News Column

New York: Broadway has a starry glow at the start of the new season

October 8, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 08--Tantalizing stars, musicals spun from novels or movies, impressive displays of acting versatility: Those are the treats headed for Broadway stages this fall and winter, with more of the same to come in the spring.

Those who want more big-name bang for their Broadway bucks -- and top ticket prices are often $150 or more for an orchestra seat -- are zeroing in on the revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal, which features blond Bond Daniel Craig, his movie-star wife, Rachel Weisz (in her Broadway debut) and British actor Rafe Spall, with celeb director Mike Nichols staging the production. Billy Crystal is doing a limited run of his Tony Award-winning, justifiably acclaimed solo show 700 Sundays back to Broadway.

Denzel Washington, who scored a Tony Award for his Broadway debut in Fences, is the reason to see the newest revival of A Raisin in the Sun, which also features Diahann Carroll in a long-past-due return to Broadway. Movie hottie Orlando Bloom is wooing Condola Rashad in a new production of Romeo and Juliet, and Ethan Hawke is getting his Shakespearean fix in a new production of Macbeth. Small screen-to-stage headliners include Weeds star Mary-Louise Parker in the new play The Snow Geese and Will & Grace (and Smash) star Debra Messing in Outside Mulligar.

Two different experiences of plays in repertory will give those who love to savor a great actor's versatility the chance to do just that. The star-driven pairing of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart (with Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley ) will probe the mysteries of Harold Pinter's No Man's Land and Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Tony Award winner Mark Rylance takes an even bigger stretch in two of Shakespeare's works, playing the misshapen monarch in Richard III and Countess Olivia in Twelfth Night.

Folks who think Broadway means musicals have an eclectic bunch of new ones to consider. The ultra-talented director-choreographer Susan Stroman has brought Big Fish, based on Tim Burton's hit movie, to life. Idina Menzel has a mini reunion with Rent castmate Anthony Rapp and director Michael Greif in If/Then by the Pulitzer-winning Next to Normal creators. Carole King's decades of hit songs get celebrated in Beautiful, and Mary Bridget Davies evokes a singular singer in A Night With Janis Joplin.

Rocky gets a musical makeover, as do Bullets Over Broadway and The Bridges of Madison County. The Cotton Club comes back to life in After Midnight, with a rotating cast of stars. Or, for a reliable revival, try the revamped Cabaret, which returns to Studio 54 with Alan Cumming re-creating his Tony-winning performance as the Emcee and movie star Michelle Williams as sad chanteuse Sally Bowles.

As enticing as some of the upcoming Broadway shows are, if you're a real theater lover, you know that Off-Broadway plays and musicals can be just as good (or better). While you can see the Broadway Romeo and Juliet, the Classic Stage Company (www.classicstage.org) is featuring up-and-coming movie star Elizabeth Olsen in its production through Nov. 3. The extravagantly creative, imaginative Julie Taymor offers her take on A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Theater for a New Audience (www.tfana.org) in Brooklyn Oct. 19-Jan. 12. Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker star in Amanda Peet's new play The Commons of Pensacola at Manhattan Theater Club's City Center Stage I Oct. 21-Jan. 5. Two brilliant British actors, Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon, perform the Trevor Nunn-adapted Samuel Beckett radio play All That Fall at 59E59 Theaters (www.59e59.org) Nov. 5-Dec. 8. Frank Langella tackles one of the great Shakespearean roles, King Lear, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (www.bam.org) Jan. 7-Feb. 9.

Here's a look at the shows that will be on Broadway this fall and winter, with a few key spring shows as well. Most sell their tickets through Telecharge (800-432-7250, www.telecharge.com) or Ticketmaster (800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com). If prices aren't listed, tickets aren't yet on sale.

-- Act One, Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th St.; previews March 20, opens April 17, closes June 15; 212-239-6200 or www.lct.org: Director-playwright James Lapine has adapted the autobiography of playwright Moss Hart, who collaborated with George S. Kaufman on such timeless hits as The Man Who Came to Dinner and You Can't Take It With You.

-- After Midnight, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St.; $60-$142; previews Oct. 18, opens Nov. 3; Ticketmaster or aftermidnightbroadway.com: This show re-creates the magic of Harlem's Cotton Club, with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center All-Stars supplying the music and guest stars like American Idol's Fantasia Barrino appearing, as actor Dule Hill hosts.

