(Michael Schulman’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 8/16; Illustration by Zhenya Oliinyk.)
Last spring’s doomed Broadway season is revived, along with plays by Lynn Nottage, Alice Childress, Lucas Hnath, Annie Baker, and more.
If all goes according to plan—begone, Delta variant!—Broadway will soon rematerialize like Brigadoon. Ahoy, Phantom! Long time no see, Alexander Hamilton! Star casting provides a (proverbial) shot in the arm. Jeff Daniels returns as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” starting at the Shubert on Oct. 5. Sara Bareilles reties her apron in “Waitress” (Barrymore, Sept. 2). And David Byrne performs an encore run of his sui-generis concert show, “American Utopia” (St. James, Sept. 17). Then there’s last year’s doomed spring season, much of which is finally coming out of the plastic wrap. Sam Mendes’s staging of “The Lehman Trilogy,” Stefano Massini’s epic tale of the Lehman clan, from its immigrant origins to the financial collapse of 2008, starts previews at the Nederlander on Sept. 25. Other long-delayed productions include a musical version of “Mrs. Doubtfire” (Sondheim, Oct. 21); the Roundabout’s revival of “Caroline, or Change,” Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s complex musical about a maid in the civil-rights era (Studio 54, Oct. 8); “Diana,” a singing answer to “The Crown” (Longacre, Nov. 2); and Lincoln Center Theatre’s musical “Flying Over Sunset,” which imagines the mid-century LSD experimentation enjoyed by Cary Grant, Clare Boothe Luce, and Aldous Huxley (Vivian Beaumont, Nov. 11).
Broadway also has some new additions, including seven works by Black playwrights and a couple of Off Broadway transfers. Second Stage produces “Clyde’s,” by the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, featuring Uzo Aduba as the proprietor of a truck-stop sandwich shop staffed by ex-convicts (Hayes, Nov. 3). In Douglas Lyons’s comedy “Chicken & Biscuits,” starring Norm Lewis and Michael Urie, a family secret upends a funeral (Circle in the Square, Sept. 23). “Thoughts of a Colored Man,” by Keenan Scott II, follows the lives of seven men during a single day in Brooklyn (Golden, Oct. 1). Alice Childress’s beloved backstage drama “Trouble in Mind,” from 1955, gets a long-overdue Broadway première, in a Roundabout production starring LaChanze (American Airlines, Oct. 29). And the Vineyard Theatre presents a rotating double bill of “Is This a Room,” Tina Satter’s haunting re-creation of the day that Reality Winner was questioned at her home by the F.B.I., and Lucas Hnath’s “Dana H.,” about the five months that the playwright’s mother spent in captivity (Lyceum, Sept. 24).