PLAYBILL PICKS: Anticipation! Playbill Contributors Share Titles They're Eager to See in Fall 2012
By Playbill Staff
Playbill editorial staffers put together individual lists of productions we're especially looking forward to seeing this fall in New York City and London. What are you eagerly awaiting?
MATT BLANK, Playbill.com Photo Editor
Annie (Broadway). Anthony Warlow has been one of my very favorite leading men since I heard a cassette of his Secret Garden when I was a teenager. (If you haven't heard him and Philip Quast duet on "Lily's Eyes," I suggest you do some Googling.) After collecting all of his solo recordings and DVD's over the years, I'm ecstatic to finally see him onstage without going all the way to Australia!
A Christmas Story, The Musical! (Broadway). I can quote every line of the movie. The very prospect of a Leg Lamp chorus line is enough for me!
ANDREW GANS, Playbill.com Senior Editor
Annie (Broadway). I have to admit, I wasn't all that excited by a second Broadway revival of Annie until producers announced their brilliant choice for the role of Miss Hannigan: Katie Finneran, who won Tony Awards for her hilarious performances in the revivals of both Noises Off and Promises, Promises. Let the comic (strip) antics ensue!
The Anarchist (Broadway). I, however, was thrilled by the prospect of two-time Tony winner Patti LuPone in a brand-new, two-person drama by David Mamet; and, the recent news that film star Debra Winger would join Olivier winner LuPone in The Anarchist makes the production even more tantalizing.
Dear World (London). Since I'm not sure if I'll be able to cross the pond to see the limited London run of Tony winner Betty Buckley in the rarely performed Jerry Herman musical Dear World, I can only hope some producer transfers the production and Buckley to Broadway, where she belongs. One can only imagine the emotion and power Buckley will bring to that Herman score.
Bare (Off-Broadway). I missed the original New York run of the coming-of-age rock musical Bare, and I'm curious to see if the upcoming Off-Broadway production can live up to the praise it received from just about everyone I know who saw and enjoyed it.
Marry Me a Little (Off-Broadway). And, since any Stephen Sondheim production is notable, I'm also looking forward to Keen Company's current staging of the two-person Marry Me a Little, which features Jason Tam, one of the standouts in the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line who manages to shine in all his theatrical outings.
DAVID GEWIRTZMAN, Playbill Special Projects
Helen & Edgar (Theatre 80). As anyone who saw East 10th Street Off-Broadway can attest, Edgar Oliver is a mesmerizing storyteller who has led a very, very strange life. This time around, Oliver is going to talk about his peculiar experience growing up in Savannah, which fans of The Moth might know a bit about from his story "Apron Strings of Savannah." Should be a great listen.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Broadway). Two words: Chita Rivera. Nine more: Jim Norton, Stephanie J. Block, Will Chase, Jessie Mueller.
The Old Man and the Old Moon (Off-Broadway). Been looking forward to this since it was hinted at during the curtain call of The Nightmare Story back in January. Based on my previous PigPen Theatre Co. experiences (the other being The Mountain Song), I'm expecting a quirky mix of indy/folk music, shadow puppetry and marvelously inventive and theatrical storytelling.
Sorry (Off-Broadway). For the third year in a row, Richard Nelson's Apple family gathers in Rhinebeck for a meal that promises to be moving, political and oh so current. Like its predecessors, That Hopey Changey Thing and Sweet and Sad, the play opens on the same night it is set — in this case, Election Night 2012.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Broadway). Yes, we just had a revival seven years ago, but reports from Chicago and DC say this is a fresh new interpretation of the play. And really, it's Edward Albee on Broadway acted by Amy Morton and Tracy Letts. What is there to complain about?
MICHAEL GIOIA, Playbill.com Staff Writer
Bare (Off-Broadway). I am eagerly awaiting the NYC return of Bare. I have been following the musical since its New York debut in 2004, and was completely let down that its transfer from ATA to Dodger Stages (now New World), for a commercial Off-Broadway run, fell through. I'm sorry to have missed the original cast, but am excited for a fresh take on this special musical that, I think, resonates so strongly with today's society. Teens struggling to find acceptance in an atmosphere that is screaming conformity is apparent everywhere. I look forward to the musical's rewrites, a young and talented cast and a new vision from Stafford Arima, whose Off-Broadway production Carrie was compelling.
