Broadway audiences will be treated to a triple dose of 19th-century-style Russian drama this fall, courtesy of the star power lent to the plays by a trio of performers.
Cate Blanchett hasn’t been a stranger to the New York stage over the years, but her visits are usually to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The Present will mark the Australian performer’s first Broadway turn. Based on Chekhov’s lesser-known early work Platonov, Andrew Upton’s adaptation—previously seen at the Sydney Theatre Company—sets the action in post-Perestroika Russia. Previews begin December 17 at the Barrymore.
Preceding it to Broadway will be a new production of Chekhov’s final play, The Cherry Orchard, starting at the Roundabout Theatre Company on September 15. The staging stars Diane Lane as the diva Ranevskaya. The role is a graduation for Lane, who was part of the ensemble of the 1977 Broadway mounting of the classic as a child actor.
Arriving from Off-Broadway is composer Dave Malloy’s piece of War and Peace-inspired immersive theatre Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, which likely qualifies as the most unique entry in the fall Broadway sweepstakes. Joining the cast for this new edition of the Tolstoy musical is three-time Grammy nominee Josh Groban. Previews begin October 18 at the Imperial.
If Russia in the 1900s isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps try France in the 1800s. Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Christopher Hampton’s lurid tale of sexual politics and intrigue, returns to Broadway in a staging directed by Josie Rourke and starring Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber. The show, a hit at the Donmar Warehouse in 2015, arrives at the Booth on October 8.
Also back on Broadway is Falsettos, the William Finn–James Lapine musical about middle-aged Marvin and his navigations of various chaotic relationships—ex-wife, current boyfriend and young son. Lapine is back at the helm, while Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells star. Falsettos begins September 29 at the Walter Kerr.
A Bronx Tale, the autobiographical coming-of-age tale by actor Chazz Palminteri has had many lives, including a play and a movie. Its latest incarnation is in musical form. The show was a hit at Paper Mill Playhouse and will now arrive at Broadway’s Longacre November 3. Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks co-direct the work, which features a score by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, as well as a script by Slater and Palminteri.
The journalism trade had a good year at the Oscars, with the Boston Globe-set drama Spotlight winning the top prize. Now the grandfather of all newspaper dramas returns to Times Square. Director Jack O’Brien’s new look at Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s classic The Front Page takes up residence at the Broadhurst come September 20. Nathan Lane plays hard-charging editor Walter Burns and Mad Men’s John Slattery is ace reporter Hildy Johnson. The powerhouse cast includes John Goodman, Jefferson Mays, Robert Morse and Sherie Rene Scott.
The Roundabout Theatre Company will offer a little early holiday cheer come September 1 in the familiar package of Holiday Inn, a new stage musical based on the classic 1942 film that starred Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Irving Berlin provides the tunes, including the film’s most famous song, “White Christmas.”
Distinctly edgier musical fare can be found with Dear Evan Hansen, a show about a high school’s reaction to the death of one of the students. Previously seen at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and Off-Broadway at Second Stage, the Benj Pasek–Justin Paul–Steven Levenson title is directed by Michael Greif, a seasoned hand at steering new musicals to Broadway. Previews begin November 14 at the Belasco. Also fresh is In Transit, an a cappella musical about life in New York City that was previously seen Off-Broadway back in 2010. In Transit arrives at Circle in the Square on November 10. As with Dear Evan Hansen, an old pro is at the helm: Kathleen Marshall.
Solo shows due this fall include Black to the Future, a comedy outing written by and starring the eternally furious Lewis Black, which begins September 12 at the Marquis; and The Encounter, in which Simon McBurney (also the writer and director) plays a photographer in 1959 who finds himself lost among a remote people of South America, starting September 20 at the Golden.
If two is more for you, there’s Oh, Hello on Broadway at the Lyceum, starting September 23. The show sees comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney take their popular characters Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland—a couple of Alan Alda-loving, hyper-opinionated, septuagenarian Upper West Siders—to Broadway. At the helm is director Alex Timbers.
Another two-hander is Simon Stephens’ play Heisenberg, in which Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker play two strangers whose lives are changed by a kiss in a London train station. Manhattan Theatre Club transfers its hit Off-Broadway show to the Friedman, starting September 20. Mark Brokaw directs. The show arrives on Broadway just as Stephens’ Tony-winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time exits.
Finally, Jersey Boys, the musical telling of the history of the Four Seasons, has been a presence on Broadway for 11 years. From October 21 to 29, the show will be joined in the theatre district by the actual Four Seasons, headed by Frankie Valli, who will play a limited engagement at the Lunt-Fontanne. For those eager to compare the original to the simulacrum, your matinee-evening schedule is set.