Broadway shows are practically synonymous with New York City, and the word Broadway is often used as shorthand for theater itself. Visiting the Great White Way means attending one of 41 large theaters concentrated near Times Square. Each year millions of tourists flock to the city to see the best Broadway shows, from long-running phenomenons such as The Lion King to more recent hits like Hamilton. Some are proud winners of Tony Awards, but you needn't limit yourself to shows with the greatest accolades. There’s a lot of variety out there, as our complete A-Z listing attests.
RECOMMENDED: Find the best Broadway musicals
Broadway shows A–Z
Theater review by Adam Feldman The Temptations are hard to resist. No matter how much you may chafe at the clunky machinery of Broadway’s latest jukebox biomusical, Ain’t Too Proud, the hits just keep coming, distracting your critical faculties with zaps of R&B greatness. And when the show is at full power—when its lavishly gifted stars are lined up for duty in natty matching suits, moving and singing in synch through songs like “My Girl,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”—the gleam of well-polished nostalgia is strong. Is that enough, though? The problem with telling the story of the Temptations is that there isn’t a clear central story to tell. Much of Ain’t Too Proud focuses on the so-called Classic Five period from 1964 through 1968, when the quintet’s main frontman is the bespectacled and charismatic David Ruffin, played by the sensational Ephraim Sykes with a riveting combination of showboating dance moves and rough-edged soul vocals. High tenor Eddie Kendricks (the expressive Jeremy Pope) occasionally takes the lead vocals, backed by baritones Otis Williams (Derrick Baskin) and Paul Williams (James Harkness) and bass Melvin Franklin (the impressively deep-throated Jawan M. Jackson). But since the group’s membership has been in continual flux since its Motown debut in 1961, Ain’t Too Proud entrusts its narration entirely to the last Temp standing: Otis, who has been with the group from the start and performs with it
Aladdin. New Amsterdam Theatre (see Broadway). Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin. Directed by Casey Nicholaw. With Adam Jacobs, James Monroe Iglehart, Courtney Reed. Running time: 2hrs 20mins. One intermission. Aladdin: In brief Disney unveils its latest cartoon-to-musical project: the tale of a boy, an uncorked spirit and an aerodynamic rug. Composer Alan Menken adds new tunes to the 1992 original soundtrack, and Chad Beguelin provides a fresh book. Reputed highlights include James Monroe Iglehart's bouncy Genie and the flying-carpet F/X. Aladdin: Theater review by Adam Feldman What do we wish for in a Disney musical? It is unrealistic to expect aesthetic triumph on par with The Lion King, but neither need we settle for blobs of empty action like Tarzan or The Little Mermaid. The latest in the toon-tuner line, Aladdin, falls between those poles; nearer in style (though inferior in stakes) to Disney’s first effort, Beauty and the Beast, the show is a tricked-out, tourist-family-friendly theme-park attraction, decorated this time in the billowing fabrics of orientalist Arabian fantasy. “It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home,” sings the genial Genie (a game, charismatic Iglehart) in the opening song, and that’s the tone of Aladdin as a whole: kid-Oriented. As in the 1992 film, the Genie steals the show from its eponymous “street rat” hero (Jacobs, white teeth and tan chest agleam). The musical’s high point i
Set in a seedy junk shop, David Mamet's 1975 breakthrough play only ran a week when it was revived on Broadway in 2008, but now this psychological thriller is back with an high-wattage cast of three. Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne and Darren Criss star in this black comedy about greed and dishonor among thieves. Neil Pepe directs the profanity-laced pyrotechnics.
