Welcoming Fall With Beloved Classics and Thrilling Debuts on Stage
There is nothing quite like Autumn in New York; songs have been written about it and movies have been made celebrating its romantic brilliance. Once the hot temperatures subside, the city comes alive in a blaze of beautiful foliage and exciting cultural events. Nowhere is that more apparent than the stages of the famed Times Square Theatre District. On Broadway, fall marks an exciting time filled with brilliant classics, new productions and thrilling debuts. This month we take an in-depth look at everything the Great White Way has to offer as the city settles into a glorious new season.
Cats (Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St.)
After a legendary run that ended in 2000, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved musical Cats returned to Broadway this summer and continues to win audiences hearts this fall. The jubilant show draws inspiration from T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” and follows a fantastical litter of felines as they gather to celebrate the Jellicle Ball, a magical event in which one cat is chosen to be reborn into a new life. With an immensely talented ensemble of dancers, the show’s score features such memorable favorites as “Jellicle Cats,” “Mr. Mistoffelees,” and of course, the iconic ballad “Memory.” Andy Blankenbuehler, the Tony Award- winning choreographer of Hamilton, reimagines the original choreography by Gillian Lynne with awe-inspiring results. With an immersive stage design, thrillingly talented ensemble, and beloved score, Cats is a quintessential Broadway classic. Let the memory live again!
Fiddler on the Roof (Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway)
Speaking to the hearts of millions of people across generations with productions worldwide, Fiddler on the Roof is a bonafide classic from Broadway’s golden age. In addition to its inspirational story of family and resilience, the show’s score including “Tradition,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and “Sunrise, Sunset” continues to endear itself to audiences with its uplifting spirit. Fiddler on the Roof is the story of the Russian- Jewish milkman Tevye and his five daughters as he tries to maintain his religion and traditions in the face of changing times and persecution in a small Russian village. Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The King and I) brings a fresh and authentic take to the musical with this production starring Jessica Hecht and Broadway favorite Danny Burstein as Tevye. In the spirit of the show’s opening number this revival is one tradition that remains a classic.
Chicago (Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St. New York, NY)
Chicago, currently the longest-running American musical on Broadway, continues to draw in audiences with its mix of wit, humor, and pizzazz. The seductive and glitzy musical is the story of two merry murderesses, Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, as they navigate the fickle world of law and order and more importantly, fame. After arrests for murdering their lovers, the two vie for the attention of the charismatic and swindling lawyer Billy Flynn in hopes of acquittal while at the same time fighting for headlines in their push towards the top of Vaudeville success and notoriety. The jazzy score by the legendary duo of Kander and Ebb features classic hits including, “All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango,” “When You’re Good to Mama,” and “Razzle Dazzle.” The sardonic take on the American Dream is perhaps best known however for its iconic choreography by theatre legend Bob Fosse. After celebrating its 20th year on Broadway, Chicago remains a classic, sexy, and stylish musical for New Yorkers and tourists alike. And all that jazz!
The Phantom of the Opera (The Majestic Theatre, 247 W. 44th St.)
In addition to the feline festivities at the Neil Simon theatre another Andrew Lloyd Webber blockbuster continues to play to full houses on the Great White Way. There is perhaps no greater example of a classic Broadway experience than the British composer’s thrilling musical The Phantom of the Opera, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary of enthralling audiences on the New York stage making it the longest-running musical in history. 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 Front Page (Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.)
The timeless newsroom comedy The Front Page makes a hilarious and star-studded return to the Great White Way this fall in a new production at the Broadhurst Theatre. Stars Nathan Lane (The Birdcage, The Producers), John Slattery (Mad Men, Spotlight), and John Goodman (The Big Lebowski, Roseanne) lead the company in this raucous story of a reporter who will stop at nothing to get the scoop. After a star courtroom reporter crosses paths with an escaped convict, he conspires with his scheming editor to hide the man on the run in order to keep the story going and the papers flying off the stands. Jack O’Brien (The Nance, Hairspray, Into the Woods) directs the play written in 1928 by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur.
The Cherry Orchard (American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St. New York, NY)
Academy Award nominee Diane Lane (Unfaithful, Under the Tuscan Sun) returns to Broadway this fall in a refreshing new revival of Anton Chekhov’s classic play The Cherry Orchard. The Roundabout Theatre Company- produced revival features a new adaptation by Tony Award-winning playwright Stephen Karam (The Humans) under the direction of Simon Godwin, Associate Director at Britain’s celebrated National Theatre. At turns tragic and comic, The Cherry Orchard stands as one of the great plays of the modern era with its astute observations on class, society, and human nature. The play charts the return of Russian landowner Ranevskaya to her family’s famed Cherry Orchard in an attempts to stall its impending foreclosure. The drama that unfolds captures a moment of transition for not only one family, but an entire world in turn-of-the-century Russia.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St.)
