To be honest, this fall isn't bringing the usual bounty of shows that make us squirm with anticipation. But there is a strong mix of big-name stars, stage animals and mixed genres to give everyone a shot at finding something they'll love to drop some dough on before they're strapped for the holidays. (There's even an audience-participation whodunit!) Here are our top picks for new shows hitting the stage this autumn.
'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'
Edward Albee's hot-ticket play from 1962 comes to New York this fall from a successful Steppenwolf staging, starring Amy Morton and playwright Tracy Letts. At a dinner party, adults play "games" that challenge the boundaries of social etiquette -- and then go even further to test the perimeters of human decency itself. A younger audience who enjoys watching people become raw and real in a confined social setting will likely fill the house for this one. Opening Oct. 13; http://virginiawoolfbroadway.com
'Glengarry Glen Ross'
Al Pacino leads this Daniel Sullivan-directed suspense by David Mamet. Enough name-dropping to get you intrigued yet? The plot centers on corporate competitiveness in bustling Chicago and probably has more relatable appeal to modern viewers than, say, "Annie." Consider this the other side of the spectrum -- and our top pick not to be missed. Opening Nov. 11; www.glengarryglenross.biz
'The Mystery of Edwin Drood'
Chita Rivera is a name that will always fill the house, which is likely what producers are banking on by casting her in the lead of this Rupert Holmes musical revival. Taking the shape of a murder mystery, the Scott Ellis-directed show keeps audiences guessing about who killed Edwin Drood -- especially since the cast doesn't even know. Theatergoers decide what the outcome will be during every performance.
Opening Nov. 13; www.roundabouttheatre.org
The biggest musical hitting the stage this fall is inarguably "Annie," the 1977 Tony-award-winning musical about everyone's favorite plucky, ginger orphan. This revival may test today's scrupulous audience to see what kind of tolerance is available for an optimistic story about accidentally landing in the lap of luxury and everything turning out all right if you just believe it will. But holiday visitors, especially families, will indisputably flock to see renditions of the show's classic tunes, like "Hard Knock Life" and "Tomorrow." Opening Nov. 8; www.anniethemusical.com
PAUL RUDD! That's all you need to know about this one. But if anyone is wondering, the cast is strong all around, with talents including Kate Arrington, Ed Asner and Michael Shannon. The plot follows a young and ambitious couple who face several challenges while struggling to start a new life in Florida (as Metro's Sunshine State natives can attest, this was their No. 1 mistake, unless they were planning a very early retirement). As it runs only 16 weeks, you'll want to secure a ticket as soon as you can. Opening Oct. 4; www.graceonbroadway.com