2021 Broadway fall season preview of plays: Which will be remembered by the Tony Awards?

Following an 18-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, performances all over the New York theater district are starting back up again. A new Broadway season is gearing up, and there are currently nine productions of plays (seven new, two older works making their main stem debuts) set to open this fall. Could we be seeing any of them contend at next year’s Tony Awards? Below, a look at each play as well as the awards history of its author, cast, and creative team, plus the opening and (where applicable) closing dates.

Pass Over” (opens August 22; closes October 10)
In this new play by Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, the story takes place on a city street corner. Moses and Kitch stand around, passing the time, hoping today will be different. They long for a promised land, and they encounter a stranger who changes everything.

The production follows a successful run Off-Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater back in the summer of 2018, where it won two Lucille Lortel Awards (including Best Play). The cast features Tony nominee Jon Michael Hill (“Superior Donuts,” 2010), Lucille Lortel nominee Namir Smallwood (“Pipeline,” 2018) and Tony winner Gabriel Ebert (“Matilda,” 2013), and it’s directed by Danya Taymor (the niece of Tony-winning director Julie Taymor).

Lackawanna Blues” (opens September 28; closes October 31)
In the Broadway premiere of this one-man play by Tony-winning actor Ruben Santiago-Hudson (“Seven Guitars,” 1996), he tells the story of the woman who raised him while he was growing up in the title town in New York during the 1950s and 1960s. In a boarding house located there, Miss Rachel (or “Nanny,” as she was known) opened her doors to anyone in need.

The play originally debuted Off-Broadway at the Public Theater back in 2001. A television movie adaptation aired on HBO in 2005, which won a Primetime Emmy Award for S. Epatha Merkerson‘s performance as Nanny. This production presented by Manhattan Theatre Club stars Santiago-Hudson, who’s also directing.

“Chicken and Biscuits” (opens October 10; closes January 2, 2022)
In this new play by Douglas Lyons, the Jenkins family comes together for their father’s funeral. But hopes for a peaceful reunion are dashed with the revelation of a family secret.

The production stars Tony nominee Norm Lewis (“Porgy and Bess,” 2012), Drama Desk winner Michael Urie (Off-Broadway’s “Buyer and Cellar”, 2013), Cleo King, NaTasha Yvette Williams, Devere Rogers, Ebony Marshall-Oliver, Aigner Mizzelle, and Alana Raquel Bowers, with direction by Zhailon Levingston.

“Is This a Room” (opens October 11; closes January 16, 2022)
This new play by Tina Satter tells the true story of Reality Winner, the 25-year-old former Air Force linguist who was arrested by the FBI on June 3, 2017, for blowing the whistle on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

This production, which is being presented in repertory with “Dana H.” (more on that show see below), follows a successful run Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre back in the fall of 2019. It was nominated for three Lucille Lortel Awards (including Best Play) and won the 2020 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. The cast features Emily Davis (reprising her Lucille Lortel-winning performance), Becca Blackwell, Will Cobbs, and Pete Simpson, and it’s directed by Satter.

“The Lehman Trilogy” (opens October 14; closes January 2, 2022)
The Broadway premiere of Stefano Massini’s 2013 play weaves together nearly two centuries of family history, charting the beginnings, successes, and ultimate failure of the financial institution that brought the global economy crashing down.

The play made its English-language debut in 2018 at the Royal National Theatre in London, where it ended up receiving five Olivier Award nominations (including Best New Play). This production stars Tony nominee Simon Russell Beale (“Jumpers,” 2004), Tony nominee Adam Godley (“Anything Goes,” 2011), and Olivier winner Adrian Lester (“Company,” 1996), and it’s directed by Oscar and Tony winner Sam Mendes.

“Dana H.” (opens October 17; closes January 16, 2022)
This new play by Tony nominee Lucas Hnath (“A Doll’s House, Part 2,” 2017) tells the true story of his mother, who was held captive in a series of Florida motels for five months. This drama explores the nature of good and evil and expands the boundaries of theater as an art form.

The production is being presented in repertory with “Is This a Room” (as mentioned above) and follows a successful run Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre back in the winter of 2020 (shortly before the pandemic began). It ended up winning the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Solo Show. Deirdre O’Connell stars, reprising a role that won her an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Solo Performance, and it’s directed by Obie Award winner Les Waters.

“Thoughts of a Colored Man” (opens October 31; closes March 20, 2022)
This new play by Keenan Scott II is set over the course of a single day in Brooklyn, and tells the story of seven men through spoken word, poetry, and more.

The production stars Dyllón Burnside, Bryan Terrell Clark, Da’Vinchi, Luke James, Tony nominee Forrest McClendon (“The Scottsboro Boys,” 2011), Esau Pritchett (“A Free Man of Color,” 2010), and Tristan “Mack” Wilds, with direction by Steve H. Broadnax III.

“Trouble in Mind” (opens November 18; closes January 9, 2022)
In the Broadway premiere of Alice Childress’s 1955 play, Wiletta Mayer is an African American actress who has spent her career playing stereotypes, but fights for her dignity while rehearsing for a new play called “Chaos in Belleville.”

This production, presented by Roundabout Theatre Company, stars Tony winner LaChanze (“The Color Purple,” 2006), and is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright (“Motown: The Musical,” 2013).

“Clyde’s” (opens November 22; closes January 16, 2022)
In this new play by Tony nominee Lynn Nottage (“Sweat,” 2017), a truck stop sandwich shop hires former prison inmates for its kitchen staff, though the shop’s owner tries to keep them under her thumb. Nevertheless, the staff feel a sense of purpose purpose amid their shared quest to create the perfect sandwich.

The production, presented by Second Stage Theatre, stars three-time Emmy winner Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black,” 2014 and 2015; “Mrs. America,” 2020), two-time Emmy winner Ron Cephas Jones (“This is Us,” 2018 and 2020), Reza Salazar, Kara Young, and Edmund Donovan, and it’s directed by Outer Critics Circle Award nominee Kate Whoriskey (“Sweat”).

Be sure to make your Tony predictions today so that Broadway insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced. And join in the fun debate taking place right now in our theater forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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