As summer comes to an end, and many shows close to make way for newer, some risky, some self-assured, productions to take their place, let’s pause to reflect first on what we’ve lost. “Clybourne Park”, the winner of the Tony for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize, was announced as a limited run when it began, and extended after its Tony win, but gone are the days when a Best Play Tony guarantees you a long run. Two seasons ago, it was “Red”, which closed prematurely just 2 weeks after winning, this year at least “Clybourne” made it until Labor Day. Gone too, are “Sister Act”, “The Best Man”, “One Man, Two Guvnors”, “Ghost”, which surprisingly made it until mid-August, and the misbegotten “Porgy And Bess” revival, which will soon be leaving as well. But there’s plenty about to come in that on paper, at least, sound very promising.
First off, there’s yet another revival of David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross”, just 7 years after the last revival, but there’s a hook for this go-round. Al Pacino, who memorably played the slick hustler Ricky Roma in the film version, will be starring in the revival, but not as Roma. He’ll be playing end-of-his-rope Shelley Levene, so beautifully played by Jack Lemmon in the film, and by Alan Alda in the last revival. Bobby Cannavale will be playing Roma opposite Mr. Pacino, aided and abetted in this production by John C. McGinley (“Platoon”,”Scrubs”), David Harbour(“Brokeback Mountain”,”The Newsroom”), and the terrific stage actor Jeremy Shamos, fresh off “Clybourne Park”. This will certainly be the must see show this Fall, and the $147 ticket price certainly won’t deter fans of Mr. Pacino, although it might keep fans of the play itself from storming the box office. It’s a limited run, but it could get Pacino the Best Actor Tony he lost 2 years ago for “Merchant of Venice”. Theatre folk have very long memories. Ask Julie White.
It’s been 35 years(really, 35 years???) since the original production of “Annie”, but here comes the second revival of the show, just in time for a new generation, and the best news here is the casting of Katie Finneran(“Noises Off”,”Promises,Promises”) as the drunken, little girl-hating, orphanage director Miss Hannigan, so brilliantly played by the late Dorothy Loudon in the original, so badly botched by the late Nell Carter in the last revival. Finneran is a consummate comic actress, as anyone who saw the revival of “Promises, Promises” can attest, but I’ve never seen Katie Finneran in anything in which she was not brilliant. For her alone, I’ll see the James Lapine-directed revival.
Paul Rudd returns to Broadway(finally!!) in a new play, “Grace”, written by Craig Wright and directed by Dexter Bullard, and co-starring the frighteningly talented Michael Shannon and veteran actor Ed “Lou Grant” Asner. The plot sounds bizarre, about an entrepreneur who tries to build a chain of Bible themed motels throughout the South, with Asner as an exterminator(?), but the talent is all in place and the writer Craig Wright has been inching towards household name status for years. It sounds off kilter enough to work.
David Mamet, besides having his revival of “Glengarry”, also has an incoming original two hander arriving in November, which he is directing as well. “The Anarchist” is a battle of wills between a prisoner and a tough prison warden, and sparks promise to fly because playing the warden will be Patti LuPone, with Debra Winger as her prisoner. No other details are forthcoming yet, but the combination of Mamet, LuPone, and Winger should whet any serious theatergoer’s appetite, even though, again, ticket prices are astronomical, especially for a 2 character play. Will it be worth it? Most likely.
Ibsen’s “An Enemy Of The People”, a play not seen on any New York stage in many a moon, and my personal favorite Ibsen play, arrives this month, courtesy of Manhattan Theatre Club, in a new translation, with direction by Doug Hughes, and starring the ubiquitous,3 time Tony winner Boyd Gaines and the impeccable Richard Thomas. This is a fierce political thriller, way ahead of its time when written, about a doctor who discovers the spa which causes his town to thrive economically, is spewing polluted water which could be killing the townspeople. The doctor’s brother, the mayor, doesn’t want an investigation which could cause economic collapse, and therein lies the tale-a thriving economy over the health of the citizenry, spearheading a terse moral debate. In this election year, it’s a debate worth pursuing.
Also coming in- the musical version of the contemporary classic holiday movie, “A Christmas Story”, a revival of “The Heiress” with Jessica Chastain and “Downton Abbey”’s Dan Stevens, a new translation of “Cyrano de Bergerac” starring Douglas”La Cage aux Folles” Hodge, a revival of Clifford Odets’s brilliant classic, “Golden Boy” with Tony Shalhoub, and musicals based on the life of Charlie Chaplin, and another based on the “Rebecca”.
The list goes on, but it sounds like a great start to me.