The 2018 Broadway Spring Preview

The 2018 Broadway Spring Preview

You don’t need magical powers to predict that a snow queen and a wizard with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead will likely dominate the second half of the Broadway season. But there is more than those two adored characters to anticipate seeing on the stage in these next months. Between now and the end of April, the cutoff to qualify for the 2018 Tony Awards, expect the return of two beloved American musical classics as well as a cluster of stars — including Glenda Jackson, Denzel Washington, Condola Rashad, Diana Rigg and Nathan Lane — to light up the Great White Way. Here’s a preview of what’s coming our way.

Escape to Margaritaville (starts February 16, opens March 15, Marquis Theatre)
A new musical comedy that encourages you to kick off your flip-flops, grab a cocktail, and chill out in a tropical island paradise. Soaked with the gleefully inebriated music and lyrics of Jimmy Buffett, the escapist fun written by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley already got Buffet fans — the Parrotheads — singing along at the two tryouts in San Diego and Chicago. Buffett has written new songs for the musical, which also includes his classics, such as “Come Monday,” “Volcano,” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” The production, directed by Christopher Ashley (2017 Tony Award winner for Come From Away), features Paul Alexander Nolan, Alison Luff, Lisa Howard, and Erica Petersen, with choreography by Kelly Devine.

Frozen (starts February 22, opens March 22, St. James Theatre)
The long-anticipated stage adaptation of Disney’s highest grossing animated movie is expected to get ticket sales soaring. The musical’s book is written by Jennifer Lee, screenwriter for the movie, which was loosely based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The score by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez includes all their songs from the movie (including the Oscar-winning “Let It Go”) as well as new numbers written for the show. Cassie Levy plays Elsa, the ice queen of Arendelle, and Patti Murin her sister, Anna; Greg Hildreth plays Olaf the snowman; Jelani Alladin, the ice harvester Kristoff; and John Riddle, Prince Hans. This new Disney production — which joins The Lion King and Aladdin on Broadway — is directed by Michael Grandage, designed by Christopher Oram, and choreographed by Rob Ashford.

Angels in America (starts February 23, opens March 21, Neil Simon Theatre)
Twenty-five years after its landmark debut, Tony Kushner’s two-part epic returns to Broadway in a critically acclaimed revival from London’s National Theatre. The two plays — Millennium Approaches (Tony winner for Best Play in 1993) and Perestroika (Tony winner for Best Play in 1994) — will run in repertory. Subtitled A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, Kushner’s ambitious opus, set in the mid-1980s, is a moving, humorous, and highly theatrical take on compelling issues that still resonate today. The production is directed by two-time Tony winner Marianne Elliott (War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). The cast is led by Tony and Drama Desk winner Nathan Lane (as Roy Cohn) and Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield. Garfield received the 2017 Evening Standard Award for his London performance as Prior Walter, an AIDS survivor whose supernatural visions intertwine the characters in the play.

Three Tall Women (starts February 27, opens March 29, John Golden Theatre)
The first Broadway revival of a major Edward Albee work since the great playwright’s death in 2016 is a significant event. Making the occasion even more momentous, this production marks the return of Glenda Jackson after an absence of three decades from the New York stage. The two-time Academy Award winner retired from acting in 1992 to pursue a career in British politics; she made a triumphant return to the London stage last year, winning the Evening Standard Award for her performance as the beleaguered Shakespearean monarch in King Lear. Three Tall Women, which revolves around three characters who are at times versions of an elderly woman in the last stages of her life, has never been performed on Broadway before; Albee received his third Pulitzer Prize when the play debuted Off-Broadway in 1994. The Scott Rudin production, directed by Joe Mantello, also features Laurie Metcalf and Allison Pill.

Lobby Hero (starts March 1, opens March 26, Helen Hayes Theatre)
Playwright, screenwriter, and director Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) draws us into the interior worlds of four characters who get caught up in a murder investigation at a Manhattan apartment building in this comedy-drama that debuted Off-Broadway in 2001. Michael Cera (last seen on Broadway in the revival of Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth) plays a young security guard, and Brian Tyree Henry his supervisor; Bel Powley plays a police officer and Chris Evans her senior partner in the Second Stage Theater production directed by Trip Culllman (last season’s Six Degrees of Separation and Significant Other).

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (starts March 6, opens April 22, Lyric Theatre)
The Lyric Theatre has been redesigned to accommodate the eighth Harry Potter story — an original tale by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany — adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne. Potter (Jamie Parker) is now an adult and is constantly at odds with his son Albus (Sam Clemmett), who can’t seem to stay out of trouble at Hogwarts. The two-part magical adventure, which journeys back and forth through time, created a sensation in London when it opened in the West End in 2016. The production, directed by John Tiffany (Tony winner for Once), broke box office records and snagged a slew of critical awards, including the Olivier Award for Best Play. Movement is by Steven Hoggett (Once, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time); set design is by Christine Jones (Tony Award winner for American Idol).

Mean Girls (starts March 12, opens April 8, August Wilson Theatre)
Broadway goes pink for the Plastics, the A-list girl clique at North Shore High School. The musical comedy is adapted by Saturday Night Live star, comedian, and writer Tina Fey from her own screenplay for the 2004 cult movie about the vicious rivalry among schoolgirls. Music and lyrics are by Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin and the production is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw (Something Rotten!, Aladdin, The Book of Mormon). The cast includes Erika Henningsen as Cady, the newcomer who takes on Regina, the Queen Bee of the clique (Taylor Louderman); Kerry Butler plays Mrs. Norbury (Fey’s role in the movie).

