Norbert Leo Butz and John Lithgow in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels(Photo © Craig Schwartz)
Norbert Leo Butz and John Lithgow in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
(Photo © Craig Schwartz)
The new theater season is upon us, sure to be filled with scuttlebutt, thrills, disappointments, and opening night jitters. I asked some of my favorite show folk what they were looking forward to seeing, and here's what they had to say:

According to composer Jason Robert Brown, "There are two new musicals that promise originality, technique, star power and intelligence. They're both set to open at Lincoln Center Theater this season, and I couldn't be happier. Adam Guettel's music is always brave and unexpected, so I'm very excited about The Light In The Piazza. There was an orchestral suite of themes from the show that I heard at Carnegie Hall four years ago and I've been singing it in my head ever since. And since I consider Once On This Island the best new musical of the last 20 years, the idea of a new Flaherty/Ahrens show starring LaChanze is really thrilling to me; I can't wait to see Dessa Rose. As it happens, I'll be spending most of the year either in Umbria or Los Angeles, so it's great to know that there are some adventurous new musicals to look forward to on my visits back home." One of Broadway's favorite leading men, Brent Barrett, says, "I am a big Monty Python fan, and I'm looking forward to watching the zaniness of Spamalot live on stage with that fantastic cast." Danny Gurwin of The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Full Monty, who'll soon be back on Broadway in Little Women, agrees: "I can't wait to see Spamalot. It's such an incredibly hilarious group of actors. I'm also looking forward to Michael Frayn's Democracy. His work can be so funny, and so cerebral; I'm hoping that this play is a combination of both."

Avenue Q's Stephanie d'Abruzzo is excited by the thought of sitting in the Royale Theatre and experiencing what Joe Mantello, Alan Alda, Liev Schreiber, and Frederick Weller do with Glengarry Glen Ross. "It's going to be absolutely electric," she says. "I'm eagerly waiting to see who else they cast in the show. How lucky we'll be at Avenue Q, to be right next door! I'm also really curious to see what shape Dirty Rotten Scoundrels takes. I'm a Steve Martin fan, so I've seen the film quite a few times. It's a fun story, so the original performances of Michael Caine and Steve Martin will be tough to erase from my memory. But I loved what the composer, David Yazbek, did with the Full Monty score. I'll admit that I was skeptical about that Broadway adaptation until I heard the cast recording; it made me run out and see the production. So who knows?"

Douglas Sills will be the first in line to see Glengarry Glen Ross and Twelve Angry Men. "Gaggles of very good actors make for such an exciting reason to go to the theater," he remarks. "There sure will be some good teeth marks in the scenery at those two shows!" Neil Patrick Harris is very excited about Brooklyn The Musical. "I went to the website, heard a few of the songs and they sound great," he says. "I can't stop humming them. And that Eden Espinoza -- Holy Mary, can she sing! As for plays, I can't wait for Glengarry Glen Ross. Joe Mantello's the best, and he's picked an unbelievable cast. 'Night Mother looks to be stellar, too. And then there's Twelve Angry Men. It should be an amazing season for dramas."

Isabel Keating tells me, "The day before we closed The Boy From Oz, Stephanie Block and I were literally jumping up and down in our third floor hallway when Beth Fowler gave us news of her next gig. She was cast in Woody Allen's A Second-Hand Memory at the Atlantic Theatre Company. So, of course, that is high on my list. I was looking forward to it anyway because it's Woody Allen but now mostly because it's Beth Fowler! Speaking of Oz cast members, All Shook Up is high on my list so I can see Jarrod Emick play his guitar and shake his wild thing. Since I'm going on about the things that I want to see because they involve people I know and love, I'll add to my list Michael Mastro in Twelve Angry Men. I also can't wait for August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean; I have been following his chronicle over the past several years and I always feel like my brain and heart grow exponentially and proportionately whenever I see one of his plays. I cannot wait for Caryl Churchill's A Number, at New York Theatre Workshop, because I think she is one of the foremost playwrights being heard in the English language today. Finally, I'm looking forward to Monty Python's Spamalot because I want to laugh my butt off -- and feel certain that I will if only for the presence of David Hyde Pierce and the wacky team of writers."