Giant (Off-Broadway). Although I don't know much about Giant's source material, a musical helmed by Rent director Michael Greif that features a score by Michael John LaChiusa sounds pretty enticing — not to mention the recent addition of Brian d'Arcy James to the cast. I'm also looking forward to performances from Kate Baldwin, Katie Thompson, Natalie Cortez, John Dossett, Mary Bacon, P.J. Griffith, etc., who return for the New York City staging from Dallas Theater Center.
A Christmas Story, The Musical! (Broadway). I've never been too excited by a holiday musical, but Benj Pasek and Justin Paul won me over with their recent Off-Broadway musical Dogfight. Getting a first-hand preview of their music, which included a performance of "Red Ryder," a song about Ralphie's longing for a new BB gun, makes me look forward to their new Christmas musical.
Dead Accounts (Broadway). I love contemporary playwrights, and I enjoyed Theresa Rebeck's Seminar last season. Plus, Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes…!
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Broadway). Ever since I saw Jessie Mueller in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, I immediately became a fan. Mueller, who I also loved in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Into the Woods — which I am secretly hoping will transfer to Broadway — is joined by an amazing cast that includes Chita Rivera, Jim Norton, Stephanie J. Block, Will Chase, Gregg Edelman and Betsy Wolfe. I just can't wait to see them all in action!
ADAM HETRICK, Playbill.com Staff Writer
Giant (Off-Broadway). Michael John LaChiusa is one of my favorite contemporary composers. His projects are always ambitious and thought-provoking. I'm very curious to see how he and Sybille Pearson map out Edna Ferber's sweeping Texas-set novel on stage.
The Anarchist (Broadway). All you had to say was "two powerful women forced to engage in a cage match of wits" and you had me. But when those two women are Mamet favorite Patti LuPone and Debra Winger — I have to be ringside for this one.
Golden Age (Off-Broadway). Bebe Neuwrith and Lorenzo Pisoni will take us back in time to 19th century Europe with Terrence McNally's new play set backstage during the opening night of a new opera. This is a world I want to see through McNally's eyes.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Broadway). This Rupert Holmes score is one of my favorites and I've never had the chance to see a production of Drood. I'm looking forward to going back a couple times to catch the various endings and to see a cast that includes Chita Rivera, Jesse Mueller, Will Chase and Stephanie J. Block.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Broadway). So excited that George and Martha are inviting guests over for drinks this season. Can't wait to watch Tracy Letts and Amy Morton vanish into their roles and destroy each other in the process. One of my favorite Ablee plays, and so glad Pam MacKinnon (Clybourne Park) is at the helm.
Fun Home (Off-Broadway). Jeanine Tesori is a musical chameleon — Caroline, or Change is one of my all-time favorite shows. Pair her up with hilarious Well playwright Lisa Kron for a new musical about family, loss and what unites us. I have to catch this world premiere at the Public Lab. It also doesn't hurt that Judy Kuhn will star.
KENNETH JONES, Playbill.com Managing Editor
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Broadway). When I saw the Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of Edward Albee's classic (in an engagement at Arena Stage), I was knocked out by Amy Morton and Tracy Letts as George and Martha. Under Pam MacKinnon's direction, the famous marrieds were not grand, elevated, theatrical creatures, but real, relatable, earthbound people who still managed to convey the play's larger ideas about social decay. Still a wild ride after 50 years.
Annie (Broadway). In 1979, I saw the first national tour of the Tony-winning musical when I was a kid. It had all the bells and whistles ("NYC" with animated billboards!), it smartly told a story with songs (and not pop songs) and it offered something greatly needed then and now — optimism. James Lapine directs.
An Enemy of the People (Broadway). I love a roiling social drama, whether it's "Silkwoood" or The Laramie Project or The Crucible. They all have their roots, arguably, in Henrik Ibsen — particularly with his 1880s classic about a doctor who exposes pollution in the town's lucrative tourist attraction. Tony winner Doug Hughes directs Tony winner Boyd Gaines as the title whistle-blower.
Golden Age (Off-Broadway). Tony winner Terrence McNally returns to one of his major artistic homes, Manhattan Theatre Club at City Center Stage I, with the New York premiere of a period play that touches on one of the playwright's passions — opera. Walter Bobbie, who knows how to wrap a potent show around a script, directs.
The Great God Pan (Off-Broadway). Amy Herzog's plays 4,000 Miles, After the Revolution and Belleville touch on the bonds of family and friends in unsentimental terms. Her portrait of a young journalist shaken by a past trauma sounds like an intriguing ride. Carolyn Cantor directs at Playwrights Horizons.
