For Broadway fans, there’s nothing better than revisiting a beloved showstopping moment from a favorite show — except, of course, for the thrill of discovering a brand-new one. After the extended shutdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Broadway shows are back up and running, and every fresh production is a new opportunity to discover one of those magic memories.
From six new productions, here are new numbers that are rousing contenders to become your next fave.
Every song in SIX is a bop. A feminist reimagining of the six wives of Henry VIII, the show transforms the royal exes into six pop-music divas — taking inspiration from contemporary greats like Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, and Rihanna — and gives each of them an anthem catchy enough to top today’s charts. (The show’s cocreators, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, even weave the 16th century English folk ditty “Greensleeves” into an EDM banger). With the wives pitted against each other in a reality-TV-style concert competition, you could argue that every song’s a showstopper by design.
In this context, then, it’s a downtempo number that stands out: Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour (played by Abby Mueller), gets a powerhouse ballad that gives Adele a run for her money. It’s an emotional number that movingly reveals the character’s vulnerability, insecurity, and inner strength.
The new musical adaptation of the fondly remembered Robin Williams film Mrs. Doubtfire casts fan-favorite actor (and expert physical comedian) Rob McClure as a divorced dad who masquerades as a nanny to have more time with his kids. Balancing quick-change chaos with heartfelt emotion, Doubtfire had just begun Broadway previews when the shutdown hit. But judging from those early performances and a previous run in Seattle, it’s the song “Easy Peasy” that stands poised to be the breakout sequence of the show (written by the Something Rotten! trio of Wayne Kirkpatrick, Karey Kirkpatrick, and John O’Farrell). The tune finds amateur cook Daniel, disguised as caregiver and master chef Mrs. Doubtfire, quickly overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing dinner, and in this imaginative sequence, a cascade of competing YouTube how-tos transforms into a big, splashy tap number. Crowd-pleasing shenanigans ensue.
After critically lauded runs in London and Off-Broadway, the Bob Dylan musical The Girl From the North Country had just opened its Broadway run when the pandemic shut it down. Now it’s back, and audiences have a chance to discover the show’s surprising new take on familiar Dylan songs, recontextualized into the show’s Great Depression-era storyline with elegant and often surprising orchestrations.
Mare Winningham’s powerful delivery of “Like a Rolling Stone” and the full-cast uplift of “Pressing On” are both audience-grabbers, but for many, the real standout is “Duquesne Whistle,” performed by Todd Almond (backed by the entire ensemble) as a roof-raising gospel number that marks a joyous culmination for his misunderstood character. Bob Dylan songs have never sounded so good.
With Spencer in cinemas and The Crown on Netflix, there’s a Princess Diana project for every platform. But there’s only one in which she sings, and that’s Diana, the new bio-musical by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, the duo behind the Tony-winning Memphis. The show, which was in previews when the pandemic darkened Broadway in March 2020, looks behind the royal façade to reveal the beating heart of the woman whose life was splashed across gossip pages as she married into royalty, became a glamorous icon and prominent activist, got a controversial divorce, and met a tragic end.
Advance word on the show, hitting Netflix in a filmed staging October 1 ahead of a November 2 Broadway return, pegs the tune “If” as the fan-favorite. With shades of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” the song arrives at a major moment of independence in the life of the princess. In it, Diana, embodied onstage by Jeanna De Waal, breaks free of the monarchy to live her own life and imagines everything she wants to achieve with her newfound freedom.
If anyone knew their way around jaw-dropping song-and-dance, it was the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. In the upcoming MJ: The Musical, the Tony-winning ballet veteran Christopher Wheeldon directs and choreographs, threading explosive dance numbers throughout the show’s chronicle of the final days of rehearsal for Jackson’s 1992 Dangerous world tour. Few people have seen MJ, which begins previews for its world premiere on Broadway on December 6, but the early buzz suggests that a major standout moment comes right after intermission. The revelatory Act 2 opener offers a look at the influences on Jackson’s unparalleled dance aesthetic, from the Nicholas Brothers to Fred Astaire to Bob Fosse, to the tune of two Jackson favorites, “Billie Jean” and “Smooth Criminal.”
Okay, so, technically this isn’t a new song: The show it comes from, Company, is more than 50 years old. But that 1970 musical is a groundbreaking classic with songs that helped make composer Stephen Sondheim the Broadway legend that he is — and “Ladies Who Lunch,” a blistering anthem about boredom, disappointment, and loss, is a landmark tune. And in the new, gender-bent Broadway revival that opens December 9, “Ladies Who Lunch” is sung by none other than the great Patti LuPone.
A thrilling song from a Broadway masterpiece performed by musical-theater royalty? This beloved old showstopper just might become your new favorite showstopper, too.
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