What’s not to love about a season that has Al Pacino, Patti LuPone, Pee-wee Herman and Vanessa Redgrave opening within days of one another?
Here’s what to look for in the fall theater season, and why:
“The Merchant of Venice.” You missed your chance to see Pacino’s intense Shylock for free last summer in Central Park. Time to pay. Begins performances Oct. 19 at the Broadhurst Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“Driving Miss Daisy.” A Jewish grande dame of the South and her patient black chauffeur are played in this revival by Redgrave and James Earl Jones, thus guaranteeing a master class in acting and/or scenery chewing. Begins performances Oct. 7 at the Golden Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“A Life in the Theatre.” Another star-driven revival of a two-hander, this one David Mamet’s youthful paean to life outside the limelight, starring Patrick Stewart and T.R. Knight. Begins previews Sept. 21 at the Schoenfeld Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com.
“Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark.” So what did Julie Taymor do with that $60 million in production costs? And can Bono and The Edge write songs for a venue holding fewer than 100,000 screaming fans? The much-delayed show starts performances Nov. 14 at the Foxwoods Theatre, +1-800-845-3000; http://www.ticketmaster.com.
“Lombardi.” Dan Lauria stars in a new play about the hard-driving coach of the Green Bay Packers during their winning years in the 60s. Begins previews Sept. 23 at Circle in the Square; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“Angels in America.” In 1993, Tony Kushner’s two-part dissertation on Roy Cohn, AIDS, the Rosenbergs and the state of the union won a Pulitzer Prize and blew audiences away. An all-star cast led by Zachary Quinto, Zoe Kazan and Christian Borle will show us whether “Angels” was an epic for the age -- or for the ages. In previews now at the Signature Theatre; +1-212-244-7529; http://www.signaturetheatre.org
“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” Benjamin Walker’s swaggering performance in the title role of this emo rock musical made this a hit last season at the Public Theater, but there’s plenty more to like in this raucous, testosterone-fueled satire. Begins performances Sept. 20 at the Jacobs Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“La Bete.” David Hirson’s fine, ferocious comedy, set in the time of Moliere and written in rhyming couplets, was murdered by Frank Rich in The New York Times in 1991. Now the Monster returns with a cast headed by lovable Mark Rylance and even more lovable David Hyde Pierce, who made it a hit in London last season. Begins performances Sept. 23 at the Music Box Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” Bona fide Broadway divas Sherie Rene Scott, Patti LuPone and Laura Benanti star in this latest screen-to-stage adaptation, hoping to capture the high-energy pathos of Pedro Almodovar’s film. Begins performances Oct. 5 at the Belasco Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“The Pee-wee Herman Show.” The title tells you everything you need to know. Begins previews Oct. 26 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“The Scottsboro Boys.” Another transfer from off-Broadway, this searing, vaudeville-style show about a group of young black men falsely convicted of rape in the ‘30s South was “Chicago”-makers John Kander and Fred Ebb’s valedictory. John Cullum leads the great cast. Begins performances Oct. 7 at the Lyceum Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“The Pitmen Painters.” This year’s art-history London import, on the heels of last year’s “Red.” The author of “Billy Elliot” writes about a klatsch of coal miners who take up painting and start a movement. In previews at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
“Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” The divine Cherry Jones returns to Broadway in this revival of Bernard Shaw’s meditation on capitalism, womanhood and, of course, hypocrisy. In previews at the American Airlines Theatre; +1-212-239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com
(Jeremy Gerard is an editor and critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)