Danes, Garner and Pullman Bring Hollywood to Broadway

claredanes Danes, Garner and Pullman Bring Hollywood to BroadwayIt’s a good time to be a theater queen—plenty of camp this fall! The Ritz, a Roundabout revival of Terrence McNally’s 1975 comedic romp set in a gay bathhouse, promises to wring every last drop of squeaky sass from actress Rosie Perez, who performs alongside the smooth-pated Kevin Chamerlin in this Joe Mantello-directed play. (Does Mr. Mantello, who will oversee no fewer than three productions before New Year’s, ever sleep?!) (Studio 54, Sept. 14)

Towel off and throw out those old wire hangers if Die, Mommie, Die! piques your interest. In this Carl Andress-directed play, off-Broadway veteran actor Charles Busch does drag as a homicidal prima donna—a role Mr. Busch wrote a few years before the story was made into the 2003 film of the same name. This hammy production will be steeped in midcentury cine-tastic glamour, breathing new life into silver-screen turns by Old Hollywood doyennes like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. (New World Stages, Oct. 10)

While everyone else sells their sister to get into Mel Brooks’ new mortgage factory, Young Frankenstein, savvy theater buffs with marquee fever will likely head to Richard Rodgers Theatre, where smirksome actor Kevin Kline will beak up for the title role of Cyrano de Bergerac. This version of the Edmond Rostand classic about a pining poet whose choler flows through both pen and rapier was translated and adapted by Anthony Burgess, proving yet again that the late writer’s polychromatic body of work is still as bright as ever. Cyrano will also star hot-to-trot actress Jennifer Garner, making her stage debut as Roxane, and Daniel Sunjata (a.k.a. hot fireman Franco on Rescue Me), whose gorgeous visage will suit his role as sexy dolt Christian. (Oct. 12)

Meanwhile, the golden-tressed goddess next door, Claire Danes—whose new thriller with Richard Gere (!), The Flock, hits theaters next month—will also bid her stage virginity adieu by tromping the boards over on 42nd Street. The actress will perfect the Queen’s English in the role of the ever-malleable Eliza Doolittle in George Bernard Shaw’s iconic Pygmalion. Smoothing out Doolittle’s rougher edges in this David Grindley-directed effort, Jefferson Mays—whose mantle must moan under the umpteen awards he won for his solo performance in Broadway’s I Am My Own Wife—will fill the role of phonetics professor Henry Higgins. (American Airlines Theatre, Sept. 21)

And … giving the prolific Mr. Mantello a run for his money this fall, playwright Edward Albee, soon to be an octogenarian, can delight in the fact that four of his plays will be performed this autumn in major New York-area productions. Edward Albee’s Peter and Jerry, a tale about two very unlike men who met one afternoon in Central Park, is actually the offspring from a marriage of two Albee plays, The Zoo Story and Homelife. It stars Bill Pullman, no stranger to the stage; Johanna Day, who some might recognize from her appearances on Law & Order; and Dallas Roberts of The L Word. (Second Stage Theatre, Oct. 19)

Speaking of television, ever wonder how that most addictive of devices came to be? Here to explain, The Farnsworth Invention, fresh off a successful run at the La Jolla Playhouse, tells the story of two men who battled for the right to be called the boob tube’s creator. This dramatic account was written by Aaron Sorkin, the wordsmith whose work on The West Wing and A Few Good Men—a 1989 play before it became the oft-quoted film—has brought him a cabinet of awards and ample applause. (Music Box Theatre, Oct. 15)

Yet more fact fun can be had for the price of a ticket—this time with more grime than glitz—at the National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch, which wowed audiences at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival last year. No dram of single malt, Gregory Burke’s sober affair, which will show at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, comprises an unauthorized biography of the renowned British military unit, whose 2004 tour of duty in Iraq was relayed to Mr. Burke by some of the men who suffered the ordeal. (“It’s a buzz, you’re in a war, ay, and you’re doing the job you’re trained for, but it’s no like they’re a massive threat tay you or tay your country,” the script reads in a throat-coating brogue, “we’re invading their country and fucking their day up.”) (Oct. 20)

Finally, Disney plans to give it the old college try with a stage version of The Little Mermaid; this, after the dismal response to Broadway flops Mary Poppins and Tarzan. With awfully big fins to fill, Sierra Boggess, who played Christine in a Vegas run of Phantom, is geared up to become the world’s sexiest fish. (Well, since Daryl Hannah.) Whether this adaptation of the classic 1989 animated feature can angle Lion King-size audiences is yet to be seen, but with all that Mouse money behind her, director Francesca Zambello is aiming to make some waves. (Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Nov. 3)