Curtains Up

Fall Broadway Preview: The Good, The Gay And Godspell


There are 18 (and counting) shows opening on Broadway between now and January. And show-tune queens can rejoice: of these, seven are musicals, including four revivals, two all-new works and one revue.

We’ll have to wait for 2012 for the highly anticipated revivals of Evita (with Ricky Martin) and Funny Girl (with Lauren Ambrose) but here’s a look at some of the hottest—and queerest—tickets on the Great White Way in what’s left of 2011.

UP FIRST: Follies!

Marquis Theatre, now playing

With a group of former Ziegfeld-style showgirls reuniting after decades out of the spotlight, Follies is a theatrical ghost story with all the wistfulness and lyricism you’d expect from a Sondheim musical—plus Broadway divas like Bernadette Peters and Elaine Page, and some behind-the-scenes insight into the business of show. Originally staged last spring at the Kennedy Center, it’s the season’s surest bet. If you don’t feel goosebumps during Peters’ rendition of “Losing My Mind,” you must be made of stone.

Image via Follies/Joan Marcus 

 NEXT: Woody Allen and Elaine May are Relatively Speaking


the cast of Relatively Speaking

Brooks Atkinson Theatre , previews begin Sept 20

One-acts are hardly commonplace on Broadway these days, but when it’s three one-acts written by Woody Allen (“Honeymoon Motel”), Ethan Coen (“Talking Cure”) and Elaine May (“George is Dead”), where else would you expect them to be performed? John Turturro directs these three vignettes about family dynamics and if those boldfaced names attached weren’t enough, the show also sports a quirky ensemble cast that includes Steve Guttenberg, Julie Kavner, Mark Linn-Baker, Melrose Place‘s Grant Shaud and That Girl herself, Marlo Thomas.


NEXT: Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett climb The Mountaintop


Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, previews begin Sept 22

The most anticipated drama of the fall season is Katori Hall’s dramatization of the final hours of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, featuring Samuel L. Jackson as King and Angela Bassett as the maid at the Lorraine Motel, where the civil-rights leader was assassinated. Mountaintop comes to New York well recommended—it won the prestigious Olivier Award when it premiered in London last year.

NEXT: Family dysfunction in Other Desert Cities


Booth Theatre, previews begin Oct 12

Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities follows a feisty politically active Palm Springs family as they deal with the news that daughter Brooke (Elizabeth Marvel) is about to publish a warts-and-all memoir revealing family secrets. Stockard Channing and Stacy Keach play the well-connected Republican parents and Rachel Griffiths play their liberal memoir-writing daughter, with Judith Light appearing as the mouthy alcoholic aunt.

While not ostensibly a gay play, Cities does have a good deal of queer street cred: Openly gay, Baitz was the creator of the very queer-friendly Brothers and Sisters (of which Griffiths is an alumna). Tony-winning gay director Joe Mantello hasn’t only directed numerous gay-themed productions (The Pride, Take Me Out, Love! Valour! Compassion!) but garnered nominations for his acting in both Angels in America and The Normal Heart.

If you miss Brothers and Sisters quarrelsome Walker family or are just a fan of the stellar cast, make it a priority to visit Cities.

Image via Joan Marcus 


NEXT: “Day by Day” with Godspell

Circle in the Square Theatre
, previews begin Oct 13

Based on the Gospels of St. Matthew, Godspell will be a big draw this fall, appealing to an interesting mix of theatergoers: Gay men who remember starring in a high-school or community-theater production, tweens enamored of the small-screen-staple cast—Hunter Parrish (Spring Awakening, Weeds), Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (Hannah Montana), Telly Leung (Glee)—and red-state parents looking for something “wholesome” to see in Sodom on the Hudson.

By the way, did we mention Hunter Parrish is in it?


NEXT: Girls call “time out” in Lysistrata Jones


Walter Kerr Theatre, previews begin Nov 12

Out playwright Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed) is known for witty, campy fun and his latest musical doesn’t look like it’ll disappoint. Moving from off-Broadway to the big time, Jones transplants Aristophanes’ story of women withholding sex so their lovers will end the Peloponnesian War to a modern-day college campus, where the girls ain’t putting out till their basketballer boyfriends win a game. While it may sound like a racier version of High School Musical, Jones re-teams Beane and director Dan Knechtges with Xanadu star Patti Murin, so it’s bound to have its fair share of gay innuendo.

 NEXT: Samantha Jones is sexy in another city in Private Lives


The Music Box, previews begin Nov 6

If, as one character says, “that certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs,” then certain plays should be staged repeatedly—chiefly this Noël Coward gem in which divorced partners find themselves honeymooning in Normandy at the same hotel in with their new mates. Coward’s droll queer wit is undeniable and with our favorite sex kitten, Kim Cattrall, as one of the gay divorcees, we’re chomping at the bit for this one.

Don’t cry for Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin

Ethel Barrymore Theatre, previews begin Nov 16

The original stars of Evita reunite for a two-month run on the Great White Way, performing some of the most beloved numbers written for the stage. Sparks flew when gay icon LuPone was last on Broadway and the two have a lifelong friendship to draw upon, so you can be assured this a must-see for every theater queen who’s ever sung “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” into a hairbrush.

Image via Ed Hill

NEXT: Alan Rickman Gives The Seminar

John Golden Theatre, previews begin Oct 27

This new play from Theresa Rebeck (Mauritius) follows four young writers who enroll in a private writing class with a renowned but unconventional author (Alan Rickman). The press announcement promises that love is found, innocence is lost and the wordplay is vicious. 

Please, you had us at “Alan Rickman.”

Image via Mary-Lan Nguyen

NEXT: Is it the same old Porgy and Bess?

Richard Rodgers Theatre, previews begin Dec 17

Arguably the most important musical opera in American history, Porgy and Bess shares the story of a beautiful African-American drug addict and her crippled lover on Charleston’s Catfish Row in the early 1920s. The show birthed several unforgettable songs, including “Summertime” and “I Loves You, Porgy.”

Director Diane Paulus (Hair) and Pulitzer-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog) have re-imagined the current Broadway-bound production—or as Paulus says, they’re “excavating and shaping” the story (and especially its female lead). It’s now closer to a traditional musical, with more backstory and less tragedy. Theater purists (most notably Stephen Sondheim) are outraged and, after opening in Cambridge last week, the show has gotten so-so reviews.

We’ll reserve judgment until the curtain goes up at the Richard Rodgers, but this one show everyone will be talking about—whether they’ve seen it or not.

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