An exciting slate of new plays dominates the upcoming fall season, with three new playwrights making their Broadway debuts in the busy month of September alone. The first half of the season also promises a range of musical theater, including the highly anticipated productions of Jagged Little Pill, Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, and West Side Story. Check out what’s in store.
Recently opened, the double bill Sea Wall/A Life (through September 29, Hudson Theatre) offers two solo performances from Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (last seen on Broadway in Sunday in the Park With George) and Tony nominee Tom Sturridge (1984). In Sea Wall, written by Simon Stephens (Tony winner for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Sturridge plays a photographer on holiday with his family in the South of France. Gyllenhaal plays an expectant father in A Life, written by Nick Payne (Constellations). Both men express devastating stories of love and loss in the pair directed by Carrie Cracknell.
The play that famously runs in reverse, Harold Pinter’s Betrayal (opens September 5, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre) starts after a clandestine extramarital affair has ended and travels back to when the romance began seven years before. Pinter’s compelling drama, inspired by the late English playwright’s own extramarital infidelity, examines the wreckage of a marriage and a friendship over the duration of the affair. Jamie Lloyd’s production, hailed in London for its minimalist style and revelatory impact, marks the play’s third revival since its 1980 Broadway debut. The cast includes Golden Globe and Olivier Award winner Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Cox, and Zawe Ashton.
Since everyone who saw it two years ago Off-Broadway was sworn to secrecy, all one can reveal about Derren Brown: Secret (previews start September 6, opens September 15, Cort Theatre) is that it brings two-time Olivier Award winner Brown to the Broadway stage for the first time. A recipient of the 2018 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, the mesmerizing show is written and performed by the master British mentalist and Netflix star who is known to be able to read minds. The magic show for skeptics is cowritten and directed by Andy Newman and Andrew O’Connor.
Brian Cox, lead of the hit HBO series Succession, takes on the role of Lyndon B. Johnson in The Great Society (previews start September 6, opens October 1, Vivian Beaumont Theatre). The historical drama is Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Schenkkan’s companion piece to his 2014 Tony- and Drama Desk award–winning All the Way. Picking up in 1965 at the start of LBJ’s first full presidential term, the play covers the tumultuous years up to 1968, when Johnson introduced an impressive domestic agenda to address poverty, healthcare, and education while escalating the damaging war in Vietnam. Three-time Tony nominee Marc Kudisch plays Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley; Tony and Drama Desk nominee and Emmy winner for The Waltons Richard Thomas plays Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey; and Grantham Coleman makes his Broadway debut as Martin Luther King Jr. in the production directed by Bill Rauch. Other cast members include Bryce Pinkham as Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Frank Wood as Senator Everett Dirsken, Gordon Clapp as J. Edgar Hoover, and Nikkole Salter as Coretta Scott King.
It’s safe to say that Broadway has never seen anything quite like Slave Play (previews start September 10, opens October 6, Golden Theatre). Playwright Jeremy O. Harris, self-identified black queer artist, makes his Broadway debut with a daring and provocative take on race relations. Complete with explicit sex scenes, the intentionally outrageous and transgressive comedy is viewed through the tangled desires of three interracial couples. Harris received several awards, including the Rosa Parks, Lorraine Hansberry, and Paula Vogel playwriting awards, after the play’s critically acclaimed sold-out Off-Broadway run last year at New York Theatre Workshop. The explosive new play is directed by Robert O’Hara.
Three-time Olivier Award winner Dame Eileen Atkins makes a welcome return to the Broadway stage in The Height of the Storm (previews start September 10, opens September 24, Samuel J. Friedman Theatre), an enigmatic new drama from Florian Zeller (Tony nominee in 2016 for The Father). The octogenarian English actress, who received the first of her four Tony nominations for her 1966 Broadway debut in The Killing of Sister George, will be joined by two-time Tony Award winner Jonathan Pryce (Miss Saigon, Comedians). Reprising their acclaimed London performances in the Manhattan Theater Club production directed by Jonathan Kent, Atkins and Pryce play a couple whose 50 years of life together seems to be unravelling in mysterious ways. The play is translated by Tony winner Christopher Hampton (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Sunset Boulevard).
Expect to see a different show at each performance of Freestyle Love Supreme (previews start September 13, opens October 2, Booth Theatre), the already popular hip-hop improv comedy in which cast members rap on the fly, taking cues from the audience. The group, which predates In the Heights and Hamilton, was created by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, and Anthony Veneziale in 2003. Veneziale (a.k.a. Two Tough) leads a five-member cast, supported by spontaneous performances from surprise guest stars — the roster will include Christopher Jackson, James Monroe Inglehart, Daveed Diggs, Wayne Brady, and maybe Miranda himself. To keep the experience free of digital distraction, ushers will seal your smartphones or smart watches in the new “Yondr” pouch, which you get to keep with you (locked) throughout the performance.
