New York theater in the fall: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off

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

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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 are ready to hit Broadway and Off in the next few months. Sure, there's a lot to do in New York (see the fall preview in New York link below), but the theater is looking especially lively. For one thing, there's a high density of classics, practically a crash course in the history of Western theater. Some of them even feature stars (hello, Daniel Craig, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in two—yes, two—by Pinter). There are also intriguing musicals coming down the pike—adaptations of the movies Little Miss Sunshine and Big Fish, as well as Jefferson Mays in the Edwardian romp A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. With so much to see, your first stop should be our highly selective list below.

RECOMMENDED: Complete fall 2013 guide

We've singled out about 20 of the many fall theater offerings. Click through the slide show below for details and links to buy theater tickets. Have we missed something? Add your picks in the comments section below.

  • Photograph: Michael J. Lutch

    New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    The Glass Menagerie
    Tennessee Williams's 1944 masterpiece returns to Broadway starring stage legend Cherry Jones, alongside Zachary Quinto and Celia Keenan-Bolger. The appropriately haunted, expressionistic production—which debuted earlier this year at Boston's American Repertory Theater—is staged by John Tiffany (Once).

  • Photograph: Paul Kolnik

    New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Big Fish
    Tim Burton's 2003 film—about fathers, sons and tall tales—gets a Broadway musical makeover from composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family). Triple threat Norbert Leo Butz (Catch Me if You Can) stars as traveling salesman and larger-than-life raconteur Edward Bloom. Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert costar in this production by the formidable Susan Stroman.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    The Winslow Boy
    A national institution in England, Terence Rattigan is the poet laureate of 20th-century British repression and longing. His 1946 Edwardian-set drama follows a father’s attempt to clear his expelled-student son’s tarnished reputation. The cast of this Roundabout Theatre Company revival includes Roger Rees, Michael Cumpsty and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Lindsay Posner directs.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    A Time to Kill
    Rupert Holmes—best known for his musical adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood—addresses quite different source material: John Grisham's 1989 legal tale about race and justice. A lawyer (Sebastian Arcelus) defends an African-American defendant (John Douglas Thompson) threatened with capital punishment for the murder of white rapists.

  • Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe

    New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Betrayal
    Based on his own infidelity, Harold Pinter’s 1978 play runs backward—starting with the aftermath of a failed marriage and ending with its promising start. Guiding us through the triangulated chronology are Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, doing the art-imitating-life thing by playing spouses. Rafe Spall is the homewrecker in this revival staged by the great Mike Nichols.

  • Photograph: Geraint Lewis

    New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Twelfth Night and Richard III
    The phenomenal Mark Rylance (Jerusalem) plays Olivia in an all-male rendition of Shakespeare's frothy comedy, in which all sorts of people are tripped up by inappropriate clothing. Stephen Fry costars as the starchy valet, Malvolio. This transfer from London's Globe Theatre and the West End plays in repertory with another all-boys take on the Bard: the history play Richard III. Rylance takes on the titular crookbacked villain.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Twelfth Night and Richard III
    The phenomenal Mark Rylance (Jerusalem) plays Olivia in an all-male rendition of Shakespeare's frothy comedy, in which all sorts of people are tripped up by inappropriate clothing. Stephen Fry costars as the starchy valet, Malvolio. This transfer from London's Globe Theatre and the West End plays in repertory with another all-boys take on the Bard: the history play Richard III. Rylance takes on the titular crookbacked villain.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
    The mercurial Jefferson Mays (Tony winner for I Am My Own Wife) plays multiple members of an aristocratic clan in this new musical by Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman, based on the same novel that inspired Kind Hearts and Coronets. A distant and disinherited member of the D'Ysquith family slays his way to the earldom. Darko Tresnjak directs.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot
    One of the earliest and most influential examples of theater of the absurd, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot returns to Broadway with X-Men collaborators Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. They perform it in rep with Harold Pinter's No Man's Land, a crepuscular study of death and memory. Shuler Hensley and Billy Crudup round out the casts.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot
    One of the earliest and most influential examples of theater of the absurd, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot returns to Broadway with X-Men collaborators Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. They perform it in rep with Harold Pinter's No Man's Land, a crepuscular study of death and memory. Shuler Hensley and Billy Crudup round out the casts.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
    Recently minted Broadway star Jessie Mueller finally gets a vehicle specially crafted for her gorgeous voice and her innate warmth. She plays the great singer-songwriter Carole King in a retrospective about King's early life and career. Playwright Douglas McGrath provides the book.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Arguendo
    Elevator Repair Service returns to the Public (where it triumphed with the great Gatz) to examine a 1991 Supreme Court case in which pasty-faced justices debated the constitutional implications of nude dancing. Postshow discussions with legal experts follow many performances.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    The Machine
    Hadley Fraser plays Garry Kasparov in Matt Charman's drama about the Russian grandmaster's famous 1997 chess match against IBM's Deep Blue computer. Josie Rourke directs the U.S. premiere, which costars Francesca Annis and Kenneth Lee.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    You Never Can Tell
    Director David Staller has long borne a torch for George Bernard Shaw with his celebrated monthly Project Shaw series. Now he joins with the Pearl for a full staging of this fanged 1897 romance, which makes a comic match between an emancipated woman and the chauvinistic dentist bent on extracting her from her bloomers.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    The Landing
    Composer John Kander's legendary 50-year collaboration with lyricist Fred Ebb ended with Ebb's death in 2004. Now the 86-year-old Kander teams for the first time with a new word man—Greg Pierce, age 34—for a triptych of one-acts on related themes. Walter Bobbie (Chicago) directs a cast that comprises David Hyde Pierce, Julia Murney, Paul Anthony Stewart and Frankie Seratch.

