Shows To Be Excited For- Fall 2018
The fall theatrical season has begun, and I’m already feeling behind in my coverage. My schedule is packed, months in advance, and I’m totally excited, naturally, for this season and for my November trip to London to see Company and The Inheritance that will add one more layer of thrills. It’s all so intoxicating. There’s a lot to be excited for on this side of the pond as well. Broadway is playing host to a number of hopefuls; great plays, great directors, actors, and actresses gracing our stages, and probably a few sleepers from some tried and true creators that might stumble out the gates. Here is a list, organized by the preview start dates not by my excitement levels, followed by some of my thoughts and feelings about what to expect and what I hope for. I’ve already seen the first of the fall Broadway shows, Roundabout’s Bernhardt/Hamlet (click on the highlighted titles for a quick hop to my review) and I hope that production is an indication of the high-caliber of artistry approaching, and not the pinnacle of the fall #Broadway season. So cross your fingers, sit back, fasten your seatbelts, examine your Playbills, and get ready for the ride. Next up:
• Theatre: Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
• First Preview: September 5, 2018
• Opening: September 27, 2018
• Written by Richard Bean
• Director: Daniel Sullivan (The Little Foxes)
• Dylan Spokes, a fast-rising young star arrives for a championship tournament only to be confronted by the authorities warning him of the repercussions of match fixing. Before he knows it, Dylan’s forced into underhanded dealings with a cast of wildly colorful characters that include his ex-convict dad, saucy mum, quick-tongued manager and a renowned gangster, to boot.
Frontmezzjunkies: I bet (fingers crossed doubly) this will be a frothy piece of fun but also a straightforward outing and an easy night at the theatre. It’s a play that I’m only seeing because of these joyous things called press tickets or I might admit, I would probably have passed on it. I’m hoping it rises up to the challenge cause it has a great director, the fantastically exacting Daniel Sullivan (The Little Foxes), so I’m praying it doesn’t pocket the 8-ball right off the bat. That would be a depressing game of snooker to sit through and a terrible way to spend a Tuesday night. A review will be out in the next week or so, as I’m entering that pool hall next week.
THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT
• Theatre: Studio 54
• First Preview: September 20, 2018
• Opening: October 18, 2018
• Written by: Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell, and Gordon Farrell
• A determined young fact checker is about to stir up trouble. The demanding editor has given him a big assignment: apply his skill to a groundbreaking piece by the unorthodox author. Together, they take on the high-stakes world of publishing in this new comedy of conflict. The ultimate showdown between fact and fiction is about to begin—with undeniably delicious consequences.
Frontmezzjunkies: This is one of those excellent cast creations that drives a person like me to the theatre, especially when lead by a talented director like Leigh Silverman. All of the three leads; Daniel Radcliffe (Public’s Privacy), Cherry Jones (2015’s The Glass Menagerie), Bobby Cannavale (The Hairy Ape) are exceptional and worthy of my interest and my applause. Even if there was only one of these stars on the marquee I’d be intrigued, but with all three, I’ll be there solidly thrilled to go on that literary ride as their enthusiastic fourth wheel (in my dreams).
THE WAVERLY GALLERY
• Theatre: John Golden Theatre
• First Preview: September 25, 2018
• Opening: October 25, 2018
• A feisty Greenwich Village art dealer must give up her beloved gallery due to her advancing years. As time rearranges her world, she must rely more than ever on her family’s love, loyalty, and devotion.
Frontmezzjunkies: A great playwright (Kenneth Lonergan, Lobby Hero), an inventive director, and a solid collection of acting talent makes for a compelling event that excites. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the legendary Eileen May on stage (I have never before had the honor), alongside the magnificent Joan Allen, the talented Lucas Hedges (MCC’s Yen, ‘Manchester by the Sea‘ ), and the always intriguing Michael Cena (Lobby Hero). Should be a great night.
• Theatre: Bernard B. Jacobs
• First Preview: October 2, 2018
• Opening: October 21, 2018
• Written by: Jez Butterworth
• Director: Sam Mendes (Broadway’s The Vertical Hour, Royal National’s King Lear)
• The Ferryman is set in rural Northern Ireland in 1981. The Carney farmhouse is a hive of activity with preparations for the annual harvest. A day of hard work on the land and a traditional night of feasting and celebrations lie ahead. But this year they will be interrupted by a visitor.
Frontmezzjunkies: I saw this beautiful piece of theatre making in London over Christmas last year, and even though I was as sick as can be, it captivated me for the whole 3 hours or so. I was a bit nervous I wouldn’t make it to the end as I’d been bed-ridden for days, but once ensnared in its web, I couldn’t take my eyes off it nor miss a second. With that scenario in mind, it’s no surprise that I’m eager to see it again, and this time I won’t thrust the review writing on my lovely (and very capable) friend, Gus.
• Theatre: Broadway Theatre
• First Preview: October 5, 2018
• Opening: November 8, 2018
• Written by Jack Thorne (book), Marius de Vries and Eddie Perfect (score)
• Director and choreographer: Drew McOnie (Strictly Ballroom)
• A musical adaptation of Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace’s novella.
• King Kong had its world premiere at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, Australia.
Frontmezzjunkies: Ok, really? I mean, I’m sort of curious how the puppetry is going to pull this off, and from the bits and pieces I’ve seen, they just might, but really? I mean, I’d be thrilled if it delivered the giant ape goods, but I am skeptical. I just can’t help it.
• Theatre: Booth Theatre
• October 6, 2018
• November 4, 2018
• Written by Christopher Demos-Brown
• Director: Kenny Leon (2ST’s Smart People)
• Cast: Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale
• A Florida police station in the middle of the night; a mother searching for her missing teenage son. American Son is a gripping tale of two parents caught in our national divide, with their worst fears hanging in the balance.
Frontmezzjunkies: It’s one of those starry casts, mainly Kerry Washington (“Scandal“) that create buzz and excitement on the broadway streets, but I’m more interested in the secondaries: Steven Pasquale (Broadway’s Junk) and Mr. Smash himself, Jeremy Jorden (Broadway’s Newsies) to bring this home and make it great. Fingers crossed.
• Theatre: The Hayes
• First Preview: October 9, 2018
• Opening: November 1, 2018
• Written by Harvey Feinstein
• Director: Moises Kaufman
• The acclaimed 2017 Off-Broadway revival will transfer with its cast intact.
Frontmezzjunkies: If you didn’t see it when it made its splash landing at Second Stage last year than here’s your gift from god chance. Feinstein’s play flies, especially with Michael Urie (PR’s The Government Inspector) in the pilot seat, and I’ll be whistling a happy tune to get a repeat viewing at the sweet (but cramped) Helen Hayes.
• Theatre: Longacre Theatre
• First Preview: October 21, 2018
• Opening: November 15, 2018
• Written by Bob Martin (book), Chad Beguelin (lyrics), Matthew Sklar (music)
• Director: Casey Nicholaw (Broadway’s Mean Girls)
• Cast: Beth Leavel, Brooks Ashmanskas (Broadway’s Sunday in the Park…), Christopher Sieber
• An original musical about a gay couple who want to attend their high school prom.
• Had a premiere production at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta in August 2016. Producers are Dori Berinstein and Bill Damaschke.
Frontmezzjunkies: It’s a solid setup with hit maker Casey Nicholaw (Broadway’s Mean Girls, Book of Mormon, Aladdin) at the helm, and a great cast headed by the powerhouse Beth Leavel (Broadway’s Bandstand), but I’ll be holding my breath, hoping for the best, but dreading that it just might be another Gettin’ the Band Back Together. Which wasn’t terrible, but it belongs over at the New World Stages, not Broadway.
THE NEW ONE
• Theatre: Cort
• First Preview: October 25, 2018
• Opening: November 11, 2018
• Written by Mike Birbiglia and Jennifer Hope Stein
• Directed by Seth Barrish
• Latest solo show from Birbiglia.
Frontmezzjunkies: I’ve heard great things, and I wasn’t able to get into his show off-Broadway, so maybe this time, with the Outer Critic Circle behind me, I’ll be able to see this gifted performer for the first time ever.
THE CHER SHOW
• Theatre: Neil Simon
• First Preview: November 1, 2018
• Opening: December 3, 2018
• Book by Rick Elice. Music by various composers.