Theater review by Adam Feldman Whatever else it may or may not be, Beetlejuice is spectacularly weird. The best creative work in this musical adaptation of Tim Burton’s 1988 film—about a pair of sweet ghosts trying to rid their house of its distasteful new inhabitants—has gone into its physical form: The designers come at it from all kinds of crazy angles. David Korins’s haunted-house set seems to buckle in the middle and stretch at the edges; William Ivey Long’s costumes are a batty vision of colors and patterns at war. There are magic tricks and giant worms and a starkly linear idea of the afterlife that contrasts well with the chaotic world of the living. If only so much of the rest of Beetlejuice were not a busy mess. The film’s protagonists, milquetoast “newlydeads” Adam (Rob McClure) and Barbara (Kerry Butler), no longer seek out the loathsome “bio-exorcist” demon Beetlejuice (Alex Brightman, working overtime); he targets them in a scheme to leave the netherworld, even though only a living person is capable of making him visible there. Much of Adam and Barbara’s function has been reassigned to Lydia (the gifted young Sophia Anne Caruso), the goth teenage daughter of the house’s new owner (Adam Dannheisser), a widower with an insecure New Age girlfriend (comic dynamo Leslie Kritzer). A little of the hyperactive, rattle-voiced, lecherous Beetlejuice goes a pretty long way, but the show makes him its central figure. Sometimes he’s a murderous pansexual scuzzball (he ref
Debra Messing (Will & Grace) headlines a new play by Noah Haidle (Mr. Marmalade) that traces one woman's journey through more than 80 years of birthday cakes. Vivienne Benesch directs the New York premiere, whose cast also includes the gifted Andre Braugher (Brooklyn 99) and Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars).
If theater is your religion and the Broadway musical your sect, you've been woefully faith-challenged of late. Venturesome, boundary-pushing works such as Spring Awakening, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Next to Normal closed too soon. American Idiot was shamefully ignored at the Tonys and will be gone in three weeks. Meanwhile, that airborne infection Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark dominates headlines and rakes in millions, without even opening. Celebrities and corporate brands sell poor material, innovation gets shown the door, and crap floats to the top. It's enough to turn you heretic, to sing along with The Book of Mormon's Ugandan villagers: "Fuck you God in the ass, mouth and cunt-a, fuck you in the eye." Such deeply penetrating lyrics offer a smidgen of the manifold scato-theological joys to be had at this viciously hilarious treat crafted by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, of South Park fame, and composer-lyricist Robert Lopez, who cowrote Avenue Q. As you laugh your head off at perky Latter-day Saints tap-dancing while fiercely repressing gay tendencies deep in the African bush, you will be transported back ten years, when The Producers and Urinetown resurrected American musical comedy, imbuing time-tested conventions with metatheatrical irreverence and a healthy dose of bad-taste humor. Brimming with cheerful obscenity, sharp satire and catchy tunes, The Book of Mormon is a sick mystic revelation, the most exuberantly entertaining Broadway musical in years. The high
This profoundly soulful, tuneful and transformative musical about a maid in 1963 Louisiana about was ahead of its time in 2003, but the world has caught up since. With a libretto by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and music by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home), this is the rare work of musical theater that can truly change the way you see the world. The show's first Broadway revival, directed by Michael Longhurst, stars Sharon D Clarke in the title role, which she played in Longhurst's West End production last season. The supporting cast includes John Cariani, Caissie Levy, Tamika Lawrence and Chip Zien.
This John Kander–Fred Ebb–Bob Fosse favorite, revived by director Walter Bobbie and choreographer Ann Reinking, tells the saga of chorus girl Roxie Hart, who murders her lover and, with the help of a huckster lawyer, becomes a vaudeville sensation. The cast frequently features guest celebrities in short stints.
One of the more unlikely musicals on Broadway this season, Come from Away is the tense but humane story of an airport in Gander, Newfoundland, where 38 planes and more than 6,000 passengers were forced to land on September 11, 2001. The book, music and lyrics are by the Canadian team Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Read the full review.
Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s path-breaking 1970 musical about love in the big city has had several revivals, but this one has a twist: The commitment-averse main character is now a woman, played by The Band’s Visit’s mesmerizing Katrina Lenk. The American cast of this London transfer, directed by Marianne Elliott (Angels in America), includes Broadway über-diva Patti LuPone as well as Christopher Sieber, Christopher Fitzgerald, Claybourne Elder, Jennifer Simard, Nikki Renée Daniels and Kyle Dean Massey.
