Dianne Wiest, John Lithgow, Katie Holmes,
and Patrick Wilson star in All My Sons
(© Andrew Eccles)
Dianne Wiest, John Lithgow, Katie Holmes,
and Patrick Wilson star in All My Sons
(© Andrew Eccles)
As every Gothamite knows, autumn in New York means more than just falling leaves or a nip in the air. It means an unbelievable plethora of entertainment options that can result in making plans months in advance and engaging in desperate (and unsuccessful) attempts in cloning. To help narrow things down, TheaterMania editor-in-chief Brian Scott Lipton, managing editor Dan Bacalzo, and chief critic David Finkle have scoured hundreds of upcoming offerings on Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, the opera world, and other areas to come up with these 10 must-see events.

All My Sons
Schoenfeld Theatre, October 16-January 11
The reason to see Arthur Miller's 1947 drama revived again isn't publicity magnet Katie Holmes, or even the chance that her more famous hubby might join the audience the night you're there. The Tony-winning play's still the thing, as it follows one man's World War II-related greed surfacing to his family, not to mention the top-notch cast led by John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest and Patrick Wilson, all guided by director Simon McBurney, head of England's astonishing Complicite company.

-- David Finkle

Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds
Various venues, September 24-December 13
While the biggest celebration of Leonard Bernstein's just-passed 90th birthday is next year's Broadway revival of West Side Story, this amalgam of events -- organized by Carnegie Hall -- will do just nicely until then. Highlights include a salute by the New York Pops featuring such vocalists as Christiane Noll and Lillias White (October 17); a Standard Time concert by Michael Feinstein (October 22), a series of screenings of classic telecasts ranging from Trouble in Tahiti to Candide and Wonderful Town at the Paley Center for Media (November 8-23); and especially the City Center Encores! mounting of the delicious On the Town (November 19-23).

-- Brian Scott Lipton

The Cripple of Inishmaan
Atlantic Theater Company, December 9-March 1
Anyone reading Martin McDonagh's bizarre comedy might reasonably conclude it's among the absolutely funniest scripts in the English-Irish language. Unfortunately, when it was first done in Manhattan, it was handed to director Jerry Zaks, who simply wasn't able to coax the laff-riot onto a stage. That unfortunate gaffe should be corrected by helmer Garry Hynes, a longtime McDonagh collaborator -- she won the Tony for The Beauty Queen of Leenane -- who's already done the job for her acclaimed Druid company.

-- David Finkle

Daniel Radcliffe stars in Equus
(© Carol Rosegg)
Daniel Radcliffe stars in Equus
(© Carol Rosegg)
Doctor Atomic
Metropolitan Opera, October 13-November 13
Composer John Adams is drawn to headlines, as fans of his works Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer already know. So it's no surprise he became engaged by the story of A-bomb developer J. Robert Oppenheimer (to be played by Gerald Finley). Librettist Peter Sellars culled dialogue from government records as well as from the Bhagavad-Gita and John Donne, and the Met's production will also feature invaluable contributions from renowned British director Penny Woolcock and designer Julian Crouch.

-- David Finkle

Equus
Broadhurst Theatre, September 5-February 8
Harry Potter fans (like me) are eagerly anticipating seeing Daniel Radcliffe on stage in Peter Shaffer's excellent 1970s drama. The role of Alan Strang, the troubled young man who blinds a slew of horses, is a daring choice for his Broadway debut -- and not just because of the well-publicized nude scene. But based on reports from London, where this revival was first staged, Radcliffe -- playing opposite Tony winner Richard Griffiths (who also portrays Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter films) -- does the part justice.

-- Dan Bacalzo

Fifty Words
Lucille Lortel Theater, September 10-October 25
The playwright Michael Weller has gone from an almost-household name to a rarely-heard one in the past two decades, but MCC Theater (along with New York Theatre Workshop which is kicking of its season with Weller's anti-war play Beast) may change all that by producing this world premiere play about a modern marriage that's not what it seems. Weller's gift for words aside, the real reason to revel in these Words is to see two of New York's best actors, Norbert Leo Butz and Elizabeth Marvel, go mano to womano on an intimate Off-Broadway stage. Bring a fan, since the heat may be too much to bear!

-- Brian Scott Lipton

New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF)
Various venues, September 15-October 5
This annual festival, now in its fifth year, has produced such hits as Altar Boyz and [title of show]. This year's eclectic selections range from Jason & Ben, about two songwriters in a game of sexual and psychological manipulation, to Wild About Harry, a dance musical about Leona Helmsley. As usual, the festival has attracted some top talent, including Cady Huffman in Wood, Barbara Walsh in About Face, Donna Lynn Champlin in Love Jerry, Josh Strickland and Sally Mayes in Play It Cool, and Chuck Cooper and Natalie Venetia Belcon in Twilight in Manchego.

-- Dan Bacalzo

Pal Joey
Studio 54, November 11-February 15

Stephen Sondheim
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Stephen Sondheim
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
If they asked many theatergoers which old-time musical they wanted to see revived, this Rodgers & Hart classic would be at the top of many lists. The Roundabout has cast the invaluable Stockard Channing as the man-hungry Vera Simpson, the multi-talented Christian Hoff as heel-with-a-bit-of-heart Joey Evans, and the always extraordinary Martha Plimpton as chorus girl Gladys Bumps. Add in a reworked book by the often-brilliant Richard Greenberg (who has, it's true, eliminated the role of Melba, which shot Elaine Stritch to stardom) and the usually sharp-eyed direction of Joe Mantello, and you should fully expect to be bewitched.

-- Brian Scott Lipton

Road Show
Public Theater, October 28-December 28
Stephen Sondheim's long-aborning musical -- his first new work since Passion -- finally arrives in New York, with a new title (its fourth), a re-written book (by John Weidman), and, most importantly, a new creative team headed by the superb British director John Doyle, who has shown his keen understanding of Sondheim's work with his radical reinterpretations of Sweeney Todd and Company. As the literally gold-digging Mizner brothers -- one gay and one straight -- Sondheim vets (and former Sweeney co-stars) Michael Cerveris and Alexander Gemignani are sure to make strong impressions.

-- Brian Scott Lipton

Romantic Poetry
Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage 1, beginning September 30
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley may be best known for dark dramas like Doubt, but he has been edging into musical territory for some time now. And why not? His characters often have the kind of larger than life quality that would make it perfectly natural for them to break into song at any moment. So expect Shanley's collaboration with Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger, in what's described as a "crackpot musical romance," to set toes a-tappin' and hearts a -flutterin'.

-- Dan Bacalzo