-- Aladdin, New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 W. 42nd St.; previews Feb. 26, opens March 20; Ticketmaster or aladdinbroadway.com: The smash Disney animated hit finally gets to the stage as a musical, featuring songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin.

-- Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 W. 43rd St.; $75-$152; previews Nov. 21, opens Jan. 12; Telecharge or www.beautifulonbroadway.com: The rich Carole King catalog and the singer-songwriter herself are highlighted in this new musical, which features Jessie Mueller as the woman who wrote Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Some Kind of Wonderful, The Locomotion, One Fine Day, Up on the Roof, A Natural Woman and more with her ex-husband Gerry Goffin -- not to mention all those hits on her own.

-- Betrayal, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St.; $57-$152; in previews, opens Oct. 27, closes Jan. 05; Telecharge or www.betrayalonbroadway.com: Mike Nichols directs the season's starriest cast -- Daniel Craig (aka James Bond), his real-life wife Rachel Weisz and British actor Rafe Spall in this revival of Harold Pinter's play about an affair, told from its end to the beginning.

-- Big Fish, Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St.; $55-$155; Ticketmaster or www.bigfishthemusical.com: Susan Stroman directs and choreographs this new musical by Andrew Lippa and John August, based on Daniel Wallace's 1998 novel and Tim Burton's 2003 movie. Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz stars as the dad who can't resist telling tall tales.

-- Billy Crystal, 700 Sundays, Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St.; $97-$162; previews Nov. 5, opens Nov. 13, closes Jan. 2; Telecharge or 700sundaysonbroadway.com: Billy Crystal brings his beguiling, warm-hearted, surprising solo show about his late father and the many famous people in his orbit back to Broadway.

-- The Bridges of Madison County, Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St.; previews Jan. 13, opens Feb. 27; $67-$139; Telecharge or bridgesofmadisoncountymusical.com: Tony winner Bartlett Sher directs the new musical by Pulitzer winner Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown, with Kelli O'Hara starring as an Italian-born Iowa housewife drawn into a passionate relationship with a National Geographic photographer.

-- Bullets Over Broadway, St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St.; $52-$147; previews March 11, opens April 10; Telecharge or www.bulletsoverbroadway.com: Woody Allen's movie becomes a musical featuring Scrubs star Zach Braff as a 1920s playwright pressured to cast a mob guy's talentless gal pal in his new play; Allen is adapting his screenplay, with Tony winner Susan Stroman directing and choreographing.

-- Cabaret, Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St.; previews March 21, opens April 24, closes Aug. 31; 212-719-1300 or www.roundabouttheatre.org: Alan Cumming returns to his Tony-winning role as the seductive emcee in director Sam Mendes' rethought revival of Cabaret, with movie star Michelle Williams as troubled headliner Sally Bowles.

-- A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St.; $50-$147; previews Oct. 22, opens Nov. 17; Telecharge or www.agentlemansguidebroadway.com: Jefferson Mays, who proved himself so adept at playing multiple characters in I Am My Own Wife, does it again in this musical comedy set in Edwardian times; here, he plays eight different murder victims.

-- The Glass Menagerie, Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St.; $77-$137; closes Jan. 5; Telecharge or theglassmenageriebroadway.com: Director John Tiffany and movement stylist Steven Hoggett have devised a distinctive production of Tennessee Williams' great memory play, featuring Cherry Jones as the frantic faded Southern belle Amanda and Zachary Quinto as her restless son Tom.

-- If/Then, Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St.; previews March 4, opens March 27; Ticketmaster or www.ifthenthemusical.com: Pulitzer Prize winners Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the creators of Next to Normal, return to Broadway with a piece about a woman about to turn 40; former Rent castmates Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp star along with LaChanze. Michael Greif, who staged Next to Normal and Rent, is directing..

-- Macbeth, Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th St.; $75-$135; previews Oct. 24, opens Nov. 21, closes Jan. 12: 212-239-6200 or www.ltc.org: Ethan Hawke steps away from the movies and back onto the stage to play the murderous Macbeth, with Anne-Marie Duff as his soon-mad wife, in a Jack O'Brien-directed production at Lincoln Center.

