Fall Revue

Your comprehensive guide to Broadway’s most exciting productions

Wicked

 

Autumn in New York City is a magical time. Summer’s blistering heat gives way to the advent of the fall season bringing with it cooler temperatures, extra layers of clothing, and shorter days. And yet amongst the slight chill in the air there is a palpable warmth amongst the streets of the city, as leaves turn into brilliant reds and golds and New Yorkers and visitors alike bundle up for the coming winter months. A stroll in Central Park met with goldenrod light, a hot chocolate or spiced cider can be a perfect precursor to a night out on the town. Theatre goers can cozy up to an exciting fall season which sees a thrilling line up of beloved classics and vibrant revivals, exciting new works, Broadway debuts of some of Hollywood’s brightest stars, and of course cherished holiday favorites that usher in the month of December with sentiment and cheer.

Broadway Classics

An instant hit when it premiered in 2005 nabbing the Tony Award for Best Musical, Jersey Boys is a crowd pleasing modern musical classic. The energetic show is the rags to riches story behind the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons featuring some of their greatest hits including “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” Following the blue-collar singing group’s meteoric rise to pop-rock stardom from its humble beginnings singing on the street corners of Newark, the show captures all the highs and lows, triumphs and dramas of the music world while capturing the spirit of the American dream. Amid all the fame and fortune and along with the group’s signature harmonies come tempestuous love affairs and run-ins with the mafia. This Tony Award winning hit has inspired countless productions worldwide and was also adapted into a hit film by Clint Eastwood. (August Wilson Theatre, 245 W 52nd St.)

Inspired by the beloved Disney animated film, Julie Taymor’s groundbreaking and highly theatrical take on The Lion King has become a classic in its own right. The imaginative Broadway production continues to thrill audiences with it’s use of puppetry and other astounding special effects. At its heart, however, it is the powerful story of redemption that keeps audiences coming back. The Lion King follows the adventures of Simba, a young lion prince who must overcome his painful past to become king of the African Serengeti. Elton John’s award winning and emotional score featuring the songs “The Circle of Life,” “Hakuna Matata,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” are given new life fused with traditional African orchestrations. Taymor’s visionary artistry makes this a Tony Award winning theatrical event that continues to inspire audiences worldwide with its tale of family and the triumph of hope over despair. (Minskoff Theatre, 200 W. 45th St.)

There is perhaps no greater example of a classic Broadway experience than Andrew Lloyd Weber’s thrilling musical The Phantom of the Opera which recently celebrated it’s 25th anniversary of enthralling audiences on the New York stage. Set in Paris near the turn of the century, this soaring love story inspired by Gaston Leroux’s novel whisks audiences on a haunting journey through the lavish Opera Populaire, from its opulent grand staircase and sparkling chandelier to the mysterious world beneath its stage. The musical tells the story of the burgeoning opera diva Christine Daae whose love for the dashing Raoul Vicomte de Chagny is threatened by her enigmatic tutor, the infamous Phantom of the Opera. With a sumptuous score featuring the celebrated songs “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask of You,” and “Masquerade,” The Phantom of the Opera is a luscious feast for the eyes and ears sure to satisfy any audience member looking to be swept up by the magic of live theatre. (The Majestic Theatre, 247 W. 44th St.)

Not unlike Phantom of the Opera, the musical Wicked instantly endeared itself to Broadway audiences when it first premiered over ten years ago with it’s unstoppable combination of  bewitching music, captivating storytelling, and pure theatrical spectacle. The musical takes place before the action of the Wizard of Oz and is the untold story of Glinda the Good Witch and Elpahba, the young woman who would become the Wicked Witch of the West. Following the two witches from their school days up to Dorothy’s famous entrance, Wicked is a story of love, friendship, and self-acceptance in the face of adversity. Stephen Schwartz’s winning score features the songs “The Wizard and I,” “For Good,” and the empowering anthem “Defying Gravity.” This dazzling production features flying monkeys, daring dragons, glittering dance numbers, fanciful costumes, and of course an Act One finale that truly defies gravity. (The Gershwin Theatre, 222 W 51st St.)

