Broadway Goes Full Throttle for SpringMarch 22, 2017 - by Griffin Miller, Theatre Editor
It happens every spring: Broadway’s rip-roaring, all-star running of the new show bulls. And April, my theatre-craving friends, is mondo month for taking in previews and openings as the shows stampede towards June 11th’s Tony Awards.
As we turn the corner to spring, 2017 is proving particularly fierce with 14 new shows opening between 4/3 and 4/27, half or them musicals. Some kind of record? Probably not, but jaw-dropping nonetheless. Notably, only two of them are revivals: Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler in a role custom-made for her show-stopping persona and vocal chords and costar Tony winner David Hyde Pierce, best known to TV fans as Niles on Frasier; and, in the non-musical category, Oscar winner Sally Field and Tony winner Joe Mantello in Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie.
Photo: Julieta Cervantes
While New Yorkers and theatre addicts may be attuned to Broadway’s notables, newcomers tend to be better acquainted with actors from films and TV. Here’s a primer of some of the season’s rookies.
Amélie: Tony nominee Phillipa Soo (terrific as Elizabeth Schuyler in Hamilton) takes on the title character played by Audrey Tautou in the 2001 film.
Bandstand: Swing music dominates this new musical featuring Tony nominee/reality TV winner Laura Osnes (TV: Grease: You’re the One That I Want!) and Tony winner Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone).
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Two-time Tony winner Christian Borle’s (TV: The Good Wife; Smash) recent Broadway appearance as a rock star William Shakespeare in Something Rotten! hints at a good teaming of actor and role: i.e., Willy Wonka, immortalized onscreen first by Gene Wilder and later by Johnny Depp.
Come From Away image: Matthew Murphy
Come From Away: Do not underestimate this 12-person musical if you don’t recognize the mostly-new-to-Broadway cast…this is a show you will love and not just because of its rave reviews, but because it holds a mirror up to the best in all of us. Featuring Tony nominee Chad Kimball (Memphis).
A Doll’s House, Part 2: A small cast packs a stage-cred wallop in this Ibsen follow-up with Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf (TV: Roseanne; Big Bang Theory); Oscar winner Chris Cooper (Film: Adaptation); Tony winner Jayne Houdyshell (TV: American Odyssey), and Tony nominee Condola Rashad (TV: Billions).
Groundhog Day: This new musical based on the Bill Murray comedy arrives with big buzz and Tony nominee Andy Karl, last seen on Broadway in another film-to-stage adaptation, Rocky.
The Little Foxes: Tony winner Cynthia Nixon (TV and film: Sex and the City); Tony nominee Laura Linney (TV: The Big C) exchange roles during this drama’s performance cycle. As for the storyline, it is nothing short of a vintage microscope studying the vitriolic explosion of one family’s destructive greed.
Oslo: A powerful collision of talent as Tony winner Jennifer Ehle (The Real Thing) joins Tony winner Jefferson Mays (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) for intrigue and drama in this political thriller centering on the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.
Present Laughter: Oscar and Tony winner Kevin Kline (On the Twentieth Century; Film: A Fish Called Wanda) plays an actor caught in any number of mid-life crises crosshairs in this first-rate Noel Coward comedy.
Significant Other: Gideon Glick (a serious Broadway up and comer) stars in this heartfelt play about friendship, love, and understanding.
Six Degrees of Separation: Finally, the long awaited return of playwright John Guare’s Pulitzer- and Tony-nominated drama is a reality. And adding to its must-see credentials is Allison Janney, a seven-time Emmy winner, including for work on the TV drama The West Wing and, more recently, the sitcom Mom. Janney (who also has two Tony nominations to her credit) is joined by Tony winner John Benjamin Hickey (The Normal Hewart). Expect sparks as this new production emerges as one of the season’s most electrifying and timely shows.
War Paint: Make way for a battle of grande dames when Tony winners Patti LuPone (Evita; Gypsy; TV: American Horror Story; Oz) and Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens; TV: Royal Pains) face off (I’m talking mascara, foundation, and lipstick) as competitor cosmetic queens Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden.
Sunday in the Park with George: A-lister Jake Gyllenhaal and adorable Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford (TV: Masters of Sex) are perfection in this Stephen Sondheim classic—but as it’s closing on 4/23, I suggest you snag tickets now. Highly recommended!
Waitress: On March 31st, the multi-talented Sara Bareilles—who wrote music and lyrics for this hit musical—officially took over the lead role of Jenna. Be forewarned, she’ll only be with the show through June 11th!