The brain-expanding solo artist, musical magpie, erstwhile Talking Head and iconic oversize-suit wearer touches down on Broadway with a theatrical concert that includes songs from his best-selling 2018 album, American Utopia, as well as highlights from his older material. The production features choreography by Big Dance Theater's Annie-B Parson and has been created with input from Alex Timbers (who directed Byrne's 2013 Imelda Marcos musical Here Lies Love).
In this captivating original musical, actual teenager Andrew Barth Feldman now plays the title role of a high school student thrust into social relevance after a classmate's suicide. (Jordan Fisher takes over the role on January 28.) Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's score combines well-crafted lyrics with an exciting pop sound, and Steven Levenson’s book gives all the characters shaded motives. Read the full review.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a tiara in this new biomusical about Diana, Princess of Wales, whose marriage to Prince Charles came undone in a sea of tabloid ugliness. Reprising the roles they played at La Jolla last year, Jeanna de Waal and Roe Hartrampf play the royal couple, flanked once again by Judy Kaye as Queen Elizabeth II and Erin Davie as Camilla Parker-Bowles. Christopher Ashley (Come from Away) directs; Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, who wrote the 2010 Tony winner Memphis, are the writers.
James Lapine, who co-created Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George, is the director and book writer of this unusual new musical about three prominent figures—the matinee idol Cary Grant, the novelist-philosopher Aldous Huxley and the playwright-politician Clare Boothe Luce—who dropped acid in the 1950s. The composer is Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), and the lyricist is Michael Korie (Grey Gardens). Carmen Cusack, Tony Yazbeck and Harry Hadden-Paton play the central roles.
Theater review by Adam Feldman At the end of the first act of Frozen, there is a moment that zaps the audience to life like a blast of cold air. Elsa (Caissie Levy), the young queen of a Nordic realm, has witchy ice-creation powers that she has been forced to keep hidden; now, self-exiled to a Fortress of Solitude–like castle, she exults in reckless freedom and power. As she belts the show’s takeaway number, “Let It Go,” her heavy royal garments transform, in one thrilling instant, into a shimmery frost-blue party dress. It’s “Defying Gravity” on the rocks, and for the duration of this Wicked-cool number, Frozen breaks free from the forces that keep most of Disney’s latest musical earthbound. Otherwise, there is altogether too little magic in the kingdom of Arendelle, which Elsa’s impulsive younger sister, Anna (Patti Murin), must save from the eternal winter to which Elsa has unwittingly condemned it. In adapting their smash 2013 movie to the stage, Frozen’s creators—including screenwriter Jennifer Lee and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—faced a challenge: Many of the film’s key sequences are adventure scenes (a wolf attack, a giant snow monster, a climactic blizzard) that are hard to re-create onstage. Julie Taymor solved this problem in The Lion King by coming up with a comprehensive aesthetic vocabulary of her own, but Frozen director Michael Grandage’s reach is less ambitious. In lieu of the great outdoors, he moves much of the show to lofty and stu
Playwright-director Conor McPherson weaves 20 songs by Bob Dylan into this adumbral evocation of America in the Great Depression. The songs exist in dramatic brackets; when the excellent actors sing, they usually leave the action of the play and face out to the audience, often planted at old-fashioned standing microphones. McPherson uses Dylan’s songs as atmosphere in the broadest sense: They are the air the characters breathe. After a run at the Public last season, the musical now moves to Broadway.