While Broadway remains in quarantine limbo, producers have ample time to consider what shows to resurrect when theatre re-opens. All too often, hit Broadway productions open to rave reviews, earn multiple Tony Award nominations, go on to win those awards, then close, never to be seen again on the Great White Way. Generations of New York theatre-goers are left to make travel arrangements and search the internet in order to experience these productions. While shows like Hello, Dolly, Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, and West Side Story see multiple revivals, here are six stellar shows that are under-produced and overdue for a Broadway revival.
Kiss of The Spiderwoman
The original production of Kiss of the Spiderwoman, which features music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and a book by the late Terrence McNally, ran on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre from 1993-95. The musical, based on the best-selling novel El Beso de la Mujer Araña, follows an Argentine revolutionary who shares a prison cell with a gay window dresser, Luis Alberto Molina. Molina is jailed for corrupting a minor and escapes the horrifying reality of prison life by creating fantasies featuring a mysterious 1940s movie star. The musical would go on to be nominated for 11 Tony Awards, winning seven, including Best Musical, Best Actress for Rivera, and Best Actor for Carver. A reading of the award-winning musical took place in 2015, starring Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming, and Steven Pasquale, but nothing came of it – yet, anyway.
Titanic: The Musical
Titanic opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 23, 1997. The musical, based on the true story of the doomed R.M.S Titanic was directed by Richard Jones, with a book by Peter Stone and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. In 1997, the show earned five Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, and went on to win in all five categories. While it gained top honors, the musical opened just eight months ahead of the Academy Award-winning film of the same name. Though the musical is not connected to the film (spoiler: there is no Rose or Jack), it went overlooked by many and remained the underdog to the blockbuster movie. After 804 performances, Titanic closed on Broadway on March 21, 1999. While the show has toured overseas and has been produced in smaller theatres in the states, the musical hasn’t been staged in New York in over two decades.
Dreamgirls first opened on Broadway in 1981 and ran 1,521 performances before closing. The original production was nominated for 13 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and won six. The musical was given a limited-run revival in 1987 in which it was nominated for Best Revival during the 1988 Tony Awards season. The original production was directed by the late great Michael Bennett and the musical features book and lyrics by Tom Eyen and music by Henry Krieger. After the most recent award-winning West End production in 2016, under the direction of Casey Nicholaw and starring Amber Riley, rumors of a Broadway revival for late 2021 began circulating. No official announcement for dates, casting, or theater has been announced, so this in fact remains a rumor. However, “And I Am Telling You” deserves new life on the Broadway stage.
Beauty and The Beast
Beauty and the Beast, the first Disney title to be adapted into a Broadway musical announced in 2019 that a revival was in the works for the Great White Way. The musical first arrived on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on April 18, 1994. Featuring a book by Linda Woolverton, the show expands the 1991 animated film’s score, penned by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, with Menken teaming up with Tim Rice to create new music specifically for the stage adaptation. The show closed in 2007 and became Broadway’s tenth-longest running production in history. Screenwriter and playwright Linda Woolverton, who worked on the Beauty and the Beast animated film, announced that the revival will be totally different. “We’re doing a whole new version of it,” Woolverton broke the news during a recent interview. “They brought back the original team and we’re reimagining the show, redesigning and reconceptualizing many things, and basically doing another version. Which has really been fun for me because there are cringe moments for me that I get to fix now.”
City of Angels
City of Angels opened at the Virginia Theatre (now the August Wilson Theatre) on December 11, 1989, and closed after 879 performances. The musical earned 11 Tony Award nominations, winning 6 including Best Musical. Though the show debuted to rave reviews, City of Angels hasn’t been awarded a revival since its opening over 30 years ago. In short, City of Angels is a hysterical musical about Hollywood. Long story, the musical follows two plots: an author attempting to adapt his book into a screenplay, and the plot of the film he is trying to write. The Broadway production’s set designer, Robin Wagner created two worlds on stage: one in full color à la Technicolor films of the 50s, and one completely in black and white. City of Angels features a genius book by Larry Gelbart, an authentic jazz score by Cy Coleman, and lyrics by David Zippel. City of Angels was in previews for the West End’s second revival of City of Angels, before COVID-19 forced theatre closures.
Purlie opened at the Broadway Theatre on March 15, 1970. The show, a musical adaptation of Ossie Davis’s 1961 play Purlie Victorious, features a book by Davis, Philip Rose, and Peter Udell, lyrics by Udell, and music by Gary Geld. Purlie follows a Black traveling preacher who returns home to save the community church and emancipate the cotton pickers who work on a nearby plantation. The show earned five Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. A short-lived 1972 revival lasted only 14 performances and Encores! included the show in its 2005 season, starring Blair Underwood and Anika Noni Rose.
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