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New Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, with Al Pacino, Clive Owen and more

Al Pacino stars in David Mamet's "China Doll,"

Al Pacino stars in David Mamet's "China Doll," opening Nov. 19 on Broadway. Credit: Jeffrey Richards Associates

SPRING AWAKENING (Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St., Sept. 27) The Tony-winning musical version was revolutionary on Broadway in its 2006 premiere -- genuine rock art based on a scandalous 1891 tragedy about a repressed little German town. Aside from introducing such newbies as Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff, the show -- with lyrics-book by Steven Sater and boundary pushing rock by Duncan Sheik -- made riveting entertainment on such timelessly modern subjects as incest, masturbation, suicide and abortion. The revival, presented by the innovative Deaf West Theatre, promises yet-another unlikely twist. The musical will be performed simultaneously in American Sign Language and spoken English, with a cast that includes Marlee Matlin.

OLD TIMES (American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., Oct. 6) Clive Owen makes his Broadway debut in this revival of Harold Pinter's elusively delicious 1971 memory play about the impact of a wife's old friend on her longtime marriage. Eve Best, so riveting in her Tony-nominated performance in the 2007 revival of Pinter's "The Homecoming," plays the wife in the production directed by Douglas Hodge ("La Cage aux Folles").

FOOL FOR LOVE (Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., Oct. 8) A seedy motel room, a couple of lovers and a mystery guest are the classic Sam Shepard setup for this 1983 erotic-gothic drama. Ed Harris and Kathy Baker made the play a bit of a legend at the late lamented Circle Repertory Company, but Nina Arianda (Tony winner for the sizzling "Venus in Fur") and Sam Rockwell had a smash with this revival last summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

THE GIN GAME (Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St., Oct. 14) Cicely Tyson, who won the 2013 Tony for her ageless star turn in "The Trip to Bountiful," returns to Broadway to star with James Earl Jones in a revival of Donald L. Coburn's 1977 Pulitzer-winning two-hander that uses gin rummy as an emotional device to reveal unexpected bonds in a nursing home.

SYLVIA (Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St., Oct. 15) In 1995, a sweet young thing named Sarah Jessica Parker enchanted as a furry young thing named Sylvia in A.R. Gurney's Thurberesque romantic triangle involving a man, a man's dog and a man's wife. Annaleigh Ashford, who won a supporting actress Tony this year for "You Can't Take It With You" and is similarly wowing in "Masters of Sex," steps into the paws as the shaggy siren. Matthew Broderick, who knows more than a little about married life to the first Ms. Sylvia, plays the besotted husband, with Julie White as the dismayed wife.

DAMES AT SEA (Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 W. 44th St., Oct. 22) This tap-crazy musical throwback must have felt like a revival when it was new in 1968. That happened to introduce future Broadway legend Bernadette Peters as Ruby, the star-struck kid from Utah who, with a little help from some sailors, fights to keep a Broadway theater from being demolished. Randy Skinner -- not incidentally, a dance assistant to Gower Champion back in 1980 for the monster-hit "42nd Street" -- directs.

THERESE RAQUIN (American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., Oct. 29) Emile Zola's 1867 novel and 1873 play about adultery have been adapted into many plays, movies, an opera and even a short-lived Harry Connick, Jr., musical called "Thou Shalt Not." This time, Keira Knightley makes her Broadway debut in a new adaptation by Helen Edmundson, in a production that includes Gabriel Ebert and the always-welcome Judith Light.

KING CHARLES III (Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St., Nov. 1) Finally, a new play. And an intriguing one. Sure, it's British, but who else could have pulled this one off? Mike Bartlett's Olivier-winning hit, written in verse, imagines that Prince Charles has finally ascended to the throne. Then what? Rupert Gould's celebrated staging stars Tim Pigott-Smith as -- get used to it -- King Charles III.

ON YOUR FEET! (Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway, Nov. 5) As the logo tells us, this is "Her voice. His vision. Their Story." More specifically, this is a musical biography about Emilio and Gloria Estefan, set to her hit songs, with some new music in the jukebox mix. Jerry Mitchell ("Kinky Boots") directs, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo ("Jersey Boys") and -- here's a provocative curveball -- a book by Alexander Dinelaris, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for the very surreal backstage movie, "Birdman."

ALLEGIANCE -- A NEW AMERICAN MUSICAL (Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St., Nov. 8) George Takei makes his Broadway debut in this musical, based on his experience, about a Japanese-American family sent to an internment camp during World War II. The music and lyrics are by Jay Kuo. Lea Salonga ("Miss Saigon") co-stars.

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St., Nov. 12) Memories of Liev Schreiber's staggering performance in the 2010 revival, co-starring Scarlett Johansson, will never be overshadowed in my great-theater memories. But how fascinating that, as part of the Arthur Miller centennial, we will get to see this 1955 American-immigrant power play in the acclaimed London version directed by the extraordinary Belgian provocateur, Ivo van Hove. This could be a big one.

MISERY (Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St., Nov. 15) At a distance, anyway, you won't find me complaining about star-driven casting and movie clones here. Bruce Willis, whose youth actually included performing in an Off-Broadway second cast of "Fool for Love" in the early '80s, makes his Broadway debut as the novelist who gets saved after an auto accident -- or does he? -- by a very big fan. Laurie Metcalf plays the devotee, created with unforgettable dread by Kathy Bates in the 1990 movie version of Stephen King's fright-fest novel. William Goldman, who wrote the screenplay for the film that starred James Caan, is writing the adaptation.