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman In the dining area of their house in an independent-living community for seniors, a house that looks like every other house in the neighborhood, Nancy (a splendid Jane Alexander) and Bill (James Cromwell) enact a dinner routine that seems almost like a ritual. It’s familiar and formal—the napkins have rings—and it’s utterly quiet, as though after 50 years of marriage these two had nothing left to tell one another. It is Nancy breaks the tacit bond of silence. “I think I would like a divorce,” she says politely. “All right,” he replies, and goes on eating. It’s all very civil, but from this point forward, nothing in Bess Wohl’s entertainingly broad comedy Grand Horizons will be so quiet again. The couple’s adult children—gay schoolteacher Brian (Michael Urie) and tense lawyer Ben (Ben McKenzie), plus Ben’s very pregnant wife, Jess (Ashley Park)—try to put a stop to what seems to them an act of foolishness if not outright dementia. (“Adults cannot do what they want,” says Brian. “The defining feature of adulthood is that you never get to do what you want.”) But Nancy is determined to follow through on her plan, and the dour Bill seems fine with it—even if, as he says, “I would have just slogged it out.” The humor rises from tense to outrageous, peaking in a first-act finale that is dramatically off-the-wall. Once a staple of Broadway, original comedies are scarce these days. The crowd-pleasure they once provided now tends to be fulfilled by T
Theater review by Adam Feldman Here’s my advice: Go to hell. And by hell, of course, I mean Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell’s fizzy, moody, thrilling new Broadway musical. Ostensibly, at least, the show is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy goes to the land of the dead in hopes of retrieving girl, boy loses girl again. “It’s an old song,” sings our narrator, the messenger god Hermes (André De Shields, a master of arch razzle-dazzle). “And we’re gonna sing it again.” But it’s the newness of Mitchell’s musical account—and Rachel Chavkin’s gracefully dynamic staging—that bring this old story to quivering life. In a New Orleans–style bar, hardened waif Eurydice (Eva Noblezada) falls for Orpheus (Reeve Carney), a busboy with an otherworldly high-tenor voice who is working, like Roger in Rent, toward writing one perfect song. But dreams don’t pay the bills, so the desperate Eurydice—taunted by the Fates in three-part jazz harmony—opts to sell her soul to the underworld overlord Hades (Patrick Page, intoning jaded come-ons in his unique sub-sepulchral growl, like a malevolent Leonard Cohen). Soon she is forced, by contract, into the ranks of the leather-clad grunts of Hades’s filthy factory city; if not actually dead, she is “dead to the world anyway.” This Hades is a drawling capitalist patriarch who keeps his minions loyal by giving them the minimum they need to survive. (“The enemy is poverty,” he sings to them i
Hamilton: Theater review by David Cote What is left to say? After Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s prodigious quill scratched out 12 volumes of nation-building fiscal and military policy; after Lin-Manuel Miranda turned that titanic achievement (via Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography) into the greatest American musical in decades; after every critic in town (including me) praised the Public Theater world premiere to high heaven; and after seeing this language-drunk, rhyme-crazy dynamo a second time, I can only marvel: We've used up all the damn words. Wait, here are three stragglers, straight from the heart: I love Hamilton. I love it like I love New York, or Broadway when it gets it right. And this is so right. A sublime conjunction of radio-ready hip-hop (as well as R&B, Britpop and trad showstoppers), under-dramatized American history and Miranda’s uniquely personal focus as a first-generation Puerto Rican and inexhaustible wordsmith, Hamilton hits multilevel culture buttons, hard. No wonder the show was anointed a sensation before even opening. Assuming you don’t know the basics, Hamilton is a (mostly) rapped-through biomusical about an orphan immigrant from the Caribbean who came to New York, served as secretary to General Washington, fought against the redcoats, authored most of the Federalist Papers defending the Constitution, founded the Treasury and the New York Post and even made time for an extramarital affair that he damage-controlled in a scandal-stanching pamp
Martin McDonagh's very productive first decade as a playwright yielded a spate of often shocking hits including The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Pillowman, but he has mostly been focusing on film of late. Directed by Matthew Dunster, his first new play to hit New York since 2010's A Behanding in Spokane is about a Northern English executioner (Mark Addy) on the day the U.K. abolishes hanging. Two years after its U.S. premiere at the Atlantic, the show is moving to Broadway with a mostly new cast that includes Tracie Bennett, Ewen Bremmer and Downtown Abbey's Dan Stevens. Expect plenty of gallows humor.