  • Photograph: Bill Ballerini & Kathy Cooley

    New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Little Miss Sunshine
    Composer William Finn, a master of neurotic wit and surprise twists of emotion, has worked with book writer and director James Lapine before, yielding Falsettos and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Now they reunite to adapt 2006 family-road-trip indie-film hit Little Miss Sunshine. Recent Drood costars Will Swenson and Stephanie J. Block are the adult leads; nine-year-old Hannah Rose Nordberg plays their pageant-aspiring daughter.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Domesticated
    Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Goldblum play a couple whose marriage is threatened by a political scandal in a new play by the cleverly disruptive Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park, The Pain and the Itch). The seasoned supporting cast, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, includes Robin de Jesus, Vanessa Aspillaga, Lizbeth Mackay and Mary Beth Peil.

  • Photograph: Arno Declair

    New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    An Enemy of the People
    In-your-face German director Thomas Ostermeier, a fixture of BAM's Next Wave Festival for the past decade, hits the fest again with a theatrically violent take on Henrik Ibsen's antimajoritarian 1882 classic, in which a doctor tells the unpopular truth about his town's main tourist attraction. The description promises/threatens “audience interaction, paint bombs and rock-concert-style set destruction.”

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Grasses of a Thousand Colors
    As a playwright, Wallace Shawn never shies away from the disturbing and the offensive. But his newest work, first seen in 2009 at London's Royal Court, might be his most bizarre. A scientist (Shawn) describes graphic sexual acts with shape-shifting animals. Julie Hagerty, Emily McDonnell and Jennifer Tilly play various women in his life. Longtime collaborator André Gregory directs.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    The God Projekt
    Kevin Augustine, the mad genius behind 2008's Bride, returns with another mash-up of gruesome puppets and theological fantasy. This new work imagines the Supreme Being as a ghoulish Beckettian wraith trying to maintain order in his celestial office. Expect borscht belt routines alongside gory puppetry.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    Julius Caesar
    We have seen our fair share of all-male Shakespeare in recent years, thanks to such companies as Edward Hall's Propeller, but high-level all-female stagings are rare. Phyllida Lloyd (Mary Stuart) directs this prison-themed Donmar Warehouse production—Shakespeare Is the New Black?—with a cast that includes Harriet Walter, Frances Barber, Jenny Jules and Cush Jumbo.

  • New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

    What's It All About: Bacharach Reimagined
    The rich pop catalog of composer Burt Bacharach and Hal David got the cruise-ship treatment in the 2003 Broadway musical The Look of Love. Now director-choreographer Steven Hoggett (Once, Peter and the Starcatcher) and performer-arranger Kyle Riabko take a very different approach aimed at making the songs resonate with younger audiences. Will it work? We say a little prayer.

Photograph: Michael J. Lutch

New York theater preview: 20 shows to see on Broadway and Off this fall

The Glass Menagerie
Tennessee Williams's 1944 masterpiece returns to Broadway starring stage legend Cherry Jones, alongside Zachary Quinto and Celia Keenan-Bolger. The appropriately haunted, expressionistic production—which debuted earlier this year at Boston's American Repertory Theater—is staged by John Tiffany (Once).


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