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16 best new theater shows to see this fall

Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannels

Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannels (center) who will be featured in Lincoln Center Theater's upcoming Broadway production of William Finn and James Lapine's Tony Award winning musical "Falsettos" at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Credit: Matthew Murphy

HOLIDAY INN (Studio 54, 254 W. 54th St., Oct. 6) This new old-musical premiere is based on the 1942 musical-comedy film that featured Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and such Irving Berlin classics as “Easter Parade” and “Happy Holiday.” The stage version has Bryce Pinkham (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”) and Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”) as showbiz troupers who manage to duke it out in a romantic triangle while staging holiday shows at a Connecticut country inn. We can only imagine what the debauching ghosts of the legendary disco at Studio 54 would say about this.

HEISENBERG (Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., Oct. 13) Last season, Mary-Louise Parker and Denis Arndt were enchanting in the brief Off-Broadway run of Simon Stephens’ unlikely love story. Now a broader audience gets to share in the pleasures of watching Parker as a woman who, just because she feels like it, kisses an older man on his neck at a train station. Sparks fly in unexpected directions.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD (American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., Oct. 16) Diane Lane was just 11 when she co-starred with Meryl Streep and Raul Julia in a production of “The Cherry Orchard.” Now she returns to star as Madame Ranevskaya, narcissistic stage star and monster-mom in the Roundabout Theatre’s revival of Chekhov’s masterwork about the threat of modern life to a 19th century Russian estate. Tony-winning playwright Stephen Karam (“The Humans”) has written the adaptation that also stars, for starters, Joel Grey, Chuck Cooper and John Glover.

SWEAT (Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., previews begin Oct. 18) Lynn Nottage, who earned her Pulitzer with “Ruined,” the horrific story of women in Africa, is collecting terrific reviews in regional theaters with this drama about the impact of the 21st century on factory workers. Kate Whoriskey, who staged “Ruined,” again directs.

THE FRONT PAGE (Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St., Oct. 20) You think you don’t need to see another revival of the Charles MacArthur/Ben Hecht 1928 newspaper classic. But then you hear that ace director Jack O’Brien is staging it with Nathan Lane, John Goodman, John Slattery and too many enticements to list here and, well, it is time to stop the presses again.

PLENTY (Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., previews begin Oct. 4) David Hare’s haunting post-World War II drama starred Kate Nelligan here the early ’80s and Meryl Streep starred in the movie. Now Rachel Weisz plays Susan Traherne, one of modern theater’s most blazingly complicated women, with Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”) as her co-star.

THE DEATH OF THE LAST BLACK MAN IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD (Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St., Nov. 13) Brilliant Pulitzer-winning iconoclast Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”) begins her residency at the Signature with this 1990 play about memory, language and what’s described as “archetypes of Black America.”

FALSETTOS (Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St., Oct. 27) This musical tragicomedy, a cultural watershed by composer William Finn and author/director James Lapine, was both beloved and devastating in the middle of the AIDS catastrophe on Broadway in 1992. Now Andrew Rannels and Christian Borle star in Broadway’s first revival of the story of a man who leaves his wife for a man and everyone learns about genuine family values. Lapine again directs.

LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES (Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St., Oct. 30) Long before there was Ray Donovan, there was Liev Schreiber, the stunning stage actor. For the first time since the rest of the world discovered Schreiber, he returns to Broadway, co-starring with the formidable Tony-winning Janet McTeer (“A Doll’s House”) in this much-anticipated revival of Christopher Hampton’s deliciously evil and erotic 1985 adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’ scandalous 18th century French novel. Josie Rourke, head of London’s Donmar Warehouse, directs.

NOTES FROM THE FIELD (Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd St., Nov. 2) Anna Deavere Smith practically invented theater’s one-person documentary form in her solo epics about urban conflagrations in Crown Heights and Los Angeles. For her latest, she interviewed more than 200 about what’s described as America’s “school-to-prison pipeline.”

NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812 (Imperial Theatre, 249 W. 45th St., Nov. 14) Surely when Dave Malloy created this environmental pop opera from 70 pages of “War and Peace,” nobody at its Off-Broadway experimental venue expected it to end up on Broadway — starring Josh Groban, no less. From Ars Nova in 2012 to the Meatpacking District, then to a pop-up tent in Times Square, this audacious invention, again directed by the unstoppable Rachel Chavkin, reinvents itself for a Broadway house.

DEAD POETS SOCIETY (Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St., Nov. 17) Robin Williams was mostly considered a comedian when he changed the world’s mind in the 1989 film about an unconventional professor. Now Jason Sudeikis, a “Saturday Night Live” favorite and comic movie star, turns a sharp corner in this stage adaptation. Not incidentally, this is the first offering of John Doyle’s first season as artistic director of the Off-Broadway company.

