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20 shows on Broadway and Off to see this fall

Autumn brings a wave of new plays, musicals and classic revivals. Use our guide to keep up with all the action.

Photograph: Michael Brosilow

This Is Our Youth

Kenneth Lonergan's 1996 breakout play about a couple of late adolescents mixed up in stolen money and cocaine gets a belated Broadway debut, courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The formidable Anna D. Shapiro directs Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson in the slacker drama.

Photograph: Joan Marcus

You Can't Take It With You

George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's classic 1936 comedy chronicles the eccentric, freethinking Sycamore family, whose members follow their bliss, no matter how much chaos that creates. The dream cast includes James Earl Jones, Elizabeth Ashley, Reg Rogers and Kristine Nielsen. Scott Ellis (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) directs.

Photograph: F. Scott Schafer

It’s Only a Play

A neophyte playwright (Matthew Broderick) anxiously awaits reviews of his Broadway debut in Terrence McNally's bitchy but affectionate homage to show folk, which appeared in various incarnations at Manhattan Theatre Club in 1982 and '86. This revival, directed by Jack O'Brien, also stars the great Nathan Lane, F. Murray Abraham and Harry Potter alum Rupert Grint.

Photograph: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Based on the 2003 best-seller about an autistic teen’s search for the killer of his neighbor’s pooch, this stage thriller comes to Broadway on a wave of acclaim from England. The adaptation is by the prolific Simon Stephens, and the spectacular staging is by Marianne Elliott (War Horse).


On the Town

The 1944 Broadway classic about sailors on shore leave in New York returns to remind us that it's a "helluva town." The irresistible Leonard Bernstein score and snappy lyrics by Comden and Green will be handled by a charming cast directed by John Rando. For lovers of the sublime score, music to your ears: The orchestra will number 28.

Photograph: Bram Muller

The NY Clown Theatre Festival 2014

Crammed together like bozos in a car, these 24 physical-theater offerings include work by clowns from as far away as Sweden and Colombia, as well as local luminaries like Eric Davis and Barry Lubin. It's not all red noses and big shoes (although there is a pie fight on opening night), so be sure to check the Brick's website for details.

Photograph: Joan Marcus

The Last Ship

Longtime rocker Sting tries his hand at the Broadway musical with this semi-autobiographical tale set in the working-class, seaside town of Wallsend. An ambitious young man leaves his roots behind but finds himself caught in the wake of his past. Joe Mantello (Wicked) directs a fine cast that includes Michael Esper, Jimmy Nail and Sally Ann Triplett.

Photograph: Richard Phibbs

The Real Thing

Fidelity, love, fiction, passion, authenticity—these are just a few of the juicy issues running around Tom Stoppard's masterful 1982 marital drama. The second Broadway revival stars Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal as adulterous lovers who find that domesticity brings even more distrust. The always incisive Sam Gold directs.

Photograph: Richard Phibbs

A Delicate Balance

Edward Albee's first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to this unnerving and piercingly eloquent 1966 study of fear, madness, addiction and companionship. The new revival, staged by the outstanding Pam MacKinnon, features a dream cast: John Lithgow, Glenn Close, Martha Plimpton, Lindsay Duncan and Bob Balaban.

Photograph: Andrew Eccles

Side Show

A cult favorite when it premiered in 1997, this unlikely musical about vaudeville's famous Hilton sisters—conjoined twins Daisy and Violet—couldn't find a broad audience. This time, film director Bill Condon hopes to make the quirky tuner a hit. The music is by Henry Kreiger (Dreamgirls), and the book and lyrics are by Bill Russell.


The River

Hey may not be singing and dancing, but we still can't wait to see Hugh Jackman's new gig on Broadway. The charismatic Aussie stars in a mysterious new piece by Jez Butterworth (Jerusalem) about a fisherman in a remote cabin and the two women (Cush Jumbo, Laura Donnelly) he entertains there. Ian Rickson directs.

Photograph: Nino Munoz

The Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper—so excellent in 2006's Three Days of Rain—returns to Broadway in the period piece about severely deformed Joseph Merrick. Rescued from a freak show by Dr. Treves (Alessandro Nivola), Merrick struggles to maintain his independence and dignity. Patricia Clarkson costars in the production by Scott Ellis, first seen at Williamstown Theatre Festival two years ago.

Photograph: Jan Versweyveld

Scenes from a Marriage

Flemish stage provocateur Ivo van Hove returns to his regular deconstructing grounds, New York Theatre Workshop, with an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's 1973 miniseries about a slowly crumbling relationship. The English text is by Emily Mann; the cast includes Tina Benko, Dallas Roberts, Arliss Howard and Roslyn Ruff.


Fortress of Solitude

Wonder scribe powers, activate! Two first-rate wordsmiths, playwright Itamar Moses (Bach at Leipzig) and songwriter Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), adapt Jonathan Lethem's 2003 novel, which follows a pair of childhood friends—one white, the other black—through several decades of music, crime and a possibly magic ring. The large cast includes Adam Chanler-Berat, Kyle Beltran and André De Shields.


Lost Lake

David Auburn reunited with Proof director Daniel Sullivan for a new drama, in which Tracie Thoms plays a harried mother who rents a less-than-ideal lakeside property from a strange man (John Hawkes).

Photograph: Gregory Constanzo

Our Lady of Kibeho

Katori Hall (Hurt Village) continues her Signature residency with a drama set in rural Rwanda in 1981, where a schoolgirl claims to have seen the Virgin Mary. Upheaval follows. Michael Greif (Rent) directs.



Attention, cult-musical fans! Classic Stage Company presents a rare revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's flop 1947 concept show, which traces the life of a small-town doctor from birth through marital disenchantment. John Doyle directs a cast of 12 (pared down from more than 40 in the original), led by Claybourne Elder, Elizabeth A. Davis, Malcolm Gets and Alma Cuervo.


Straight White Men

Young Jean Lee, whose experimental work has delighted in metatheatrical mind games, offers what she says is a relatively straightforward American father-son drama on themes of identity and privilege. Is tradition the new subversion? Her cast comprises Austin Pendleton, Scott Shepherd, Pete Simpson and James Stanley.

Photograph: Jesse Untracht-Oakner


Family tensions bubble up when a pair of slackers crash the hot tub at a Colorado chalet in a new play by Ars Nova company-in-residence the Debate Society (Buddy Cop 2), one of New York's smartest and funniest troupes. Oliver Butler directs; playwrights Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen costar with Peter Friedman and Chris Lowell.


Honeymoon in Vegas

Rebounding from the sadly short run of his Bridges of Madison County, composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown is back with a fizzier concoction: a bouncy and bright musical adaptation of the 1992 movie comedy Honeymoon in Vegas. Rob McClure, Brynn O'Malley and Tony Danza star alongside several Elvis impersonators.

Days are getting shorter, folks are returning from vacation, and kids are dreading the start of school—fall is in the air. And scads of shows on Broadway and Off are ready to hit in the next few months. Sure, there's a lot to do in New York, but the theater is looking especially lively. As everyone knows, fall is a great time for plays, which tend to have limited runs. (It’s the spring where more musicals open to wow and woo Tony voters.) But for now, stars will tread the boards this fall: Michael Cera, Rupert Grint, Hugh Jackman, Glenn Close, Bradley Cooper and Ewan McGregor, not to mention stage royalty Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Musicals are more scarce: There’s Sting’s virgin voyage on Broadway with The Last Ship and the much-anticipated comedy Honeymoon in Vegas. And don’t forget Off Broadway, where you find more risk-taking, especially at the Public Theater and Signature Theatre Company. With so much to see, your first stop should be our highly selective list below.

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