BLAKE ROSS, Playbill Magazine Editor
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Broadway). A new George and Martha are in town, courtesy of the masters at Steppenwolf. I'm looking forward to seeing with my own eyes what everyone in Chicago has been raving about. After witnessing what Amy Morton unleashed in August: Osage County a few years back, I can't wait for her turn as Martha. And from what I've read, Tracy Letts is a force to be reckoned with.
Annie (Broadway). Bet your bottom dollar this is a great revival and a great time to do it! The past few years have shown that Katie Finneran is a true master of musical comedy, and I can't wait to see what she'll do with Miss Hannigan.
Glengarry Glen Ross (Broadway). Producer Jeffrey Richards brings his fifth Mamet show to Broadway in as many years. Richards has lined up a stellar crew headlined by Al Pacino and Bobby Cannavale.
House for Sale (Off-Broadway). Franzenfiles rejoice! Celebrated author Jonathan Franzen's killer novel "The Corrections" may not be coming to TV anytime soon (boo!), but New Yorkers can see his autobiographical essay "House For Sale" in theatre form thanks to a stage adaptation by Daniel Fish and the good folks at the Transport Group.
MARK SHENTON, Playbill.com London Correspondent
Loserville (Garrick Theatre). Viva Forever! and The Bodyguard are inevitably the headline makers on the new musicals front in London this fall, featuring the back catalogues of the Spice Girls and Whitney Houston's greatest hits, respectively. But the show I can't wait to see again is Loserville, a brand-new musical by two young writers, James Bourne (previously of chart-topping bands Busted and Son of Dork) and Elliot Davis. I saw the tryout at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds in the summer and Loserville could be a winner.
Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory). London's Menier Chocolate Factory has had a smash hit with two of its previous Sondheim's — Sunday in the Park With George and A Little Night Music, both of which transferred to both the West End and then Broadway. Now Maria Friedman, one of our premiere exponents of the work of Sondheim as a performer, makes her directorial debut with a show that she once played Mary in at Leicester.
Finding Neverland (Leicester Curve). Originally set to launch in San Diego, producer Harvey Weinstein is now doing it in England instead, at the out-of-town Curve in Leicester. Rob Ashford directs this musical based on the film of the same name, with a score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie (Grey Gardens, Far from Heaven), running Sept. 21 to Oct. 18, with a cast led by Julian Ovenden and the wonderful Rosalie Craig.
Hedda Gabler (Old Vic). The glorious Sheridan Smith won Olivier Awards for Legally Blonde and Rattigan's Flare Path in the West End; now she tackles one of the biggies in the classical repertoire, playing Ibsen's title character, now at the Old Vic through Nov. 10.
The River (Royal Court's Jerwood Theatre Upstairs). Director Ian Rickson and playwright Jez Butterworth, who last collaborated on Jerusalem at the Royal Court, return with a new play, running in the studio Theatre Upstairs from Oct. 18 with a cast that includes Dominic West.
ROBERT SIMONSON, Playbill Special Correspondent
Ivanov (Off-Broadway). Over the past four seasons, Classic Stage Company has done Chekhov proud, presenting productions of the Russian's major plays that have ranked from good to fantastic. Austin Pendleton, who directed the most successful outing, Three Sisters, is back to direct Ethan Hawke in Chekhov's least-sung full-length play, Ivanov.
Sorry (Off-Broadway). Richard Nelson's hyper-naturalistic, of-the-moment "Apple Family" plays — three of them, all presented at the Public Theater — have been among the most successful, intriguing and beautifully unforced of his long career. This is the final edition. Expect the return of an expert ensemble of unshowy New York stage veterans to be pitch-perfect.
Ten Chimneys (Off-Broadway). No theatre buff can resist a new play that depicts theatre greats Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in their natural Wisconsin habitat, rehearsing The Seagull in the 1930s. And no actor today is more Lunt-like than the dignified, cerebral Byron Jennings. Dependable wordsmith Jeffrey Hatcher, who is an old hand at biographical drama, wrote it.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Off-Broadway). Anyone who's seen The Actor's Nightmare or For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls knows that no playwright relishes sending up the work of other dramatists more than Christopher Durang. This time he's after Chekhov. And with regular Durangists Kristine Nielsen and Sigourney Weaver on hand at Lincoln Center Theater's Newhouse, how can he miss?
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Broadway). Sure, there was a fine Broadway revival of Albee's searing drama less than a decade ago. But who's going to say no to the Steppenwolf Theatre Company George and Martha of Tracy Letts and Amy Morton after having seen the latter tear up the Broadway stage in the former's August: Osage County?
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