Spring Revue

Your comprehensive Guide to another Blockbuster Broadway season.

kinky-boots

 

There is nothing quite like Spring in New York City. Just as Mother Nature offers everything from waning remnants of winter storms to beautiful bright days hinting at summer just around the corner, the city itself comes to life with a myriad of offerings for both tourists and local city dwellers. From a pre-season Yankee or Mets game to a stroll through a Central Park in full bloom, the opportunities to enjoy all the city has to offer are limitless. Springtime on Broadway also marks an exciting time as long-running hits continue to thrill audiences alongside an exciting line-up of new works and reimagined visions of the classics. Spring also marks the beginning of the theatrical awards season culminating in the Tony Awards every June. This year’s ceremony will be held June 12th at the Beacon Theatre and Broadway will be abuzz with vibrant energy as new productions and revivals vie for the top honors. Our Spring preview highlights the productions not to be missed this year on the Great White Way.

Smash Hits

Now entering its 3rd smash year on Broadway, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical follows the story of one of music’s greatest legends as she faces life’s trials and triumphs with unwavering spirit and chutzpah. From her humble beginnings in Brooklyn to her Grammy award winning success as a singer-songwriter, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical features some of Carole King’s greatest hits including “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “I Feel the Earth move,” and “(You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman.” Recounting her romantic relationship with Gerry Goffin and friendship with the writing team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, this inspiring show tells the story of how King ultimately found her own voice through love, heartbreak and sharing her musical gifts with the world, becoming the voice of a generation. (Sondheim Theatre, 124 W 43rd St.)

Winner of 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical and now featuring television star Wayne Brady, Kinky Boots is a crowd pleasing musical and surefire hit continuing to pack the houses at Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld Theatre. With a winning score by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots follows the story of Charlie Price, a down on his luck shoe factory owner, who finds inspiration in the most unlikely of places- London’s nightlife scene. Joining forces with the sensational cabaret star Lola, the dynamic duo work together to save Charlie’s factory and change the world one fabulous sequined boot at a time. This timeless story of friendship and passion lifts audiences’ hearts as its characters find strength in an unexpected and dazzling new future. (Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W 45th St.)

It is a rare occasion that one show can strike a chord with both fans of South Park and Broadway musicals, however Trey Parker and Matt Stone along with composer Robert Lopez (Frozen) have managed to create one such feat with the cultural phenomenon The Book of Mormon. The irreverent and sometimes shocking comedy 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 war-lords, 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 9 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Book of Mormon continues to be one of the hottest tickets in town!  (Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 230 W. 49th St.)

An instant success with audiences and critics alike when it opened in 2013, the Tony Award nominated musical Matilda continues to draw audiences to the Shubert Theatre night after night. Inspired by the beloved Roald Dahl novel, Matilda is the winning story of the spirited Matilda Wormwood who navigates a fantastical world filled with valiant heroes and scheming villains including her lackluster parents and cartoonishly cruel principal, Miss Trunchbull. With a knack for storytelling, mischief and even magical powers, she inspires those around her to stand up for what they believe in while facing their fears. Imaginative and whimsical theatrical effects bring the magic of Matilda to life as she sings her way into theatergoer’s hearts with a classic-in-the-making score including the songs songs “When I Grow Up” and “Revolting Children.” From swinging dancers to flying students and disappearing cakes, Matilda has it all! (Shubert Theatre, 225 W. 44th St.)

Openings

Stars of stage and screen Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels return to the New York Stage this Spring in the Broadway premiere of the provocative drama Blackbird, directed by Tony Award winner Joe Mantello. Written by David Harrower, this ninety-minute study on the nature of sexual obsession centers on the relationship of Ray and Una, two individuals who are reunited after fifteen years of separation. After a chance encounter, Una recognizes Ray from her past and confronts him regarding their complicated relationship of abuse as she questions her own memories of their past together. Uncertain and fearful of her intentions, Ray engages Una in a suspenseful interrogation of anger, curiosity, and confusion. Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine) stars as Una with Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom, The Hours) as Ray. (Belasco Theatre, 11 W. 44th St.)

