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New Broadway season has Pacino, Lauper and 'Annie'

MARK KENNEDY
21 August 2012
This theater image released by Jeffrey Richards Associates shows, from left, Carrie Coon , Madison Dirks, Amy Morton and Tracy Letts in a scene from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."  (AP Photo/Jeffrey Richards Associates, Michael Brosilow)
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This theater image released by Jeffrey Richards Associates shows, from left, Carrie Coon , Madison Dirks, Amy Morton and Tracy Letts in a scene from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." (AP Photo/Jeffrey Richards Associates, Michael Brosilow)

NEW YORK (AP) — There's a bit of everything for theatergoers this fall in New York, from a play about porn to a musical about proselytizing Christians. Al Pacino and Katie Holmes are the star headliners, while David Mamet makes a big return and the sun comes out for "Annie." Even The Fonz makes it to Broadway for the 2012-13 season.

STARS, STARS, STARS

It wouldn't be Broadway these days without A-list celebs, and this season has lured Pacino, Holmes, Paul Rudd, Jessica Chastain and Alec Baldwin. Returning Broadway veterans include Patti LuPone, Judith Ivey, Katie Finneran, Bobby Cannavale, Patrick Page, Stephanie J. Block, Rob McClure, Jessica Hecht, Jim Norton, Judith Light, Douglas Hodge, Laura Osnes, Norbert Leo Butz, Cheyenne Jackson, Danny Burstein, Carolee Carmello, Henry Winkler and Chita Rivera, who turns 80 in January. Ed Asner makes his first Broadway appearance in more than two decades.

COMPETING AGAINST THEMSELVES

Mamet returns to Broadway after a two-year absence with two shows that might overlap: a revival of "Glengarry Glen Ross" with Pacino and Cannavale, and his new play, "The Anarchist," debuting at the same time with Debra Winger and LuPone.

The playwright isn't the only one with two dueling shows. Thomas Meehan, who wrote the book for "Annie," also wrote the story of "Chaplin," a new musical opening in September that depicts the life of film icon Charlie Chaplin. It will go up against a new production of "Annie" with Finneran as Miss Hannigan.

PROPER AND NOT-SO-PROPER

The romantic comedy "The Performers," about two guys who reconnect at the Adult Film Awards in Las Vegas, will open in November starring Winkler and Jackson, likely with plenty of sex puns. It will immediately face-off against "Scandalous," a musical with book and lyrics by TV host Kathie Lee Gifford about the American evangelical leader Aimee Semple McPherson, who preached about a return to simple biblical Christianity. Questions of faith and religion also get tossed about in Craig Wright's play "Grace," with Rudd and Asner.

REVIVE, REVIVE

Some tried-and-true shows make it back to Broadway, including Edward Albee's seminal "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre Company. "Cyrano de Bergerac" comes back for its 14th time, and murder whodunit "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" hopes to take advantage of its interactive touch since the audience decides who the killer is. Henrik Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" comes back for a ninth time, "Glengarry Glen Ross" marks its 30th anniversary and the fourth revival of "The Heiress" may attract fans of "Downton Abbey" since it co-stars that series' actor Dan Stevens. Lyle Kessler's "Orphans" is due in the spring, and Clifford Odets will have two revivals — his "Golden Boy" will celebrate its 75th-anniversary production this winter and his "The Big Knife" will appear in the spring. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II — with an assist from Douglas Carter Beane — return to Broadway in January with "Cinderella."

NEW AND NEWISH

Tony-winning playwright Richard Greenberg returns with the world premiere of his "The Assembled Parties," and Sharr White's "The Other Place" makes the jump from off-Broadway. "Seminar" and "Smash" writer Theresa Rebeck's five-character "Dead Accounts," which had its world premiere at the Cincinnati Playhouse this winter, comes to Broadway with Tom Cruise's ex-wife Holmes among the stars. "Chaplin," with veteran Rob McClure as the little tramp, comes via the La Jolla Playhouse in California.

FROM ABROAD

Two foreign musicals land on Broadway — "Rebecca," originally produced in Austria, and "Matilda: The Musical," based on Roald Dahl's tale of an extraordinary little girl from an ordinary family, which has become a smash hit in London. Written by the playwright Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Australian comedian Tim Minchin, "Matilda" took more prizes than any show in the 36-year history of the British theater's Olivier Awards.

CROW VERSUS LAUPER

This spring, two singer-songwriters known more for rock and pop than Broadway will be pitted against each other. Sheryl Crow has written songs and lyrics to the musical "Diner," based on the film about friends reuniting for a wedding in 1959 by Barry Levinson, while Cyndi Lauper has penned songs for "Kinky Boots," a musical based on the 2005 British movie about a failing shoe factory that's struggling until it finds new life in fetish footwear. Crow has nine Grammys while Lauper became the first female artist to have five top 10 singles from a debut album. Both, though, are making their theatrical writing debuts.

OFF-BROADWAY NUGGETS

Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce star in Christopher Durang's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" at the Lincoln Center Theater; Jake Gyllenhaal appears in Nick Payne's "If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet" at the Roundabout Theatre Company; Edie Falco stars in "The Madrid" at Manhattan Theatre Club; Eve Ensler's "Emotional Creature" makes its New York premiere in October at The Pershing Square Signature Center; the Transport Group will present "House for Sale" by National Book Award winner Jonathan Franzen; Theatre for a New Audience will have two plays by Wallace Shawn; Terrence McNally's "Golden Age" with Bebe Neuwirth will be produced by the Manhattan Theater Club; Jesse Eisenberg's "The Revisionist" will be produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater; and John Guare's "Three Kinds of Exile" will be produced by the Atlantic Theater Co.

CHRISTMAS CHEER

Last year at Christmas, the Rockettes pretty much had the city to themselves. This year, the high kickers at Radio City Music Hall will have competition from a returning "Elf," the sweet musical based on the Will Ferrell movie, and also from "Christmas Story, The Musical!" a show inspired by the classic film with songs written by up-and-comers Benj Pasek and composer Justin Paul. There's also the mean old Grinch — "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical" will be playing at Madison Square Garden.

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Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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