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

By Robert Simonson
02 Sep 2012

Adam Rapp
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Dramatist Douglas McGrath looks at a speech that forever changed the character of American politics in Checkers, beginning at the Vineyard Theatre Oct. 10. "Checkers," of course, refers to the politically expedient and frankly manipulative 1952 television address Richard Nixon gave to save his vice-presidential bid from a potentially damaging accusation of financial impropriety. Terry Kinney directs. Casting of the latest stage incarnation of Tricky Dick (and there have been many over the years) is yet to be announced. Dramatist Paula Vogel looks even further back in American history for the inspiration of A Civil War Christmas, which begins in November at New York Theatre Workshop. Tina Landau directs the piece, in which Vogel uses the stories of historical and fictional characters to draw a picture of the nation on Christmas Eve 1864. (Not a terribly cheery yuletide, I'm thinking.)

Adam Rapp offers a jarring version of modern national catastrophe in Through the Yellow Door at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. As the plot description goes, "The United States has been attacked.  Men are being castrated, women enumerated.  Ellen has been in hiding for 52 days, subsisting on very little, hoping against hope for her husband to return." Performances begin Sept. 13. Transport Group has landed a bit of coup in presenting the first-ever play by celebrated novelist Jonathan Franzen ("The Corrections," "Freedom"), to open at the Duke on 42 Street on Oct. 21. Though plot details are few, in the current national housing market no play called House for Sale can be considered a tranquil prospect. In Modern Terrorism, meanwhile, writer Jon Kern addresses one of the prime fears of our time by tracking the comic misadventures of a rogue group of 21st century terrorists. It's Durang-ian subtitle: Or Those Who Want to Kill Us and How We Learn to Love Them. Opening at Second Stage is Oct. 16.