Fall Theater Preview 2018: Cher, King Kong and More Must-See Shows

2018 Fall Preview, Theater
Photos Courtesy of Sophy Holland / Jake Chessum / Joan Marcus / Polk and Co. / James Morgan

ET’s guide to all the major, star-studded productions taking over New York City this fall.

While the summer gave theaters fans plenty to be excited about -- Pretty Woman, Armie Hammer, the Go-Go's -- the fall season is kicking things into high gear with even more star-studded shows and anticipated productions. From Cher to King Kong, the first half of the 2018-2019 Broadway season is not holding back.

In addition to the superstar's life being turned into a musical and Jack Thorne’s adaptation of the beloved 1933 film, Kerry Washington is making her return to the stage nine years after her debut; Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird is finally opening; Alexandra Billings will continue to break barriers after Peppermint and Kate Bornstein shattered theater’s transgender glass ceiling; Daniel Radcliffe will face off against Bobby Cannavale; and Michael Urie brings Torch Song back to Broadway.

Off-Broadway, things are just as A-list, with Michael C. Hall, Edie Falco, Stockard Channing and Glenn Close all returning to the New York stage. Here is ET's guide to the most anticipated, star-studded shows taking over New York City this fall:




Jake Chessum

Janet McTeer plays Sarah Bernhardt, considered one of the greatest actresses in the world, as she prepares to play Hamlet in 1899. Similar to Noises Off and The Play That Goes Wrong, the bulk of the action happens behind the scenes as Bernhardt tries to pull the production together.

Written by: Theresa Rebeck | Directed by: Moritz von Stuelpnagel
Starring: Janet McTeer, Dylan Baker
Opens: Sept. 25 (in previews now) @ American Airlines Theatre

The Nap


Ben Schnetzer plays a rising young star in this funny look at the world of snooker -- the British version of pool. Arriving for a championship tournament, the player is confronted by authorities who warn him of the repercussions of match fixing. The play is full of wildly colorful characters, including his ex-convict dad, saucy mum, quick-tongued manager and a renowned gangster (played by Transparent's Alexandra Billings).

Written by: Richard Bean | Directed by: Daniel Sullivan
Starring: Ben Schnetzer, Johanna Day, Alexandra Billings
Opens: Sept. 27 (previews start Sept. 5) @ Samuel J. Friedman Theatre


The Lifespan of a Fact

Courtesy of Polk & Co.

Based on the true story behind John D’Agata’s essay about the Las Vegas suicide of a teenager, Lifespan follows a fact-checker (Daniel Radcliffe) tasked by his boss on his biggest assignment yet: Apply his skills to a groundbreaking piece by a legendary author. It’s soon discovered, however, that most of the article is made up.

Written by: Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell | Directed by: Leigh Silverman
Starring: Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Daniel Radcliffe
Opens: Oct. 18 (previews start Sept. 20) @ Studio 54

The Ferryman

Johan Persson

Set in rural Northern Ireland in 1981, the Carney farmhouse is busy preparing for the annual harvest when this year’s traditional night of feasting and celebrations is interrupted by a visitor.

Written by: Jez Butterworth | Directed by: Sam Mendes
Starring: Paddy Considine, Laura Donnelly, Genevieve O’Reilly
Opens: Oct. 21 (previews start Oct. 2) @ Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre

The Waverly Gallery

John Golden Theatre

In Kenneth Lonergan’s celebrated memory play, Elaine May plays a generous, chatty and feisty grandmother in the final years of her battle against Alzheimer’s disease, with Joan Allen and Lucas Hedges as members of her family and Michael Cera as a young artist hoping to show in her gallery.

Written by: Kenneth Lonergan | Directed by: Lila Neugebauer
Starring: Joan Allen, Michael Cera, Lucas Hedges, Elaine May
Opens: Oct. 25 (previews start Sept. 25) @ John Golden Theatre


Torch Song

Joan Marcus

Torch Song, a revival of Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-winning play Torch Song Trilogy, sees Michael Urie (Younger) playing Arnold Beckoff, a fearless drag performer in search of an ideal life in late-‘70s New York City. Urie takes over the role originated by Fierstein, who provided a newly edited script for the show’s return to Broadway after a celebrated Off-Broadway run.

