A Look at Comedies on Broadway
The stages of Broadway house world-class talent and thrilling live experiences, and as with its dramatic counterpoint, The Great White Way excels in comedy. From farce to musical comedy to skewering satire, there is truly something for every comedic taste. In that spirit and in keeping with the zany holiday April Fool’s Day, this month we take a look at some of the most hilarious and brightest comedies lighting the Broadway stage.
Present Laughter (St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St.)
Academy and Tony Award-winning actor Kevin Kline, known for hilarious comedic turns in films such as In & Out and A Fish Called Wanda, headlines a new production of Noel Coward’s uproarious comedy Present Laughter. In this over-the-top farce, Kline stars as Garry Essendine, a self-obsessed actor with a voracious appetite for wine and women as he grapples with the onset of a midlife crisis.
Coward’s semi-autobiographical play follows the sought-after leading man as he finds himself torn between adoring ingénues, frenzied playwrights, unexpected plot-twists, and outrageous romantic encounters, all with sidesplitting results. Hand to God director Moritz von Stuelpnagel helms this irresistible laugh fest also featuring Kate Burton and Broadway favorite and comedienne extraordinaire Kristine Nielsen.
The Book of Mormon (Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 230 W. 49th St.)
It should come as no surprise that a show from the creators of South Park has audiences rolling in the aisles with its irreverent take on religion, pop culture, and musical theatre. From the minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone along with composer Robert Lopez (Frozen) comes the cultural phenomenon and Tony Award-winning musical The Book of Mormon. The cheeky satire is the story of two Mormon missionaries who travel to Uganda to spread the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Amid cultural misunderstandings, including run-ins with local warlords, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham learn the true meaning of friendship and faith. Fans of South Park and musical theatre can rejoice with the laugh-out-loud humor and heart of The Book of Mormon as it lovingly lampoons religion, theatre, and everything in between. The winner of nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Book of Mormon is a sure bet for April Fool’s Day laughs.
Hello, Dolly! (Sam S. Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th St.)
Known as much for her priceless comedic chops as her illustrious film and music career, cherished star and award-winning icon Bette Midler takes the lead in a revival of the classic Jerry Herman musical comedy Hello, Dolly! In the first Broadway production since its initial run, Midler stars as the spirited Dolly Gallagher Levi. The musical is the story of the meddlesome matchmaker who brings together a young clerk of a wealthy Yonkers merchant with a widowed milliner, as well as their assistants, as she herself pursues the merchant.
The smile-inducing story, which features some of Broadway’s most beloved melodies including “Hello, Dolly” and “Before the Parade Passes By,” is inspired by Thornton Wilder’s play The Matchmaker. Choreographer Warren Carlyle recreates some of the legendary original staging by Gower Champion while adding his own personal flair. Tony winner Jerry Zaks directs Midler in this hot-ticket production which also features David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel, and Kate Baldwin, among a bevy of some of Broadway’s other brightest and funniest stars.
Groundhog Day (August Wilson Theatre, 245 W. 52nd St.)
Inspired by the hit 1993 Hollywood comedy of the same name, a new musical version of Groundhog Day laughs its way to Broadway this spring after a smash run on London’s West End. Featuring leading man and comedic genius Andy Karl (Rocky) and from director Matthew Warchus and composer Tim Minchin of Matilda, Groundhog Day is the hilarious story of one man who finds himself trapped in a time loop and is forced to relive the same day. Over. And Over. And over again.
Cynical TV weatherman Phil Connors travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the famed holiday and must examine his own life and approach to it after he ends up in the unusual predicament of experiencing the same day on repeat. What starts out as a question of how to break the repeating cycle ultimately becomes one of what can be learned from it. This spirited musical comedy is as funny as it is moving.