Don't ever say Broadway doesn't respect age and experience. Many of the talents that will try to beguile theatregoers this fall first cut their teeth 40 or 50 years ago. Among them are playwrights Woody Allen and Elaine May, composer Stephen Sondheim, and actors Frank Langella, Alan Rickman, Bernadette Peters and Elaine Paige.
The latter two are just a couple of the stars that people Broadway's newest incarnation of the 1971 Sondheim-James Goldman classic Follies, returning to Broadway after a successful late-spring staging at the Kennedy Center. Eric Schaeffer, a longtime Sondheim interpreter, directs a cast that also includes Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein, Ron Raines, Mary Beth Peil and Jayne Houdyshell as a group of reunited stage stars (and their spouses) remembering their bygone days in the spotlight. The Marquis Theatre stands in for the old Weismann Follies house about to be torn down, in the rueful, elegiac musical. Appropriately enough, the opening will be Sept. 12.
|photo by Joe Fornabaio|
Rickman, a Britisher with as much stage experience as Langella, will star in Theresa Rebeck's new play Seminar. He will play an imperious teacher (not too much of a stretch there, given we're talking about Severus Snape of "Harry Potter" film fame). The work, about a private writing class led by an international literary figure (Rickman), will begin Oct. 27 at the Golden Theatre. Rickman's victims, er, students include Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater.
|photo by Joan Marcus|
Like Baitz, playwright David Ives has long enjoyed considerable success Off-Broadway. But, adaptations of other artists' work and librettos aside, he has never had one of his works on Broadway until this season. The breakout work is Venus in Fur. A two-hander twist on the classic erotic novel of the same name, it was a hit Off-Broadway last year and made a star of Nina Arianda (last season's Tony-nominated Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday). Hugh Dancy will co-star in the Broadway transfer. It will begin at Manhattan Theatre Club's Friedman Theatre on Oct. 13.
More new work comes from David Henry Hwang. The M. Butterfly author is offering Chinglish, a comedy about a Midwestern American whose efforts to secure a lucrative contract in China for his family firm become seriously lost in translation. Leigh Silverman directs the play, which begins previews Oct. 11 at the Longacre. The cast will include Gary Wilmes, Jennifer Lim, Angela Lin, Christine Lin, Stephen Pucci, Johnny Wu and Larry Zhang.
Kenny Leon, who will direct The Mountaintop, will also stage Stick Fly, starting Nov. 18 at the Cort. Lydia R. Diamond's play is about a well-to-do African-American family's tense summer holiday. Opening is Dec. 8. Evenings of one-acts are rarely seen on Broadway these days, as producers don't view them as commercial. But when Woody Allen comes up with a new play, heaven and earth become a little more movable. Allen's work, Honeymoon Motel, will be joined with plays by Elaine May and Ethan Coen. The latter, one of Hollywood's fabled Coen brothers, has become a prolific creator of Off-Broadway playlets lately. John Turturro directs the project, under the umbrella title of Relatively Speaking. The cast of old hands includes Marlo Thomas, Grant Shaud, Julie Kavner and Steve Guttenberg. It will open Oct. 20 at the Atkinson.
|photo by Nobby Clark|
For those who can't wait for the new Broadway revival of Evita — expected in spring — there's An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. The original stars of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical about Eva Peron will begin a 63-performance engagement on Nov. 16 at the Barrymore.
New musicals will include Bonnie and Clyde, the latest artistic celebration of the Depression-era gangsters. This one comes from composer Frank Wildhorn, lyricist Don Black and librettist Ivan Menchell and opens in December at the Schoenfeld. Also scheduled is Lysistrata Jones, the cheeky pop musical that resets the ancient Greek classic in the world of college cheerleaders and basketball players. Well-liked Off-Broadway, the show by librettist Douglas Carter Beane and songwriter Lewis Flinn will open at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre Dec. 14.
Connick may not have been born to play Bruckner (was anybody?), but Audra McDonald was unquestionably made to sing Bess in Porgy and Bess. The four-time Tony winner will do just that at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Dec. 17, when performances begin of the American Repertory Theatre production of the George and Ira Gershwin-DuBose and Dorothy Heyward folk opera. McDonald's Porgy will be undersung Broadway stalwart Norm Lewis. The show has been "re-imagined" by director Diane Paulus, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and musician Diedre Murray as a musical for contemporary audiences, and has already become the subject of heated debate. (Thank you, Mr. Sondheim.) So, those out there who live to stoke this work's ever-burning Is-It-An-Opera-or-Is-It-A-Musical? fire — your order for more fuel has arrived.