Written by: Harvey Fierstein | Directed by: Moises Kaufman
Starring: Michael Urie, Mercedes Ruehl
Opens: Nov. 1 (previews start Oct. 9) @ Hayes Theater

American Son

Sophy Holland

In this gripping tale of two Florida parents caught up in a national divide, their worst fears hang in the balance as a mother searches for her missing teenage son. The play marks Kerry Washington’s return to Broadway after making her debut in 2009 and the end of Scandal, which ran for seven seasons on ABC.

Written by: Christopher Demos-Brown | Directed by: Kenny Leon
Starring: Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan
Opens: Nov. 4 (previews start Oct. 6) @ Booth Theatre

King Kong

Photo by James Morgan

King Kong comes alive onstage -- thanks to a mix of robotics and puppetry -- in Jack Thorne’s (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) contemporary take on the 1933 classic film about an actress and a filmmaker who leave New York City for uncharted territory to find the greatest wonder the world has ever seen.

Book by: Jack Thorne | Directed by: Drew McOnie
Music and lyrics by: Marius de Bries | Songs by: Eddie Perfect
Starring: Christiani Pitts, Eric William Morris, Erik Lochtefeld
Opens: Nov. 8 (previews start Oct. 5) @ Broadway Theatre

The Prom

Nathan Johnson

When a gay student is sidelined from her small-town Indiana prom, four Broadway relics come to her aide with hopes of helping her (and her girlfriend) go to the dance but also soak up some press and get an attention boost for their sagging careers.

Book by: Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin | Directed by: Casey Nicholaw
Music by: Matthew Sklar | Lyrics by: Chad Beguelin
Starring: Brooks Ashmanskas, Beth Leavel, Christopher Sieber, Caitlin Kinnunen, Isabelle McCalla, Michael Potts, Angie Schworer, Courtenay Collins, Josh Lamon
Opens: Nov. 15 (previews start Oct. 23) @ Longacre Theatre


The Cher Show

Joan Marcus

Stephanie J. Block, Micaela Diamond and Teal Wicks portray three versions of Cher in this new biomusical about the superstar's life and career, from emerging as one-half of Sonny and Cher to her height in the '70s and the legendary star she is today.

Book by: Rick Elice | Directed by: Jason Moore
Starring: Stephanie J. Block, Micaela Diamond, Teal Wicks
Opens: Dec. 3 (previews start Nov. 1) @ Neil Simon Theatre


Polk and Co.

Bryan Cranston plays news anchor Howard Beale in this adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s Oscar-winning film about a man who unravels onscreen in his final broadcast.

Written by: Lee Hall | Directed by: Ivo van Hove
Starring: Bryan Cranston
Opens: Dec. 6 (previews start Nov. 10) @ Cort Theatre

To Kill a Mockingbird

Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage

First announced in February 2016, Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s acclaimed novel was met with dueling lawsuits over the content of Sorkin's script and how much it deviated from Lee's original story. With both suits behind them, the production is back on track with Jeff Daniels as heroic lawyer Atticus Finch.

Written by: Aaron Sorkin | Directed by: Bartlett Sher
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Gideon Glick, LaTanya Richardson Jackson
Opens: Dec. 13 (previews start Nov. 1) @ Shubert Theatre



Tristam Kenton

Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. will take over the role of the smooth-talking Billy Flynn for a limited engagement, from Oct. 6 to Nov. 18. He reprises the role after making his West End debut in the 2018 London production of Chicago. The long-running show has featured a number of stars in the role, including Taye Diggs, Michael C. Hall, George Hamilton, Backstreet Boys’ Kevin Richardson, Alan Thicke and Billy Zane.

