There’s no way to predict the best Broadway shows in any given year, but some rank higher than others on the advance-excitement scale. Among the productions we’re most looking forward to in 2018 are two new musicals based on hit movies, a stage sequel to the Harry Potter books and revivals of classic plays by Tony Kushner, Edward Albee and Eugene O’Neill. Only time and maybe Tony Awards will tell whether these shows live up to the hopes they engender. Meanwhile, here are 10 of the most promising productions headed for the Great White Way, in order of when they start previews. And if you’re serious about original drama, of course, don’t forget to look Off Broadway as well.
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Promising Broadway shows of 2018
The movie that launched a thousand YouTube covers of "Let It Go" arrives on Broadway as a full-fledged Disney live musical. Screenwriter Jennifer Lee and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez expand their 2013 animated megahit, the tale of a princess on a quest to save the kingdom from her frosty sister (Caissie Levy). Erstwhile Donmar Warehouse honcho Michael Grandage directs.
The ascendancy of Laurie Metcalf continues as the marvelous actor, coming off triumphs on stage (A Doll's House, Part 2) and film (Lady Bird), returns to the boards for the Broadway premiere of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize–winning 1994 drama, in which an elderly woman shares the stage with two younger versions of herself. Metcalf plays the middle-aged one; bookending her are Alison Pill (The Miracle Worker) and two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson (returning to Broadway for the first time since 1988). Joe Mantello directs.
Broadway gets a 25th-anniversary revival of Tony Kushner's era-defining two-part masterwork. Marianne Elliott (War Horse) directs the production, which was mounted in 2017 at London's National Theatre and features most of that version's cast, including Nathan Lane as the demoniac power lawyer Roy Cohn, Andrew Garfield as a gay man with AIDS and Denise Gough (People, Places & Things) as a neglected wife. For the U.S. production, Lee Pace joins them as a Mormon closet case.
We want to say one word to you, just one word: Plastics. Tina Fey adapts her cult-fave 2004 film comedy, a sly depiction of predators in the high-school food chain, into a Broadway musical with tunes by her husband, Jeff Richmond, and lyrics by Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde). The cast includes Erika Henningsen, Taylor Louderman, Ashley Park, Kate Rockwell and Barrett Wilbert Weed, directed and choreographed by The Book of Mormon's Casey Nicholaw.
Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) and Harry Hadden-Paton (Downton Abbey) star in this beloved 1956 adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, the show's first Broadway revival since 1993. Continuing to work his way through the musical-theater canon, Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof) directs Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's tale of a fussy Englishman who transforms a flower girl into a lady through the magic of proper enunciation. The supporting cast includes Norbert Leo Butz and the peerless Dame Diana Rigg.
Set nearly two decades after J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter heptology, Jack Thorne's authorized stage sequel concerns the time-traveling misadventures of Harry's son and his wizard-school pal, the son of Harry's onetime enemy. Based on a story by Rowling, Thorne and director John Tiffany, the show is divided into two full-length halves. The principal cast of the original West End production—which cleaned up at the 2017 Olivier Awards—hops the pond to open the show in New York. Good luck getting tickets; we hear the series has fans.
In Eugene O’Neill's long and pained drama, pipe dreams go up in smoke at a 1912 Greenwich Village saloon when a group of drunken failures are confronted withg the feebleness of their delusions. Screen and stage royal Denzel Washington stars in the latest Broadway revival, directed by George C. Wolfe.
Bitterness and bitchery are among the hors d'oeuvres served liberally in Mart Crowley's closet-breaking 1968 nonmusical about a gathering of unhappy homosexuals in New York City. Joe Mantello's 50th-anniversary Broadway revival of this seminal play features a glittering cast of openly gay actors, including Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Matt Bomer and Robin de Jesús.
Young Jean Lee, whose experimental work has delighted in metatheatrical mind games, shifts gears with this relatively straightforward American father-sons drama on themes of identity and privilege. Is naturalism the new subversion? Rewritten by the playwright since its premiere at the Public Theater in 2014, the play moves to Second Stage's new Broadway flagship with a cast that includes Tom Skerritt and widespread internet crush object Armie Hammer (Call Me by Your Name). Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County) directs.
Scheduled to open on Broadway in fall 2018, this jukebox musical traces decades in the life of one Cherilyn Sarkisian, who apparently is a singer and actor of some kind. Three women play the showbiz survivor at different stages of her career; Rick Elice, who cowrote Jersey Boys, tries to make biomusical lightning strikes twice, and Jason Moore (Avenue Q) directs. At the very least, the show is sure to have fabulous costumes.