Broadway 2009: Fall Season – New Plays


NEW YORK – A funny thing happened on the way to Broadway’s fall season of plays — new works will outnumber revivals, which is not usually the case.

Six new plays are planned, with the most anticipated — and most starry — leading the way: Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman as a pair of conflicted Chicago police officers in “A Steady Rain” by Keith Huff. It opens Sept. 29 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

The two-character, 90-minute drama won raves from the Chicago critics when it premiered there in 2007 with a different cast. It could be big in another way, too. “A Steady Rain” will sport the highest regular ticket price for a play (but not a musical) on Broadway. Top weekend tickets will go for $130 each, climbing to $140 Thanksgiving weekend and for Dec. 4-6, the final weekend of the production’s 12-week limited engagement.

Will it matter to fans of the Tony-winning Boy from Oz and film’s latest James Bond? Probably not, although a bigger show may be the folks waiting after the performance at the Schoenfeld stage door to see the duo leave the theater.

Another Chicago export, Tracy Letts‘ “Superior Donuts,” courtesy of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, arrives next. It premieres Oct. 1 at the Music Box Theatre, where Letts’ previous effort, the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning “August: Osage County,” closed last May.

Michael McKean stars as the owner of a rundown doughnut shop and Jon Michael Hill is his young employee who wants to jump-start the fading business.

Carrie Fisher has impeccable show-biz credentials. Daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movies. Best-selling novelist of “Postcards From the Edge.” And now the playwright and star of “Wishful Drinking,” an autobiographical solo show detailing the ups and downs of her turbulent life. Fisher tells all Oct. 4 at the Roundabout Theatre Company‘s Studio 54.

At the Roundabout‘s other Broadway house (the American Airlines Theatre), it’s Miller times two.

Sienna Miller and Jonny Lee Miller (they are not related) co-star with Marin Ireland in “After Miss Julie,” playwright Patrick Marber’s reworking of “Miss Julie,” Strindberg’s classic 19th-century tale of class, sex and power. He’s updated the tale to 1945 and the eve of the Labour Party’s election victory in England.

Sienna Miller will portray the title character, a wealthy young woman involved with a family manservant, played by Jonny Lee Miller. Their passion ignites Oct. 22.

Playwright Sarah Ruhl has been lauded off-Broadway for such fanciful works as “The Clean House” and “Eurydice.” Now thanks to Lincoln Center Theater, she will make the move to Broadway with the provocatively titled “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play).”

Ruhl’s comedy, which features Michael Cerveris as a late 19th-century doctor and Laura Benanti as his wife, explores sexual reawakening and the freedoms it unleashes. Look for it Nov. 19 at the Lyceum Theatre.

David Mamet is having his own mini-festival in New York this fall. On Broadway, that means the world premiere of “Race,” opening Dec. 6 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. As for its plot, all producer Jeffrey Richards will say is, “The title is self-explanatory.” But we do know the cast includes James Spader, Richard Thomas, David Alan Grier and Kerry Washington.

Mamet will also have a potentially explosive revival on Broadway this fall: “Oleanna,” featuring Bill Pullman as a college professor and Julia Stiles as his student. Their face-off commences Oct. 11 at the Golden.

And that doesn’t even include two Mamet one-acts — “School” (a world premiere) and “Keep Your Pantheon” arriving off-Broadway Sept. 30 at the Atlantic Theater Company.

“Hamlet” hasn’t been seen on Broadway since 1995, when Ralph Fiennes played Shakespeare’s melancholy Danish prince. Now an equally starry actor, Jude Law, tackles the role in the Donmar Warehouse production that played London and then Elsinore Castle in Denmark before heading to New York. The curtain goes up Oct. 6 at the Broadhurst.

Blue bloods of another sort — an acting dynasty vaguely modeled after the Barrymores — arrive next in “The Royal Family,” the aptly named comedy by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, first seen in New York in 1927. The always incandescent Rosemary Harris plays its matriarch and the cast also includes Ana GasteyerJohn GloverJan Maxwell and Tony Roberts. The Manhattan Theatre Club revival opens Oct. 8 at its Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Broadway will get a double dose of Neil Simon this fall. Two of his three autobiographical trilogy plays, “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Broadway Bound,” will run in rep at the Nederlander Theatre.

First up is “Brighton Beach” featuring Noah Robbins as a young Eugene Jerome, the stand-in for Simon andLaurie Metcalf as Kate Jerome, his mother. The family comedy unfolds Oct. 25.

It will be joined Dec. 10 by “Broadway Bound” with Metcalf again playing the mother and Josh Grisetti as the older Jerome, now on the verge of promising show-biz writing career.


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