The best American theater shows for fall 2016

From Daniel Craig playing Iago to a 24-hour history of America as told through pop songs, there are a plethora of great shows to see on Broadway and beyond

October Sky

A coalminers son reaches for the stars in this musical adaptation of the 1999 Jake Gyllenhaal film. The autobiographical story of Homer H Hickam Jr, a working-class kid who became a Nasa engineer, it has a book by Brian Hill and Aaron Thielen and rocket-fueled songs by Michael Mahler.

From 10 September to 23 October, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, California, (619-234-5623)

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music

If the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom, then the performer, composer and playwright Taylor Mac, whose works are overstuffed with music, dance, ingenuity, verve and glitter eye shadow, should be counted a contemporary sage. Judge for yourself when Mac presents his history of revolution in America as told through its popular song. Hell perform eight acts, totaling three decades each, then put them all together in a nonstop 24-hour marathon performance.

From 15 September to 8 October, St Anns Warehouse, New York, (866-811-4111)


h2>The Cherry Orchard

Diane Lane rehearsing for The Cherry Orchard. Photograph: Jenny Anderson
Real estate tumult is a staple of New York life, which means that Chekhovs comedy drama of an unwieldy estate flowers eternally. This new version is adapted by
Stephen Karam, who demonstrated his Chekhovian bona fides in The Humans. Diane Lane, John Glover and Tavi Gevinson play the faltering aristos with Harold Perrineau as an upstart entrepreneur and Joel Grey as a loyal servant.

From 15 September, American Airlines Theatre, New York, (212-719-1300)

Visiting Edna

David Rabes shrewd, fervid plays (Hurlyburly, Streamers) show people grasping for the vestiges of a normal life as tragedy, passion and blind chance threaten to wrest it away. In this new drama a cancer-stricken mother (Debra Monk) and her adult son (Ian Barford) attempt to uphold their relationship. Anna D Shapiro directs and ensemble members K Todd Freeman and Sally Murphy costar.

From 15 September to 6 November, Steppenwolf Theatre Chicago, Illinois, (312-335-1650)

The Front Page

One of the lead stories of this Broadway season is the star-crammed revival of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthurs comedy drama, the source for His Girl Friday. The headline cast includes Nathan Lane, John Goodman, John Slattery, Holland Taylor and Sherie Rene Scott in a tale of tabloid journalists who crack wise and write hard. Jack OBrien directs.

From 20 September, Broadhurst Theatre, New York, (212-239-6200)


Mary-Louise Parker and Denis Arndt in Heisenberg. Photograph: Joan Marcus
Theres little uncertainty surrounding the Broadway transfer of Simon Stephenss play,
which debuted at Manhattan Theatre Club last season. Mary Louise Parker and Denis Arndt play unlikely lovers thrust together like so many particles. Mark Brokaw directs.

From 20 September to 4 December, Samuel J Friedman Theatre, New York, (212-239-6200).

Meteor Shower


div class=”u-responsive-ratio”> Steve

Steve Martin performs at the Tony awards this year. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Steve Martins last show, Bright Star, shone with a somewhat modest light, but perhaps his comic sense will blaze more brightly in this new work. Here, two married couples congregate for an evening of astronomical delight and nuptial tension. Gordon Edelstein directs and Craig Bierko of Unreal is among its shooting stars.

From 28 September to 23 October at Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, Connecticut, (203-787-4282)


The Broadway revival of William Finn and James Lapines musical centers on a cluster of neurotic New Yorkers navigating family, sexuality, love and death. Christian Borle, Stephanie J Block, Andrew Rannells and Brandon Uranowitz star in the Lincoln Center production, directed by Lapine, which returns audiences to a Manhattan before the days of marriage equality and retrovirals.

From 29 September, Walter Kerr Theatre, New York,

Scenes from Court or The Whipping Boy and His Prince

Sarah Ruhls poetic, inventive plays (Eurydice, The Clean House) flout the rules of time, space and dramatic structure to thrilling effect. In her new play, an exploration of political dynasty directed by Mark Wing-Davey, the Stuart kings Charles I and Charles II somehow share the stage with more recent politicians, namely Jeb and George W Bush.

