For theater lovers in New York City, spring is an exciting time. A new year brings new plays, musicals and revivals, and many of them—at least on the Great White Way—make sure to open for Tony Award consideration (don't forget to check our guide to getting cheap Broadway tickets). Maybe you've got friends coming from out of town and want to find the best Broadway shows for tourists. Or you want to try a show Off or Off-Off Broadway. There are exciting shows all over town. If you’re searching for the best New York shows and want to know what tickets are worth your cash, check out our short list below.
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Best shows to watch this spring
Tennessee Williams's oft-revived family drama (last seen on Broadway in 2014) returns starring Sally Field as Amanda Wingfield. She plays opposite Joe Mantello as Tom, remembering days gone by, and Madison Ferris as delicate, damaged Laura. The ingenious Sam Gold directs.
After the success of their 2013 pop musical, Here Lies Love, art-rock icon David Byrne and forward-thinking director Alex Timbers reteam for a rock-concert take on the life of Joan of Arc. Downtown badass Jo Lampert stars as the teenage 15th-century French visionary, rabble-rouser and martyr.
Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s epic musical returns to its original home, the Broadway Theater, for a limited revival through Jan 14. If you caught the show during its original 10-year Broadway run, you know that the story concerns an American G.I. during the Vietnam War who falls in love with a local girl. Laurence Connor directs the production, which includes, yes, amazing helicopter stage FX.
The hard lives of factory workers being squeezed to death in the new economy is the subject of Lynn Nottage's gripping new play. Featuring a full-bodied, passionate cast and solid direction by Kate Whoriskey, Sweat communicates its points with minimal fuss and maximum grit. Along with the rage, despair and violence, there's humor and abundant humanity.
Broadway divas Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole face off in this musical recounting of the rivalry between cosmetics queens Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden. The core artistic team is the same one that brought us Grey Gardens: composer Scott Frankel, lyricist Michael Korie, book writer Doug Wright and director Michael Greif.
If producers wanted to make a Broadway musical out of the 2001 French film fantasy, who on earth could they get to do the Audrey Tatou part? Enter Phillipa Soo. The dulcet-voiced powerhouse ingénue from Hamilton and Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 rises even higher to divadom with this whimsical new tuner. The score is by Daniel Messé, with lyrics by Nathan Tysen and Messé.
It's hard to believe, but Bette Midler hasn't been in a Broadway musical for nearly 50 years. Now she comes back where she belongs in the title role of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart's megahit 1964 musical comedy, based on Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker. The supporting cast, directed by stage vet Jerry Zaks, includes Kate Burton, Gavin Creel, Jennifer Simard and the ever-delightful David Hyde Pierce.
The beloved Bill Murray film becomes a Broadway musical with tunes by Australian songwriter Tim Minchin (Matilda). Andy Karl takes on the role of cranky weatherman Phil Connors, who gets caught on a hamster wheel of time until he forces himself to change. The Matthew Warchus production is a much-hyped transfer from London.
Roald Dahl's beloved parable about kids, candy and capitalism, which inspired a beloved film with Gene Wilder and also one with Johnny Depp, arrives on Broadway as a musical. Expertly zany two-time Tony winner Christian Borle plays eccentric factory owner Willy Wonka in David Greig's adaptation of Dahl's 1964 book, with a score by Hairspray's Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (augmenting tunes from the 1971 movie). Jack O'Brien directs the production, which features puppets by downtown marvel Basil Twist.
Emmy Award queen Allison Janney stars with John Benjamin Hickey and Corey Hawkins in John Guare’s 1990 drama about race, privilege and trust. A well-heeled New York couple takes in a charming African-American youth who has tricks up his sleeve. In the days before social media, networking was a hazardous business.