Must-See Theatre! The Shows On Our Lists This Fall

News   Must-See Theatre! The Shows On Our Lists This Fall
 
The staff at Playbill.com presents our bi-annual list of upcoming theatrical offerings that caught our eye. From anticipated debuts, to daring original works and reinvented revivals, here's what's on our radar for must-see shows of the fall 2015 season.

Also check out our Broadway and Off-Broadway fall season previews to explore the vast array of productions happening on stages across New York City this season.

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The Broadway Season Preview

The Off-Broadway Season Preview

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Matt Blank, Playbill.com Photo Editor

Sylvia
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Cort Theatre, starting Oct. 2
Why It's On My List: It's a play I'm not at all familiar with, but when you put two generations of comedic genius onstage, Julie White and Annaleigh Ashford, I'm there!

Spring Awakening
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, starting Sept. 8
Why It's On My List: I was a big fan of the original production and it remains one of my favorite musical theatre scores. As groundbreaking as that staging was, I'm most looking forward to seeing what the brilliant minds at Deaf West have done with the material. What they did with Big River was truly breathtaking, and this seems like a show that is ideal for their ability to innovate.

Fool For Love
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, starting Sept. 15
Why It's On My List: I love classic Sam Shepard, and this is a piece I studied and loved in school, but have never seen staged. Who better to bring it to life than Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell (both of whom I would watch in anything)?

Telly Leung and Lea Salonga in <i>Allegiance</i>
Telly Leung and Lea Salonga in Allegiance Photo by Henry DiRocco

Allegiance
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Longacre Theatre, starting Oct. 8
Why It's On My List: At long last a brand-new Asian musical debuting on Broadway! With this cast, I'd be excited to see it regardless of the topic. But the material is something that we studied extensively in school and has been oddly underrepresented in film and theatre.

Olivia Clement, Playbill.com Staff Writer

Spring Awakening
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, starting Sept. 8
Why It's On My List: I can't help but remain hopeful that the theatre world is leading the way in progressive story telling: We have a lesbian coming-of-age story on Broadway created by a female duo (Fun Home), as well as hip-hop musical Hamilton, featuring a wonderfully talented and diverse cast. The upcoming revival of Spring Awakening is yet another shining example; performed in American Sign Language and spoken English, I am so proud that Broadway is broadening its audiences and striving to be more inclusive.

The Color Purple
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, starting Nov. 10
Why It's On My List: Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" has been one of my favorite books since I was a child and the chance to see it on Broadway as a musical, with such a hugely talented cast, is incredible. I'm so excited to see Jennifer Hudson make her Broadway debut she is such a powerhouse performer.

Sylvia
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Cort Theatre, starting Oct. 2
Why It's On My List: Following last year's Love Letters and as one of Signature Theatre's resident playwrights, A.R. Gurney is having a moment in the spotlight and I'm very much enjoying it. Gurney writes comedy expertly and tends to feature strong female characters, which is a bonus.

A View From the Bridge
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre, starting Oct. 21
Why It's On My List: Ivo van Hove's unforgettable direction of Scenes From a Marriage at the New York Theatre Workshop last fall was enough to convince me of his genius. I can't wait to see his Brooklyn-set interpretation of this classic Arthur Miller play.

Mark Ezovski, Playbill.com Video Editor

Misery
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre, starting Oct. 22
Why It's On My List: Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf are great casting choices for Misery. I'm a fan of the novel (and a lot of Stephen King's work in general) and the film version starring Kathy Bates and James Caan. Knowing the source material as I do and knowing the work of Willis and Metcalf, I can see them both completely inhabiting these roles. This is also a story that will make a seamless transition to the stage. Despite its apparent "horror" or "thriller" label, it really is a character study and essentially a two-hander.

The Color Purple
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, starting Nov. 10
Why It's On My List: I loved the Alice Walker novel and the film version starring Whoopi Goldberg, so there's no way I am going to miss The Color Purple when it comes to Broadway. Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks and Jennifer Hudson are a powerhouse trio to head the cast, and you know John Doyle is going to be doing something unique and fascinating with his stripped-down version of the show.

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

School of Rock — The Musical
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre, starting Nov. 9
Why It's On My List: Moments into the press preview of the show, School of Rock — The Musical moved to the top of my fall "must-see" list. Alex Brightman and the cast of talented youngsters really rocked out with the fun and clever Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater songs. Brightman is a great choice to play Dewey, a down-on-his-luck wannabe rock star who can't seem to get a break. Even at a quick press preview, he was really able to express his character's desperation to succeed and his love and respect for the power of rock 'n' roll. I think School of Rock will be the most fun show of the year.

