Foolish April has arrived, meaning it's the last big month for shows to open on Broadway before all-important Tony eligibility closes for the season. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the shows opening on the White Way, just in case you were jonesing to drop a hundred dollars to sit in the dark and get out of this nice weather.
Disney's cult-hit movie musical ballet-kicks down the doors of the Nederlander theater in this feel-good tale of children learning about organized labor. (It's Scott Walker's favorite show, obvs.) As you might have guessed from the title, the chief concern here is newsies, lovable turn-of-the-century street urchins who hawk papes on the mean streets of New York and simply love to sing about it. And dance! They really love to dance about it too. Disney didn't always have plans to make this a Broadway show, but it did well in a smaller production in New Jersey last year and is so far selling faster than wuxtry wuxtry on Dewey smashing the Spanish fleet. (Get it? Because that's what they sell in the show? Sigh.) It's doing well for good reason; we saw it last week and while, sure, it's not the deepest, most profound, most historically accurate (it's based-ish on a real newsies strike in 1899) show ever put on, it's a hell of a lot fun, with limber dancing and corny accents and a nice dollop of swoony/silly teen romance. Do you have a daughter between the ages of, say 10 and 14? Take her to this. Though, be warned, she will develop about twenty new crushes by the end of the show and will never, ever, ever, stop talking about them. (Open now)
Ricky Martin, yes the Ricky Martin, costars in this revival imported from London after a smash-success run there. In case you're some sort of weirdo who doesn't see every Madonna movie, this musical tells the story of Argentina's beloved/reviled first lady Eva Perón, who went from small-town girl to B-movie actress to highly influential president's wife over the course of her short life. Yeah, she died young. This is a sad one, folks. Argentine actress Elena Roger, who played Eva in London to wild acclaim, reprises her role and Michael Cerveris, the bald wonder from John Doyle's stripped-down Sweeney Todd (and many other things), plays her husband. (Opens today)
Perhaps nothing says "Broadway theater" more than basketball. Basketball and theater just absolutely go hand in hand — theater people enjoy basketball, basketball people love theater, etc. — so it makes sense, then, that this play, about the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, is opening this season. If it were a musical it would really be a complete symbiosis, but a play will do. So tell all your basketball friends! There's a new play in town that's made just for them. Of course they'll probably already know about it, seeing as they're constantly reading Playbill in the locker room and whatnot. (In previews now, opens April 11)
Ghost: The Musical
1990's most supernatural romance (boyfriend dies, boyfriend returns as... a ghost) comes to the big stage in this new musical, also an import from London. Aside from "Unchained Melody," which of course has to be in there, all the songs are original. There are no big stars in this one, but that's OK. All you really need is the pottery wheel and "Molly, you in danger girl." (Do, though, pay attention to Bryce Pinkham, who plays the villain, and who, um, full disclosure, we might know!) We've heard early word that the show is actually a lot better than it initially sounds, so if you've got some sappy aunt in town, or you are that sappy aunt, this could be the ticket. (In previews now, opens April 23)
Peter and the Starcatcher
Making the move from downtown, this dreamy little play is a prequel to Peter Pan. We meet a young orphan named Peter and watch as he turns into the legendary peanut butter salesman. The reviews of the show's downtown run last year suggest that it's a nifty production, full of whimsy and fanciful stuff and all that. Not surprising considering that Alex Timbers, the innovative young theater artist who created lovely and fully realized worlds for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Pee-Wee Herman's Broadway show, is a co-director. One secret of this show? It's from Disney Theatrical. That might be an attraction or a deterrent depending on your bent, but all signs point to this being a nice family kind of thing. Plus, for all you Smash-heads out there (all, what? Six? Seven of you?), the show features gay Tom himself, Christian Borle. (In previews now, opens April 15)
A Streetcar Named Desire
