A sudden chill in the air means that the new Broadway season is nearly under way. In addition to Stephen Sondheim's acclaimed musical “Follies”, a revival of which opened in September (starring Bernadette Peters), curtains will rise on 16 new productions before the end of the year. Some beloved stage stars will be making their way back to Broadway in the process, such as Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin. With the season poised to burst into full bloom, we asked a dozen of the biggest names on Broadway—from seasoned directors to Tony-award winners to incoming stars—for their "must see" recommendations.
(Tony award for best featured actor in a musical for ASSASSINS; will perform in the EVITA revival in 2012)
Must see: DETROIT, a new play by Lisa D'Amour, which premiered at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 2010
"I've seen [Ms D'Amour]'s previous grassroots and experimental work and am eager to see how her smart, poetic and lyric voice makes the transition to a more traditional theatrical environment. Add to that the visceral acting style of Steppenwolf Theatre and the soulfulness of director Austin Pendleton, and you have the makings of a very exciting new American play."
(Now performing in THE BOOK OF MORMON, which won the 2011 Tony for best new musical)
Must see: SEMINAR, a new play from Theresa Rebeck
"Honestly, I could watch [star] Alan Rickman read instructions on how to make paper maché and it would be riveting. Also Lily Rabe [his co-star] is truly one of the most exciting young talents in theatre right now and I am always looking forward to seeing her inhabit a new character."
(Tony award for best actress in a musical for the original INTO THE WOODS; now in SONS OF THE PROPHET off-Broadway)
Must see: ON A CLEAR DAY, a musical revival directed by Michael Mayer
"I look forward to this because I played Diane [the leading lady] years ago in a production directed by Alfred Drake and starring Robert Goulet, who was so wonderful. From what I've heard about the revamping and updating of this book, it sounds radical, modern and great. And I'm a fan of [star] Harry Connick junior, too!"
(Tony award for best direction of RED; former artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse in London)
Must see: MAN AND BOY, a revival of Terence Rattigan's play
"I worked with [star] Frank Langella on 'Frost/Nixon' and so am looking forward to seeing him play the ruthless [leading man] Gregor Antonescu. Nobody does ruthless like Frank."
(Academy award for best supporting actor and Tony award for CABARET; now in the 2011 Tony-winning revival ANYTHING GOES)
Must see: HUGH JACKMAN ON BROADWAY, a concert show
"Hugh Jackman is just a phenomenal actor/song-and-dance man. I don't know anyone else like him, and I'd want to see him in anything he does."
(Academy-award nominated actress, making her Broadway debut in OTHER DESERT CITIES, a new play by Jon Robin Baitz)
Must see: HUGH JACKMAN ON BROADWAY
"Apart from his more obvious talents, Hugh has that once-in-a-generation connection with his audience. He makes everyone in the audience feel like they just spent the night with him...alone..and that you both had a really, really good time together!"
(Film actor, returning to Broadway in RELATIVELY SPEAKING)
Must see: AN EVENING WITH PATTI LUPONE AND MANDY PATINKIN, a concert show
"These two masters of song and drama have mesmerised me since I was first able to buy a ticket to their performances. Ms LuPone is an icon, a theatre treasure. To see her with Mr Patinkin, who is a doctor of everything entertainment...well, you just can't miss it."
(Tony-award for her leading roles in GYPSY and EVITA, returning to Broadway in AN EVENING WITH PATTI LUPONE AND MANDY PATINKIN)
Must see: HUGH JACKMAN ON BROADWAY and SEMINAR
"Why [do I want to see these shows]? To watch these actors work!"
(Tony award for her leading role in the play RABBIT HOLE; will star in WIT in 2012)
Must see: LYSISTRATA JONES, a new musical
"There's no one wittier than [book writer] Douglas Carter Beane, who transported this classic Greek comedy by re-setting it in an American high school where we can all rock out to Lewis Flinn's toe-tapping music."
(Now performing in THE BOOK OF MORMON)
Must see: THE MOUNTAINTOP, a new play by Katori Hall
"I remember having a great discussion with the play's producer Sonia Friedman about the London production, where it unexpectedly enjoyed great critical acclaim and won the best play Olivier over "Jerusalem" that season. I saw "Jerusalem" here on Broadway and found it riveting, so "The Mountaintop" has to be amazing! I've also never seen Angela Basset or Samuel Jackson perform on stage and I can't wait."
(21-time Tony-winning director and producer)
Must see: VENUS IN FUR, a new play by David Ives
"I didn't see it downtown in early 2010. Now that it's coming to Manhattan Theatre Club, I won't miss it this time around. Nina Arianda [the female lead] is very special and [her co-star] Hugh Dancy has great acting chops. I'm looking forward to it."
(Olivier award for PIAF; making her Broadway debut in EVITA in 2012)
Must see: PRIVATE LIVES, a revival of the Noel Coward play
"I absolutely love this Noel Coward comedy and [leading lady] Kim Cattrall. I truly think Kim will be great in it and won't miss it."