Andrew Gans, Playbill.com Senior Editor

Allegiance
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Longacre Theatre, starting Oct. 8
Why It’s On My List: A few years back I had the chance to visit a Smithsonian exhibition of artwork made by Japanese Americans forced to live in internment camps during World War II. I was astounded by the beautiful creations made from precious little material and was struck by how the human spirit can survive in difficult times. I'm hoping the musical will similarly affect me – it is a regrettable moment in our history and one that unfortunately gets very little attention.… Plus, it also features two of the great voices in the musical theatre: Tony winner Lea Salonga and "Glee" actor Telly Leung.

Spring Awakening
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, starting Sept. 8
Why It’s On My List: The Deaf West Theatre production of Big River turned an enjoyable musical into a highly moving experience, so taking an already emotion-filled work like Spring Awakening and putting it in the hands of Deaf West is extremely appealing.

Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis

Misery
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre, starting Oct. 22
Why It’s On My List: Ever since I saw her performance in The Other Place, Laurie Metcalf has been high on my list of not-to-miss performers. A stage version of a Stephen King novel also piques my interest, and I'm sure Metcalf will bring much depth and ferocity to the role of ardent fan Misery Chastain.

Dames at Sea
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre, starting Sept. 24
Why It’s On My List: As a long-time admirer of the work of Bernadette Peters, I'm thoroughly familiar with the cast album of the original Off-Broadway production of Dames at Sea, which was an early triumph for the three-time Tony winner. I've never seen a professional production of Dames and am curious to see how this vintage musical about a young girl from Utah, who arrives in New York, holds up nearly 50 years after its debut.

David Gewirtzman, Playbill Special Projects

Spring Awakening
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, starting Sept. 8
Why It's On My List: Spring Awakening is one of my favorite musicals (I've seen it over 20 times), so this was an easy pick for the most exciting production on Broadway this fall. If the West Coast reviews are to be believed, this new take on the show — created by Deaf West Theatre, and performed in both English and American Sign Language — should be absolutely stunning. I can't wait for the first preview.

Hir
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, starting Oct. 16
Why It's On My List: Admittedly I'm more familiar with Taylor Mac the performance artist (I've become hopelessly addicted to the developmental concerts for Mac's A 24-Decade History of Popular Music) than Taylor Mac the playwright, but still I have no doubt this play will be well worthwhile. Already enthusiastically reviewed during previous runs in San Francisco and Minneapolis, the New York production has the added bonus of starring the great Kristine Nielsen.

A scene from the San Francisco production of <i>Hir</i>
A scene from the San Francisco production of Hir Photo by Jennifer Reiley

Lazarus
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, starting Nov. 18
Why It's On My List: Just look at the names attached to this: Enda Walsh (brilliant playwright and Tony Award-winning librettist for Once), Ivo van Hove (busy busy Belgian director, who is also helming productions of Antigone, A View From the Bridge and The Crucible in New York this season) and Michael C. Hall ("Dexter" and recent Hedwig star). Oh, and the music is by David Bowie. Yes, that David Bowie.

Sisters' Follies: Between Two Worlds
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at the Abrons Arts Center, starting Oct. 1
Why It's On My List: A veritable who's who of downtown theatre icons are coming together for a "spooktacular musical extravaganza" about Neighborhood Playhouse founders Alice and Irene Lewisohn. On board are director and puppet genius Basil Twist, performers Joey Arias and Julie Atlas Muz, and costume designer Machine Dazzle. This is also a site-specific production: It's being performed in the Lewisohns' original Playhouse, which is 100 years old this year.

Michael Gioia, Playbill.com Features Manager Spring Awakening
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, starting Sept. 8
Why It's On My List: Spring Awakening has been one of my favorite musicals of all time, and I'm so thrilled to see it back on Broadway in a completely new light. Director Michael Arden has completely re-shaped the piece for the Deaf community. Austin McKenzie, who plays Melchior, told me, "There are some direct lines that are a little spooky of how weird it is that it makes sense. There's this whole line where Melchior says in one of his journal entries, 'Are they deaf to everything their loins are telling them?' … And then there are just these beautiful moments where they say things like, 'I hear your heart'… In a very simple way, [they] make this work. It's so perfect because what you have is a story of children who cannot be heard by their adults and a story of children who are learning to hear each other and hear the word of their body — beyond physically hearing… It's, story-wise, so beautiful to see a Deaf girl and a hearing boy meet and be able to hear each other's heartbeats." That sounds exciting.

