Labor Day weekend marks the official start of the 2018–19 theater season, and Broadway is not wasting any time getting started. It gets a jump on that Friday, August 31, with Janet McTeer playing Sarah Bernhardt playing the Bard in Bernhardt/Hamlet. Productions with sky-high, pre-opening excitement will follow, including The Cher Show (starring not one but three Chers!) and a new musical about New York City’s biggest beast, King Kong. Alongside those blockbusters you’ll find plenty of thought-provoking plays, like the topical American Son, about race and the police, and Academy Award winner Kenneth Lonergan’s The Waverly Gallery, which touches on aging and Alzheimer’s.
There’ll be no shortage of big stars working the boards: Jeff Daniels takes on the daunting role of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird; Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano go mano a mano in Sam Shepard’s True West; and Daniel Radcliffe returns to Broadway for The Lifespan of a Fact. Also happening: Michael Urie’s triumphant Off-Broadway turn in Torch Song transfers to Broadway.
Read on for more details on all the shows coming to NYC this fall.
American Airlines Theater, 227 W. 42nd St., August 31 to November 11
Back in the late 1800s, actress Sarah Bernhardt was a legendary star of the stage who took on the greatest challenge of her career: portraying Shakespeare’s Hamlet. A new play from Theresa Rebeck looks at that moment in theater history with a mix of high drama and backstage comedy, starring Tony and Olivier Award winner Janet McTeer in the lead role.
The buzz: The notion of McTeer playing both Hamlet and Bernhardt has set the hearts of theater nerds aflutter.
Buy tickets if…you’re looking for a master class in acting.
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., September 5
In 2012, British playwright Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors was a hit comedy here that scored its little-known UK star James Corden a Tony and eventually a talk show. Bean’s latest is set around the wacky world of snooker, the English version of pool, and features a colorful cast of characters involved in an attempt to throw a championship match.
The buzz: The cast features an actual snooker pro to make all the scripted shots.
Buy tickets if…you’re game for an action-packed farce.
Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St., September 20 to January 13, 2019
Daniel Radcliffe is back on Broadway—as an intern fact-checker—in this unusual drama based on a book about truth in nonfiction writing. This new drama also stars Tony winner Cherry Jones as a magazine editor and Bobby Cannavale as John D’Agata (the book’s real-life co-author), who struggles with completing an article that’s mostly made up.
The buzz: This show provides a timely take on the topic of truth.
Buy tickets if…you sometimes question what you read in the papers.
Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St., September 25 to January 27, 2019
NYC-based playwright Kenneth Lonergan, who won a screenplay Oscar for Manchester by the Sea, is known for his realistic, intimate dramas that also have a sharp sense of humor. This memory play about the challenges of aging finally makes it to Broadway after an Off-Broadway run in 2000. Lucas Hedges plays a grandson to art dealer Elaine May, who is slowly losing her memory to Alzheimer’s disease; Michael Cera is also part of the cast.
The buzz: There’s much anticipation for May’s return to Broadway some 50 years after her debut in the legendary An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
Buy tickets if…you like to laugh and cry at the same time.
Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway, October 5 to April 14, 2019
After climbing the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center, it should come as no surprise that King Kong now wants to conquer Broadway. This musical adaptation of the iconic 1933 film tells the same story but with some changes to the character of (former) damsel-in-distress Ann Darrow, now with a more central role. Played by African American actress Christiana Pitts (A Bronx Tale), Darrow risks it all to help Kong.
The buzz: High-tech animatronics and old-school puppetry bring Kong to life in a manner that is both startling and surprisingly emotional.
Buy tickets if…you like a little scare with your show tunes.
Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St., October 6 to January 27, 2019
Kerry Washington recently wrapped her hit show Scandal and is returning to the Broadway stage for the first time since 2010 in this new play about race and the police. She plays a mother whose son has gone missing after a traffic stop in Florida and has to work with her estranged husband to discover the what happened.
The buzz: Washington couldn’t put this gripping drama down the first time she read it.
Buy tickets if…you’re interested in inspired-by-true-events stories.
Hayes Theater, 240 W. 44th St., October 9 to February 24, 2019
It’s been nearly 40 years since Harvey Fierstein’s heartfelt play about gay life, Torch Song Trilogy, made its debut as a monologue he performed at La MaMa downtown. Now the show makes its return to Broadway with Michael Urie in the lead at the newly renovated Hayes Theater, where the show ran in the 1980s.
The buzz: Last season at Second Stage, Urie wowed critics and audiences with his take on Fierstein’s breakthrough character.
Buy tickets if…you want to be loved—is that so wrong?!
Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St., October 23 to April 21, 2019
Set in rural Indiana, this musical follows the story of a high school student who wants to attend the prom with her girlfriend but is barred from doing so. The news travels to New York, prompting a group of out-of-work Broadway actors with the best of intentions to descend on this small town with its budding scandal. They try to make things right while, of course, making everything go hilariously wrong.
The buzz: The Atlanta tryout that debuted in 2016 was a huge hit with audiences, spurring it on to Broadway.
Buy tickets if…you like slow dancing and corsages.
Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St., November 1
After Carole King, Cyndi Lauper and even Bruce Springsteen took the New York stage by storm, it seemed almost inevitable that pop icon Cher would one day make it to Broadway. Unlike the Boss, Cher does not star in her own show but, instead, has three talented actresses (including Stephanie J. Block as ’80s superstar Cher) doing the heavy belting in this bio-musical that tells the epic saga of her five-decade career.
The buzz: Cher caused a stir attending the Chicago tryout, and asked the director to change some of her character’s lines too.
Buy tickets if…you want to turn back time and relive Cher’s pop past.
Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th St., November 1
Aaron Sorkin, the writer known for the rat-a-tat dialogue in The West Wing and The Social Network, returns to Broadway for his take on Harper Lee’s classic novel. In this new stage adaptation, Jeff Daniels tackles the role of attorney Atticus Finch, who defends a black man in a Deep South town confronting racism and justice.
The buzz: Sorkin’s controversial script takes a modern look at these iconic characters while keeping the basic story intact.
Buy tickets if…you like a good courtroom drama.
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., December 27
Tarell Alvin McCraney was an up-and-coming playwright when this drama, set in an African American boys prep school, debuted Off-Broadway in 2013. A few years and an Oscar for screenplay adaptation (Moonlight) later, McCraney will see his play transfer to Broadway with most of the original cast returning. Two such cast members, Chuck Cooper and Jeremy Pope, play young gospel singers navigating life in a boys’ prep school. The glorious gospel music is a key part of this unique drama.
The buzz: Though technically not a musical, the cast’s singing voices in the show impressed audiences the first time out, along with the beautiful choral arrangements.
Buy tickets if…you want to go to church—figuratively speaking.
American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., December 27
The late playwright Sam Shepard’s work is known for its brutal honesty, not to mention its brutality. In this play, which debuted in 1980, two brothers are stuck in a rural cabin in California; things get dicey, to say the least. Paul Dano and Ethan Hawke are set to take on these intense roles.
The buzz: Hawke and Dano have worked together twice before, giving them the familiarity the play demands for the family fireworks.
Buy tickets if…you’re not a fan of toasters or typewriters.