-- Machinal, American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St.; previews Dec. 20, opens Jan. 16, closes March 2; 212-710-1300 or www.roundabouttheatre.org: Rebecca Hall stars in Sophie Treadwell's 1928 play about a woman who uses an affair to breaks free of her lifeless marriage and male-dominated world.

-- A Night With Janis Joplin, Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St.; $28-$140; opens Thursday; Telecharge or anightwithjanisjoplin.com: Mary Bridget Johnson plays the bluesy rock legend in Randy Johnson's concert-style show.

No Man's Land, Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St.; $40-$137; previews Oct. 31, opens Nov. 24, closes Feb. 1; Telecharge or www.twoplaysinrep.com: Harold Pinter's mysterious comedy features Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Billy Crudup and Shuler Hensley, performing the play in repertory with Samuel Beckett's existentialist classic Waiting for Godot.

Outside Mulligar, Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.; $67-$125; previews Jan. 2, opens Jan 23, closes March 16; www.manhattantheatreclub.com: Brian F. O'Byrne and Debra Messing star in John Patrick Shanley's new romantic comedy about next-door neighbors in rural Ireland.

-- A Raisin in the Sun, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St.; $67-$149; previews March 8, opens April 3, closes June 15; Telecharge or raisinbroadway.com: Denzel Washington, who won a best actor Tony for his performance in Fences, comes back to Broadway in Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking play about the dreams and frustrations of a black Chicago family; Diahann Carroll plays the family's focused matriarch.

Richard III, Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St.; $27-$137; opens Oct. 19, closes Feb. 1; Telecharge or www.shakespearebroadway.com: Two-time Tony winner Mark Rylance plays the title role in William Shakespeare's history play, which runs in rotating repertory with Twelfth Night, featuring Rylance in a very different role.

-- Rocky, Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway; $79-$143; previews Feb. 11, opens March 13; Telecharge or www.rockybroadway.com: Though it has taken decades -- Sylvester Stallone introduced Rocky Balboa in 1976 -- the inspiring story of a loser turned champ hits the stage as a big Broadway musical, with a book by Thomas Meehan, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty and staging by Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson director Alex Timbers.

-- Romeo and Juliet, Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St.; $88.75-$146.75; closes Jan. 12; Ticketmaster or romeoandjulietonbroadway.com: A hot Romeo (Orlando Bloom) and a beautiful Juliet (Condola Rashad) are the star-crossed lovers in the newest Broadway production of William Shakespeare's tragedy, featuring a white Montague family and black Capulets in a contemporary setting.

-- The Snow Geese, Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.; $67-$125; opens Oct. 24, closes Dec. 15; www.manhattantheatreclub.com: Mary-Louise Parker stars in Sharr White's World War I-set play about a widowed mother trying to keep her family together; Daniel Sullivan, who directed the star to a Tony Award in Proof, is staging the play.

-- A Time to Kill, John Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St.; $69.50-$132; opens Oct. 20; Telecharge or atimetokillonbroadway.com: Playwright and pop songwriter Rupert Holmes has done the first stage version of a John Grisham novel, this one about a black father defended by a white lawyer in Mississippi after taking revenge on the men who raped his little girl.

-- Twelfth Night, Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St.; $27-$137; previews Oct. 15, opens Nov. 10, closes Feb. 1; Telecharge or www.shakespearebroadway.com: Two-time Tony winner Mark Rylance does double starring duty on Broadway this season, playing Countess Olivia in this Shakespearean classic, which runs in rotating rep with Richard III. British star Stephen Fry makes his Broadway debut in both productions.

-- Waiting for Godot, Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St.; $40-$137; previews Oct. 26, opens Nov. 24, closes Feb. 1; Telecharge or www.twoplaysinrep.com: Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart are Samuel Beckett's tramps, waiting for who knows what, in this existentialist classic, performed in repertory with Harold Pinter's No Man's Land.

-- The Winslow Boy, American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St.; $52-$137; opens Oct. 17, closes Dec. 1; 212-719-1300 or www.roundabouttheatre.org: Terrence Rattigan's 1946 play about a boy whose explusion from military school sparks a fight to save his family's honor is a London transfer with an impressive New York cast, including Michael Cumpsty, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Alessandro Nivola and Roger Rees.

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(c)2013 The Miami Herald

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