Emmy, Golden Globe, and Tony Award winner Mary-Louise Parker (Hedda Gabler, Proof) returns to Broadway in Adam Rapp’s The Sound Inside (previews start September 14, opens October 17, Studio 54). Rapp, a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2006 for Red Light Winter, makes his Broadway debut with this new suspenseful drama. Parker plays a Yale professor who entangles her life with a brilliant and mysterious creative writing student (played by Will Hochman). The production, directed by David Cromer (Tony Award winner for The Band’s Visit), premiered at the Williamstown Theater Festival last summer.
Playwright Tracy Letts, who received both a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for August: Osage County, describes his latest, Linda Vista (previews start September 19, opens October 10, Hayes Theater), as a “comedy for adults.” It’s a hard-hitting comedic look at a flawed 50-year-old divorced man whose life is in crisis but who lacks the self-awareness to realize it. The Chicago-originated Steppenwolf Theatre production, directed by Dexter Bullard, arrives on Broadway via a previous staging by the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. The cast includes Ian Barford, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Chantal Thuy, Jim True-Frost, Cora Vander Broek, and Tory West.
Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (last seen on Broadway in The Realistic Joneses) plays Serafina Delle Rose, an Italian American widow whose lust for life is reawakened when she meets a truck driver, Alvaro Mangiacavallo (Emun Elliott of Game of Thrones fame), in Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tattoo (previews start September 19, opens October 15, American Airlines Theater). Arguably the great American playwright’s most optimistic and romantic work, the comedic drama is a love letter to Williams’s own Sicilian American lover Frank Merlo. The Roundabout Theatre Company production, directed by Trip Cullman, marks the third Broadway revival of the Williams play since its Tony Award–winning premiere in 1951.
Greek Gods rule on 48th Street! Following a successful Off-Broadway run and a multicity U.S. tour, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical (previews start September 20, opens October 16, Longacre Theatre) arrives across the street from the home of the 2019 Best Musical Tony winner, Hadestown. We meet young Percy, who discovers he’s a demigod with supernatural powers. (His dad is Poseidon, god of the sea.) Percy embarks on a series of adventures, along with other “half-blood” teens, on a quest for Zeus’s lightning bolt to prevent a war among the gods. Chris McCarrell plays the young avenger, the role he originated in the 2017 Off-Broadway production. The Drama Desk–nominated musical is based on Rick Riordan’s best-selling novel and is written Rob Rokicki (music and lyrics) with Joe Tracz (book). The production is directed by Stephen Brackett (Be More Chill) with choreography by Patrick McCollum (The Band’s Visit).
The winner of multiple Best Play awards in London this year, The Inheritance (previews start September 27, opens November 17, Ethel Barrymore Theater) marks the Broadway debut of playwright Matthew Lopez (The Whipping Man, The Legend of Georgia McBride). The ambitious two-part epic is a bold reenvisioning of E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End, transposed to 21st century New York. The play tracks the loves and friendships of three generations of gay men whose interlinked stories reflect a shared queer community history. The production is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliott, An Inspector Calls). Andrew Burnap, John Benjamin Hickey, Paul Hilton, Samuel H. Levine, and Kyle Soller (winner of the 2019 Olivier Award for Best Actor) reprise their roles from the London production. The Broadway cast includes Obie winner and two-time Tony nominee Lois Smith (Buried Child, The Grapes of Wrath).
David Byrne’s American Utopia (previews start October 4, opens October 20, Hudson Theatre) is a stage adaptation of the singer-songwriter’s 2018 album of the same name and features songs from his solo career as well as hits from his Talking Heads days. Reflecting his world vision, Byrne will share the stage with a kinetically choreographed, internationally diverse band of 11 musicians. For this production, Byrne teams up with his collaborators from the Off-Broadway musical success Here Lies Love: Annie-B Parson (staging and choreography) and Alex Timbers (production consultant). Parson also worked on the American Utopia concert tour and Timbers is currently represented on Broadway with Beetlejuice and Moulin Rouge.