Theater review by Adam Feldman The world of Harry Potter has arrived on Broadway, Hogwarts and all, and it is a triumph of theatrical magic. Set two decades after the final chapters of J.K. Rowling’s world-shaking kid-lit heptalogy, the two-part epic Harry Potter and the Cursed Child combines grand storytelling with stagecraft on a scale heretofore unimagined. Richly elaborated by director John Tiffany, the show looks like a million bucks (or, in this case, a reported $68 million); the Lyric Theatre has been transfigured from top to bottom to immerse us in the narrative. It works: The experience is transporting. Jack Thorne’s play, based on a story he wrote with Rowling and Tiffany, extends the Potter narrative while remaining true to its core concerns. Love and friendship and kindness are its central values, but they don’t come easily: They are bound up in guilt, loneliness and fear. Harry (Jamie Parker) is weighted with trauma dating back to his childhood, which hinders his ability to communicate with his troubled middle son, Albus (Sam Clemmett); it doesn’t help that Albus’s only friend is the bookish outcast Scorpius Malfoy (the exceptional Anthony Boyle), son of Harry’s erstwhile enemy, Draco (Alex Price). Despite the best intentions of Harry’s solid wife, Ginny (Poppy Miller), and his friends Hermione (Noma Dumezweni) and Ron (Paul Thornley), things turn dark very fast. Set designer Christine Jones and lighting designer Neil Austin keep much of the stage shroude
Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize–winning 1997 memory play, a probing look at child molestation and accelerated sexuality, makes its overdue Broadway debut. In a welcome stunt, Manhattan Theatre Club's production reunites the drama's excellent original stars, Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse, with original director Mark Brokaw.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman The Inheritance is in many ways a ghost story: It is set among a group of gay men in present-day New York City, but it is animated by spirits of the past. Foremost among them is the English novelist E.M. Forster (the marvelous Paul Hilton), whom Matthew Lopez’s script—like Forster’s friends—calls Morgan. In the prologue, when the play’s characters are fishing for a way to tell their story, Forster appears to them as a plummy, chummy guide. So begins Lopez’s intimate Broadway epic: a searching, expansive and sometimes very moving exploration of love, money, community and memory. The play is presented in two parts, each more than three hours long. But as directed by Stephen Daldry, who helmed its premiere in London last year, the production mostly goes by fast: With two intermissions in each half, it's not unlike binge-watching six episodes of a Netflix series. Lopez borrows heavily from Forster’s Edwardian novel Howards End for his characters and plot, but shuffles them to suit his purposes. The Schlegel sisters of the novel are recast, grosso modo, as kindhearted otter Eric Glass (a gentle Kyle Soller), soon to be evicted from his rent-controlled apartment, and his extroverted and impetuous boyfriend, Toby Darling (the blazing Andrew Burnap, tossing his hair to fine effect). Toby is adapting his young-adult book, the aspirationally titled Loved Boy, into a play that might star their new friend Adam (Samuel H. Levine, who doubles as a hard-u
Broadway review by Adam Feldman The seemingly happy Healys are a well-to-do Connecticut nuclear family in serious danger of fissure. Perky mother Mary Jane (the excellent Elizabeth Stanley) is secretly hooked on painkillers, which puts a strain on her relationship with her too-absent lawyer husband, Steve (Sean Allan Krill). Son Nick (Derek Klena) is a star student athlete who feels pressured to overachieve; bisexual daughter Frankie (Celia Rose Gooding), who is black and adopted, feels unseen. This is the core of Jagged Little Pill, a sincere jukebox musical built around the songs of Alanis Morissette, including all 13 tracks from her era-defining 1995 alt-rock album of the same name. The script, by Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody, bears a strong familial resemblance to 2008’s Next to Normal—mother coming apart, father trying to keep it together, perfect son, invisible daughter—with elements of two other big musicals originally directed by Michael Greif. (From Dear Evan Hansen, we get high school angst; from Rent, a chorus of young people lining up to sing messages.) But Next to Normal has a strong focus on a single story, and an original score created to support that focus. Morissette’s songs, most of them cowritten with Glen Ballard, weren’t designed for that work. Cody has found clever places for some of them—“Ironic” is framed, self-deprecatingly, as a high school student’s gangly attempt at writing poetry—but the balance is off. Two of Morissette’s definitive numbers,
The rise and crash of the Lehman Brothers' financial empire is the subject of this epic by Stefano Massini (adapted by Ben Power). Sam Mendes (The Ferryman) directs the production, which covers more than 150 years of history and lasts three and a half hours. Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Adam Godley reprise the central roles they played in the play's 2018 premiere at the National Theatre in London and at the Park Avenue Armory last year.
