Sunday, December 30, 2007

Did Broadway Just Make History...or What?

Posted by Bruce Miller

Is it just me, or is Autumn 2007 going to go down in the record books as one of the most promising four-month periods for non-musicals on Broadway in the last several decades?

First of all, there was the issue of quantity—the subject of today’s blog post. We exited Labor Day with the promise of thirteen (count ‘em) plays slotted for a fall opening, and four musicals. When was the last time since the 70s that you saw a ratio like that?

The worthy entries in order of originally scheduled (pre-strike) first performance were:

Sept 13 - Mauritius, a new play by Theresa Rebeck, produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club;

Sept 14 - Pygmalion, pictured above and to the right, a revival of the classic by George Bernard Shaw, produced by Roundabout Theatre Company and starring no lesser lights than Claire Danes, Jefferson Mays and Boyd Gaines;

Also on Sept 14 – a revival of The Ritz by Terrance McNally, also produced by the Roundabout;

Oct 4 – A Bronx Tale, pictured above and to the left, a somewhat revived, somewhat new play written by and starring Chazz Palminteri, directed by Jerry Zaks;

Oct 12 – Cyrano de Bergerac, pictured to the right, a revival of the classic by Edmond Rostand (didn’t you love the Barksdale production?) starring Kevin Kline, Jennifer Garner and Daniel Sunjata;

Oct 15 – The Farnsworth Invention, pictured below, another brand new play by my favorite TV writer, Aaron Sorkin, about—what else—the beginning of television, starring Hank Azaria and Jimmi Simpson, directed by Des McAnuff;
Oct 19 – Rock ’n’ Roll, pictured to the left, a brainy transfer of a brand new play from London, by perhaps the world’s greatest living English-speaking writer, Tom Stoppard, directed by Trevor Nunn;

Oct 30 – August: Osage County, pictured to the right, the first of the two brand new plays named after months of the year, this one spawned at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, by Tracy Letts;

Also on Oct 30 – The Seafarer, another brand new play by the prolific Irish playwright Conor McPherson;

Nov 1 – Cymbeline by William Shakespeare, starring Michael Cerveris and Phylicia Rashad;

Nov 8 – Is He Dead?, pictured below, the world premiere of a newly discovered play by Mark Twain, adapted by David Ives, starring Norbert Leo Butz (when you’ve got a name like that you’d better be funny), and directed by Michael Blakemore;
Nov 23 – a revival of The Homecoming by Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter (all right, some will argue that he’s the greatest living English-speaking playwright, and David Mamet fans, wait your turn), starring Eve Best, Raul Esparza, Michael McKean and Ian McShane;

and last but not least, Dec 20 – November, by David Mamet (yes, some will argue that he's… and Edward Albee fans, you’ll have to wait until his 80th birthday in March to make your case), starring Nathan Lane and Laurie Metcalf, directed by Joe Mantello.

Now that’s a Fall Season that any true-blue theatre aficionado would salivate over. Then of course came the strike, which shuffled some of the dates. And as the plays opened, the assessments of quality were varied, to say the least.

But any way you measure it, it was a Fall Season to make you stand up and cheer. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about quality, which will give us even more to cheer about—and look forward to as we plan our winter/spring NYC theatre weekends.

--Bruce Miller

No comments: