OFF-BROADWAY FALL PREVIEW: Stephen Sondheim, Michael John LaChiusa, Terrence McNally, Daisy Foote Get Spotlight

By Robert Simonson
02 Sep 2012

Laila Robins, J. Smith-Cameron and Maryann Plunkett in Sweet and Sad.
Laila Robins, J. Smith-Cameron and Maryann Plunkett in Sweet and Sad.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Variety is center-stage in the fall 2012 Off-Broadway season. David Schwimmer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sigourney Weaver, David Hyde Pierce and Bebe Neuwirth are among the stars. Terrence McNally, Richard Nelson, Adam Rapp, Christopher Durang and Michael John LaChiusa are among dramatists. Family dramas, political plays, revivals, musicals and world premieres are in the mix.

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Editor's Note: The Off-Broadway universe — like the actual universe — is wide, unknowable and ever-expanding. No survey of the scene can even pretend to be exhaustive. Thus, this overview is not intended as comprehensive. Check out our Off-Broadway listings for more information throughout the season.

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Richard Nelson's first time-specific play about the Apple family creeped in quietly in fall 2010. Called That Hopey Changey Thing, it had a grand cast — Shuler Hensley, Maryann Plunkett, Jon DeVries, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders and J. Smith-Cameron, but a low-key LAB production at the Public Theater. The work was experimental: Set in real time on election day, Nov. 2, 2010, it also opened on that date, lending an immediacy to the story. Reviews were good.

By the time Sweet and Sad came along in fall 2011, anticipation was greater. The second play revisited the Apples on the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and the production opened on Sept. 11. Reviews were even better — among the best Nelson has ever received.

This October, the final edition in the Apple Family Trilogy arrives at the Public with Sorry. The work will show the Apple family gathering for a meal on the morning of the day the country will choose the next president. Opening is Nov. 6. Our turbulent country's real drama, of course, will begin the day after.

Nelson's Apple plays have been, to date, pretty straightforward and sincere in their naturalism. Other playwrights whose work will bow Off-Broadway this fall, however, tackle the United States' myriad traumas — past and present — from a variety of artistic angles.

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