The best of the rest will be enlarged upon below. Far more often, however, the bevy of new productions, arriving by way of off-Broadway or London or stages around the country, simply failed to generate the excitement that might be achieved when inspiration and execution are in alignment. It was, in other words, an autumn of eh.
No bona fide disasters, mind you — unless you count the imprisonment of Harry Connick Jr. in a disastrously ill-
handled renovation of the melodic 1965 musical “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.” Visually off-putting and disconcertingly miscast, the revival diluted the fun in an awkward transformation of a major character from kooky woman to less kooky gay man. As a result, the whole thing wobbled all evening barely an inch off the ground, as if it were an underinflated parade balloon.
The middling results included a limp revival of “Private Lives,” with an overmatched Kim Cattrall; the underwhelming new plays “The Mountaintop,” “Chinglish” and “Seminar,” the last with the major consolation, at least, of a lupine Alan Rickman portraying a toxic writing coach.
The fall slot for least plausible subject for a musical was filled by “Bonnie and Clyde,” a lackluster attempt by composer Frank Wildhorn and lyricist Don Black to link the Depression-era mythologizing of a homicidal bank robber and his girlfriend to the economy-driven class resentments of today. (“Sweeney Todd” it ain’t.)
Off-Broadway was not immune, either. A mess of a “King Lear” at the Public Theater, with Sam Waterston playing the title character in one grievously laborious dimension, was the disappointing classical centerpiece event.
The misfires, though, were offset by a few intriguing fall entries. These shows earned praise from critics and pretty strong word of mouth, but did not achieve the virtually uniform huzzahs accompanying the hits of last season, such as “The Book of Mormon,” “War Horse” or even “The [Expletive] With the Hat.” Still, they are productions I’d gladly see again, and if you’re planning a crawl of Times Square and its environs, they may be shows you want to consider, too: