By Mark Blankenship
You've got to love the start of Broadway's season season: It's the time when every show still has the potential to be sensational. In that spirit of anticipation, here's a look at fifteen plays and musicals that will open on the Great White Way between September and December. All of them give us something to look forward to.
(This list is in alphabetical order.)
(1) After Miss Julie (American Airlines Theatre)
Previews: September 18
Opens: October 22
Let's Get Excited: British playwright Patrick Marber made his name in America with Closer, a devastating study of sexual and emotional entanglement. That's what August Strindberg's Miss Julie is about, too, so Marber's update sizzle. New Yorkers will be happy to know that the production features Marin Ireland, one of the city's most compelling actors, as a feisty housekeeper.
(2) Brighton Beach Memoirs / Broadway Bound (Nederlander Theatre)
Previews: Brighton, October 2; Bound, November 18
Opens: Brighton, October 25; Bound, December 10
Let's Get Excited: Chicago-based director David Cromer, who has been rocking Off Broadway audiences with his recent productions of Our Town and Adding Machine, makes his Broadway debut by directing two of Neil Simon's most beloved plays. Since Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, which will play in repertory, are the first and third parts of a semi-autobiographical trilogy, audiences will get a unique chance to see how they relate to each other.
(3) Bye Bye Birdie (Henry Miller's Theatre)
Previews: September 10
Opens: October 15
Let's Get Excited: Inaugurating the environmentally-friendly Henry Miller's Theatre, the Roundabout presents Broadway vets like John Stamos, Gina Gershon, Bill Irwin, and Jayne Houdyshell in a revival of a favorite American musical.
(4) Fela! (Eugene O'Neill Theatre)
Previews: October 19
Opens: November 23
Let's Gets Excited: This dance-heavy look at the life and music of African composer-performer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti is coming to Broadway after successful run at Off Broadway's 37 Arts. Spring Awakening choreographer Bill T. Jones both choreographs and directs, and Broadway mainstay Lillias White (The Life, Dreamgirls) plays Fela's mother.
(5) Finian's Rainbow (St. James Theatre)
Previews: October 8
Opens: October 29
Let's Get Excited: This classic satirical musical---about an Irishman who buries a leprechaun's gold in the American South, hoping it will grow---hasn't been seen on Broadway in almost fifty years. Sliding jokes about the American economic system between love songs like "Old Devil Moon," the show's as timely now as it's ever been.
(6) Hamlet (Broadhurst Theatre)
Previews: September 12
Opens: October 6
Let's Get Excited: You may have noticed that Jude Law is a fine (and fine-looking) actor, and now you can experience his work up close in this production of Shakespeare's great tragedy, transferring from London's Donmar Warehouse.
(7) In the Next Room (Lyceum Theatre)
Previews: October 22
Opens: November 19
Let's Get Excited: Plays like The Clean House and Dead Man's Cell Phone have made Sarah Ruhl a constant Off Broadway presence for most of the decade, but while she's won a MacArthur "genius" grant, she's never been on Broadway. Until now. Lincoln Center brings Ruhl to the Rialto with a dramedy about experimental therapists in the 1880s. Expect Ruhl's trademark wit, imagination, and bold theatrical gestures.
(8) Memphis (Shubert Theatre)
Previews: September 23
Opens: October 19
Let's Get Excited: Created by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, who teamed up for the Off Broadway musical The Toxic Avenger, Memphis uses the sounds of classic gospel and R&B to tell the story of a white DJ who breaks taboos in order to support a black musician.
(9) Oleanna (John Golden Theatre)
Previews: September 29
Opens: October 11
Let's Get Excited: Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles star in the Broadway premiere of David Mamet's controversial 1992 play about a confrontation between a university professor and a female student. This production won raves when it played in Los Angeles this summer, and it joins Race as one of two Mamet dramas on Broadway this fall.
(10) Race (Ethel Barrymore Theatre)
Previews: November 17
Opens: December 6
Let's Get Excited: Mamet, also represented on Broadway with this fall's production of Oleanna, enjoys a world premiere with Race. No plot details have been released, but based on the title and Mamet's taste for political confrontation, there's no doubt that ethnicity will be center stage. The writer also directs, and his cast includes David Alan Grier and James Spader.
(11) Ragtime(Neil Simon Theatre)
Previews: October 23
Opens: November 15
Let's Get Excited: Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens' score for this musical, about American life at the turn of the twentieth century, sounds just as rich today as it did when it premiered in the late nineties. It will be nice to hear the music live again, especially in a lauded production that's transferring to Broadway from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
(12)The Royal Family (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre)
Previews: September 15
Opens: October 8
Let's Get Excited: George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's 1927 comedy about a family of actors---who closely resemble the Barrymores---isn't remembered nearly as well as it should be. When Manhattan Theatre Club remounts the play, we'll get a chance to remember why Kaufman and Ferber were such beloved writers in their day.
(13) A Steady Rain (Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre)
Previews: September 10
Opens: September 29
Let's Get Excited: Hugh Jackman, returning to Broadway after his Tony-winning turn in The Boy From Oz, and Daniel Craig, making his Broadway debut, give an awful lot of star power to Keith Huff's play about two Chicago police officers facing the aftermath of a few unforgettable days.
(14) Superior Donuts (Music Box Theatre)
Previews: September 16
Opens: October 1
Let's Get Excited: For his first Broadway play, August: Osage County, Tracy Letts won the Tony and the Pulitzer, so it's only natural to be interested in what he does next. This production also boasts respected director Tina Landau.
(15) Wishful Drinking (Studio 54)
Previews: September 22
Opens: October 4
Let's Get Excited: In a one-woman show based on her popular memoir, Carrie Fisher ta