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Broadway 2011-2012 Preview - Viva November!

November 1, 2011 - by Griffin Miller, Theatre Editor
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Think November is just a ho-hum interlude between Halloween and the mega holidays? Not in New York, my friends -- and especially not when Broadway dominates your calendar. Here, where celebrity names grace innumerable marquees, giving thanks isn’t reserved for a single day but rather an entire month of intoxicating opening nights and awesome anniversaries.

Among the shows with November debuts this season are two limited edition concerts guaranteeing seismic star vibrations: Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway (opening Nov. 10 and playing through Jan. 1) and An Evening With Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin (previewing Nov. 16; opening on Nov. 21; running through Jan. 13).

Jackman, whose Broadway breakthrough came in 2004 when he scored a Tony for his portrayal of fellow Aussie Peter Allen in the hit musical The Boy from Oz, will be going solo at Broadhurst stage-- except, of course, for a backup orchestra comprised of 18 dynamite musicians. The press release announcing his fleeting return to Broadway modestly observes, “he sings his favorite songs and shares some personal stories” and yet the buzz is over-the-top big thanks to critical bravos (Five stars; “Dazzling!” “The man is an absolute wow!”) from his preview performances in San Francisco and Toronto.

As for Patti and Mandy -- what can I say? If their individual musical DNA is pretty much the ultimate entertainment draw, imagine its potency in tandem! The fact that the two have retained a close friendship for over three decades (since they made theatre history costarring in Evita) speaks volumes about their onstage chemistry. Without question, this rare and memorable reunion of legendary performers will be talked about with reverence for years to come.

Two new musicals with red-hot leading men you’ll want to catch early: Godspell, starring Hunter Parish of Weeds fame as Jesus, officially opens Nov. 7; and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, with Tony nominee Harry Connick, Jr. in the pivotal role of the psychiatrist, begins previews on Nov. 12.

Moving on to the birthday portion of November, 2011: a stunning quintet of Broadway’s most revered musicals will be popping champagne corks during the last sweet weeks of autumn.

Chicago celebrates 15 years on Broadway

Chicago leads the celebratory pack when it hits the 15-year mark on Nov. 14. In honor of the occasion, a couple of the show’s most popular stars have returned to Broadway’s record-breaking Kander and Ebb production: John Hurley (Seinfeld; Family Feud) as Billy Flynn and the ever-stellar Charlotte D’Amboise as Roxie Hart. (FYI: D’Amboise is a Chicago record-breaker in her own right, having played Roxie over 2,500 times on Broadway and the road.)

Meanwhile, one day before -- on Nov. 13th -- 1998’s Tony-winning musical, The Lion King, steps up to the plate with 14 sell-out years, while on the same date, 2009’s Tony winner, Billy Elliot, reaches its three-year anniversary (a bittersweet event, since the musical will play its last Broadway performance on Jan. 8).

Finally, both of 2006’s Tony-winning champs, Jersey Boys and the Disney dazzler Mary Poppins, will be lighting five candles on their longevity cakes on Nov. 6 & 16, respectively.

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