The 14 Shows You Must Catch This Fall

Broadway kicks off a new season, and there’s plenty of drama off-Broadway and in Brooklyn.

Photo by Joan Marcus/Courtesy of DKC O&M

As if there weren’t enough theater to keep up with all summer, here comes the fall. Students head back to school, people reevaluate their cool-weather wardrobes, and theaters across the city get a ton of new shows ready for the public. For Broadway producers and companies on a traditional theater calendar, fall marks the boom time of the first half of the season. It often brings thoughtful dramas, some transferring from London, but a lot of them homegrown. In our autumn short list, below, we’ve aimed for a mix of new American plays, new musicals (drawn from song catalogs by Tina Turner, David Byrne, and Alanis Morissette), and a sprinkling of foreign work.

Derren Brown: Secret

If you think Broadway means only musicals or major plays, think again: The Great White Way has always been a home for vaudeville, variety, and magic. Now famed mentalist Brown settles down for a 17-week engagement, during which he’ll rifle through his audiences’ brains like a master pickpocket. Just try and lie; he’ll read you like a deck of cards.

broadway shows 2019
Photo by Seamus Ryan/Courtesy of Derren Brown

Cort Theatre
138 West 48th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), Midtown
Opens Sunday, September 15

Freestyle Love Supreme

This hip-hop improv act comes to Broadway, busting rhymes as the audience busts a gut. Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda was a founding member, and you can see how in FLS he found a dope AF vocabulary for his Broadway megahit. These quick-thinking comic rappers take cues from the audience and—bam!—weave a hip-hop musical comedy before your eyes.

Photo by Matthew Murphy/Courtesy of Freestyle Love Supreme

Booth Theatre
222 West 45th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown
Friday, September 13–Sunday, January 5, 2020

Linda Vista

One of our earthiest, most truth-talking playwrights, Tracy Letts, returns to Broadway with a tale of midlife crisis and second chances. A 50-year-old divorced man starts life over again, with all the pain and awkward comedy that implies. Letts’s regular collaborator, Dexter Bullard (Bug), directs this Second Stage Theatre premiere.

Helen Hayes Theatre
240 West 44th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown
Thursday, September 19–Sunday, November 10

Slave Play

Last December, it was the show everyone was talking about, but no one could get in. Brainy, provocative, and angry, Jeremy O. Harris’s Slave Play was turning some people on and pissing others off. Now’s your chance to see the twisty, racially incendiary psychodrama. Interracial couples go through counseling, which includes supercreepy historical role-play.

broadway shows 2019
Photo by Joan Marcus/Courtesy of DKC O&M

John Golden Theatre
252 West 45th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown
Tuesday, September 10–Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Rose Tattoo

Is it possible that you haven’t seen the glorious Marisa Tomei live? She has gigged a few times on Broadway, from Oscar Wilde’s Salome to the absurdist comedy The Realistic Joneses. Now she plays Tennessee Williams’s hot-blooded Serafina, an Italian-American widow in Mississippi who lusts after a younger man.

American Airlines Theatre
227 West 42nd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown
Thursday, September 19–Sunday, December 8

Soft Power

Veteran playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly) and brilliant composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home) collaborate on a musical satire that weaves together the 2016 national election, Eastern and Western cultural values, and details from Hwang’s own life—including a random stabbing that he survived near his home in Brooklyn.

Photo by Craig Schwartz/Courtesy of the Public Theater

Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street (at Astor Place), East Village
Tuesday, September 24–Sunday, November 3

The Sound Inside

For 20 years, Adam Rapp has mapped the seedy, dangerous underbelly of American masculinity, family, and pop culture. Now he makes his Broadway debut. His Yale-set drama concerns a fiction professor (the luminous Mary-Louise Parker) dealing with a cancer diagnosis while trying to help a disturbed gifted student.

