fall theater roundup
by Somers Farkas, 11/13/2008
With fall coming to a close and the wonders of the holiday season beginning to permeate the City, the cultural offerings throughout the five boroughs add their own sparkle to this time of year. And while the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade may be the longest-running show on Broadway, there are plenty of fresh musicals, award-winning dramas and spirited revivals to compete with the giant balloons, floats and marching bands:
Liza’s at the Palace opens December 3 at the Palace Theatre in Times Square, for a limited engagement (recently extended through December 28). That’s right—Liza Minnelli plays the Palace. Accompanied by a 12-piece orchestra, she’ll be unleashing her inimitable talents, performing many of her personal favorites and signature showstoppers like “Cabaret” and “New York, New York.” The evening will also feature a dance-filled tribute to her godmother, the legendary performer Kay Thompson, as well as personal stories, anecdotes and heartfelt reminiscences.
Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is New York’s newest holiday tradition. This stage adaptation of the 1954 film musical starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye tells the story of two show business friends who put on a show in a Vermont Inn—and find their perfect partners. Opening November 23, the show will run through January 4 at the Marquis Theatre
All My Sons, Arthur Miller’s searing 1947 drama of American guilt and self-delusion, was inspired by the true story of a businessman who knowingly sold the government defective airplane parts during WWII. This all-star revival (John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson and Katie Holmes) at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre marks the first production of a Miller play to open on Broadway since the playwright’s death three years ago.
The musical adaptation of the film Billy Elliot, featuring a score by Elton John, set box-office records in London and now promises to become an equally bright hit on this side of the pond, at the Imperial Theatre. A working-class boy dreams of becoming a ballet dancer in a story about community and breaking with tradition that should appeal to young and old alike.
After a successful off-Broadway run, Dividing the Estate, Horton Foote’s sparkling new play about an eccentric Texas family battling over inheritance, has transferred to Broadway’s Booth Theatre.
Through February 22, the “have my people call your people” people will be in residence at the Barrymore Theatre in Speed-the-Plow. Jeremy Piven (of HBO’S Entourage), Raul Esparza and Elisabeth Moss sizzle in this exhilarating revival of David Mamet’s savage study of Hollywood.
And for those of you who have not seen Hairspray, now is your chance. Harvey Fierstein reprises his Tony Award–winning role as Edna Turnblad until the show’s final song and dance on January 4.
The Great White Way is not the only place to enjoy great theater—many lights shine equally bright off Broadway:
What’s That Smell: The Music of Jacob Sterling provides “rapturously awful, indescribably wonderful” songs and whip-smart satire (per Charles Isherwood of the New York Times). Following the career of a luckless and not altogether talented songwriter, the show etches an engaging caricature of a composer-lyricist (and self-believed luminary) desperate to keep musical theater alive. After a sold-out downtown engagement, the show has transferred to New World Stages, in Hell’s Kitchen
The 59E59 Theaters have two enticing new offerings. Set in Dublin in 1941, Improbable Frequency gives British spies, Nazi sympathizers and exiled intellectuals a chance to engage in devilishly witty dialogue and fiddle about in neutral Ireland as the rest of Europe burns. The joyous satirical musical, winner of three Irish Times Theatre Awards, opens November 28. Coming in mid-December, Simon Green Sings Coward at Christmas: A Cabaret for Noel, celebrates Sir Noël’s sophistication, wit and warmth (and his December 16 birthday!), blending classics and some recently discovered comedic gems.
Over in DUMBO at St. Ann’s Warehouse through December 21 is Black Watch, a haunting mix of drama, song and dance from the National Theatre of Scotland about a Scottish Army regiment’s experiences in the Iraq War.
You should also check out the performance calendar of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Respected for its cutting-edge, sometimes shocking, often brilliant theater, dance, cinema and music, BAM is a distinctive cornerstone for performing arts in New York City.
There is an array of options for you to enjoy the best the City has to offer no matter your schedule or budget. Here are a few:
•TKTS, operated by Theatre Development Fund, sells seats for Broadway shows at 25% to 50% at three locations—in Times Square, the South Street Seaport and downtown Brooklyn.
•Season of Savings offers coupons for up to 55% off of Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals and plays. If you can’t find the show you’re looking for there, try broadwaybox.com and nytheatre.com.
•Remember too, most Broadway shows offer daily lottery tickets and sell rush, standing-room-only and on-stage-seating tickets—often for under $50!
•Students and senior citizens receive sizable discounts at the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Metropolitan Opera and Dance Theater Workshop.