The cast of Brooklyn The Musical:Ramona Keller, Kevin Anderson, Eden Espinosa,Karen Olivo, and Cleavant Derricks(Photo © Joan Marcus)
The cast of Brooklyn The Musical:
Ramona Keller, Kevin Anderson, Eden Espinosa,
Karen Olivo, and Cleavant Derricks
(Photo © Joan Marcus)
Stephanie Block, who played daughter Liza to Isabel's Judy in The Boy From Oz, has been musing about the upcoming season. "Artistically, I'm most looking forward to Little Women," she says. "It's such a touching story and one that I feel can be translated beautifully to the stage. I'm looking forward to seeing the design elements. I have no doubt that the story will be told through great voices -- Sutton Foster, Maureen McGovern, and the fabulous Danny Gurwin. I'm also anxious to see Brooklyn The Musical, totally based on sentiment. Eden Espinoza and I are both girls from Orange County, California. I remember our days performing at Disneyland together, and the thought of a 'sister' showing NYC what she's made of is so exciting. Her voice blows me away every time."

Michael Arden, one of the young stars of Bare: A Pop Opera Off-Broadway, can't wait to see the Adam Guettel-Craig Lucas musical A Light in the Piazza at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater this spring. "I am such a huge fan of both writers," he enthuses, "and I find it so exciting that Mr. Guettel's brilliant score will be sung in such an incredible theater. I have been waiting for a show of his to be done on Broadway, and this seems to be the golden ticket." Adam Guettel himself is eagerly awaiting Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: "I happen to know that David Yazbek and his new book writer Jeffrey Lane are having a great time together," he tells me. "Jack O'Brien and Jerry Mitchell know exactly what they are doing."

Funny girl Kim Cea, currently appearing in Newsical Upstairs at Studio 54, is looking forward to Brooklyn The Musical "I know that I am going to enjoy it, because it will be similar to the style of Smokey Joe's Café," she says, "and R&B music is so close to my heart and soul. I also love the Beach Boys, so I can't wait for Good Vibrations if only because I used to sing 'In My Room' into a round brush when I was a kid. I really want to see White Chocolate, too; it's an Off-Broadway play about an Upper East Side couple who awake to find that their skin has turned black. This show is Michael Jackson's worst nightmare!" Max von Essen teases, "I'm just looking forward to a revival of Dance of the Vampires, cause I really want to kick the Dracula asses in the Broadway Softball League! Seriously, I can't wait for La Cage aux Folles...I think it's a perfect time for a revival, and the cast they've assembled is first rate. I'm so psyched!"

Stephen Schwartz is very much the proud papa when he tells me, "First and foremost, I'm looking forward to seeing the Roundabout revival of The Foreigner with Matthew Broderick -- directed by a talented young director named Scott Schwartz, whose work I like a lot! I'm also very curious about Spamalot because I've always liked Monty Python and I can't imagine what it's going to be like." Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Rob Ashford is excitedly anticipating the New York production of The Pillowman. "I saw it at the National Theatre in London and loved the play," he says. "It was beautifully directed and acted. Scott Pask's set was brilliant. I can't wait to see what the American cast does with such a good script." Sriram Ganesan, who plays Sweetie in Bombay Dreams, is hot to see Brooklyn The Musical: "I've heard some of the songs and they are absolutely fierce. I fell in love with 'Once Upon a Time' when I heard it on the website, and Eden [Espinosa] sounds amazing. It really seems like it could be the next pop/contemporary step for musical theatre, and I hope it does well. Also, I've heard a lot about it through one of the producers, Scott Prisand, who helped bring Bombay Dreams to Broadway -- so, obviously, he has extremely good taste!"

Finally, Gavin Creel put it all into perspective -- kind of. "I'd love to add my two cents," he says, "but I have no idea what is coming in. I kinda don't pay too much attention -- and I know that makes me a bad theater boy. To be honest, I'm too obsessed with The Amazing Race and seeing Colin and Christie go down!!"