Theater review by Adam Feldman Teenage girls rule in the tart but sweet new Broadway musical Mean Girls. But their system of high-school government is far from a democracy: It’s a reign of terror, angst and mall fashions, where popularity is arrogated and then ruthlessly enforced. Having spent her childhood being home-schooled in Kenya, nature and math enthusiast Cady (Erika Henningsen) is initially confused by the rigid caste system of her new school in Chicago. She tries to be nice, but the ruthlessness of American teenage culture brings out Cady’s predatory instincts. She reverts to the mean. A canny crossbreed of Heathers and Hairspray, the musical has been adapted by Tina Fey from her own 2004 cult movie, and updated to reflect the new realities of smartphones and social media. Fey is one of the sharpest comic writers in America, and the show remains, in some sense, her vehicle: an auto de Fey, burning with bookish anger at the limits young women place on each other and themselves. (Her film role as a pushy calculus teacher is amusingly evoked by Kerry Butler, who also plays the other adult women.) But this version of Mean Girls is not just a copy of the original. The most famous lines from the screenplay are here, but Casey Nicholaw’s energetic staging wisely breezes past them; the newer jokes get bigger laughs, while the score—by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin—successfully builds on Fey’s knowingly corrective tone. (“This is modern feminism talkin’,” sings a high-
Tracy Letts (August: Osage County) is both the writer and star of this short, punchy play about the machinations of a small-town city council. His costars include Armie Hammer, Jessie Mueller, Blair Brown, K. Todd Freeman and the very busy Austin Pendleton; the designers of Anna D. Shapiro’s acclaimed 2017 Steppenwolf production in Chicago all reprise their duties.
Broadway's love affair with men in drag continues with this musical adaptation of the 1993 movie about adivorced dad turned cross-dressed Scottish housekeeper. Adapted by Something Rotten!'s John O'Farrell and Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick, the show is directed by musical-comedy ace Jerry Zaks (Hello, Dolly!). Rob McClure, more recently seen in Beetlejuice, fills Robin Williams's sensible shoes in the title role, joined by Jenn Gambatese, Brad Oscar and Mark Evans.
Theater review by Adam Feldman Red alert! Red alert! If you’re the kind of person who frets that jukebox musicals are taking over Broadway, prepare to tilt at the windmill that is the gorgeous, gaudy, spectacularly overstuffed Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Directed with opulent showmanship by Alex Timbers, this adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie may be costume jewelry, but its shine is dazzling. The place is the legendary Paris nightclub of the title, and the year is ostensibly 1899. Yet the songs—like Catherine Zuber’s eye-popping costumes—span some 150 years of styles. Moulin Rouge! begins with a generous slathering of “Lady Marmalade,” belted to the skies by four women in sexy black lingerie, long velvet gloves and feathered headdresses. Soon they yield the stage to the beautiful courtesan Satine (a sublimely troubled Karen Olivo), who makes her grand entrance descending from the ceiling on a swing, singing “Diamonds Are Forever.” She is the Moulin Rouge’s principal songbird, and Derek McLane’s sumptuous gold-and-red set looms around her like a gilded cage. After falling in with a bohemian crowd, Christian (the boyish Aaron Tveit), a budding songwriter from small-town Ohio, wanders into the Moulin Rouge like Orpheus in the demimonde, his cheeks as rosy with innocence as the showgirls’ are blushed with maquillage. As cruel fate would have it, he instantly falls in love with Satine, and she with him—but she has been promised, alas, to the wicked Duke of Monroth (Tam Mu
Theater review by Adam Feldman There is a profound isolation to the title character, played by Laura Linney, in the Broadway solo play My Name Is Lucy Barton. “In spite of my plenitude, I was lonely,” she confides to us. “Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.” Reflecting on her traumatically impoverished childhood in rural Illinois, she recalls being locked in a truck by her father, a PTSD-scarred veteran. Now, as she savors her first success as a writer in 1980s New York City, she is by herself again: hospitalized for nine weeks after complications from an appendectomy. (Her husband has a fear of visiting hospitals, but has arranged for her to have a room of her own.) Exactly what ails her is unclear even to her doctor. “I might have a blockage,” she says, and one gets the sense she is not just talking about her veins. Some measure of emotional unblocking arrives in the unexpected form of her estranged and withholding mother, who visits her bedside for five days. This encounter forms the spine of the play, which has been faithfully adapted by Rona Munro from Elizabeth Strout’s 2016 novel. Lucy’s mother, who is pointedly not named, pours forth gossipy, judgmental stories about common acquaintances back home who have messed up their lives with infidelities and other failings. Lucy is grateful for the company—she identifies with the children in the sculpture of the cannibal Ugolino