CHINA DOLL (Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St., Nov. 19) Al Pacino is back and David Mamet's got him. Or, if you prefer, read that the other way around. After what some found a strangely subdued Pacino performance in the recent revival of Mamet's "Glengarry Glen Ross," the actor takes into the new Mamet-esque thoughts about a billionaire, his new airplane and his young fiancee. Tony-winner Pam MacKinnon ("Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?") directs.

THE ILLUSIONISTS -- LIVE ON BROADWAY (Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St., Nov. 19-Jan. 3) The seven magicians that entertained last year are back for the holidays.

SCHOOL OF ROCK -- THE MUSICAL (Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway, Dec. 6) After a series of major flops, Andrew Lloyd Webber tries to back into the Broadway game with this adaptation of the 2003 hit movie about the world's coolest substitute teacher-failing rock star. Lloyd Webber has written the music, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by an unlikely collaborator Julian Fellowes, of "Downton Abbey." Alex Brightman plays Dewey Finn, the desperate rock wannabe created so irresistibly on film by Jack Black. Sierra Boggess ("The Little Mermaid") co-stars, with direction by Laurence Connor (the current reincarnation of "Les Misérables.")

THE COLOR PURPLE (Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St., Dec. 10) I always thought this musical adaptation of the movie was underestimated in its 2005 Broadway run. The Brits obviously thought so, too, and the adventurists at London's tiny Menier Chocolate Factory rethought the big original into an acclaimed chamber musical, directed by John Doyle. Jennifer Hudson makes her Broadway debut as Shug, with English breakout star Cynthia Erivo as Celie and Danielle Brooks (Taystee from "Orange is the New Black") as Sofia. And yes, Oprah Winfrey is still listed as a producer.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (Broadway Theatre, 53rd Street at Broadway, Dec. 17) The much-anticipated 50th anniversary revival of the 1964 classic (all right, 50th and a little bit) will be directed by Bartlett Sher, along with his design team from "South Pacific" and "The King and I." Danny Burstein, a star to everyone who has ever seen him perform, gets the showcase he deserves as Tevye, the milkman, with Jessica Hecht as his Golde.


And keep in mind . . .

CLOUD NINE (Atlantic Theater Company, 336 W. 20th St., Oct. 5) Caryl Churchill's riveting and witty play about colonial Africa and 1979 London is revived in a production directed by Churchill specialist James Macdonald.

DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Castillo Theatre, 543 W. 42nd St., Oct. 8) Arthur Miller's great drama in Yiddish, with English supertitles.

CLEVER LITTLE LIES (Westside Theatre, 407 W. 43rd St., Oct. 14) Marlo Thomas stars in Joe DiPietro's comedy about a wife and mother with suspicions about her family.

ECLIPSED (Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St., Oct. 14) Lupita Nyong'o ("who won an Oscar for "12 Years a Slave") stars in Danai Gurira's ("The Walking Dead") drama about captive wives during the Liberian Civil War.

TRIP OF LOVE (Stage 42, 422 W. 42nd St., Oct. 18) This new dance-driven jukebox musical follows a young girl through the '60s.

RIPCORD (Manhattan Theatre Club, 131 W. 55th St., Oct. 20) David Hyde Pierce directs this premiere by Pulitzer-winner David Lindsay-Abaire ("Rabbit Hole") about crises in an assisted living facility.

FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE (Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Ave., Oct. 21) Michael John LaChiusa follows up his breakthrough "First Lady Suite" with this musical about presidential daughters.

THE HUMANS (Pels Theatre, 111 W. 46th St., Oct. 25) Joe Mantello ("Wicked") directs Jayne Houdyshell and Reed Birney in this family drama by Pulitzer-finalist Stephen Karam ("Sons of the Prophet").

INCIDENT AT VICHY (Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St., Oct. 27) Revival of Arthur Miller's drama about a French detention room during the Nazi occupation.

DADA WOOF PAPA HOT (Newhouse Theater, Lincoln Center, Nov. 9) John Benjamin Hickey co-stars in Peter Parnell's drama about an older gay married couple with a child and a disintegrating relationship.

HIR (Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St., Nov. 8) Downtown superstar Taylor Mac explores the effects of a newly out transgender sibling on a veteran and his suburban family.

NEW YORK ANIMALS (The New Ohio, 154 Christopher St., Nov. 29) The adventurous Bedlam theater company presents the world premiere of a play about 21 New Yorkers on a rainy day by Steven Sater ("Spring Awakening"), with music by Burt Bacharach.

INVISIBLE THREAD (Second Stage Theatre, 305 W. 43rd St., Dec. 2) Broadway superstar director Diane Paulus goes Off-Broadway to stage this musical about a New Yorker who volunteers in Uganda.

LAZARUS (New York Theatre Workshop, 79 E. Fourth St., Dec. 7) Michael C. Hall stars in this musical based on "The Man Who Fell to Earth," with score by David Bowie and book by Enda Walsh ("Once").


Holiday traditions

RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR (Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave., Nov. 13-Jan. 3) Rockettes, tin soldiers and all the trimmings in this annual treat.

ELF THE MUSICAL (Theater at Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Dec. 9-27) Buddy, the human raised as an Elf by Santa, saves the Christmas spirit for New Yorkers in this musical based on the Will Ferrell movie.

GEORGE BALANCHINE'S THE NUTCRACKER (Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, Nov. 28-Jan. 3) Balanchine's delightful holiday ballet is complete with dancing snowflakes, a Victorian party and a Christmas tree that grows.

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