SWEET CHARITY (The New Group, 480 W. 42nd St., Nov. 20) Off-Broadway’s edgy New Group is the surprising home for this revival of the Neil Simon/Cy Coleman musical comedy about Charity Hope Valentine, a gold-hearted gal in a dime-a-dance joint. Sutton Foster — another Off-Broadway surprise — stars.

A BRONX TALE: THE MUSICAL (Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St., Dec. 1) Nobody can accuse Chazz Palminteri of suppressing memories of his childhood. In 1989, he starred Off-Broadway in his own autobiographical solo about an Italian- American kid and organized crime in the Bronx. Robert De Niro made his film directing debut with the 1993 movie, in which he played the teen’s father. Now De Niro will direct his first Broadway musical, a version of the same story, written by Palminteri with music by Alan Menken. Jerry Zaks, who directed the author in a Broadway revival of his solo in 2007, is De Niro’s co-director.

DEAR EVAN HANSEN (Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St., Dec. 4) A lonely teen becomes a school and internet celebrity when a private letter goes public in this new musical, an Off-Broadway hit last spring at Second Stage Theatre. Michael Greif (“Next to Normal”) again directs, with what’s sure to be a star-making performance by Ben Platt.

OTHELLO (New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. Fourth St., Dec. 12) The hottest ticket in town is bound to be this Shakespeare tragedy starring David Oyelowo as the Moor and Daniel Craig as Iago. The laws of supply and demand will be sorely tested by this limited run of a production directed by Sam Gold (“Fun Home”) in the 199-seat Off-Broadway creative caldron where “Rent” began and “Lazarus,” David Bowie’s first — and, alas, only — musical opened last season.

And keep in mind . . .

WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? (Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., Sept. 16) With this second of three plays, Richard Nelson continues his seriously wonderful and perceptive trilogy about this election year as seen through one family in upstate Rhinebeck. The story ends Nov. 8 — on election night — with “Women of a Certain Age.” No doubt, Nelson and his impeccable company will be rewriting until curtain.

ALL THE WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU (MCC Theater, Lucille Lortel, 121 Christopher St., Sept. 28) Neil LaBute’s newest play — his 10th for this Off-Broadway theater — is a one-woman drama about the memories of a high school English teacher. The remarkable Judith Light stars.

THE ENCOUNTER (Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St., Sept. 29) A National Geographic photographer has his life changed by a remote people in Brazil in this solo. Simon McBurney, the visionary British director-actor, both conceived the unusual Broadway offering and plays the adventurer.

OH, HELLO ON BROADWAY (Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St., Oct. 10) Comic duo Nick Kroll (“The Nick Kroll Show” on Comedy Central) and John Mulaney (“The Comeback Kid” on Netflix) come to Broadway with their popular Off-Broadway alter-egos — two opinionated old Upper West Side guys in this mock “memoir for the stage.”

A 24-DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC (St. Ann’s Warehouse, 45 Water St., Brooklyn, Oct. 15) Taylor Mac, the unpredictable superstar performance artist, recreates 246 songs popular from 1776-2016 in eight three-hour concerts — or one 24-hour marathon.

MASTER HAROLD . . . AND THE BOYS (Pershing Square Signature Theatre, 480 W. 42nd St., Oct. 18) Athol Fugard, the great South African playwright, directs this revival of his 1982 drama about a young white boy and his family’s two middle-aged African servants.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (Pels Theatre, 111 W. 48th St., Oct. 19) Zoe Kazan stars in the American premiere about the ’60s by British playwright Mike Bartlett (“King Charles III”).

A LIFE (Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St., Oct. 24) David Hyde Pierce stars in this solo by Adam Bock about a lonely single guy obsessed with astrological charts.

KINGS OF WAR (Harvey Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Nov. 3) Dazzling Belgian director Ivo van Hove, who won the Tony for last season’s “A View from the Bridge,” brings his Amsterdam troupe with an adaptation of five of Shakespeare’s royal tragedies into one evening.

THIS DAY FORWARD (Vineyard Theatre, 108 E. 15th St., Nov. 21) Nicky Silver’s serious comedy uncovers a secret in a 50-year marriage.

THE BABYLON LINE (Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Dec. 5) In Richard Greenberg’s new play, a writer from Greenwich Village learns something about life when he commutes to Levittown in 1967 to teach a creative writing class.

IN TRANSIT (Circle in the Square Theatre, 1633 Broadway, Dec. 11) Broadway’s new a cappella musical — billed as Broadway’s first a cappella musical — presents overlapping stories inspired by the rhythms of the New York subway. Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who co-wrote the songs for “Frozen” with husband Robert Lopez, is part of the creative team.

Holiday traditions

RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR (Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave., Nov. 11-Jan. 2) Rockettes, tin soldiers and all the trimmings.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: THE MUSICAL (The Theater at Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Dec. 1-18) A stage adaptation of the TV holiday favorite.

GEORGE BALANCHINE’S THE NUTCRACKER (Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, Nov. 25-Dec. 31) Balanchine’s historic ballet, complete with a Victorian party, dancing snowflakes and a Christmas tree that grows.

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