Claire Danes
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
Claire Danes
(© Joseph Marzullo/Retna)
If it's September, it means more stars on stage than we've seen in quite a few months. The lovely Claire Danes will make her Broadway debut as Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (September 21-December 16) at the Roundabout's American Airlines Theatre. Tony winners Jefferson Mays (as Professor Henry Higgins) and Boyd Gaines (as Colonel Pickering) co-star in this classic tale, which was the basis for the musical My Fair Lady.

The Roundabout also revives a more recent work, Terrence McNally's 1974 comedy The Ritz (September 14-December 2), at Studio 54. Rosie Perez and Kevin Chamberlin are among the actors who end up in a Manhattan gay bathhouse, where a minor flunky goes to hide from a mobster.

The third new Broadway show this month is Theresa Rebeck's Mauritius (September 13-November 25) at Manhattan Theatre Club's Biltmore Theatre. This dark comedy about two half-sisters who inherit a rare stamp collection stars Bobby Cannavale, Alison Pill, F. Murray Abraham, Dylan Baker, and Katie Finneran.

But to see the biggest star of all, you'll need to head to Brooklyn. Sir Ian McKellen plays the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's King Lear (September 6-30) at BAM, and will also be featured in the RSC's production of The Seagull (September 7-29), playing in rotating repertory.

Musical fanciers need not despair: A new installment of Gerard Alessandrini's popular send up of the Great White Way, entitled Forbidden Broadway: Rude Awakening, is at the 47th Street Theater. Another musical highlight this month is The Public Theater's 40th anniversary concert of Hair: The American Tribal Rock Musical for three free outdoor performances at the Delacorte Theater, September 22-24. Greetings From Yorkville (Soho Playhouse, beginning September 25), written by and starring Anya Turner and Robert Grusecki, is about a couple of songwriters from the Midwest who arrive in the Big City.

Speaking of musical theater, The New York Musical Theatre Festival (September 17-October 7) continues to attract a large number of high-profile names. Among them are Lea DeLaria, who appears in Roller Derby, Brad Oscar, Liz Larsen, and Lynne Wintersteller in Such Good Friends, Kate Shindle and Megan Lawrence in Sympathy Jones, Nancy Anderson and Christiane Noll in The Piper, and Stephanie D'Abruzzo in Austentatious.

On the Off-Broadway front, Roberta Maxwell stars in The Shape of Metal (September 8-30), about a world-renowned sculptor who must come to terms with the disappearance of her eldest daughter, at 59E59 Theaters. Also in that three-stage complex is Jane Martin's Flags (September 12-30), which uses the structure of a Greek tragedy to explore how the grief of a single American family must inevitably ripple through us all. Playwright Marie Jones and director Ian McElhinney, who were Tony and Olivier Award nominees for Stones in Their Pockets, reunite for the world premiere of Rock Doves (Irish Arts Center, September 6-October 28), while Irish Rep presents Sive, John B. Keene's folk-drama set in the south-west of Ireland (September 20-November 11.)

Elsewhere around town, Danny Hoch writes and directs Till the Break of Dawn (September 4-October 21), a new hip-hop play presented by The Culture Project at Henry Street Settlement. Adam Rapp presents his latest work, American Sligo (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, September 12-October 14), about an all-star wrestling legend who is about to retire. Master puppeteer Basil Twist brings Dogugaeshi (September 12-22) back to Japan Society, which originally commissioned the piece, inspired by Japanese puppet theater traditions. Also making a return is Paul Alexander's Edge (ArcLight Theatre September 4-October 6), a one-woman show about Sylvia Plath starring the remarkable Angelica Torn.

Two more great actors, David Greenspan and Marin Ireland, will appear in Kate Moira Ryan and Linda S. Chapman's The Beebo Brinker Chronicles (September 27-October 20), adapted from the groundbreaking 1950s lesbian pulp novels by Ann Bannon. The Mint Theater Company presents The Power of Darkness (September 6-October 28), Leo Tolstoy's cautionary tale about the consequences of pursuing personal gain while disregarding morality. The Keen Company revives A.R. Gurney's masterpiece of 20th Century family life The Dining Room (Clurman Theatre, September 11-October 14), and New York Theatre Workshop offers director Ivo Van Hove's re-interpretation of Moliere's The Misanthrope (September 14-November 11).

The National Asian American Theatre Company presents the New York premiere of Jorge Ignacio Cortinas' Blind Mouth Singing (September 14-October 6), about a family thrown into turmoil when the oldest son switches places with his best friend, who lives at the bottom of a well. Another Asian American company, Ma-Yi Theatre, will present Loyd Suh's The Children of Vonderly (East 13th Street Theater, September 22-October 21), about an unconventional multi-ethnic family of adopted and disabled children led by a headstrong Jewish matriarch.

There are also several unusual theatrical experiences on view this month. The hilarious Margaret Cho presents some of the country's most renowned burlesque performers in her new variety show, The Sensuous Woman (Zipper Factory, September 26-October 20). The nonverbal Korean extravaganza, Jump -- featuring slapstick comedy, acrobatics and martial arts -- comes to the Union Square Theater (beginning September 25). Finally, Confluence Theatre Company presents the environmentally friendly The (re)Cycle Plays (Socrates Sculpture Park, September 15), which will address ecological issues on stages that utilize reusable, recycled, and sustainable materials.