Rocking the New Year: Broadway’s Latest & Hottest for 2016

The 21st-century’s Sweet 16 may be just getting underway, but theatrically speaking the year is already delivering some impressive goods. For example, you’ll find familiar faces gracing Broadway 2016 stages, like Tony winners Al Pacino in China Doll and Linda Lavin in her new play Our Mother’s Brief Affair (written by Richard Greenberg—also a Tony winner). Another recent arrival on Broadway is the revival of Tony winner Michael Frayn’s zaniest of farces, Noises Off, boasting a heady collection of notables: Tony winner Andrea Martin, Smash star Megan Hilty, Tony nominees Rob McClure (Chaplin) and Daniel Davis (Niles the butler on The Nanny), and Campbell Scott (son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst), who starred in the FX series Damages.

broadway 2016 school of rock

Image: Timmy Blupe

Moving on to musicals, I really must slather some kudos onto School of Rock, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s slam-dunk into the world of electronic keyboards, Les Paul and Explorer guitars, and killer drum kits. With The Phantom of the Opera continuing to fly Webber’s signature flag (28 years and counting!), the juxtaposition of the two musicals was almost too bizarre to accept. Almost. This ultra-fun family-friendly show is a knockout. Certainly it’s a breakthrough for leading actor Alex Brightman, who channels film-version star Jack Black without sacrificing his own personality. His love-interest costar is Sierra Boggess—a Phantom alum with a crystalline voice. And the “school” of jaw-droppingly gifted kids? Well, let’s just say it totally lives up to the hype, from their masterful playing of the instruments to their delivering the vocal goods in songs like “Stick It to the Man” and “School of Rock.”

And while I’m on the subject of new musicals, here’s another show that landed on the Great White Way recently (in November, to be exact) that I, along with tons of other theatregoers, fell in love with big time: On Your Feet!, subtitled The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan. Like School of Rock, this powerhouse of a feel-good musical could very well send the careers of its two stars Ana Villafañe, in her Broadway debut, and Josh Segarra into the stratosphere. You couldn’t ask for a better Gloria and Emilio—or a more perfect supporting cast!

Finally, here’s a “Last Call” for several noteworthy productions...mark your calendars and catch them before they’re Broadway history!

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, 2014’s Tony-winning musical, closes on 1/17; Deaf West’s celebrated limited run of Spring Awakening will end on 1/24 [FYI: Oscar winner Marlee Matlin and Camryn Manheim will be leaving the cast on 1/10]; and on 1/31 two more shows are slated to depart: China Doll and King Charles III.

About the Author

City Guide Theatre Editor Griffin Miller moved to New York to pursue an acting/writing career in the 1980s after graduating magna cum laude from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, she has written for The New York Times, For the Bride, Hotels, and a number of other publications, mostly in the areas of travel and performance arts. An active member of The New York Travel Writers Association, she is also a playwright and award-winning collage artist. In addition, she sits on the board of The Lewis Carroll Society of North America. Griffin is married to Richard Sandomir, a reporter for The New York Times.

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