In New York, the change of the seasons marks an annual cleansing of the theatrical palette, too. On Broadway, shows that make it past arrival of the summer with the Tony Awards in early June (which annually brings its own prompt casualties) might carry on through it to capitalise on the tourist season, but disappear by the Labor Day weekend (the first Monday of September, that marks the official end of the summer).
That’s indeed the case this year, with departures in the last few weeks for Anything Goes, Memphis, End of the Rainbow and Ghost now being followed this weekend with a farewell to Sister Act, closing August 26, before launching a North American tour in Toronto in October.
But no sooner do those depart than shows are lining up to take their places.
- Previews just began on Tuesday night (August 21) for Chaplin, a new musical at Broadway’s Barrymore Theatre about the life and times of the late English born film star, not to be confused with the musical of the same name that was aborted en route to Broadway in the 80s (and coincidentally recently had its London premiere in a production by students at the Guildhall School of Music last month).
- That’s not, in fact, the first musical of the new season: this summer saw the arrival of the touring cheerleader musical Bring It On to the St James Theatre, where it opened officially August 1 and was due to run to October 7, but has now extended booking through January 20 next year.
- There are a couple of more new musicals also lining up for the autumn. The long-gestating Rebecca, first seen in Vienna in 2006 where it ran for three years, was originally due to come to London’s Shaftesbury Theatre last year but then was announced instead for Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre in April and subsequently postponed when financing couldn’t be put in place in time; it is now finally scheduled to begin performances there October 30, prior to an official opening November 18.
- Then there’s Scandalous, subtitled The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson, which tells the tale of the real-life evangelist of the same name, and I hope won’t be a trial when it comes to the Neil Simon Theatre, beginning previews October 13 prior to an official opening Nov. 15. Featuring book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford, best known for her years as a morning TV chatshow host, and music by David Friedman and David Pomeranz, the cast will include the wonderful Carolee Carmello as McPherson. (It was previously produced at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre in 2011, when it was called Saving Aimee.)
- There are also a couple of Christmas musicals scheduled: the return of Elf to the Hirschfeld, where it was previously seen last Christmas, from November 9; and a new stage version of A Christmas Story, coming to the Lunt-Fontanne from November 5, prior to an official opening November 19.
Musical Revivals (and Matilda)
- On the revivals front, Roundabout are producing a return for Rupert Holmes’s 1985 Tony winning musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood, based on the unfinished Dickens novel, running at Studio 54 from October 19 prior to an official opening November 13, with a cast that will include Chita Rivera, Jim Norton, Stephanie J Block and Will Chase.
- The other big autumn musical opening is a new production of Annie, at the Palace from Oct. 3 prior to an official opening November 8, directed by James Lapine and starring Katie Finneran as Mrs Hannigan and Australia’s Anthony Warlow reprising his recent Oz run as Daddy Warbucks.
- It therefore steals a march on the moppet musical front on next year’s scheduled arrival of the RSC musical Matilda (booked to begin performances at the Shubert Theatre on March 4, prior to an official opening April 11).
- And yet a third family musical on he horizon is a new stage version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s TV musical Cinderella, heading to the Broadway Theatre from Jan. 21, prior to an official opening Feb. 21.
- Though next spring’s musicals are yet to fully be put into place, also already announced is a musical version of the 2005 British film Kinky Boots, featuring a book by Harvey Fierstein and a score by Cyndi Lauper, which will begin previews at the Hirschfeld Theatre on March 5, 2013, prior to an official opening scheduled for April 4, 2013. Prior to Broadway, it will play an out-of-town try-out in Chicago from October 4 to November 2.
On the Broadway plays front, a busy autumn will include a slew of revivals. These are:
- Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J Friedman Theatre from September 4 prior to an official opening September 27, with a cast that includes Richard Thomas, Boyd Gaines and Michael Siberry.
- Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac (Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre from September 14, prior to an official opening October 11, with British director Jamie Lloyd making his Broadway directorial debut and Douglas Hodge, a Tony winner for La Cage Aux Folles, returning to Broadway in the title role.
- Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (coming to the Booth Theatre from September 27, prior to an official opening October 13, in a production first seen at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, starring Tracy Letts and Amy Morton.
- Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s The Heiress (to be revived at the Walter Kerr Theatre from October 7, prior to an official opening November 1, with a cast that includes Jessica Chastain and Downtown Abbey’s Dan Stevens.
- David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross (at the Schoenfeld from October 16, prior to an official opening November 11, with Al Pacino and Bobby Cannavale in the cast).
- Cifford Odets’ Golden Boy (at the Belasco from November 8, prior to an official opening December 6.
There are also a series of new plays, including:
- Craig Wright’s Grace (Cort Theatre from September 13, prior to an official opening October 4), with a cast that includes Paul Rudd and Edward Asner.
- David West Read’s The Performers (Longacre Theatre from October 23, prior to an official opening November 14), with a cast that includes Henry Winkler and Cheyenne Jackson in a comedy set in the world of the adult sex film industry.
- Theresa Rebeck’s Dead Accounts (Music Box from November 3, prior to an official opening November 29), in which Katie Holmes makes her first post-Tom Cruise break for a new artistic beginning, starring in a dark comedy opposite Broadway favourite Norbert Leo Butz.
- David Mamet’s The Anarchist (John Golden, from November 13, prior to an official opening December 2), starring Patti LuPone and Debra Winger as a long-time prison inmate and warden respectively.
- Sharr White’s The Other Place (Samuel J Friedman from December 11, prior to an official opening January 10), with the wonderful Laurie Metcalf, who has just finished a West End run in Long Day’s Journey into Night, starring in Joe Mantello’s production.
- Previews begin tomorrow (August 24) for the New York premiere of Nick Payne’s [If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet], prior to an official opening September 20. Originally produced at the Bush in 2009, it is now to be seen in a new production at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre, in a production that features Jake Gyllenhaal in his American stage debut. (London saw him ten years ago when he starred in the West End premiere of Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth at the Garrick Theatre).
- Already in preview prior to an official opening September 6 at the 47th Theatre is the latest incarnation of Forbidden Broadway, the long-running satirical revue about Broadway that has been on an extended hiatus.
- I’m also particularly looking forward to the New York premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’s musical version of Edna Ferber’s novel Giant, best known for the James Dean film of the same name, that begins performances at the Public Theatre from October 26; a new production of the musical Working, based on Studs Terkel’s book, at 59E59 Theatre from December 1; and a new New York outing for Sondheim and Lapine’s Passion, starring Judy Kuhn and Melissa Errico, in February 2013.
- Before Patti LuPone stars in the new David Mamet play (see above), she returns to 54 Below, the new venue below Studio 54, to reprise her solo cabaret from September 18-22.
- Also at 54 Below, Anne Hampton Callaway, one of my all-time cabaret favourites, will appear September 25-29; while her kid sister Liz will appear there November 7-10. Full schedule can be found here.
- Betty Buckley, who is due in London next year to star in the UK premiere of Jerry Herman’s Dear World at Charing Cross Theatre, will be at Feinstein’s at the Regency from October 2-27.
Beyond New York
I’m also looking forward to the US premiere of Howard Goodall’s Love Story at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre from September 4 to October 21; and Diane Paulus taking a fresh look at Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin from December 5 to January 20 at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass.
I expect to be in New York a number of times between now and Christmas, so will be reporting on these and more in the months to come.