With at least 17 Broadway shows set to open before the end of 2012, now’s the time to book seats for the fall season’s hottest musicals and star-packed plays. Not sure which show is right for you? Consult our cheat sheet, then grab a calendar and plan a night out with Paul Rudd, Jessica Chastain, Al Pacino, Little Orphan Annie, Buddy the Elf and more!
Why It’s Hot: The Little Tramp heads to the Great White Way in this musical biography tracing the incredible rise of comic actor, writer, producer, director and composer Charlie Chaplin. Leading a cast of 22 is newcomer Rob McClure, who achieves a thrilling transformation in the title role.
The Details: Now in previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre; opens on September 10.
An Enemy of the People
Why It’s Hot: A timely tale of whistle-blowing and its consequences, Ibsen’s drama is actually 130 years old—but the play is getting a fast-paced revival pitting four-time Tony winner Boyd Gaines against Emmy winner Richard Thomas as his brother and nemesis. Place your bets!
The Details: Previews begin on September 4 at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre; opens on September 27.
Why It’s Hot: When a script attracts movie stars like Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon, you can bet it’s special. Craig Wright’s play is a surreal look at what happens when the would-be owner of a chain of Gospel-theme motels (Rudd) and his wife move next door to disfigured accident victim (Shannon).
The Details: Previews begin on September 13 at the Cort Theatre; opens on October 4.
Cyrano de Bergerac
Why It’s Hot: The swashbuckling 17th century star-crossed romance is back: Tony winner Douglas Hodge plays the poetic hero with the prominent nose opposite Harry Potter movie vet Clemence Poesy as the object of his doomed affection, the lovely (but clueless) Roxane.
The Details: Previews begin on September 14 at Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines Theatre; opens on October 11.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Why It’s Hot: A sold-out hit in Chicago and Washington DC, this scorching Albee revival pairs playwright and actor Tracy Letts and Tony nominee Amy Morton as one of the unhappiest (but most entertaining) married couples ever written. Down a bourbon on the rocks and get tickets.
The Details: Previews begin on September 27 at the Booth Theatre; opens on October 13.
Why It’s Hot: Little Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks are back where they belong, on one Broadway’s biggest stages. Hum along to “Hard Knock Life” and “Tomorrow” and savor two-time Tony winner Katie Finneran’s sure-to-be-delicious comic turn. We love you, Miss Hannigan!
The Details: Previews begin on October 3 at the Palace Theatre; opens on November 8.
Why It’s Hot: After watching Dan Stevens smolder for two seasons as Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey, fans will drool over his fraught romance with Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain. The biggest problem may be making Chastain—as a shy 1850s heiress—look plain enough to attract a fortune hunter.
The Details: Previews begin on October 7 at the Walter Kerr Theatre; opens on November 1.
Why It’s Hot: Broadway favorite Carolee Carmello joins forces with composer Kathie Lee Gifford to tell the fascinating true story of Aimee Semple McPherson, a superstar evangelist of the early 20th century. This long-awaited musical offers a timely mix of religion and ambition.
The Details: Previews begin on October 13 at the Neil Simon Theatre; opens on November 15.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Why It’s Hot: David Mamet’s irresistible f**cking comedy about a bunch of ruthless f**king real estate hucksters returns to Broadway with an awesome f**king cast led by Al Pacino as over-the-hill salesman Shelly Levene and Bobby Cannavale as ballsy motherf**cker Ricky Roma, the role played on film by Pacino.
The Details: Previews begin on October 16 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre; opens on November 11.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Why It’s Hot: Before Peter and the Starcatcher, there was Drood, a rollicking, Tony-winning 1985 musical inspired by Dickens, in which audiences vote on the ending. Chita Rivera and Stephanie J. Block headline Rupert Holmes’ crowd-pleaser, performed in music hall style.
The Details: Previews begin on October 19 at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54; opens on November 13.
Why It’s Hot: Four words: Cheyenne Jackson, Porn Star. Honestly, isn’t that all you need to know? And his character is named Mandrew. Happy Days icon Henry Winkler plays adult film superstar Chuck Wood (based on Ron Jeremy) in David West Read’s new comedy.
The Details: Previews begin on October 23 at the Longacre Theatre; opens on November 14.
Why It’s Hot: Generations of readers have been riveted by the story of the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter and her battle of wits with evil housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. Now, after six years of hit productions worldwide, the musical version of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 gothic romance is finally headed to New York.
The Details: Previews begin on October 30 at the Broadhurst Theatre; opens on November 18.
Why It’s Hot: The brother-sister matchup of Katie Holmes and Norbert Leo Butz makes Theresa Rebeck’s new comedy a must-see, as the prodigal son played by Norbert heads home to Cincinnati with mysterious millions, welcomed by Holmes as his spinster (?) sib. Let the stage door frenzy begin!
The Details: Previews begin on November 3 at the Music Box Theatre; opens on November 29.
A Christmas Story
Why It’s Hot: A Red Ryder BB gun; a lamp shaped like a leg; “I can’t put my arms down!” Yes, A Christmas Story is coming to Broadway in a new musical adaptation of the 1983 holiday favorite. Fans will get to see Ralphie, his Old Man, Scut Farkus and the gang in the flesh—and hear them sing.
The Details: Previews begin on November 6 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre; opens on November 19.
Why It’s Hot: This rare production of Clifford Odets’ Depression-era drama stars Seth Numrich (War Horse) as a young violinist torn between a career in music and earning big bucks as a prize fighter. Tony winner Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, Odets’ Awake and Sing!) directs a cast of 19 in Lincoln Center Theater’s revival.
The Details: Previews begin on November 8 at the Belasco Theatre; opens on December 6.
Why It’s Hot: The perfect Christmas season outing for the entire family, Elf returns after a successful 2010 run. It’s the sweet and sassy story of an adult-size elf who arrives in NYC from the North Pole searching for his family. A hummable score and funny script make the show a holiday treat.
The Details: Performances begin on November 6 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, through January 6, 2013.
Why It’s Hot: Sparks are sure to fly at a female penitentiary when inmate Patti LuPone pleads with warden Debra Winger for parole, in a new play written and directed by David Mamet. LuPone, who has worked many times with her pal Mamet, lauds the drama’s “two kick-ass, powerful parts.”
The Details: Previews begin on November 13 at the Golden Theatre; opens on December 2.