recent years in stage productions of Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, is most well known as "The 10th Doctor" by legions of "Doctor Who" fans worldwide - that makes it a must-see.
MICHAEL GIOIA, Playbill.com Staff Writer
Wicked's Tenth Anniversary (Broadway). Ten years ago, in high school, I sat in the last row of the Gershwin Theatre to experience the magic that is Wicked on Broadway. I recently returned — this time in the first row — to see Lindsay Mendez take flight as Elphaba (and it was just as magical, if not more, experiencing the show as a 25 year old). The fact that the show is turning ten years old this year on Broadway — and that I have friends on stage at the Gershwin Theatre — is beyond exciting. I hope to be in the audience at Wicked's tenth anniversary for an evening that is sure to be a night to remember.
Big Fish (Broadway). I've been a huge fan of Andrew Lippa's since I discovered the cast album of The Wild Party. I can't stop playing Norbert Leo Butz's number "Fight the Dragons" from Big Fish and am looking forward to the spectacle that will be this new Broadway musical.
The Glass Menagerie (Broadway). After chatting with Cherry Jones and director John Tiffany at press day for The Glass Menagerie, I was sold. The production shots from the American Repertory Theater look incredible, and I'm very much looking forward to this re-envisioned classic. Tennessee Williams' writing is like no other, and Menagerie has always held a special place in my heart.
The Snow Geese (Broadway). My best friend and I are total fans of Mary-Louise Parker. After seeing her performance in Hedda Gabler, we are so there. Also, Sharr White is a brilliant playwright... The Other Place left me in shambles.
Little Miss Sunshine (Off-Broadway). The cast that Second Stage Theatre has assembled for Little Miss Sunshine — which is, first and foremost, an incredible movie — is bar none. I'm so looking forward to this new musical by William Finn and James Lapine.
ADAM HETRICK, Playbill.com Editor in Chief
Domesticated (Off-Broadway). Lincoln Center Theater has assembled an exciting cast for the latest work by Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park playwright Bruce Norris. I still can't get Laurie Metcalf's muscular performance last season in The Other Place out of my mind, so the chance to see Metcalf again on a New York stage opposite Jeff Goldblum makes this a must-see for me.
Fun Home (Off-Broadway). I'm a huge fan of Jeanine Tesori's Caroline, or Change, and I am excited to see how she and Well playwright Lisa Kron adapt Alison Bechdel's graphic novel for the stage. This was a hot ticket last season as part of the Public Lab (plus Hurricane Sandy blacked-out several performances) and I was unable to catch it. Throw in a cast that includes Judy Kuhn and Michael Cerveris, and Fun Home sounds like one of the most-promising and ambitious new musicals of the season.
The Snow Geese (Broadway). Having been a huge fan of Sharr White's The Other Place, I'm looking forward to finding out where he takes us in this new WWI-set drama that boasts Mary-Louise Parker, Danny Burstein and Victoria Clark.
The Glass Menagerie (Broadway). After John Tiffany's beautifully atmospheric staging of Once, I can't wait to catch his staging of Menagerie, which has the Wingfield apartment hovering over glimmering pools of black liquid. It doesn't hurt that Boston critics raved for the performances given by Cherry Jones, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Zachary Quinto, who return for the Broadway run.
Little Miss Sunshine (Off-Broadway). Falsettos collaborators William Finn and James Lapine are together again. Finn has a real musical/lyrical gift for capturing the neuroticism, dysfunction and heart that make his characters tick. It will be a thrill to watch Stephanie J. Block, Will Swenson and Rory O'Malley bring this family to life.
Also on my radar: the Foundry Theatre's much-raved about production of Good Person of Szechwan, staged by Lear deBessonet at the Public Theater with Taylor Mac, Annie Golden and Lisa Kron; the incomparable Mark Rylance doing double duty in Shakespeare's Globe all-male productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III; Fiona Shaw performing Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner at BAM; Beautiful: The Carole King Musical with Jessie Mueller as the Grammy-winning songwriter; John Kander's new musical The Landing, penned with Greg Pierce and starring David Hyde Pierce; and Ethan Coen's Women or Nothing, not only staged by David Cromer, but featuring two of my favorite actresses, Deborah Rush and Susan Pourfar.
CAREY PURCELL, Playbill.com Features Editor
Julius Caesar (Off-Broadway). I love seeing new approaches to Shakespeare, and an all-female cast of Julius Caesar definitely sounds intriguing. By setting the play in a prison, a new perspective is added to the struggle for power, and seeing a strictly female take on politics and deception will bring some new insight into this play that I can't wait to watch. Playing St. Ann's Warehouse.
Domesticated (Off-Broadway). A politician's marriage is put in danger by a scandal is a tale as old as time — and all too timely, right now — but with Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf playing the politician and wife, and a script by Bruce Norris, I think something new and different will be brought to life.
Waiting for Godot/No Man's Land (Broadway). I've never seen either of these plays performed live, and I could not be more excited to see them with this cast. The humor and intelligence that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen bring to each and every one of their performances is sure to be put to great use here.
The Snow Geese (Broadway). I was so moved by last season's The Other Place, also by Sharr White, and how he portrayed such an intimate and tragic story with so much compassion. His writing, combined with a cast that includes Mary-Louise Parker, Victoria Clark and Danny Burstein, adds up to a production that is sure to impress.
