NEW YORK -- As autumn turns the Manhattan air crisp and cool, Broadway is gearing up for another season. In the 2012-2013 lineup are new plays, star-driven revivals, lavish musicals and shows inspired by movies, books, TV shows and one very well-known comic strip.
The stars that should make box offices glow just a little brighter this season include Al Pacino (in the revival of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross), Jessica Chastain (playing the title role in The Heiress), Katie Holmes (moving on from Tom Cruise in Dead Accounts), the always-fabulous Chita Rivera (in The Mystery of Edwin Drood revival), Debra Winger (opposite Patti LuPone in Mamet’s new The Anarchist), Paul Rudd (with Ed Asner and Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon in Grace), Alec Baldwin (in a planned spring revival of Orphans) and Henry ‘The Fonz’ Winkler (as a retired porn star, believe it or not, in The Performers).
Kids and their families will have plenty of Broadway (and close-to-Broadway) options this season, from a revival of Annie (featuring Miamian Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan) to a stage version of the TV musical Cinderella to the British hit Matilda. There’s also family-friendly holiday fare such as Elf, A Christmas Story and two large-scale shows, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, www.theateratmsg.com) and that beloved perennial, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (at Radio City Music Hall, www.radiocity.com).
The season’s best bet (so far) for fans of take-no-prisoners drama on Broadway is the Steppenwolf revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? starring company members Amy Morton (she was in August: Osage County) and Tracy Letts (he won the Pulitzer Prize for writing August: Osage).
As always, consider what Off-Broadway has to offer if you’re making New York theater plans. Christopher Durang’s Chekovian comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (starring Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce) runs at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi Newhouse Theater Oct. 25-Jan. 13 (www.lct.org). Giant, a musical version of the Edna Ferber novel set in Texas (with music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa and a book by Sybille Pearson) plays the redesigned Public Theater Oct. 26-Dec. 2 (www.publictheater.org). Two other musicals at the Public, Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s Fun Home (Oct. 17-Nov. 4) and Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim (April 2-May 5) also sound promising.
Movie hottie Jake Gyllenhaal is making his stage debut in the play If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for theatre (www.roundabouttheatre.org). Other stars who will show up Off-Broadway this season include Bebe Neuwirth in Terrence McNally’s Golden Age (Nov. 13-Jan. 6) and Edie Falco in Liz Flahive’s The Madrid (Feb. 5-April 14), Manhattan Theatre Club productions at the New York City Center (www.manhattantheatreclub.com). Miamian Tarell Alvin McCraney’s hot new London hit, Choir Boy, will also play City Center next summer (previewing June 18, opening July 2). Other Off-Broadway plays to look out for include Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Water by the Spoonful at Second Stage (www.2st.com) and the Playwrights Horizons world premiere of hot playwright Amy Herzog’s The Great God Pan (Nov. 24-Dec. 30; www.playwrightshorizons.org).