Fall Broadway Preview: Prepare for One of Broadway's Most Diverse Seasons Yet

News   Fall Broadway Preview: Prepare for One of Broadway's Most Diverse Seasons Yet
 
The fall 2015 Broadway season offers a wealth of re-envisioned productions of plays and musicals as well as new stage adaptations of famous films. 

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Is it too early to be nostalgic for the aughts?

Not on Broadway, it’s not. This fall, theatregoers will get a chance to take a second look at shows that bid farewell to Times Square just this last decade. This is true not only for sturdy classics such as Fiddler on the Roof, but also titles of recent vintage.

Spring Awakening, composer Duncan Sheik and librettist Steven Sater’s rock adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s searing 1890s coming-of-age story, ended its Broadway run in 2009. But producers thought a new revival by L.A.’s Deaf West Theatre innovative enough to bring the show back. It will by performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English. Previews begin Sept. 8 at the Atkinson.

Also back for an encore sooner than expected is The Color Purple. The musical, based on the Alice Walker novel of the same name, concluded its Broadway debut in 2008. The new interpretation, directed by John Doyle, will star Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson in the key role of Shug Avery. The pared-down revival was first seen at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory. It will begin previews Nov. 9 at the Jacobs.

Fiddler on the Roof, too, will return to Broadway after a little more than a decade. The last revival was all about its unconventional leads, first Alfred Molina, then Harvey Fierstein. The new staging, starring Danny Burstein, will arguably rest more in the hands of its director Bartlett Sher, who has developed a reputation for reinvigorating classics such as The King and I with fresh, yet faithful interpretations. Fiddler commences Nov. 12 at the Broadway Theatre.

Fiddler’s producer, Jeffrey Richards, typically offers a wide variety of attractions each season. This fall is no exception. In addition to the Bock and Harnick musical, he will give A.R. Gurney’s comedy Sylvia its first Broadway production and present the latest work by David Mamet.

Sylvia is about the most famous theatre dog outside of Annie’s Sandy, and the pooch’s mid-life-crisis-suffering owner. Sarah Jessica Parker famously played the bowser in the original 1995 Off-Broadway production. Parker’s spouse, Matthew Broderick, will play Sylvia’s owner this time around, while Annaleigh Ashford plays the title mutt. Previews begin at the Cort Oct. 2.

Annaleigh Ashford will star in <i>Sylvia</i>
Annaleigh Ashford will star in Sylvia

A new Mamet play sells itself. But, just in case, this one has Al Pacino to help out. In China Doll, he plays a billionaire who is about to leave his office into semiretirement when he takes one last phone call. Oct. 21 is the first preview at the Schoenfeld.

Other new plays due this autumn include Misery. This William Goldman adaptation of the Stephen King thriller features the most starry movie-star turn of the fall: Bruce Willis, in his Broadway debut. Willis will play a celebrated author held hostage by one of his most devoted (and deranged) fans, played by Laurie Metcalf. Previews start Oct. 22 at the Broadhurst.

Also new is King Charles III, beginning Oct. 10 at the Music Box. As the title suggests, this one comes to us from England. The play imagines a future when Britain's Prince Charles takes over the monarchy from his mother. Rupert Goold directs a cast led by Tim Pigott-Smith as Chuck.

It’s been an age since Andrew Lloyd Webber has had a hit; nonetheless, the advent of a new work by the mega-musical king remains news. His latest, School of Rock, is based on the film comedy of the same name, which starred Jack Black as a failed rocker posing as a substitute teacher. Alex Brightman plays the lovable fraud in the stage version, which boasts an unusual librettist in Julian Fellowes, creator of the very different "Downton Abbey." Nov. 9 is the first preview at the Winter Garden.

Alex Brightman stars in <i>School of Rock</i>
Alex Brightman stars in School of Rock Photo by Monica Simoes

The new musical On Your Feet! takes the Jersey Boys path by using the music of Gloria Estefan to tell the story of Gloria Estefan. Ana Villafañe and Josh Segarra star as Cuban-American Gloria and her bandleader husband Emilio Estefan in the piece, which is directed by Jerry Mitchell. Previews are from Oct. 5 at the Marquis.

Also playing with autobiography is Allegiance, a new musical starting Oct. 6 at the Longacre. Written by Jay Kuo, Lorenzo Thione and Marc Acito, it stars George Takei and Lea Salonga. The story, set during the time of the U.S.’ internment of Japanese-America followed the bombing of Pearl Harbor, is inspired partly by the experiences of Takei.

Other revivals on tap include a new production of Harold Pinter’s Old Times, starring Clive Owen, Eve Best and Kelly Reilly, beginning at the American Airlines Theatre Sept. 17; Sam Shepard’s tale of tortured romance, Fool for Love, starring Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell, beginning Sept. 15 at the Friedman; D.L. Coburn’s charming two-hander The Gin Game, with James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson, from Sept. 23 at the Golden; Keira Knightley as Thérèse Raquin, in a new production of the much-adapted Emile Zola story of lust, betrayal and guilt, at Studio 54 from Oct. 1; and Dames at Sea, the 1920s-style musical parody that, nearly 50 years after its Off-Off-Broadway debut, will finally get its Broadway debut at the Helen Hayes, starting Sept. 24. (Not exactly a revival, but a return of an attraction from last season, The Illusionists, is at the Neil Simon from Nov. 19.)

Finally, perhaps the most unusual entry in the fall Broadway sweepstakes is a new production of Arthur Miller’s morality play of forbidden desire, A View From The Bridge, at the Lyceum from Oct. 21. The drama may be familiar (it was seen on Broadway just five years ago), but, in the hands of bad-boy Belgian director Ivo van Hove, the production will certainly not be. Previously staged in London, one reviewer wrote, “It’s like watching a runaway train hurtle towards you and being unable to move.” Buckle up.

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