The immortal tale of seduction, manipulation, and lust inspired by the infamous 1782 French novel of the same name, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, comes back to Broadway in a brilliant West End transfer. Film and stage stars Janet McTeer (Damages, Me Before You) and Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan, Spotlight) star as two rival aristocrats who engage each other in a competition filled with lies and debauchery in this new adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ novel by Christopher Hampton. The Donmar Warehouse production directed by Josie Rourke centers on the sexy game of cat and mouse between the two as they vie for each other’s attention while seeking to destroy the reputations of those around them. The game becomes even more dangerous when love enters the fray. The production plays a strictly limited engagement after a critically acclaimed run in London.
Heisenberg (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.)
Tony and Emmy award-winning actress Mary Louise-Parker (Proof, Weeds) is reunited with the New York stage in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of Heisenberg. The new play by the visionary playwright of the internationally acclaimed The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night Time, Stephen Simon, is a theatrically inventive and comic look at the human experience. The play opens in a crowded London train station where a woman spots an older gentleman and is moved to kiss him gently on the neck. The simple and unexpected act leads to an electric and life-altering game between the two individuals. Ultimately an investigation of the nature of human connection, Heisenberg looks to be one of the more intriguing offerings this Autumn on Broadway. The play also stars Denis Arndt.
Dear Evan Hansen (Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St.)
After a smash sold-out run at Off-Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre, the daring new musical Dear Evan Hansen transfers to Broadway this fall. The new musical featuring Pitch Perfect star Ben Platt follows the life of high school outcast Evan Hansen. After a tragic event shocks the community, Evan finds himself at the center of attention, affording the once outsider the opportunity to truly find and redefine himself. The show features a heartfelt original score by the up-and-coming composing duo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story, Dogfight, Smash) and is directed by acclaimed theatre director Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal, Grey Gardens). Don’t miss this chance to see an audience and critic favorite that is well on its way to becoming a modern classic.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Avenue of the Americas)
Once Fall begins to fade into the holiday season, a whole new lineup of exciting events take center stage. For those looking for a quintessential New York City holiday tradition, nothing captures the spirit of the season with pizazz quite like The Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring The Rockettes. As iconic as the tree in Rockefeller Plaza or ice skating in Bryant 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 thrilling new numbers combining awe-inspiring theatricality and innovative special effects with the spectacular talent of the dancers onstage. No holiday visit to Manhattan is complete without a stop at Radio City Music Hall.
The Nutcracker (David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza)
For classical dance lovers there is no greater holiday experience than New York City Ballet’s cherished annual production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet The Nutcracker. The entire world- renown company of 90 dancers is paired with students from its famed American School of Ballet and is joined by a live orchestra of 62 musicians to bring George Balanchine’s timeless choreography to life. The ballet is the story of young Marie who receives a Nutcracker doll from her mysterious uncle Herr Drosselmeier at her family’s annual Christmas party. After a miraculous series of events she finds herself then whisked away to the fantastical Kingdom of the Sugarplum Fairy. Along the way, the Nutcracker Prince comes to life and with the help of toy soldiers saves Marie from the wicked rat king before taking her off to the magical kingdom. Amid dancing snow flakes, dashing princes, and waltzing flowers, The Nutcracker is a delightful dream of holiday wonder. With Tchaikovsky’s soaring melodies and the skill and artistry of one of the world’s premier ballet companies, this is a quintessential production of the seminal dance classic.
A Christmas Carol (The Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St.)
For those looking for a cozier alternative to the lavish uptown holiday productions, The Players Theatre offers a charming presentation of their take on the classic Charles Dickens’ tale, A Christmas Carol. The intimate theatre nestled in the heart of Greenwich Village has presented a musical adaptation of the Christmas story for the past eight years, making it a downtown mainstay. A Christmas Carol is the treasured story of redemption featuring some of literature’s most beloved characters including Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and of course Ebenezer Scrooge. On Christmas Eve, the miserly Scrooge finds himself visited by three different spirits who help him rediscover the meaning of the season. This delightful off-Broadway production is sure to warm the hearts of audiences– even those who enter the theatre saying bah humbug.
The Magic Flute (Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, 30 Lincoln Center Plaza)
Acclaimed and award-winning visionary theatre artist Julie Taymor directs a lavish production of Mozart’s classic opera The Magic Flute this winter at the Metropolitan Opera. The sumptuous spectacle for the eyes and ears is quickly becoming a favored holiday tradition for lovers of classical music. The English language and family-friendly production is set in a mythical land and follows the fairy tale romance between a prince and princess as they grapple with the forces of good and evil in their romantic pursuit. A bird catcher, the Queen of the Night, and a magic flute come together to aid the two lovers in their magical quest, which includes encounters with wood lawn spirits and evil priests. With its famous score and mythical story, The Magic Flute is a perfect, fanciful tale for the holiday season. The production conducted by Antony Walker features a rotating company of some of the world’s most renowned opera stars including Christopher Maltman as the audience favorite Papageno.