Monday, September 12, 2016

Most Anticipated Shows of Fall 2016

It's hard to believe, but it is already mid-September, which means that the 2016-2017 Broadway season is about to get started in earnest. This fall sees 15 plays and musicals debuting on the Great White Way, and while I am a firm believer that there is an audience for every Broadway show, certain productions obviously appeal more to my tastes than others. So here, in no particular order, are the 5 shows I am most excited to see this fall:


Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block, and Andrew Rannells will be taking on the leads in the Broadway revival of William Finn's Falsettos.
I will admit that a lot of my excitement for Falsettos stems from the fact everyone else is so excited. I'm not at all familiar with William Finn's breakthrough Broadway musical, so I don't share the enthusiasm of folks who grew up listening to the cast album. In fact, I'm actually not the biggest fan of Finn's work, having only truly enjoyed his oddball, semi-autobiographical Off-Broadway gem A New Brain. I also have major reservations about Christian Borle in the lead role of Marvin, as I have found his past two Broadway performances insanely irritating and full of selfishly bad acting habits.

That said, I *adore* both Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells, who are playing Marvin's ex-wife and his current boyfriend respectively. And as a gay man living in New York City, I find myself more and more interested in what the gay experience was like for previous generations. The fact that Falsettos resonates so strongly with so many gay men also piques my curiosity, so I'm hoping this is a production that causes me to reevaluate my feelings about both William Finn and Christian Borle as artists.

Preview begin September 29th, Opening Night October 27th

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812

Recording star Josh Groban makes his Broadway debut in the highly anticipated transfer of the groundbreaking Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is, quite simply, one of the most innovative, exciting new musicals of the past decade. I absolutely adored the Off-Broadway production of David Malloy's genre-bending pop opera, having seen the show 3 times and naming it the single best piece of theatre I saw in 2013. I'm absolutely thrilled that it will reach a wider audience through its Broadway transfer, and sincerely hope the show is a runaway success which encourages more experimental musicals to make the leap to Broadway.

I cannot wait to see how director Rachel Chavkin has reconceptualized her immersive, in the round staging to work in a more traditional theatrical setting. I also cannot wait to see what newcomer Denee Benton does with the title role, which introduced the world to the incomparable talents of Phillipa Soo before she shot to stardom in a little musical called Hamilton. (Fun fact: Soo's work in Natasha directly led to her casting in the Broadway blockbuster, as Lin-Manuel Miranda offered her the role of Eliza Hamilton after being floored by her performance as Natasha). This is probably the show I am most excited about for the fall.

Previews begin October 18th, Opening Night November 14th

In Transit
In Transit looks to make history as the first a capella musical on the Great White Way.

I'm not quite sure what In Transit will actually look like, which is part of what has me excited to see it. An a capella musical about the lives of contemporary New Yorkers set during their daily subway commute, this show is being performed in the round at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre. I have a large amount of respect for director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall, who has produced some of the most inventively staged musical numbers of the past two decades. I am also highly intrigued by the fact that Oscar-winning Frozen cowriter Kristen Anderson-Lopez will be making her Broadway debut with this piece along with 3 other first-time composer/lyricist/bookwriters. The show could end up being an unwieldy mess, but the show has ambition, something Broadway could always use more of.

Previews begin November 10th, Opening Night December 11th

Dear Evan Hansen

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's first rate Dear Evan Hansen will premiere at Broadway's Music Box Theatre this fall.

Along with Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812, this is the show I'm most excited about for the fall season. A wholly original musical from the same songwriting team behind the surprisingly endearing A Christmas Story, Dear Evan Hansen was already a Broadway caliber production when I saw it at Second Stage earlier this year. The music is gorgeous, the book is solid, and the performances are top notch, including award worthy work from Ben Platt and Rachel Bay Jones as the titular Evan Hansen and his mother, respectively. In a world with more and more film adaptations and corporate-minded Broadway shows, Evan Hansen is a beacon of light that will not only restore your faith in the Broadway musical as an art form, but make you excited for what's next. I can't wait for more people to get the chance to experience it.

Previews begin November 14th, Opening Night December 4th

The Present

Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett makes her long-awaited Broadway debut in The Present, a new adaptation of a little-seen Chekov play.

Two words: Cate Blanchett. As far as I'm concerned, the two-time Oscar-winner is one of the most gifted actresses around, instantly raising the prestige level of any project she's attached to. I can't wait to see her bring her magnetic presence and dynamic acting style to this new adaptation of the lesser known Chekov play Platonov, and the fact that this marks Blanchett's long-awaited Broadway debut makes the production all the more buzz-worthy. I do worry that the show itself will prove a bit esoteric for my tastes, but the prospect of seeing Blanchett work her magic live overrides any trepidation I might have.

Previews begin December 17th, Opening Night January 8th

Those are my most anticipated shows of the fall season; let me know yours in the comments!


  1. I think the 9/11 musical I forget the name of looks pretty cool.

    1. It's called "Come From Away," and it does sound interesting, but it doesn't start until the spring so it didn't make the list :-)

  2. I remember when I asked you what your most and least anticipated shows were back in June, you said Cats was by far your least anticipated show. Since Cats already opened back in July, any other anticipated shows you're not looking forward to at all?

    1. Well, by definition, if I'm not looking forward to it, it's not really an anticipated show for me, is it? :-)

      Snark aside, I don't really have much interest in "Oh, Hello" or "The Encounter." I'm also highly suspicious of "A Bronx Tale;" I don't see Robert De Niro's tough guy aesthetic translating particularly well to the musical theatre, especially when paired with people like Alan Menken and Jerry Zaks who are known for pretty safe, middle of the road Broadway spectacles.

    2. Still, Robert De Niro needs something, anything at all to redeem himself from the garbage film Dirty Grandpa, which is one of the absolute worst films I have ever seen. If Dirty Grandpa were turned into a stage show, trust me on this: Ben Brantley and every other theater critic would think it was 50x worse than Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.

      And earlier this summer, Alan Menken wrote songs for the very adult animated film Sausage Party.