Old Friends (Off-Broadway). Horton Foote's plays never fail to entertain and inspire me. His way of approaching small-town troubles and using them to illuminate a bigger picture in such a gentle and loving way leaves me thinking about his plays long after I've left the theatre. And with a cast of leading ladies that include veterans Hallie Foote, Betty Buckley and Lois Smith, I'm confident Old Friends will continue Foote's winning streak.
MARK SHENTON, Playbill.com London Correspondent
While Broadway has a veritable feast of big Shakespeares (Romeo and Juliet with Orlando Bloom, Macbeth with Ethan Hawke and Britain's own and brilliant Anne-Marie Duff, and the Shakespeare's Globe double bill of Twelfth Night and Richard III, with Mark Rylance as Olivia and in the title role, respectively), London is not short of high-profile Shakespeares ahead, with stars that include Sheridan Smith and David Walliams (in A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Jude Law (in the title role of Henry V), all three of them in the latest productions from the Michael Grandage Company, plus Tom Hiddleston (in Coriolanus, at the Donmar Warehouse) and David Tennant (back with the RSC for the first time since his Hamlet, to star in the title role of Richard II at Stratford and then the Barbican).
But the one I'm most intrigued by is Vanessa Redgrave (who is 76) and James Earl Jones (82), reunited after their Broadway and West End runs in Driving Miss Daisy, playing the usually younger sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic, under the direction of Mark Rylance, previewing from Sept. 7 prior to an official opening Sept. 19. It could be a disaster, of course, but both actors are never less than watchable.
There are lots of big as well as smaller musicals ahead, including new ones from both Tim Rice (From Here to Eternity) and Andrew Lloyd Webber (Stephen Ward). What a pity they've not re-teamed together, though: Eternity has Rice providing lyrics to Stuart Brayson's music, while Lloyd Webber teams up with his Sunset Boulevard collaborators, playwright Christopher Hampton and lyricist Don Black. It previews from Dec. 3, prior to an official opening Dec. 19, at the Aldwych Theatre.
I'm also looking forward to the world premiere of American Psycho at the Almeida, with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik (who wrote the brilliant Spring Awakening) and book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, based, of course, on the novel of the same name by Brett Easton Ellis. It will be directed by Rupert Goold, in a production that was announced long before he was appointed as Michael Attenborough's successor as artistic director at the Almeida, so it will be fascinating to see this new chapter in the Almeida's life begin with a co-production with his former company Headlong. It previews from Dec. 3 prior to an official opening Dec. 12.
Another musical world premiere will see the Tori Amos-scored The Light Princess opening at the National – a rare new musical there where, under Nick Hytner's regime, only Jerry Springer – the Opera and London Road have premiered in the last decade. But both those shows pushed the musical in brand-new directions, so let's hope the same is true here. Marianne Elliott directs a cast that features Rosalie Craig, one of the best emerging musical theatre stars in the U.K.
Coming from New York, I can't wait to see Kander and Ebb's The Scottsboro Boys again – I saw it in both its original Off-Broadway and short-lived Broadway incarnations at the Vineyard and Lyceum Theatres, respectively, and Susan Stroman is reprising her directing and choreographic duties with several of the original New York cast, too, at the Young Vic (one of whom, Colman Domingo, is also reprising his own solo show A Boy and His Soul at Tricycle first). The Scottsboro Boys previews from Oct. 18 prior to opening Oct. 29.
On the plays front, another New York import of Nicky Silver's The Lyons to the Menier Chocolate Factory should be a hoot – I saw and loved it at Broadway's Cort Theatre, where it transferred from Off-Broadway's Vineyard, last year. Its original director Mark Brokaw directs a British cast led by Isla Blair. It previews from Sept. 19 prior to an official opening Sept. 26.
I can't wait to see Barry Humphries in his (allegedly farewell) tour of Eat, Pray, Laugh, in which he'll be Sir Les Patterson, Sandy Stone and, of course, Dame Edna, kicking off at Milton Keynes Theatre from Oct. 23, then visiting Cardiff and Edinburgh before arriving at the London Palladium in November.
ROBERT SIMONSON, Playbill Special Correspondent
The Glass Menagerie (Broadway). Yes, this Tennessee Williams classic has been revived too many times in recent years. But attention must be paid when one of the American theatre's greatest actresses—Cherry Jones—takes on one of the American theatre's greatest roles.
Twelfth Night and Richard III (Broadway). In the hands of actor Mark Rylance, Shakespeare become lucid and fresh. That the actor can do almost anything (comedy, drama, classics, new works, act without the aid of a mike, etc.) will be further illustrated by this repertory romp, in which he will play a man in one play (Richard III) and a woman in the other (Olivia in Twelfth Night).
Grasses of a Thousand Colors (Off-Broadway). Wallace Shawn is America's most tough-minded, unflinching playwright, taking long, hard looks at the heavy moral price we pay for the culture we enjoy. He produces a new play seldomly, making each one an event. He always writes the kind of play that keeps you talking about it for hours, days, weeks afterward—a rarity in today's theatre.
Scenes From Life in the Country (Off-Broadway). Richard Nelson's deeply felt, keenly observed Apple Family series has produced three of the more magical, wondrously naturalistic evenings of theatre of the past three seasons. On to number four.
How I Learned What I Learned (Off-Broadway). Over the past few seasons, actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson has proved himself this moment's preeminent August Wilson director. It's hard to imagine anyone else sitting in for the playwright himself in this autobiographical solo play written by Wilson.
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