Photo by Carolyn Brown/Courtesy of Williamstown Theatre Festival

Studio 54
254 West 54th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), Midtown
Saturday, September 14–Sunday, January 12, 2020

Little Shop of Horrors

Many of us know this campy, classic musical from the brilliant Frank Oz film adaptation of 1986. Maybe you saw a community theater version. (We’ll agree to forget the wilted 2003 Broadway “premiere.”) Now the story of a carnivorous, fast-growing plant from outer space and nerdy Seymour, who befriends it, returns off-Broadway. The starry cast includes Jonathan Groff, Tammy Blanchard, and Christian Borle.

Westside Theatre Upstairs
407 West 43rd Street (between Ninth and Tenth Avenues), Midtown
Tuesday, September 17–Sunday, November 24

American Utopia

Fans of David Byrne, rejoice! The quirky, cerebral Talking Heads frontman brings his touring extravaganza to Broadway. Not quite a musical and not exactly a concert, this high-concept event is performed by Byrne and a squad of musician-dancers all clad in matching silver-gray suits. The set list includes new tunes and classic tracks such as “Once in a Lifetime,” “Burning Down the House,” and “Blind.”

Photo by Catalina Kulczar/Courtesy of American Utopia

Hudson Theatre
141 West 44th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues), Midtown
Friday, October 4–Sunday, January 19, 2020

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

She’s been immortalized in pop hits and a gritty biopic—now the unstoppable Tina Turner comes to Broadway in her very own jukebox musical. We follow young Tina in rural Tennessee; her adult self in an intense and abusive marriage with Ike Turner; and her fabulous, chart-topping comeback in the 1980s. What’s love (of Tina) got to do with it? Everything!

Photo by Manuel Harlan/Courtesy of Polk and Co

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
205 West 46th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), Midtown
Previews start Saturday, October 12

Sugimoto Bunraku Sonezaki Shinju

For lovers of the delicate and mesmerizing art of bunraku—expressive puppets brought to life by multiple handlers—this limited run in Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival will be magical. The source is a controversial 1703 drama about a clerk and a courtesan who enact a suicide pact in the forest of Tenjin. Director Hiroshi Sugimoto updates the tragic “love suicides.”

Photo courtesy of Odawara Art Foundation

Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall
10 Columbus Circle, Midtown
Saturday, October 19–Tuesday, October 22

The Inheritance

Few plays have had as much advance buzz as Matthew Lopez’s two-part drama about gay life in the generation after AIDS. Inspired by E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End, the play has a similar novelistic sprawl and an urgent message about connection and empathy, not letting class and moral hypocrisy cloud our humanity. Although thoroughly American, the play premiered in London (to raves) in a production directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot).

Photo by Marc Brenner/Courtesy of Polk & Co

Ethel Barrymore Theatre
243 West 47th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), Midtown
Friday, September 27–Sunday, March 1, 2020

Jagged Little Pill

Rocker Alanis Morissette’s angry, cool, feminist songs form the backbone for this new musical about a Connecticut family coming apart. Mom pops pills; Dad downloads porn; an adopted black daughter feels suffocated by her suburban, white environment. Is it any wonder these characters (book by Juno’s Diablo Cody) break through the boredom and hypocrisy with anthems of protest?

Broadhurst Theatre
235 West 44th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown
Previews start Sunday, November 3; opens Thursday, December 5

History of Violence

Connoisseurs of European regietheater (director’s theater) won’t want to miss this avant-garde shocker from Germany’s Thomas Ostermeier. The multimedia piece is based on Édouard Louis’s 2016 memoir, which recounts how the author was raped and nearly killed by a North African man he had just met. In the aftermath of this traumatic event, Louis witnesses the homophobia and racism of French society as never before. Performed in German with English supertitles.

Photo courtesy of St. Ann’s Warehouse

St. Ann’s Warehouse
45 Water Street (at Old Dock Street), Dumbo
Wednesday, November 13–Sunday, December 1

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