This old play, from little-known playwright "Tennessee Williams" (the hell kinda name is that? This guy'll never make it in showbiz), gets a new spin with this production, as the cast is made up entirely of black actors. This same approach was used in a production of Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof a few seasons back to mild success, though this production lacks the star power (Terrence Howard, James Earl Jones) of Tin Roof. Nicole Ari Parker tackles the role of Blanche while Blair Underwood screams in the street as Stanley. Daphne Rubin-Vega, always and forever Mimi from Rent, supports as Stella. This could be interesting, or it could just be another dang production of Streetcar. (In previews now, opens April 22)
The latest play from Nicky Silver tells the story of a fractured family reunited to sit bedside as the patriarch dies. A stinging, sad little play when we saw it off-Broadway last year, The Lyons is chiefly worth seeing for Linda Lavin's terrifying, hilarious, eviscerating performance as a the dying man's wife and pit viper mom to two damaged kids. It's not exactly an upper, this play, but if you're looking for something small and smart, Ms. Lavin et al await you. (In previews now, opens April 23)
Nice Work If You Can Get It
A bunch of Gershwin songs were thrown into the sauce pot and this is what they made. Broadway nebbish Matthew Broderick stars as a guy who gets tangled up with some comical old-timey gangsters, hilarity and kicky musical numbers ensue. If you're a Broderick fan, you would probably see this anyway, but everyone else should at least be interested in it because of Kelli O'Hara, the winning Broadway belter who blew the roof off of Lincoln Center (they should really fix that) in South Pacific a few seasons ago. (In previews now, opens April 24)
John Lithgow returns to the stage for this new play from Proof scribe David Auburn. Lithgow plays real-life D.C. journalist Joseph Alsop, an arch-conservative (by today's standards, anyway) who managed to stay cozy with the Kennedys while also struggling to hide a secret. What kind of secret? Well, let's just say that this hunkadunk plays a character simply described as "a young Russian man." So, y'know. The great Margaret Colin costars along with one of those Gummer children that sprang from Meryl Streep's womb some years ago and are just now landing on various stages. This could be a good one! (In previews now, opens April 25)
Leap of Faith
What a novel idea. This Broadway show takes a movie, like what you see at the Loews or something, and turns it into a stage musical. It's crazy, but it just might work. The movie is the 1992 Steve Martin comedy Leap of Faith, about a flim-flam phony faith healer. Taking over for Martin is the terrific Raúl Esparza, a performer with a seemingly limitless vocal capacity and a sly, sometimes funny, sometimes menacing wit about him. Just watch this. There's not much wit in that song, sure, but those notes! Good god those notes. (In previews now, opens April 26)
The playwright Bruce Norris won a Pulitzer last year for this dual timeline play, half of which is a continuation (sort of) of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun. In the 1950s, we meet the residents of the house bought by the Youngers at the end of Raisin, and in the present a white couple attempts to move into the same house, though the neighborhood around them is now predominantly black. So it's a heady kind of thing all about race and economics and gentrification and other things and it is absolutely terrific. A must-see, in our humble opinion. (In previews now, opens April 26)
Not getting in on time for the Tonys, this production has The Big Bang Theory's strange Muppet creature Jim Parsons (on Broadway last year in The Normal Heart) stepping into the role made famous by Jimmy Stewart. He plays a guy who has conversations with a six-foot-tall rabbit that only he can see. And that's basically the play! (No, that's not true.) The wonderful Jessica Hecht (perhaps best known as Ross's ex-wife's girlfriend on Friends) costars. (Previews begin May 18, opens June 14)
Musn't forget the little guys! Some selections include: The Vineyard's Now. Here. This., the new musical whimsy from the creators of [title of show] (open now); a new, well-received production of Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers at the Beckett (open now); Playwrights Horizons is staging the new play from Marisol visionary weirdo José Rivera, this one called Massacre (Sing for the Children) (open now); Amy Herzog's strongly reviewed play 4,000 Acres is at Lincoln Center (open now); and the Public has brought back the Elevator Repair Service's hugely successful, billion-hour-long Gatz, a staged reading of The Great Gatsby (sort of), while also premiering a new musical about 1940s New York called February House (May 8).
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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