• The musical traces the career of pop star Cher
• The Cher Show premiered at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre June 12–July 15, 2018.
Frontmezzjunkies: I don’t care what any nah-sayer says, I’m holding my breath wanting most definitely to Believe in the power of the Twitter genius and multi decade Half Breed star to bring it home. And with Stephanie J. Block (Broadway’s Falsettos) as the main Cher, I’m breathing a sigh of great relief. Please let it be better than Summer (at least the title is better), hoping these three Chers (at different stages of her life and career) do better than the three stages of Donna.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
• Theatre: Shubert
• First Preview: November 1, 2018
• Opening: December 13, 2018
• Written by Aaron Sorkin
• Director: Bartlett Sher, (My Fair Lady)
• Cast: Jeff Daniels, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Will Pullen, Gideon Glick, Latanya Richardson Jackson, Stark Sands, Frederick Weller, Erin Wilhelmi, Dakin Matthews, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Stephen Mckinley Henderson, Phyllis Somerville, Liv Rooth
• Based on Harper Lee’s novel of the same title.
Frontmezzjunkies: I saw a production at Canada’s Stratford Shakespeare Festival of this story, but my guess is the version coming to Broadway will be infinitely different. The classic stage shows is solid and well constructed, but does feel very old town fashioned so the story could use this talented writer to tighten it up into something more profound, and with a cast that includes some of my favorites; Jeff Daniels (Broadway’s Blackbird), Celia Keenan-Bolger (2ST’s A Parallelogram), Gideon Glick (LCT’s The Harvest), Stark Sands (Broadway’s phenominal American Idiot), and the always thrilling Frederick Weller (MTC’s Fulfillment Center), I’m very optimistic. So all that remains to see is which will be better and win the court case?
• Theatre: Belasco
• First Preview: November 10, 2018
• Opening: December 6, 2018
• Director: Ivo van Hove (Broadway’s The Crucible)
• Cast: Bryan Cranston (Broadway’s All the Way, TV’s ‘Breaking Bad’)
• Based on the classic 1976 film.
frontmezzjunkies: Coming from London’s National Theatre, this show with all those attached should be quite a wild ride. With Ivo van Hove driving the car and Bryan Cranston in the passanger anchor seat, the director who rocked Park Ave Armory with The Damned should win this race.
• Theatre: Samuel J. Friedman
• Previews begin: December 27, 2018
• Opening: January 22, 2019
• Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney
• For half a century, the Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys has been dedicated to the education of strong, ethical black men. One talented student has been waiting for years to take his rightful place as the leader of the legendary gospel choir. But can he make his way through the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key?
Frontmezzjunkies: I know nothing other than what you’ve just read. Sounds good. Great director with Trip Cullman (2ST’s Lobby Hero). So I’m curious to see. Holding my breath to see if this Choir Boy can sing.
• Theatre: American Airlines
• First Preview: December 27, 2018
• Opening: January 24, 2019
• Written by Sam Shepard (Fool for Love)
• Director: James MacDonald (MTC’s The Children, Top Girls)
• Revival. Ethan Hawke (Broadway’s The Coast of Utopia) stars opposite Paul Dano (Lincoln Center’s Free Man of Color) in Shepard’s classic play about two brothers.
Frontmezzjunkies: Love Ethan Hawke (“Dead Poets Society”, “Reality Bites”). And paired with Sam Shephard (Curse of the Starving Class) and Paul Dano (“There Will Be Blood”) I’ll be clamoring in to see True West.
• Theatre: Lyceum
• First Preview: February 13, 2019
• Opening: March 10, 2019
• Score by: Joe Iconis
• Director: Stephen Brackett (59E59’s The Mad Ones)
• Based on Ned Vizzini’s novel, the show tells the story of an average teenager (currently played Off-Broadway by Dear Evan Hansen‘s Will Roland), who takes a pill purported to make people more—you guessed it—chill.
Frontmezzjunkies: I’m including this, even though it’s not really opening this fall, but I’m just so excited or this little show that grew up so big before our very eyes. I’m not sure how it will do, but check out my review here, and Be More Chill about the prospects of Be More Chill. Cause the legions of teenage fans demand it to be so. And they are the future.