Adrienne Warren (Tony nominee for Shuffle Along) brings to Broadway the high voltage performance that took London by storm: Tina – The Tina Turner Musical (previews start October 12, opens November 7, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre). The Tina Turner musical, written by Katori Hall (The Mountaintop) with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins, is a celebration of the rock goddess’s remarkable triumph over the obstacles in her turbulent life. Expect to hear Turner’s greatest hits, including “The Best,” “Proud Mary,” “River Deep, Mountain High,” and, of course, “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” The production, which features Daniel J. Watts, Dawnn Lewis, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, and Myra Lucretia Taylor, is directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!, Mary Stuart) and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast.
Jagged Little Pill (previews start November 3, opens December 5, Broadhurst Theatre) explores the joys and pains of a suburban family through the emotionally powerful songs of seven-time Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette and six-time Grammy winner Glen Ballard. The libretto by Diablo Cody (Oscar winner for Juno) encompasses the addictions, confusions, and perils of contemporary American life with humor and passion. The cast includes Elizabeth Stanley (Drama Desk nominee for On the Town), Kathryn Gallagher, Celia Rose Gooding, Derek Klena, Sean Allan Krill, and Lauren Patten. The production, which premiered last year at The American Repertory Theatre, is directed by Diane Paulus (Tony Award winner for Pippin).
Campbell Scott (House of Cards), last seen on Broadway in Noises Off, plays Ebenezer Scrooge in an affectionate new stage adaptation of the evergreen Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol (previews start November 7, opens November 20, Lyceum Theatre). The novel is adapted by Jack Thorne, who conjured up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2018 Best Play Tony Award). The score, which includes 12 beloved Christmas carols, is by Tony nominee Christopher Nightingale. A holiday attraction for two years running at London’s Old Vic Theatre, the production is directed by Matthew Warchus (Tony Award winner for God of Carnage and Tony nominee for Matilda the Musical and Groundhog Day).
A little over a decade ago, the surrealist fantasy from the master Russian clown Slava Polunin captured the hearts of New York theater audiences, running over 1000 performances off-Broadway and continuing on Broadway. Winner of the Drama Desk’s Unique Theatrical Experience and Tony nominee in 2008 for Best Special Theatrical Event, Slava’s Snowshow (previews starts November 11, opens November 14, Stephen Sondheim Theatre) is back to bring childlike delight to holiday audiences with its absurd antics and cascades of snow
There’s always room for magic on Broadway, and it’s time once again for the world-famous pyrotechnic spectacular The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays (previews start November 19, closes January 5, Neil Simon Theatre). Wowing audiences with their mind-boggling feats, The Illusionists have played Broadway in four different incarnations since 2014. This year’s edition will feature specialty acts from Chris Cox, Paul Dabek, Kevin James, Sos and Victoria Petrosyan, and Enzo Weyne.
More than half a century since it first created a sensation on Broadway, and a decade since its last revival, the landmark American musical West Side Story gets a bold new telling (previews start December 10, opens February 6, Broadway Theatre). Avant-garde director Ivo van Hove (Tony winner for A View From the Bridge and nominee for Network this year) promises to bring a 21st century eye to the beloved work created by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents. This production will mark the first New York revival of the Romeo and Juliet–inspired story to feature brand-new choreography — by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker — that departs from the original Robbins dances. The cast includes Isaac Powell (Once on This Island) as Tony, Shereen Pimentel (The Lion King) as Maria, Yesenis Ayala as Anita, and Amar Ramasar as Bernardo (both recently seen in Carousel).
A family is turned upside down when one half of a happily married couple suddenly wants a divorce in Grand Horizons (previews start December 20, opens January 23, Hayes Theatre). The new comedic drama marks the Broadway playwriting debut of Bess Wohl (Small Mouth Sounds). The Second Stage Theater production, which premiered at the Williamstown Theater Festival this summer, is directed by Tony winner Leigh Silverman (Violet, The Lifespan of a Fact). The cast includes Priscilla Lopez, Maulik Pancholy, Ashley Park, Thomas Sadoski, and Michael Urie.
Three-time Tony Award nominee David Alan Grier (Porgy and Bess) and two-time Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood (A Streetcar Named Desire) star in the first Broadway production of A Soldier’s Play (previews start December 27, opens January 21, American Airlines Theatre). In the tense Pulitzer Prize–winning drama by Charles Fuller, first presented by the Negro Ensemble Company in 1981, an investigation into a murder at a segregated Louisiana Army base in 1944 uncovers surprising layers of racial prejudice and hatred. The Roundabout Theatre Company production is directed by Kenny Leon (2014 Tony Award winner for A Raisin in the Sun).