Can it really be that Labor Day has come and gone already!? The bad news is that summer is over (practically, if not by the calendar). The good news is that with the fall comes a full supply of new shows - plays and musicals - to get excited about.
As usual, before I look forward, I like to look back, and all things considered, the summer was pretty eventful, what with a major theatre festival and three new shows opening on Broadway. Of course, one of those new Broadway shows has already closed, and one is really struggling. But at least I managed to see everything I planned to. Here are the results: Far from Heaven (B), First Date (C+/B-), Soul Doctor (D-), and the two NYMF shows I saw, Crossing Swords (A) and Bend in the Road (A-). So, the average of the summer is a B-. And I have to admit, that with some distance, I really enjoyed First Date more than I originally thought. Is it going to be a classic Broadway musical? Probably not. But it is a fun, smart time, and these days that's not a bad thing.
So, now let's look forward to the fall, and the shows I'm looking forward to with some interest that are opening during September, October and November.
- The Glass Menagerie - On Broadway at the Booth Theatre: I am very excited about this production of one of my ALL TIME favorite plays. The cast features four of my favorite actors - Cherry Jones was so amazing in Doubt, and I love pretty much everything about Celia Keenan-Bolger, including both of her terrific turns last year in Peter and the Starcatcher and Merrily We Roll Along; Brian J. Smith is mesmerizing on screen (if you haven't seen The War Boys, you need to) and I look forward to seeing how that natural charisma translates to the stage (and he got great notices for his part in MTC's Come Back, Little Sheba), and an actor whose range is amazing and a man I greatly admire, Zachary Quinto is playing Tom. And I am looking forward to seeing what director John Tiffany brings out in this production. (Seeing it on October...)
- A Time to Kill - On Broadway at the Golden Theatre: When I'm not at shows or devouring everything in print about theatre, you'll find me with my nose buried in political/legal thrillers. And ever since I read John Grisham's first novel, I've been hooked on his books. Well, now that very book is a Broadway play, written by one of my favorite playwrights, Rupert Holmes, and it stars a cast full of actors whose work I have collectively admired for years. I imagine a very intense night of theatre... (Seeing it in November...)
- Twelfth Night - On Broadway at the Belasco Theatre: Considering just how much Shakespeare is coming our way this season, I figure at least ONE of the productions should make the list. I am not a huge fan of Richard III and I am just in need of a rest from Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. But Twelfth Night is one of my absolutely favorite Shakespearean comedies, and I haven't seen it in some time. Plus it helps that the great Mark Rylance is in the lead, and it will be an experience no matter what, as the show will be done "in the Elizabethan tradition." Is there anything more deliciously theatrical than that? (November or December...)
ALSO ON MY RADAR:
- Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play - Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons: I'm not a fan of The Simpsons. But I am intrigued...
- Big Fish - On Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre: I am shocked (and just a wee bit concerned) at how low key this show's entrance on Broadway has been. I mean does anyone know that the show starts previews on Thursday? Is anyone talking about it? On paper, at least, this should be the talk of the town. I mean, Susan Stroman is at the helm, and Andrew Lippa is providing both the music and the lyrics. And the always reliable, entertaining and intriguing Norbert Leo Butz stars, along with critical and audience darlings Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert. Of course, those are all reasons to maybe not hype things so much, too. Stroman's last effort, the brilliant The Scottsboro Boys was a resounding flop, Butz hasn't been in a hit since Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and both Baldwin and Steggert are stars in search of their first big hit, too. I'm 50-50 on Lippa myself, being in the minority of those who yawn at his Wild Party, while finding his Addams Family a constant source of guilty pleasure. I am definitely looking forward to this one, though. (Seeing it in October...)
- After Midnight - On Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre: I am putting this one on the list because it is a major show, but if I am going to completely honest, almost nothing about this interests me. I am not a fan of Fantasia (her work ethic is appalling), I find Duke Ellington's work pleasant, but not nearly as interesting as others of his contemporaries, and I am not, generally, all that interested in the whole "Cotton Club" recreation thing, either. I am slightly interested in seeing what director-choreographer Warren Carlyle does with this, and I like actor Dule Hill. Truly, the biggest thing this has going for it in my mind is The Lincoln Center Jazz Band. But who knows? I really loved Ain't Misbehavin' and Black and Blue and went into both expecting very little. (November or December...)
- Little Miss Sunshine - Off-Broadway at Second Stage: This is probably the show I am most looking forward to of the whole season. It is based on one of my all-time favorite films, and features a cast made up entirely of actors I like very very much, including Will Chase, Stephanie J. Block, Rory O'Malley, Wesley Taylor and Josh Lamon. Plus it has a new score by the always interesting William Finn and book and direction by James Lapine. (I'm willing to forgive Annie...) (Seeing it in November...)
- A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder - On Broadway at the Walter Kerr: This show is either going to be one I love or hate. Why? Because it sounds like a cross between two of my favorite shows ever - The Mystery of Edwin Drood and One Man, Two Guvnors. And if it doesn't satisfy me like the other two, or it doesn't being something really fresh to the table, I'll be disappointed. It does have two actors in it that I really admire, Bryce Pinkham, who I have loved in both of his two biggest shows to date (Ghost and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and the amazing Jefferson Mays, who cold have a tour-de-force role on his hands with this one. (Seeing in November...)
ALSO ON MY RADAR:
- A Night with Janis Joplin -On Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre: Like Let It Be, I will go to this one only on a need to see basis, for completion only. I have ZERO interest in this. I have yet to really enjoy any concert recreation shows, and (no disrespect to the late Ms. Joplin) I hate the music. I can scream off key with passion for much less than Broadway prices myself. Like I said, only if I have to...
What shows are you looking forward to this fall? Write in: email@example.com or comment below or Tweet including @jkstheatrescene .