Many new shows open up this time of year on Broadway, with the biggest stars and most talented creators bringing new pieces to the New York audiences. This spring season might be one of the most prolific yet. The most anticipated revival in years and the highlight of this season is Hello Dolly!, a Broadway classic that is beloved by generations of theatergoers. A 1964 Best Musical winner with a score by Jerry Herman, Hello Dolly! stars the legendary Bette Midler. Midler will take on the role of the title character Dolly Levi, a New York matchmaker who decides to begin her life once again. It is hard to imagine someone more suited for this role than Midler and this show marks her return to her stage musical roots. Another Best Musical revival with an iconic female lead, Sunset Boulevard, lands on Broadway after a successful West End run. Based on a 1950 film noir with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sunset Boulevard follows the story of Norma Desmond, an aging actress desperately trying to get her old fame back. Glenn Close reprises her Tony Award-winning performance as Desmond. With a 40-piece orchestra, the largest to appear on a Broadway stage, Webber cements his legacy as the first composer with four shows running simultaneously on the Great White Way.
Miss Saigon is another revival that enjoyed a rave success in London’s West End. The 1989 musical adaptation of Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly, Miss Saigon is a love story between a Vietnamese woman and a U.S. soldier during the Vietnam War. The Play That Goes Wrong is an original London production and Olivier award-winning comedy about an amateur university theater and its attempt to put together a murder mystery. As suggested by the title, the audience members should expect a sensational farce that will make their bellies explode from laughter. There are many shades of new musicals on Broadway this season and War Paint is one of them. This is a show about a decades-long rivalry between cosmetics moguls Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden which shaped the industry and changed how the world viewed women in business. Rubinstein and Arden are portrayed by Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, respectively, both two-time Tony-winning stage giants. A bit of blues is brought by Bandstand, a jazz musical that focuses on the group of World War II young vets, whose passion for music takes them on the journey of love and success. Bandstand is directed and choreographed by Hamilton’s Andy Blankenbuehler and stars Broadway sweethearts Laura Osnes and Corey Cott. N
otes of bittersweet will prevail in Come From Away, a musical inspired by the true events of 9/11, when 38 planes were forced to make emergency landings in a small Canadian town of Gander. A compelling story about the lasting connection between the passengers and the residents of Gander will surely become one of Broadway’s most touching musicals in years. Other new musicals this season are all movie adaptations. Anastasia is based on the 1997 animated film of the same name, which tells the story of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, who claims to have escaped the execution of her family. Anastasia features an original score, as well as well-known film tunes such as “Once Upon a December” and the Oscar-nominated track, “Journey to the Past.”
Another adaptation of a child’s musical film is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is based on Roald Dahl’s novel and the 1971 film with Gene Wilder. Starring two-time Tony winner Christian Borle as Willy Wonka, this musical also features both a brand new score and the film’s original songs such as “Pure Imagination.” A bit of France on Broadway can be found in Amelie, a musical based on the 2001 French movie starring Audrey Tautou. Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo takes on the title role of an ordinary waitress with an unordinary imagination. On the other side of the world, Broadway has a piece of Pennsylvania in Groundhog Day, an adaptation of a 1991 movie with Bill Murray. The plot follows a cynical weather broadcaster played by Andy Karl, who comes to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to cover the famous groundhog and ends up being stuck in the same day until he gets his life together.
Spring 2017 is definitely a season of transfers not just from London, but mostly from off-Broadway. Sunday in the Park with George, a Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical about French pointillist painter Georges Seurat has enjoyed success during its brief run at City Center and is now on Broadway for only 10 weeks. It stars Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal in his Broadway musical debut. Sweat, a new play by Pulitzer-winning Lynn Nottage about blue collar workers in Pennsylvania, enjoyed a praised run at the Public Theater. Oslo, a political piece about top secret, high-level meetings between Israel and Palestine that culminated in the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, ran at Lincoln Center. Indecent is a play with music, which centers on a real-life controversy that surrounded the original production of Sholem Asch’s play God of Vengance. The play was a love story between two women.
Significant Other is a comedy by Joshua Harmon about a gay New York bachelor who is looking for love while his friends are getting married. Harmon’s play was first produced almost two years ago at Roundabout Theatre Company’s off-Broadway location. This season, RTC is presenting the audience with a lesser-known play by Arthur Miller, The Price, which centers on two estranged brothers who come together to sell their parents’ estate. The Price features a must-see cast of Danny DeVito, Jessica Hecht, Mark Ruffalo and Tony Shalhoub. Lincoln Center Theater is doing a revival of another great work by U.S. playwright Tennessee Williams—The Glass Menagerie. A masterpiece of U.S. theater, this drama revolves around a dysfunctional family whose Southern Belle mother is destroying the life of her children, one of whom is queer. This play stars two-time Oscar winner Sally Field alongside Tony winner Joe Mantello and is directed by Broadway favorite Sam Gold. Gold is having a great year, as he is directing two plays on Broadway, the other being a new work—Doll’s House, Part 2.
A sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s magnum opus, this play follows the story of Nora after she leaves her family to pursue happiness and independence. Doll’s House features another must-see cast, which includes award winners Chris Cooper, Jayne Houdyshell, Laurie Metcalf and Condola Rashad. While this spring on Broadway is not as diverse as last year, it is still admirable that the theater community is becoming more accepting. This year is especially significant for female leads over 60 including Close, Ebersole, Field, LuPone, Metcalf and Midler.
Although this might not be enough, it is definitely a step in the right direction.