Arthur Miller’s classic parable on the Salem Witch Hunt returns to Broadway this season in prolific Belgian director Ivo van Hove’s stark new production of The Crucible. While not considered to be a musical but rather a play, the strictly limited engagement features an original score by inventive composer Philip Glass and stars stage and film actors Ben Wishaw (Perfume, Skyfall), Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones), and Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Brooklyn). Written at the height of the anti-communist McCarthy Era, this political allegory follows the events of the infamous Salem Witch Trials of the 1690s in which an entire town is put on trial for witchcraft after falling victim to the spellbinding lies of one young woman. A cautionary tale of the power of deception, fear, and paranoia, The Crucible proves just as relevant today as when it first premiered. (Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St.)

This spring, Manhattan Theatre Club presents the American premiere of Florian Zeller’s acclaimed drama, The Father, in a translation by Christopher Hampton. Directed by Doug Hughes and starring Broadway veteran and three-time Tony Award winner Frank Langella, The Father, is a complex study of one man’s descent into dementia. Langella plays Andre, a retired dancer who shares an apartment with his daughter Anne and her husband. Or perhaps he is an engineer in the midst of a visit with his daughter and her boyfriend. The play unfolds through a series of encounters, some strange and some familiar as Andre clings to the world he knows. The Father is a fascinating look at one man’s mind as he grapples with perceived reality as illness takes hold. (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St.)

Academy and Golden Globe Award winner Forest Whitaker makes his Broadway debut this spring in a revival of the emotionally charged Eugene O’Neill classic Hughie. Directed by Tony Award winner Michael Grandage (Red, Frost/Nixon), this two hander co-starring Tony Award winner Frank Wood (Side Man) is the story of one man’s return to the rundown hotel he has made his home. Set in the summer of 1928 in New York City just beyond the glamorous lights of Broadway, Hughie follows a one-time gambler and big time drinker as he connects with the new night clerk of the hotel, in the process confronting his own personal demons. As the night gives way to the wee small hours of the morning, the man seeks redemption as he continues his pursuit of the American dream. This haunting and rarely seen masterpiece from one of America’s greatest playwrights is a moving drama that insightfully investigates the human condition. (Booth Theatre, 222 W. 45th St.)

Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald leads an all-star cast in the thrilling new musical Shuffle Along, or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. In 1921, the musical Shuffle Along became the most unlikely of hits- in the process changing not only the face of musical theatre but also that of New York City. After a daunting out-of-town pre-Broadway tour left the jazz musical in crippling financial debt and with a less-than-stellar remote theatre in town as its home, the show seemed destined to fail. And yet, with a wildly intoxicating score and electrifying choreography the show became an instant success taking the city by storm. In this new production helmed by acclaimed theatrical director George C. Wolfe, the jazz age musical is not only brought back to glorious life, but audiences are also given a glimpse into the behind the scenes story of its creation. Audra McDonald is joined by Tony winners Billy Porter (Kinky Boots) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (Kiss Me Kate) in this production featuring choreography by the renown Savion Glover (Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk). (Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St.)

Inspired by the classic 1975 novel by Natalie Babbitt, the enchanting new musical Tuck Everlasting arrives on Broadway this spring after a smash run at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. The musical is the tale of Winnie Foster, a young woman who longs for adventure. After running away from home she encounters the fascinating Tuck family and their meeting will change all of their lives forever. As her adventure unfolds, she learns that the family harbors a magical secret setting in motion a series of events that uphold the power of everlasting love. Directed by Casey Nicholaw (Something Rotten!, Aladdin), the inspirational new musical is a timeless story of family, love, and making the most out of life. Featuring Broadway favorites Carolee Carmello (Finding Neverland), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Newsies), and Terrence Mann (Beauty and the Beast) and with a sweeping original score, Tuck Everlasting asks the question, if you could live forever- would you? (Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St.)

Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) makes a triumphant return to Broadway this Spring in the shining new musical Waitress. With original music and lyrics by Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles and directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (Hair, Pippin), Waitress is based upon the 1997 film of the same name. At the heart of the musical is Jenna, a small town waitress, stifled by her surroundings and a loveless marriage. When an opportunity arises to put her passion for pie-making to use while offering an escape, she must choose between her dreams and her commitments. Paulus, recently selected for the 2014 TIME 100, Time Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, directs this new musical which champions motherhood, friendship, and re-embracing long forgotten dreams. (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St.)