From 30 September to 22 October, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, Connecticut, (203-432-1234).


Rachel Weisz: shes got Plenty. Photograph: SBN/Star Max/GC Images

The Public Theater revives David Hares abundantly personal and political play, which it last hosted in 1982. An intricate character study and a searing indictment of postwar lassitude, the production stars Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) as a former resistance fighter reduced to professional drudgery, with Corey Stoll and Byron Jennings. David Leveaux directs the special operations.

From 4 October to 6 November, Public Theatre, New York, (212-967-7555).

Les Liaisons Dangereuses


div class=”u-responsive-ratio”> Gimme

Gimme danger: Janet McTeer as Marquise de Merteuil and Liev Schreiber as Vicomte de Valmont. Photograph: Jason Bell

When sex and power collide, all bets (and many a petticoat) are off. Josie Rourke brings her admired Donmar Warehouse revival of Christopher Hamptons adaptation of Choderlos de Lacloss epistolary novel to the relatively decadent environs of Broadway. Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber star as former lovers stirred by passion and revenge, with Birgitte Hjort Srensen.

From 8 October, Booth Theatre, New York, (212-239-6200).

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

An excerpt of Tolstoys War and Peace reimagined with a pop, electronic, indie score, Dave Malloys audacious musical streaks its way to the Broadway stage, where the director will work to maintain the plays immersive, vodka-swilling vibe for an uptown crowd. A work both cynical and unabashedly romantic, it now stars Josh Groban and Dene Benton as unlikely lovers.

From 18 October, Imperial Theatre, New York, (212-239-6200).


Lynn Nottage: both inspiration and perspiration. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
If genius is a mix of inspiration and perspiration,
the playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Intimate Apparel) doesnt lack for either. Her new play, which earned rapturous reviews at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, embeds itself in a working-class Pennsylvania town where the shuttering of factories threatens the economic and emotional lives of its residents. Kate Whoriskey directs.

From 18 October to 27 November, Public Theatre, New York, (212-967-7555).

Sweet Charity

A dance hall hostess with a 24-karat heart and an almost total lack of sense, Charity Hope Valentine, the cynosure of this Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields and Neil Simon musical, returns to the stage. In this New Group revival shell be played by Sutton Foster of Younger, an actress as toothy as she is virtuosic, under the poised direction of Leigh Silverman.

From 2 November to 23 December, Pershing Square Signature Center, New York,

Kings of War


div class=”u-responsive-ratio”> Kings

Kings of War: a deconstruction of Shakespeares history plays. Photograph: Jan Versweyveld

Several of Shakespeares monarchs bestride the Brooklyn Academy of Music stage, when Ivo van Hove brings his fusion of Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III to the Next Wave festival. Fourteen actors play 35 roles in a work exploring leadership and governance all too relevant in an election season.

From 3 November to 6 November, BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, New York, (718-636-4100).


h2>Dear Evan Hansen

This confident musical about a terminally awkward adolescent makes its poignant arrival on Broadway after an acclaimed run at Second Stage. Justin Paul and Benj Paseks tale of a dweebish teen, thrust into sudden popularity by a tragic misunderstanding, is directed by Michael Greif (Rent, Next to Normal) and stars Ben Platt in a performance that feels both utterly raw and expertly calibrated.

From 14 November, Belasco Theatre, New York, (212-239-6200).





figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> David Oyelowo and Daniel Craig: hoping for Moor this fall. Photograph: David Levene and PA

Daniel Craig came to fame playing an action hero, but hell play the villain, Iago, in New York Theatre Workshops production of Shakespeares tragedy, directed by Sam Gold. David Oyelowo is the Moor of Venice, with Rachel Brosnahan as his doomed Desdemona.

From 22 November to 18 January, New York Theatre Workshop, New York,<a href=”” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”> (212-460-5475).

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