School of Rock—The Musical
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre, starting Nov. 9
Why It's On My List: Besides this being based on an awesome comedy, how exciting is it that we have a tried-and-true Broadway rocker headlining in the role created by Jack Black? Alex Brightman has been killing it all over the New York City concert scene and has had some great featured parts on Broadway, and now he'll be starring in one of this season's most highly anticipated musicals…! I'm happy to see that, instead of stunt-casting Dewey Finn, audiences will get to see a true musical theatre performer who has worked his ass off in this industry. Go, Brightman!

The Color Purple
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, starting Nov. 9
Why It's On My List: If you know me at all, you know that I'm gonna pass out in my seat. Jennifer Hudson. That is all.

Bare: The Reunion Concert
Where You Can See It: At 54 Below Oct. 12 at 7 PM and 9:30 PM
Why It's On My List: I'm so in love with this musical, especially the original "Pop Opera," which played Off-Broadway in 2004, starring Michael Arden, John Hill and Jenna Leigh Green. I can't wait to see what music director and producer Benjamin Rauhala cooks up for this concert, which is set to feature members of original New York and Los Angeles casts as well as cast members of the recent New World Stages production and actors who were involved in various readings and recordings during the show's developmental stages. This show is too important and too relatable. I can't wait to see it live on again in concert at 54!

Harry Haun, Playbill Staff Writer

Desire: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories by Tennessee Williams
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at 59 East 59 Theatres, starting Sept. 2
Why It's On My List: How great to have a new Tennessee Williams in town 32 years after his death! All the drips, drabs, half-finished plays and unproduced screenplays he left behind have been mined. Now, The Acting Company has commissioned an evening of one-acts based on his short stories, which frequently had first drafts of characters in his plays. John Guare's contribution, Portrait of a Girl in Glass, lets you know about The Gentleman Caller–afterwards. Another Pulitzer Prize winner, Beth Henley, echoes emotions at the Moon Lake Casino in her version of The Resemblance Between a Violin and a Coffin. Rebecca Gilman, Elizabeth Egloff, David Grimm and Marcus Gardley add their voices, and the half-dozen is helmed by Michael Wilson.

Henry IV
Where You Can See It: St. Ann's Warehouse on the Brooklyn waterfront, starting Nov. 6
Why It's On My List: Last year about this time, St. Ann's rocked with an import from Britain–a re-jiggered and re-gendered Julius Caesar that was so scruffy and butch it made the Brando movie look almost sedate. It was set in a maximum-security women's prison, and it played like gangbusters, so naturally I'm anxious to see if its chief instigators—Dame Harriet Walter and director Phyllida Lloyd—can maintain that stranglehold for round two of their Women-in-Prison Shakespearean trilogy.

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

Cloud Nine
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at Atlantic's Linda Gross Theatre, starting Sept. 16
Why It's On My List: When Cloud Nine first lifted in New York in 1981, it revealed a front-rank female playwright and a song-and-dance man equally adept at directing nonmusicals—Caryl Churchill and Tommy Tune—and, as improbable as that pairing sounds, they connected kinetically. Decades later, it remains Churchill's best piece—an eccentric skewering of sexual politics, reinforced with cross-gender casting, both in contemporary London and a century back in colonial Africa. In charge of its first NYC revival is director James Macdonald, an expert interpreter of Churchill's worlds.

Sylvia
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Cort Theatre, starting Oct. 27
Why It's On My List: Of all the plays in A.R. Gurney's WASPworks, this is the one you can cozy up to easiest. It's the gentlest and most accessible of domestic love triangles—a man, his wife and his dog—and it's played out in a warm-hearted, witty fashion. Sarah Jessica Parker was the adorable mutt of the title the first go-around 20 years ago, and now her husband, Matthew Broderick, is the master of the manor, following the dotty lead of Charles Kimbrough from 1995 and flanked, with fangs, by Tony-winning leading ladies: Julie White and Annaleigh Ashford.

Adam Hetrick, Playbill.com Editor in Chief

James Thierrée's Tabac Rouge
Where You Can See It: At the Brooklyn Academy of Music, starting Sept. 30
Why It's On My List: I still can't get the 2007 BAM engagement of Thiérrée's Au Revoir Parapluie out of my head. The grandson of silent film legend Charlie Chaplin returns with this smoke-filled dream of dance, gesture and magic that promises to leave us all haunted and enchanted.

First Daughter Suite
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at the Public Theater, starting Oct. 6
Why It's On My List: I'm consistently moved and surprised by the ways in which Michael John LaChiusa's music and lyrics rise and fall as one to capture the human experience. His follow up to First Lady Suite will introduce us to the inner and public lives of the young women who came of age in the White House.

<i>Spring Awakening</i> in rehearsal
Spring Awakening in rehearsal Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Spring Awakening
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, starting Sept. 8
Why It's On My List: A cast of hearing and Deaf actors are about to cause a Broadway revolution. Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's groundbreaking coming-of-age musical gets cracked open in an all-new exploration of understanding and longing. After Deaf West Theatre's remarkable interpretation of Big River in 2003, this promises to be an electrifying night in the theatre.

Fiddler on the Roof
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Broadway Theare, starting Nov. 12
Why It's On My List: Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher knows his way around a musical. He rarely, if ever misses the opportunity to mine the material for head-turning moments that reflect our own lives. Add in Danny Burstein as Tevye – one of Broadway's finest leading men, in what could finally be his Tony-winning turn – and this is a must-have ticket to a classic about to be reborn.

Carey Purcell, Playbill.com Features Editor

Spring Awakening
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, starting Sept. 8
Why It's On My List: The 2006 production remains one of my favorite theatergoing experiences – a shocking, shattering and heartbreaking show that was unlike anything I had ever seen before. This new production, by Deaf West Theater, and with the wonderful Krysta Rodriguez playing Ilse, looks to be even more exciting and moving.

Therese Raquin
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at Studio 54, starting Oct. 1
Why It's On My List: Emile Zola's story of lust, deception and murder – and actually living with having committed a crime – is a timeless and fascinating story. I think Keira Knightley, with her subtle and cerebral performances, will be perfect as the title character, and the supporting cast – Judith Light, Matt Ryan and Gabriel Ebert – isn't too bad either!

The cast of <i> Ugly Lies the Bone</i>
The cast of Ugly Lies the Bone Photo by Monica Simoes

Ugly Lies the Bone
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company - Black Box Theatre, starting Sept. 10
Why It's On My List: I think Mamie Gummer's an incredible actress and can't wait to see her play a soldier adjusting to a return to civilian life. This play, which is written and directed by a woman, also explores an extremely important subject that deserves more time and attention from our country: the mental health of veterans after they return from battle.

Mother Courage and Her Children
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at the Classic Stage Company, starting Dec. 9
Why It's On My List: Tonya Pinkins never fails to deliver performances of extraordinary depth and strength, and I can't wait to see her take on Brecht's title character with her famous canteen wagon. With the play set in the modern-day Congo, and with new music by Duncan Sheik, it's sure to be a fascinating production.

Robert Viagas, Playbill.com Managing Editor

First Daughter Suite
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at the Public Theater, starting Oct. 6
Why It's On My List: I liked Michael John LaChiusa's First Lady Suite, and I'm interested to see how the stories of these various First Daughters will be handled by Alison Fraser, Caissie Levy and the rest of the intriguing cast.

Allegiance
Where You Can See It: On Broadway at the Longacre Theatre, starting Oct. 8
Why It's On My List: Stories of contemporary Asian-Americans are only rarely told in the musical theatre. Naturally, I want to see Lea Salonga and George Takei in almost anything, but I also want to see what kind of music comes from songwriter Jay Kuo.

Michael C. Hall will star in <i>Lazarus</i>
Michael C. Hall will star in Lazarus

Important Hats of the Twentieth Century
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club at New York City Center, starting Nov. 10
Why It's On My List: This story about a 1930s clothing designer who starts releasing outfits that would not, in reality, become popular until the 1980s or later appeals to the Alternate History lover in me.

Lazarus
Where You Can See It: Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop, starting Nov. 18
Why It's On My List: This play inspired by "The Man Who Fell to Earth" will have a score by the film's star, David Bowie, a peculiar and original composer. I'd like to see what he does with it, and how he adapts his style to the demands of the stage.

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