Joining: Cuba Gooding Jr.
Starting: Oct. 6 @ Ambassador Theatre

My Fair Lady

Tony winner Laura Benanti will step into the lead role of Eliza Doolittle in the award-winning revival of My Fair Lady, taking over for current star Lauren Ambrose, who is leaving to work on M. Night Shyamalan’s new Apple series. “I would literally give my left pinky to do it,” Benanti told ET in 2017 about joining the revival. After the announcement, she said, "Eliza Doolittle has been my dream role for as long as I can remember, so I couldn’t be more excited to join this brilliant company. Working with Bart [director Bartlett Sher] and getting to be part of this show is a dream come true.”

Joining: Laura Benanti
Starting: Oct. 23 @ The Vivian Beaumont Theater



Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties

Joan Marcus

The lives of five different women named Betty -- one rich, one lonely, one charismatic, one lovelorn, and one who keeps working on her truck -- collide in this unpredictable comedy that forces each person to face their own truths. The show was recently extend through Oct. 7.

Written by: Jen Silverman | Directed by: Mike Donahue
Starring: Dana Delany, Lea DeLaria
Opens: Sept. 12 (in previews now) @ MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel Theatre

The True

Photo by Serge Nivelle

A longtime defender of Albany’s Democratic Party, politics become extremely personal for Polly when her hero is battling for party control while also facing a fierce primary election in 1977.

Written by: Sharr White | Directed by: Scott Elliott
Starring: Edie Falco, Peter Scolari
Opens: Sept. 20 (previews start Sept. 4) @ The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center

I Was Most Alive With You

Playwrights Horizons

Lois Smith -- who is enjoying a career high with recent celebrated stage and screen performances -- is part of this ensemble play about a man who faces an unexpected test that threatens to cast him and his loved ones into darkness.

Written by: Craig Lucas | Directed by: Tyne Rafaeli
Starring: Lois Smith
Opens: Sept. 24 (in previews now) @ Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage Theater


Girl From the North Country

The Public Theater

Bob Dylan’s inimitable songbook is authentically transformed into this achingly beautiful story of a down-on-its-luck community on the brink of change in Dylan’s hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, in 1934.

Written and directed by: Conor McPherson | Music and lyrics by: Bob Dylan
Starring: Todd Almond, Jeannette Bayardelle, Stephen Bogardus
Opens: Oct. 1 (previews start Sept. 11) @ The Public Theater


Courtesy of Roundabout Theatre Company

In this biting new play, Stockard Channing plays Kristin Miller, a radical activist-turned-celebrated art historian facing the repercussions of her past with the publication of her memoir. While the book threatens to split her family apart, Kristin is not one to shy away from a fight.

Written by: Alexi Kaye Campbell | Directed by: Daniel Aukin
Starring: Stockard Channing, Hugh Dancy
Opens: Oct. 16 (previews start Sept. 27) @ Laura Pels Theatre

Mother of the Maid

Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage

The new play tells the story of Joan of Arc’s mother (Glenn Close, who is enjoying Oscar buzz again), a sensible, hard-working, God-fearing peasant woman whose faith is upended as she deals with the baffling journey of her odd and extraordinary daughter.

Written by: Jane Anderson | Directed by: Matthew Penn
Starring: Glenn Close
Opens: Oct. 17 (previews start Sept. 25) @ The Public Theater

Gloria: A Life

Daryl Roth Theatre

Gloria Steinem’s life and career is at the center of this biopic, which weaves together personal and history-changing moments of the past 50 years. Act One focuses on her personal life and activism, while Act Two is a talking circle in which the audience will be invited to carry the themes of the play into a conversation of their own.

Written by: Emily Mann | Directed by: Diane Paulus
Starring: Christine Lahti
Opens: Oct. 18 (previews start Oct. 2) @ Daryl Roth Theatre


Thom Pain (Based on Nothing)

Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images

This surreal and very real one-man show follows Thom Pain as he desperately and hilariously tries to save his own life -- or at least make it into something worth dying for.

Written by: Will Eno | Directed by: Oliver Butler
Starring: Michael C. Hall
Opens: Nov. 11 (previews start Oct. 23) @ The Diamond Stage at The Pershing Square Signature Center