More than three decades into its Broadway run, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera continues to draw tourists to its candlelit lair. The plot, borrowed from a 1910 potboiler by Gaston Leroux, tells of Christine Daaé, a naïve young soprano whose secretive voice teacher turns out to be a deformed musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opera House. (Although the Phantom is serial killer, extortionist, kidnapper and probable rapist, Christine and audiences are mysteriously drawn to him. Who doesn’t love a bad boy?) While the epic synth-rock chords of the title song may ground Phantom in the 1980s, the show’s Puccini-inflected airs are far grander than most of what one hears elsewhere on Broadway. And although there may not be much depth to the musical’s story (by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe) or lyrics (mostly by Charles Hart), the production—directed by Hal Prince—has been carefully maintained and refurbished over the years, and remains a marvel of sumptuous surfaces. Majestic Theatre (Broadway). Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Charles Hart. Book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Directed by Harold Prince. Running time: 2hrs 30mins. One intermission.
Husband and wife Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker play different married couples in each of the three acts of Neil Simon's hit 1968 comedy, which originally starred George C. Scott and Maureen Stapleton. John Benjamin Hickey, taking a break from his role in The Inheritance, directs the triptych's first Broadway revival.
Irish playwright Enda Walsh, whose 2011 adaptation of the movie Once was a great success, returns to the well with another new musical about people making music. This one is based on John Carney's 2016 coming-of-age film about hardscrabble youths who form a rock band in 1980s Dublin. Rebecca Taichman (Indecent) directs, and Sonya Tayeh (Moulin Rouge!) choreographs; the songs are by Carney and Gary Clark, who was the frontman for the 1980s Scottish rock band Danny Wilson.
The six wives of Henry VIII—two Catherines, a Katherine, two Annes and the Jane Seymour who didn't star in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman—sing their grievances in a new musical that takes the form of a modern pop concert. Conceived in 2017 by a pair of students at Cambridge University, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, the show moved quickly to the Edinborough Festival Fringe and then to the West End. The Broadway version is directed by Moss and Jamie Armitage.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman A Soldier’s Play probably shouldn’t work as well as it does. Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 1981 drama begins with a shooting and follows what looks like a conventional murder-mystery track. African-American officer Captain Richard Davenport (Blair Underwood) meets, one by one, with black soldiers at a segregated Louisiana Army base in 1944, hoping to find out who killed Sergeant Vernon C. Waters (David Alan Grier). The dialogue is functional but rarely lyrical. Much of the plot is revealed in flashbacks; at one point, there is a flashback within a flashback. As directed by Kenny Leon in its first Broadway production, however, the play is sturdy instead of creaky: Like the bare wood of Derek McLane’s set, it gets the job done, and it provides a platform for powerful moments and performances. The steel-jawed Underwood, sympathetic yet commanding, provides a stoic axis for the production; Davenport, often wearing sunglasses, keeps his cool, even when his rank unsettles his white colleagues and subordinates. (Jerry O’Connell, playing a conflicted white captain, looks like he’s about to burst a blood vessel throughout.) Grier is Underwood’s equal and opposite: He brings rage and pathos to the role of the cruel Waters, “split by the madness of race in America,” who is twisted with contempt for other black men—especially Southern ones—whom he considers an embarrassment to the race. (He dismisses them as “geechies” and worse.) The play is in
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Jesse Williams (Grey's Anatomy) and Patrick J. Adams (Suits) lead the all-male ensemble cast of this revival of Richard Greenberg's Tony-winning 2002 drama about a Derek Jeter–esque baseball star who comes out of the closet. The play offers a provocative and insightful look at the intersections of race, sexuality, class and naked guys in showers. Scott Ellis directs for Second Stage; the supporting cast includes Michael Oberholtzer and Brandon J. Dirden.
