We’re approaching the best time of year for theater. While spring often feels like an earnest sprint to the Tony Awards, fall is when the Great White Way finally comes back alive with new play and musical openings after the long, slow and mostly show-less summer. With plenty of diverse options to choose from, we’ve sorted out the five best bets hitting Broadway in the coming months.
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1.Spousal Outing: ‘Old Times’
The U.K.’s Clive Owen makes his Broadway debut in a revival of Harold Pinter’s “Old Times,” a taut three-person thriller about a husband’s struggle to figure out what his wife’s deceptive friend from long ago really wants before they all succumb to her dangerous mind games. Hopefully he does so by channeling that brooding intensity that made him a megastar in 2004’s “Closer.” He stars alongside Eve Best and Kelly Reilly under direction from Olivier- and Tony Award-winning actor Douglas Hodge, who must not know how to take a vacation, because he also currently stars in Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful.”
Opens Oct. 6, www.roundabouttheatre.org
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2.Girls’ Night Out: ‘Fool for Love’
Tony Award winner Nina Arianda (“Venus in Fur”) returns for her third Manhattan Theatre Club production with “Fool for Love,” marking the Broadway debut for this oft-produced Sam Shepard drama. The story follows two seething ex-lovers who meet in a seedy motel in the Mojave Desert only to learn that they are not quite through with each other yet. But when terse banter starts breaking down their carefully constructed defenses, both parties need to decide whether it’s time to pull back for good or finally find out what lies beneath.
Opens Oct. 8, www.manhattantheatreclub.com
3.Date Night: ‘Sylvia’
Watch Matthew Broderick play with a puppy for two hours! That’s really all you need to know about the revival of A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia,” except that said puppy is played by the always-delightful Annaleigh Ashford – who won her first Tony in June for “You Can’t Take It With You.” Here’s a fun fact for the dinner table: The role of Sylvia was first played by Broderick’s wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, in 1995. Fresh off of “Cymbeline,” at Shakespeare in the Park, director Daniel Sullivan detours from his usual dramas for this dark comedy about one man’s unusual manifestation of a mid-life crisis.
Opens Oct. 27, www.sylviabroadway.com
4.With Your Parents: ‘Allegiance’
It almost seems like George Takei came out of thin air in the aughts as a social media kingpin, tastemaker, comedian and activist. But his true origin story is much deeper and richer, traversing international borders and delving into the plight of Japanese-Americans during and after World War II. It all unfolds with the beloved actor’s trademark warmth and wit in “Allegiance,” inspired by true events, which stars Takei alongside Lea Salonga (“Miss Saigon”) and Telly Leung (“Godspell”). It will be Takei’s Broadway debut.
Opens Nov. 8, www.allegiancemusical.com
5.Novelty Ticket: ‘Misery’
“How are they going to you-know-what with the you-know-what on a live stage?!” That’s a great question for fans of Stephen King’s horrific novel and the subsequent movie starring Kathy Bates. Her part will be reinterpreted for the stage by Laurie Metcalf, who will face some inevitable challenges in redefining the iconic role. Oh, right, and the “you know what” will belong to Bruce Willis, who’s making his Broadway debut as the author who is living out his worst nightmare in the captivity of a deranged superfan – and probably wishes he had someone Willis would usually play to come save him.
Opens Nov. 15, www.miserybroadway.com