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10 Off-Broadway Shows You Need to Book This Fall

For a really memorable night at the theater, look beyond the Great White Way.

While Broadway is the home of big, high-budget shows, some of the freshest, most exciting theater in New York happens off-Broadway. With that in mind, we've pored over the fall season announcements and picked out 10 productions that show the most promise. Whether you like plays or musicals, world premieres or revivals, there's a show on this list that will be worthy of your time.

For tickets and more information, click on a show's title.

Hershey Felder stars as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro.
(© Michael Lamont)

1. Maestro59E59 Theaters (performances begin August 31)
Hershey Felder plays composer and philharmonic conductor Leonard Bernstein in this unique solo performance. Felder brings his considerable talent as a classical pianist to the stage as he recounts Bernstein's life while playing some of his most iconic music. Having previously taken on the roles of George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, Felder also directed Mona Golabek in the excellent Pianist of Willesden Lane at 59E59, which employed a similar form. Like Bernstein himself, Felder seamlessly bridges the divide between classical music and the theater.


Sarah Jones will star in Sell/Buy/Date, her new solo play.
(© David Gordon)

2. Sell/Buy/DateManhattan Theatre Club (performances begin September 27)
Writer and performer Sarah Jones takes a dive into the commercial sex industry in this cleverly titled solo show. The Tony Award-winning monologist is most famous for her 2006 Broadway show, Bridge & Tunnel, which saw Jones transform into a variety of New York metropolitan area characters spanning age, gender, and ethnicity. You should always jump at a chance to see this fearless performer in action.


David Hyde Pierce will star in the world premiere of Adam Bock's A Life.
(© Allison Stock)

3. A LifePlaywrights Horizons (performances begin September 30)
Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) stars as an astrology-obsessed and chronically single man in this world premiere play by Adam Bock. Director Anne Kauffman (Marjorie Prime) has frequently collaborated with Bock, including on the supremely unsettling The Thugs (2006). Staged in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater (Playwrights Horizons' smaller space), this one promises to be a very intimate night at the theater.


Jon Hoche and Raymond Lee starred in the world premiere of Qui Nguyen's Vietgone at South Coast Repertory.
(© Debora Robinson)

4. VietgoneManhattan Theatre Club (performances begin October 4)
Vampire Cowboys artistic director Qui Nguyen pens this irreverent comedy about his parents and their 1975 escape from Saigon to a new life in Arkansas (where he was born). Nguyen has developed a loyal fan base for his hilarious and action-packed plays with Vampire Cowboys, including Alice in Slasherland, Living Dead in Denmark, and Fight Girl Battle World. Nguyen has described this far more personal story as "a sex comedy about my parents." Terrifying!


Lynn Nottage is the author of Sweat.
(© David Gordon)

5. SweatThe Public Theater (performances begin October 18)
Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage (Ruined) brings her newest play to the Public Theater following critically acclaimed runs at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and D.C.'s Arena Stage. It tells the story of a group of workers at a metal tubing plant and how radical changes in American manufacturing upend each of their lives. In an election year in which trade and labor are very much at the forefront of the discussion, this is a timely must-see.


Robin De Jesús and Michael Urie will star in Jordan Seavey's Homos, or Everyone in America
(© Roberto Araujo/David Gordon)

6. Homos, or Everyone in AmericaLabyrinth Theater Company (performances begin October 20)
Michael Urie (Buyer and Cellar) and Robin De Jesús (In the Heights) star in this world premiere about an average New York couple that asks, "What does it mean to be in a committed relationship?" Perhaps more controversially, it also asks, "Is monogamy just monotony?" In previous works like 6969 (about an intense relationship forged in an Internet chat room), playwright Jordan Seavey has shown an uncommon sensitivity to the dynamics of human relationships in an ever-shifting cultural landscape. With its provocative title and stellar cast, Homos is likely to be just as enthralling.


Melissa Errico and Malcolm Gets starred in the 2004 revival of Finian's Rainbow at Irish Rep.
(© Carol Rosegg)

7. Finian's RainbowIrish Repertory Theatre (performances begin October 26)
Melissa Errico returns to Irish Rep to reprise the role of Sharon, which she played in director Charlotte Moore's acclaimed 2004 revival. Moore once again helms this musical tale of an Irishman who steals a leprechaun's pot of gold and spirits it away to the mythical old southern state of Missitucky. With Errico in excellent voice for the recent Encores! mounting of Do I Hear a Waltz?, this is the perfect opportunity to hear her talent in the intimate confines of Irish Rep's newly renovated theater.


Jason Sudeikis will star in the world premiere of Dead Poets Society at Classic Stage Company.
(© Tristan Fuge)

8. Dead Poets SocietyClassic Stage Company (performances begin October 27)
Tom Schulman adapts his Academy Award-winning screenplay for the stage in this exciting new play helmed by Classic Stage's newly anointed artistic director, John Doyle (The Color Purple). The story follows a group of students at an elite boarding school who are inspired to question authority by poetry and the unconventional methods of one teacher. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jason Sudeikis will make his off-Broadway debut as English teacher John Keating, a role originated by Robin Williams in the 1989 film.


Sutton Foster will star in the New Group revival of Sweet Charity.
(© David Gordon)

9. Sweet CharityNew Group (performances begin November 2)
Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (Anything Goes) stars as Times Square dancer-for-hire Charity Hope Valentine in this revival of the Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, and Neil Simon classic musical. Foster's Violet director, Leigh Silverman, helms this first major New York production since the 2005 Broadway revival. It will feature new choreography by Joshua Bergasse (On the Town) in an intimate thrust space where no seat is more than five rows from the stage, helping to re-create the dance-hall environment. This is unquestionably off-Broadway's hottest musical ticket of the fall.


Daniel Craig will star as Iago in Shakespeare's Othello at New York Theatre Workshop.
(© Tristan Fuge)

10. OthelloNew York Theatre Workshop (performances begin November 22)
Martin Luther King and James Bond play Othello and Iago in this highly anticipated Shakespeare revival at New York Theatre Workshop. Of course, we're talking about the actors David Oyelowo (Selma) and Daniel Craig (the Bond franchise), who will star in the Bard's fiery drama about betrayal and racial animosity in Venice. Tony winner Sam Gold (Fun Home) directs what promises to be a top-notch production, and not just because of its A-list celebrities.

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