Tony Buzz

There simply is no hotter ticket in town than Hamilton and Tony Award winner Lin Manuel Miranda’s multicultural hip-hop take on the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton is sure to be a contender come Tony season. After a sold-out run at The Public Theater, the striking new musical Hamilton transferred to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre last summer. Following the success of In the Heights and with an electric score, Lin Manuel Miranda weaves together the story of an immigrant who rises from being an orphan to the right hand man of President Washington. The musical follows his ambitious rise to power as he navigates war, romantic scandal, and the perils of a life in politics before changing the role of the newly founded United States in the global economy. Destined to join the ranks of other classic American musicals, Hamilton is the show to beat this awards season with creator Lin Manuel Miranda a likely nominee for not only his performance but his groundbreaking music and lyrics. (Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St.)

After a successful opening on Broadway this past fall, On Your Feet!, the new musical inspired by the lives of Emilio and Gloria Estefan continues to thrive at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre with the same undeniable energy and passion for which the Grammy Award winning artist is known. Featuring the pulsing beats of Estefan’s greatest hits including “Conga,” “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “1, 2, 3.” and of course, “Get On Your Feet” the musical follows the Cuban American couple’s journey from humble beginnings to international stardom. Two-time Tony Award winning Director Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, Kinky Boots) is at the helm with explosive choreography by Serigo Trujillo (Jersey Boys). This inspirational story of the power of love is already garnering award season buzz for not only its inspired choreography, but also for star-making turns from its leads Ana Villafane and Josh Segarra. (Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway)

Another hit with critics and audiences alike and a likely candidate for Best New Musical is the rollicking rock and roll comedy School of Rock. The high-octane new musical opened this past fall at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre. Produced by theatre legend Andrew Lloyd Weber, this show follows the same plot of the hit film made famous by Jack Black. Looking to pick up a few extra bucks, deadbeat and down and out rocker Dewey Finn pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prim and proper prep school where, he decides to throw out the curriculum and teach what he knows best: rock and roll. In the creation of a student led rock band, zany high-jinks ensue ultimately leading to a life lesson teaching the transformative power of music. The rocking score featuring hits from the movie as well as new music from Andrew Lloyd Weber, a book by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, and a star performance from Alex Brightman are all likely to catch Tony Voter’s attention this Spring. (Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway)

Academy and Grammy Award winning superstar Jennifer Hudson made her highly anticipated Broadway debut in the revival of The Color Purple this past December and is already garnering Tony buzz for her performance as the sultry Shug Avery. Other likely bets include acting nominations for the indomitable Cynthia Erivo as the show’s hero Celie and Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black) as the spirited Sophia and a Best Director nomination for John Doyle for his direction of this beloved musical. Inspired by the classic novel by Alice Walker and the acclaimed film, The Color Purple is a powerful story of the resounding power of faith, family and love. The musical follows heroine Celie across decades in the South as she navigates an abusive relationship, love, and the search for her long lost sister. John Doyle, known for his revolutionary stagings of Company and Sweeney Todd, directs this intimate production which highlights the powerful Pulitzer Prize winning story. With a score abundant with ragtime, jazz, blues, and gospel, The Color Purple is sure to fill audience’s hearts with gratitude and hope and snag a few awards along the way. (Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St.)

Another classic take on faith and perennial favorite with Tony Voters is the inspirational musical Fiddler on the Roof, which currently comes to life in a rich new revival directed by Tony Award winning Broadway veteran Bartlett Sher. Connecting with the hearts of audiences across generations, the timeless show is a true bonafide classic. In addition to its magnificent story of family and perseverance, the show’s score including “Tradition,” “If I Were A Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and “Sunrise, Sunset” continues to endear itself to audiences with an uplifting spirit. The musical follows Russian-Jewish milkman Tevye and his five daughters as he tries to maintain his faith and its traditions in the face of changing times and persecution in a small Russian village. The new production has received critical accolades for its groundbreaking and earthy new take on the original Jerome Robbins choreography by Hofesh Shecter and a thrilling performance from Broadway favorite Danny Burstein, who is poised to take home his first Tony Award for his interpretation of Tevye. Also a likely nominee for Best Musical Revival, this Fiddler is one to savor as its resilient song continues to fill audiences’ hearts with a sense of hope and wonder. (Broadway Theatre, 1681 Broadway)

(Photo Credit: Kinky Boots)