By Tanner Stransky
October 01, 2010 at 06:17 PM EDT

Image Credit: Joan MarcusThe rollover from summer to fall doesn’t just mean the premiere of all your favorite TV shows and Oscar-bait movies — the stage really starts to light up, too! In the coming months, a number of much-anticipated new shows will premiere, everything from Driving Miss Daisy (opens Oct. 25) to Angels in America (Oct. 28) to The Merchant of Venice (Nov. 7) to Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark (Dec. 21). This past week saw the opening of Through the Night Off Broadway and Brief Encounter and The Pitmen Painters on Broadway, all of which got reviewed by critics here on The highlights:

Through the Night: EW’s Brad Wete gave an A to Daniel Beaty’s one-man show, which sees him transition through multiple African-American characters “seamlessly.” Beaty himself won high praise. “Beaty uses his voice and body to distinguish between these (and other) characters as he fluctuates between colorful monologues and conversations among his creations,” writes Wete. (Opened 9/26)

Brief Encounter (pictured above): EW’s Thom Geier calls the stage adaptation of David Lean 1946 movie melodrama, which follows the love affair between a housewife and a married doctor, “brilliantly conceived.” Of particular note is how writer-director Emily Rice “has restructured Noël Coward’s original story and amplified it with musical numbers (the songs come from the Coward songbook, naturally).” (Opened 9/28, runs through 12/5/10)

The Pitmen Painters: Geier also reviewed The Pitmen Painters — a play about a group of English coal miners in the 1930s who were urged to create art via an art appreciation class — and gave the show a B. “The Pitmen Painters,” Geier wrote, “plays rather like a cross between last season’s Tony-winning hit Red and Billy Elliot.” However, overall Geier was rather unimpressed: “There is a lot of high-minded talk throughout the play,” he wrote in his review, “but it yields little in terms of dramatic tension or surprise.” (Opened 9/30)

If you’re looking for some live theater, check out the Stage hub for up-to-date news and reviews; or consult EW’s handy theater listings, which includes links to all of our stage reviews of current shows as well as ticket information. (Note: The reviews are typically of performances with the show’s original cast.)

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

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