September 24, 2023

Broadway plays: Fall preview includes Leslie Odom Jr, Sarah Paulson


A lot of major film and TV productions may currently be on hold due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, but luckily the New York theater scene hasn’t been affected. A new Broadway season is upon us, and there are four productions of plays set to open this fall (three new, one revival). Could any of them contend at next year’s Tony Awards? Below, let’s take a look at the plot of each play as well as the awards history of its author, cast and creative teams, plus the opening and (where applicable) closing dates.

“Purlie Victorious” (previews begin September 27; closes January 7, 2024)

The first Broadway revival of Ossie Davis’s 1961 play follows a Black preacher’s efforts to reclaim his inheritance and win back his church. The original production only earned one Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Godfrey M. Cambridge.

The cast for this production includes Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. (“Hamilton,” 2016), Drama Desk nominee Billy Eugene Jones (Off-Broadway’s “On Sugarland,” 2022), Drama Desk winner Jay O. Sanders (Off-Broadway’s “Uncle Vanya,” 2019), Heather Alicia Simms (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” 2003), Vanessa Bell Calloway, Outer Critics Circle nominee Noah Robbins (“Brighton Beach Memoirs,” 2010), Noah Pyzik, Bill Timoney and two-time Tony nominee Kara Young (“Clyde’s,” 2022; “Cost of Living,” 2023). It is directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun,” 2014).

“Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” (opens October 3; closes October 29)

This world premiere play by Drama Desk winner Jocelyn Bioh (Off-Broadway’s “Merry Wives,” 2022) is set during one hot summer day at a hair braiding salon in Harlem staffed by West African immigrants who confront what it means to be an outsider.

This production is presented by Manhattan Theatre Club. The cast includes Brittany Adebumola, Maechi Aharanwa, Rachel Christopher, Kalyne Coleman, Grammy nominee Somi Kakoma, Lakisha May, Lucille Lortel nominee Nana Mensah (Off-Broadway’s “Man From Nebraska,” 2017), Michael Oloyede, Dominique Thorne and Zenzi Williams. It is directed by Drama Desk nominee Whitney White (Off-Broadway’s “On Sugarland,” 2022).

“I Need That” (opens November 2; closes December 23)

This world premiere by Pulitzer Prize finalist Theresa Rebeck (“Omnium Gatherum,” 2004) follows Sam, who prefers the safety of his home and the company of his hoarded possessions. But a notice arrives warning Sam that he must clean his property or be evicted, forcing him to decide what’s trash and what’s treasure.

This production is presented by Roundabout Theatre Company. The cast includes Tony nominee Danny DeVito (“The Price,” 2017), Lucy DeVito (Danny’s real-life daughter) and Ray Anthony Thomas (“The Crucible,” 2016). It is directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel (“Hand to God,” 2015).

“Appropriate” (opens December 18; closes February 11, 2024)

The main stem premiere of this play by two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Branden Jacob-Jenkins (“Gloria,” 2016; “Everybody,” 2018) follows the Lafayette family as they return to their late father’s Arkansas home to deal with his estate, bringing to light long-hidden secrets and buried resentments and forcing the family to face their past.

“Appropriate” originally debuted at Off-Broadway’s Pershing Square Signature Centre, where it won the Obie Award for Best New American Play. This production is presented by Second Stage Theater. The cast includes Emmy winner Sarah Paulson (“The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” 2016), Drama Desk nominee Corey Stoll (Off-Broadway’s “Intimate Apparel,” 2004), Natalie Gold and Alyssa Emily Marvin (“Grey House,” 2023). It is directed by two-time Drama Desk nominee Lila Neugebauer (Off-Broadway’s “The Wayside Motor Inn,” 2015; “Miles for Mary,” 2018).

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