Patti LuPone, Glenn Close and Bette Midler are back on Broadway. Joan of Arc is getting a rock musical adaptation from Alex Timbers while Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is finally coming to the stage with a score from Hairspray’s stellar composing team. There’s also a number of new plays from exciting playwrights on the scene like Sarah Ruhl, Annie Baker and revivals of longtime favorites Eugene O’Neill and Lillian Hellman. This next year is going to be in need of some serious art, so we’re glad such an exciting crop of theatre artists took note.
Because the number of shows are infinite, we’ve focused on Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and musicals we’re excited to see this next year. It was harder than we imagined to narrow down the list to only 20. Some shows that didn’t make the list (17 isn’t enough!) do deserve a shout out like the Broadway revival of Miss Saigon, Sunday in the Park with George starring Jake Gyllenhaal, August Wilson’s Jitney and then a number of great shows rounding out the Lincoln Center and Manhattan Theatre Club seasons.
1. Sunset Boulevard
Glenn Close on Broadway? That’s enough to be sold. Even more enticing, she’s revising her role as Norma Desmond that won her the 1995 Tony and much acclaim. After running in the West End at the English National Opera, the Sunset Boulevard Broadway revival is directed by Lonny Price (Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill). To add to the epic nature of Desmond’s character, a star starving for a comeback on the silver screen, the performance will have a 40-piece orchestra. Supposedly, this is the largest orchestra to this day on Broadway. There’s nothing quite like the majesty of Andrew Lloyd Webber (who will now have four shows on Broadway), and especially when paired with Close’s ability to captivate.
Previews begin February 2nd at the Palace Theatre.
2. The Glass Menagerie
Although the Tennessee Williams heart-breaking drama appeared on Broadway just four years ago, we’re interested to see Sam Gold’s new take. Sally Field’s Amanda should prove different from Cherry Jones’ or what we’ve seen before and opposite Tony winner, actor-director Joe Mantello, there should be electric performances. Laura will be played by Madison Ferris, an actress who uses a wheelchair, in her Broadway debut. With productions of late such as Richard III and The Elephant Man using able-bodies performers for characters with textually- supported mental and physical disabilities, we’re glad to see The Glass Menagerie make a progressive and important casting choice. The play is chock-full of tender and complicated relationships, something Gold has proven lately, with his Tony award for Fun Home, he takes profound and delicate care with.
3. Joan of Arc: Into the Fire
We’re excited to see this tale explored for a modern audience at The Public Theater this winter. Joan of Arc has been a figure of strength through history, and with a spin from David Byrne, lead singer of the Talking Heads, and director Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), it should rock our world. Brooklyn-based performer Jo Lampert (The Good Swimmer), will play Joan and the musical will focus in the rise of the girl known for her connection with God and her battle for belief.
Previews begin February 14th at The Public Theater.
We have to admit we’re mostly excited about this one to see newcomers Justice Smith and Lucas Hedges take their skills to the stage. Smith came onto the scene swinging with his leading role in Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down last year and Hedges in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. The play is from London-based playwright Anna Jordan (Chicken Shop) and director Trip Cullman, who continually directs great projects for Second Stage, MCC and Roundabout. The play sounds like a delicious coming-of-age story and we’re eager to see the young cast push their own boundaries.
MCC Theater performances began January 12th at The Lucille Lortel Theatre.
This play, from Chicago-based playwright Philip Dawkins, centers on an African-American transgender woman in her 60s who begins teaching an etiquette class at a LGBTQ community center. We’re thrilled to see MCC taking on a play that had an incredible run in Chicago last year and with such a diverse cast and crew. Directed by Will Davis, a trans-identified choreographer and director, the production has announced a news-worthy casting search for transgender and gender-nonconforming artists. Here’s a link if you want to be considered! We love seeing this focus on diverse voices in the theatre community.
The play will kick off MCC’s 2017-18 season this fall at The Lucille Lortel Theatre.