Fall Openings

Along with the Tony award winning hits of the past year and long running classics continuing to play onstage, the fall theatre season also sees the opening of several new works which capture the exciting spirit of the season. From new musicals to adaptations of classic novels and films this autumn is no exception. Broadway’s marquees are a veritable who’s-who for Hollywood stars making their first appearance on the famed Great White Way. Among the handful of exciting options for theatergoers are the musicals Allegiance and On Your Feet and the new plays China Doll, Misery, and Therese Raquin.

Headlining the roster of exciting new productions on Broadway this fall season is the original new musical Allegiance. Inspired by the remarkable true life story of George Takei, this epic production marks the highly anticipated New York stage return of celebrated Tony Award winning actress Lea Salonga (Miss Saigon). Allegiance is the story of one family’s harrowing journey during WWII, from the attack on Pearl Harbor through the following years as they are relocated from their home in California to a desolate Japanese internment camp on the American plains. The unfolding journey spans decades and crosses continents with an epic scope and scale. With a vibrant original score and featuring Star Trek and social media icon George Takei in his Broadway debut, this musical story of the American experience is a universal tale of family, love and redemption. At once heartrending and poignant, Allegiance represents a new and exciting wave of diversity on the Broadway stage. (The Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St.; previews begin 10/6)

Screen and stage legend Al Pacino (The Godfather, Scarface) returns to Broadway for his twelfth time this autumn in a new play by the prolific and critically acclaimed playwright David Mamet. China Doll centers on the relationship between a billionaire on the verge of retirement and his personal assistant. Academy Award and Tony Award winner Pacino plays the wealthy retiree who has recently purchased a private jet for his much younger fiancée and whose life is shaken up by a mysterious phone call. China Doll is directed by the Tony Award winning director Pat McKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Delicate Balance). With his sharp wit and knack for quick and cutting dialogue, Mamet is sure to provide Pacino with another opportunity to deliver a tour de force performance in this two-person drama. (Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St.; previews begin 10/21)

Bruce Willis of The Sixth Sense and Die Hard franchise is joined in his Broadway debut with acclaimed film and stage actress Laurie Metcalf (TV’s “Roseanne” and “Getting On”) in a new adaptation of Stephen King’s classic suspense thriller Misery. Following the same nail-biting plot as the classic film starring Kathy Bates, Misery recounts the plight of novelist Paul Sheldon as he realizes his “number one fan” is actually his worst nightmare. After a devastating car accident renders him bedridden, Sheldon is nursed back to health by the seemingly sweet Annie Wilkes in her secluded Colorado home during a treacherous blizzard. Her love for his novels takes a dangerous turn after she reads his newest manuscript and is displeased with the ending. Original screenwriter William Golden (famous for his novel The Princess Bride) adapts this terrifying game of cat and mouse under the direction of William Frears. (Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.; previews begin 10/22)

After a sold out smash run in Chicago, On Your Feet!, the electric new musical inspired by the lives of Emilio and Gloria Estefan arrives at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre with the undeniable energy and passion for which the Grammy Award winning artist is known. Featuring the pulsing beats of Estefan’s greatest hits including “Conga,” “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,” “1, 2, 3.” and of course, “Get On Your Feet,” the musical follows the Cuban American couple’s journey from humble beginnings to international stardom. Two-time Tony Award winning Director Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, Kinky Boots) is at the helm with explosive choreography by Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys). This inspirational story of the power of love and music is sure to dance its way into audience’s hearts and is not to be missed! (Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway; previews begin 10/5)

Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Olivier award nominee Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement) stars in her Broadway debut in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Thérèse Raquin as the title character in this striking new adaptation of the Emile Zola novel. The play is the story of a young woman with a restless spirit trapped in a loveless marriage who falls into a dangerous and passionate affair which ultimately leads to murder and betrayal. What starts out as an escape from her selfish husband and overbearing mother-in-law becomes a taut game of guilt and desire. Knightley is joined by Tony Award winners Judith Light and Gabriel Ebert (Matilda) and Matt Ryan (TV’s Constantine). Evan Cabnet directs this breathless tale of forbidden love adapted by Helen Edmundson. (Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St.; previews begin 10/1)

Winning Revivals

Legendary stars of stage and screen Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones are reunited on Broadway for the first time in nearly fifty years in one of this season’s most exciting revivals, The Gin Game. This poignant comedy-drama written by D.L Coburn returns to the John Golden Theatre where it first premiered in 1977. The show is the story of Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorney who meet on the porch of their nursing home and strike up a quick friendship. Weller teaches Fonsia the rules of gin rummy and from there the two launch into a game that ultimately grows into something much deeper. What starts out as a platform for the two to recount stories from their lives becomes a battle of disappointment, disillusionment and insecurity. The game becomes an explosive metaphor for the nature of human relationships. (John Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St.)

Deaf West Theatre brings its critically acclaimed revival of the Duncan Sheik rock musical Spring Awakening to Broadway this fall (Editor’s Note: Check out our interview with Duncan Sheik in this issue!). The revolutionary take on the Frank Wedekind play of the same name was a smash when it opened on Broadway in 2006 and this innovative new production takes it to a new level being performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English. The result is a deeply passionate fusion of movement and expression in this musical which captures the pain, wonder, and beauty of adolescence on the verge of adulthood. Broadway star Michael Arden directs the cast of twenty-seven led by stage favorites Krysta Rodriguez (Smash, First Date) and Andy Mientus (Smash, Les Miserables). Tony Award winner Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) also stars in this soulful meditation on the nature of sexual awakening. (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St.)

Fresh off of her Tony Award winning turn in last year’s You Can’t Take It With You, Annaleigh Ashford, also known for TV’s Masters of Sex, plays the lovable and irreverent title canine in this fall’s revival of A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia. Perennial stage and screen favorite Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller, The Producers) and Julie White play a New York couple whose world is turned upside down with the arrival of an extraordinarily articulate stray dog (Ashford) the husband finds roaming about in Central Park. The quirky canine’s presence begs the question of where our loyalties lie- with the loves of life or with man’s best friend. Daniel Sullivan directs this loveable comedy which keeps a tight leash on audience’s hearts. (Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St.; previews begin 10/2)

Holiday Favorites

Nothing says the holidays in New York City quite like The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes. As iconic as the tree in Rockefeller Plaza or ice skating in Central Park, this beloved holiday tradition is a dazzling spectacle the entire family can enjoy. The world famous troupe of dancers is known as much for their high kicks and sensational tap routines as they are for spreading joy and bringing smiles to the faces of audience members of all ages. The ninety-minute show includes annual favorites “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers,” which has been performed since 1933, and new thrilling numbers combining awe-inspiring theatricality with the sheer talent of the dancers onstage. No holiday visit to Manhattan is complete without a stop at Radio City Music Hall. (Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas; runs 11/13-1/3)

Another holiday tradition in the making is The Theater at Madison Square Garden’s production of Elf: The Musical playing this December. The musical comedy which premiered on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical is inspired by the hit film starring Will Ferrell. Elf is the heartwarming tale of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly finds his way into Santa’s bag of toys and is taken back to the North Pole where he is raised as an Elf in Santa’s workshop. Unaware of his true identity, Buddy’s size and lack of toy-making abilities lead him to see that there may be a reason he doesn’t seem to fit in with the other elves. With Santa’s loving guidance, Buddy embarks on a journey of self discovery to New York City where he hopes to find his real family. Along the way he finds plenty of laughs and with his joyous spirit helps jaded New Yorkers rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. A toe-tapping musical score helps make Elf: The Musical a sure bet for keeping the season merry and bright. (The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Seventh Ave. btwn 31st & 33rd. Sts.; runs 12/9-12/27)

(Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)