Best fall shows to see on Broadway and off
Edie Falco and Michael McKean headline a new political drama by Shar White (The Other Place), about rough-and-tumble 1970s politics in Albany. New Group honcho Scott Elliott directs the world premiere, with a cast that also includes Peter Scolari, Glenn Fitzergald, John Pankow and Austin Cauldwell.
What would a modern Broadway season be without a generous sampling of English theater? Manhattan Theatre Club presents the U.S. premiere of a comedy by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors), in which a promising snooker player is pressured into fixing a big match. Daniel Sullivan directs a cast that includes Ben Schnetzer as the hero, John Ellison Conlee and Johanna Day as his parents and Transparent's Alexandra Billings as a transgender gangster.
The great Irish playwright-director Conor McPherson (The Night Alive) goes American with a tale of Minnesota life and strife in the Great Depression, set to songs by no less an American icon than Bob Dylan. It's not the first time a major artist has tried to stage the back catalog of the Nobel Prize–winning bard; Twyla Tharp stumbled over it in the 2006 Broadway dance musical The Times They Are A-Changin'. Will McPherson's leaner, starker approach fare better? For its U.S. premiere at the Public, the show's ensemble cast includes such musical-theater pros as Stephen Bogardus, Mare Winningham, Todd Almond, Marc Kudisch, Luba Mason, David Pittu and Todd Almond.
In a wake of Michael Brown's death in 2014, Theater of War Productions mounts an ambitious free production of the original political protest play: Sophocles' tale of a Theban woman who, unhappy with the city's ignoble treatment of her dead brother, is confined to a cave by a tyrant who feels she protests too much. Directed and adapted by Bryan Doerries, the piece combines readings from the play by a rotating cast of actors—incuding Samira Wiley, Paul Giamatti, Chris Noth, Tamara Tunie, David Strathairn, Adepero Oduye, Frankie Faison and Kathryn Erbe—with choral music performed by activists, police officers and citizens of New York City and Ferguson, Missouri. Panels and group discussions follow each performance.
As Harry Potter and the Cursed Child continues its hit run 12 blocks away, grown-up boy wizard Daniel Radcliffe returns to Broadway in a new drama about the magic of literary nonfiction. Based on real events, the play stars Bobby Cannavale as a celebrated quasijournalist, Cherry Jones as his editor and Radcliffe as a fastidious fact-checker troubled by liberties he has taken in an essay. Leigh Silverman directs the world premiere.
After getting burned last year on David Byrne's musical Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, the Public Theater takes another shot at dramatizing the astonishing life of the 15th-century teenage French martyr. This play by Jane Anderson (Olive Kitteridge) focuses on Joan's mother, Isabelle, played by no less an eminence than three-time Tony winner and three-time Emmy winner Glenn Close. Matthew Penn directs the NYC premiere.
Andrew R. Butler plays the title character in his sci-fi folk song cycle: a troubadour who returns to Earth, 250 years from now, to recount a tale of resistance to the dystopian powers that will be. Jordan Fein (Singlet) directs for Ars Nova, with a cast that includes Stacey Sargeant and Rick Bukhardt.
Cringe prince Michael Cera—who has headlined Broadway productions of Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth and Lobby Hero—returns to the well in this revival of the playwright's 1999 drama, a memory play about memory loss. Comedy legend Elaine May plays a once-formidable art dealer in the final throes of Alzheimer's disease; the cast, directed by Lila Neugebauer (The Wolves), also includes rising star Lucas Hedges and The Band's Visit director David Cromer.
After bursting onto the New York theater scene with this summer's memorable Sugar in Our Wounds, Donja R. Love continues his three-play exploration of queer love in African-American history with this world-premiere drama set in the Jim Crow South. Khris Davis (The Royale) costars with She's Gotta Have It's DeWanda Wise, directed by Saheem Ali.
The ever sharp Stockard Channing plays a 1960s radical turned art historian in the Off Broadway debut of a 2009 play by England's Alexi Kaye Campbell; Hugh Dancy (Venus in Fur) costars in a dual role as her two adult sons, who resent being excluded from her life and recent memoir. Daniel Aukin directs for the Roundabout Theatre Company.