Broadway review by Adam Feldman The test of any star is the ability to rise above adversity, and Tina Turner has had more than her share. Abandoned by her parents as a child in rural Tennessee, she ascended to R&B fame in the 1960s at the side of Ike Turner, who exploited her and beat her before she climbed to even greater heights as a solo artist in the 1980s. The hugely talented Adrienne Warren, who plays her in the jukebox biomusical Tina, has different obstacles to overcome. Mediocrity surrounds her at every turn: an overstretched narrative that, in trying to span more than three decades of personal and artistic history, feels both rushed and overlong; a time line that is often confusing; dialogue that is rarely more than functional when it doesn’t sink into corn (“You know, Carpenter, you always said I had a good ear, but, you know, I have a good nose, too… for bullshit”). Director Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) has staged the show with minimal subtlety—whenever Ike (Daniel J. Watts, in the ultimate thankless role) does cocaine, which is often, he waves a big bag of white powder in the air—and several of the supporting actors pitch their performances to the second balcony. (The Lunt-Fontanne doesn’t have a second balcony.) These failings might not register as much in a lighthearted show, but they don’t serve the seriousness of Turner’s journey; this is a musical in which women and children are repeatedly brutalized onstage, and the heroine ends the first act with her fac
Theater review by Adam Feldman The defense never rests in Aaron Sorkin’s cagey adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. That the play exists at all is an act of boldness: Turning Harper Lee’s 1960 novel into a play in 2018 is no easy task. The hero of the story, as every schoolchild knows, is Atticus Finch (Jeff Daniels), a lawyer in rural Alabama in the early 1930s, who bravely defends a disabled black man, Tom Robinson (Gbenga Akinnagbe), against a false accusation of rape. Slow to anger and reluctant to judge—“You never really understand a person,” he says, “until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”—Atticus is a paragon of that most fabled of American values: decency. But while To Kill a Mockingbird has a special place in the literature of American civil rights, the book is also now a minefield. As seen through the eyes of his preteen tomboy daughter, Scout (Celia Keenan-Bolger), Atticus is very much a white-daddy savior, albeit one who can’t perform miracles, in a narrative that has little room for the perspectives of black people beyond the respect and gratitude they show him. At its center is a story about a young woman—Tom’s accuser, Mayella (Erin Wilhelmi)—whose allegations of sexual assault must not be believed. Even more problematic, to some modern ears, is the scope of Atticus’s magnanimity. It is not just the black skins that he urges his children to walk around in; it is also the skins of the white farmers who try to lynch Tom Robinson before his trial.
If you think Daniel Fish's revival of Oklahoma! is unconventional, fasten your seat belt for Belgian expressionist bad boy Ivo van Hove's take on Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents's classic 1957 musical drama, a gang-war tale inspired by Romeo and Juliet and most recently revived a decade ago. Instead of Jerome Robbins's original choreography, this production features movement by the contemporary Belgian dance maker Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, along with sets and lighting by Van Hove's partner, Jan Versweyveld. The multiethnic cast includes Isaac Powell as Tony, Shereen Pimentel as Maria, Yesenia Ayala as Anita and Amar Ramasar as Bernardo.
Edward Albee's lacerating 1962 masterpiece gets its third Broadway revival of the 21st century, with stage mainstay Laurie Metcalf playing Martha opposite Rupert Everett as George. Frequent Metcalf collaborator Joe Mantello (Three Tall Women) directs the production, which costars Russell Tovey and Patsy Ferran as a young couple roped into the older one's cruel and cryptic games.
This musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz addresses surprisingly complex themes, such as standards of beauty, morality and, believe it or not, fighting fascism. Thanks to Winnie Holzman’s witty book and Stephen Schwartz’s pop-inflected score, Wicked soars. The current cast includes Jackie Burns as Elphaba and Amanda Jane Cooper as Glinda.
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