Children of a Lesser God (starts March 22, opens April 11, Studio 54)
Mark Medoff’s play about the complicated professional and romantic relationship between a strong-willed deaf woman and a speech therapist who is attempting to teach her to speak, received Tony and Drama Desk awards for Best Play when it debuted on Broadway in 1980. Former Miss Deaf America and sign-language model Lauren Ridloff (Wonderstruck) will make her Broadway debut alongside fellow Broadway newcomer Joshua Jackson in the current revival, which originated at the Berkshire Theatre Group. The production is directed by Kenny Leon, 2014 Tony Award winner for Raisin in the Sun.

My Fair Lady (starts March 22, opens April 19, Vivian Beaumont Theatre)
Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s musical, based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, received the Tony for Best Musical of 1957 and went on to become one of the most beloved musicals of all time. It’s been 25 years since it was last seen on Broadway, and expectations are running high for this revival from Lincoln Center Theater: Director Barlett Sher’s previous musical revivals for LCT — South Pacific and The King and I — were popular Tony-winning hits in 2008 and 2015, respectively. Lauren Ambrose plays the cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle, and Broadway newcomer Harry Hadden-Patton the misogynistic Professor Higgins; two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz (Catch Me If You Can, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) plays Eliza’s father, the dustman Alfred P. Doolittle. Tony winner Dame Diana Rigg (Medea) returns to Broadway after an absence of 24 years to play the part of Mrs. Higgins, the professor’s mother.

The Iceman Cometh (starts March 22, opens April 26, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre)
Two-time Oscar nominee Denzel Washington proved a box office sensation on the last two occasions he appeared on Broadway, in 2010 when he won the Tony Award for best actor for Fences, and in 2014 when he appeared in A Raisin in the Sun. He returns to play the lead in Eugene O’Neill’s monumental classic: the demanding role of Hickey, the charismatic travelling salesman who holds in thrall the denizens of seedy Greenwich Village watering hole Harry Hope’s Saloon. The Scott Rudin production is directed by multiple Tony nominee George C. Wolfe (Shuffle Along, Lucky Guy, The Normal Heart).

Carousel (starts March 23, opens April 12, Imperial Theatre)
The musical that firmly established Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in the American theater pantheon arrived on Broadway in 1945, two years after their triumphant first collaboration, Oklahoma! This tragic love story of a rough-hewn carnival barker and an attractive New England mill worker, with its glorious music score, has continued to captivate theatergoers for more than 70 years. Joshua Henry (Tony nominee for The Scottsboro Boys and Violet) and Jessie Mueller (Tony winner for Beautiful and nominee for Waitress) play the romantic leads, Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan, in the current revival, produced by Scott Rudin and directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien (The Coast of Utopia, Henry IV, Hairspray). Renowned opera star Renée Fleming will make her Broadway debut in the role of Julie’s cousin Nettie Fowler. The production will be choreographed by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, with set design by Santo Loquasto (winner of the 2017 Tony for Hello, Dolly!) and costumes by Tony Award winner Anne Roth.

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (starts March 28, opens April 23, Lunt-Fontanne Theatre)
Three performers — LaChanze (Tony winner for The Color Purple), Ariana DeBose, and Storm Lever — will portray the great singer-songwriter, star of the 1970s disco era, in this new musical written by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and Des McAnuff. With a score that features more than 20 of Summer’s classic hits — including “I Feel Love,” “ Love to Love You, Baby,” and “Hot Stuff” — the show charts the life of the Queen of Disco from childhood to stardom through the framework of her final concert. The production, which originated at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse, is directed by Tony Award winner McAnuff (Jersey Boys, The Who’s Tommy).

Travesties (starts March 29, opens April 24, American Airlines Theatre)
This effervescent comedy was concocted by Tom Stoppard, a master of wit and erudition. The brilliantly imaginative English playwright received the second of his four Tony Awards for this play, which was first staged on Broadway in 1976. Stoppard’s playful yarn inventively draws in writer James Joyce, Dada artist Tristan Tzara, and Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, who all coincidentally happened to be in Zurich in 1917 — the same year an obscure British consular official stationed in that same city performed in a production of The Importance of Being Earnest and engaged in a lawsuit against the theater company’s business manager, who happened to be Joyce. The Roundabout Theatre revival, which originated at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory in 2016, is directed by Patrick Marber and features Tom Hollander, Peter McDonald, and Seth Numrich.

Saint Joan (starts April 3, opens April 25, Samuel J. Friedman Theatre)
George Bernard Shaw’s play, which received its world premiere on Broadway in 1923, chronicles the story of the 15th-century peasant girl who rises from obscurity to lead the French against the English army, her subsequent trial for witchcraft, and her eventual execution by burning at the stake. In this revival of the play that a Shaw historian has described as a “tragedy without villains,” the formidable title role will be played by three-time Tony Award winner Condola Rashad (Stick Fly, The Trip to Bountiful, and last season’s A Doll’s House, Part 2). The Manhattan Theatre Club production is directed by Daniel Sullivan (last season’s The Little Foxes).