Making their Way

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Family intrigue, classroom conflict, racial tension and one egregiously ripped-off leprechaun are just some of the themes that theatergoers can look forward to this fall, as the new season makes its way to the stage.

For the past several years, the TimesLedger’s From the Footlights column has highlighted the significant contributions Queens residents make each year to the city’s theater scene, both as performers and with key jobs behind the scenes.

Statistics compiled by Broadway officials have shown that attendance at the theater by New Yorkers who live outside Manhattan has been growing. We hope a substantial number of them come from our borough. That would be good news, for both the theater community and for residents of Queens and other boroughs, who can be enriched by a variety of plays and musicals.

Below are some new productions to consider for the new fall season:


Of course the work of American artists is very much a part of the new fall season, including playwright and provocateur David Mamet. “Oleanna,” a revival of David Mamet’s 1992 play, tells the story of a power struggle between a male professor and his female student. It stars Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles. Now in previews, the show opens Oct. 11, at the John Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th St.

Mamet’s latest play, “Race,” will begin previews Nov. 17, with Dec. 6 slated for the opening. Richard Thomas, James Spader, David Alan Grier and Kerry Washington will headline the cast at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 West 47th St.

It wouldn’t seem that an Englishman and an Aussie would generate much interest playing two Chicago cops. But when the actors are Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, the buzz surrounding Keith Huff’s play “A Steady Rain” is much easier to appreciate. The cops are lifelong friends who have very different accounts of some “harrowing days that changed their lives forever.” A strictly limited run of 12 weeks ends Dec. 6, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 36th St.

Another British actor, Jude Law, is also drawing a good deal of attention for his upcoming role in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the Donmar Warehouse production that won rave reviews on London’s West Side. Don’t delay purchasing tickets for this production either, as it also is scheduled to close on Dec. 6. At the Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th St.

Lincoln Center Theatre again has some interesting offerings this fall including “Broke-ology,” by Nathan Louis Jackson, about two brothers, one of whom must give up his life dreams to take care of their ailing father. At the Mitzi Newhouse Theater, 150 West 65th St. Later in the year Lincoln Center is presenting “In the Next Room, or the vibrator play” at the Lyceum Theater, 149 W. 45th St. The comedy is described as being “about marriage, intimacy and electricity.”

Neil Simon fans should watch for two revivals this fall. “Brighton Beach Memoirs” will open Oct. 25 at the Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St., while in December “Broadway Bound” is well, Broadway bound, also at the Nederlander. Check for scheduling.


Perhaps the musical that is generating the biggest stir in this young fall season is “Memphis.” Set in the nightclubs of the 1950s, Memphis tells the story of Huey Calhoun, a young white DJ who falls in love with both rock-and-roll and a charismatic black singer. Memphis just completed an acclaimed and sold-out engagement at the La Jolla Playhouse in Seattle. At the Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th St.

After a sold out run Off Broadway, “Fela!” will come to Broadway this fall. The musical highlights the life of Nigerian performer, artist, and performer Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Two actors, Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo, will alternate playing the title character, while the group Antibalas and others will perform Kuti’s music. Previews begin Oct. 19, with opening night scheduled for Nov. 23, at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 230 West 49th St.

John Stamos, Gina Gershon and Bill Irwin star in “Bye Bye Birdie,” about a teen idol (inspired by Elvis Presley), who comes to town to serenade an adoring fan before he enters the Army. Opening night is Oct. 15 at the Henry Theatre, 124 West 43rd St. Closes Jan. 10.

The new season will also include the revival of a pair of Broadway standards. “Finian’s Rainbow” tells the story of an Irishman and his daughter who dream of becoming rich in America, with the help of a pot of gold stolen from a leprechaun. The musical features such classic tunes as “Old Devil Moon,” and “If This Isn’t love.” At the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th St. Opens Oct. 29.

After a very well-received revival at Kennedy Center in Washington, “Ragtime” returns to Broadway. Based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow, “Ragtime” celebrates the dreams and wonderful diversity of a New York City neighborhood at the start of the 20th century. Previews begin Oct. 23, with opening night scheduled for Nov. 15, at the Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52 St.

Off Broadway, look for “The Lily’s Revenge,” a five-part production that its promoters are calling “part Noh play, part verse play, part vaudevillian theatric, part instillation, part theater and part dance.” Runs from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 at the Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave.

Next week, From the Footlights will highlight the new offerings in music, dance, opera and other art forms.

Posted 6:28 pm, October 10, 2011
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