The new theatre season is (finally!) official, marked by eye-catching previews and electrifying opening nights. Gracing stages both on and Off-Broadway is a vivid collection of big name performers in big buzz comedies, dramas, and musicals. In short, your timing is impeccable if, say, you want to catch golden couple Matthew Broderick (The Producers; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City) costarring in the first-ever revival of Neil Simon’s triptych comedy, Plaza Suite.
Matthew Broderick with Sarah Jessica Parker, photo by Little Fang.
Should you prefer drama, star casting is also front and center for David Mamet’s American Buffalo: Emmy and Tony winner Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix; Black-ish; Two Trains Running) and Oscar winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Jojo Rabbit; Fosse/Verdon).
Meanwhile, Tony and Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf (Three Tall Women; Roseanne; Big Bang Theory) and Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding) are sharing the stage in the latest revival of Edward Albee’s vitriolic masterpiece, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
(In the Did You Know? department: Matthew Broderick played the title hero to Rupert Everett’s villainous Sanford Scolex in the 1999 film comedy Inspector Gadget.)
Originally an Off-Broadway sell-out when it opened in 1997 starring Mary-Louise Parker (Proof; Weeds; Red) and Tony nominee David Morse (The Iceman Cometh; House; Treme), with direction by Mark Brokaw, the groundbreaking play How I Learned to Drive—which earned playwright Paula Vogel a Pulitzer Prize—has reunited the three for its Broadway debut. Breathing mature breath into Vogel’s characters, this promises to be one of the season’s most significant productions.
From Chicago’s iconic Steppenwolf Theatre, writer/actor Tracy Letts (Pulitzer Prize-winning drama August, Osage County; 2013’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Homeland) comes The Minutes, a limited run featuring Tony winner Blair Brown (Copenhagen; The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd), Cliff Chamberlain (Homeland; State of Affairs), K. Todd Freeman (Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events), Tony winner Jessie Mueller (Beautiful–The Carole King Musical; Waitress), and theatre icon Austin Pendleton (Choir Boy; The Diary of Anne Frank).
ON THE MUSICAL FRONT…
Theatergoers have the opportunity to see legendary Patti LuPone (Evita; Gypsy) in the gender-revamped revival of Company with Tony winner Katrina Lenk (Indecent; The Band’s Visit) in the role of “Bobbie.” LuPone, with two Tonys of her own, plays the jaded Joanne, who sings the show-stopper “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Expect standing ovation fireworks.
Fresh from playing a newly minted ghost in Beetlejuice, Tony nominee Rob McClure (Chaplin) is stepping into orthopedic footwear similar to that sported by Robin Williams in the film version of Mrs. Doubtfire. Seemingly made for the Broadway stage, this musical comedy deluxe features a stellar cast of New York’s finest comedic actors including Tony nominee Brad Oscar (The Producers; Something Rotten!) and scene-stealing pro Peter Bartlett (Meet the Parents; The Drowsy Chaperone).
Little Fang, La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere performance of Diana.
You don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool Anglophile to appreciate the story behind the former Princess of Wales and her disastrous marriage to the Charles who would be king. Arriving on Broadway in the midst of all kinds of tabloid Sturm und Drang surrounding today’s British royal family, Diana, the new musical by Joe DiPietro (book) and David Bryan (score), takes audiences back decades to the other behind-castle-doors drama that plagued Queen Elizabeth et al, and the beloved beauty at its center. Jeanna De Waal (Kinky Boots; American Idiot) plays Diana while Roe Hartrampf makes his Broadway debut as Prince Charles. Tony winner Judy Kaye (The Phantom of the Opera; Fun Home; Nice Work If You Can Get It) plays Queen Elizabeth and Erin Davie (Sunday in the Park with George; Side Show) plays the ever-controversial Camilla Parker Bowles.
Mean Girls stalwart Erika Henningsen, who originated the role of Cady Heron on Broadway, “graduated” from North Shore High School to play the daughter of Clare Boothe Luce (Tony nominee Carmen Cusack) in the new musical Flying Over Sunset, a fictional account of three notables as they drop LSD together in the 1950s. Also in the cast are Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck (On the Town) as Cary Grant and, returning to his Lincoln Center Vivian Beaumont stamping ground (where he picked up his Tony nomination playing Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady), is Harry Hadden-Paton as Aldous Huxley.
The latest jukebox musical to hit the Great White Way—joining the celebrated likes of TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, Moulin Rouge! and the Tony-nominated Ain’t Too Proud–The Life and Times of the Temptations—is Girl From the North Country, featuring a Bob Dylan score and a stellar company of veteran entertainers, including Tony nominee Marc Kudisch (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Jay O. Sanders (Uncle Vanya; Law & Order), and Tony and Oscar nominee Mare Winningham (Casa Valentina; The Outsider; American Horror Story).
He was “Dancing With the Stars” champion in the show’s 25th season, has had recurring roles on TV’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Liv and Maddie,” sang a duet with Lin-Manuel Miranda on the Moana soundtrack, and appeared in the Broadway production of Hamilton. And as of January 28th, Jordan Fisher has taken on the title role in the mega-hit Dear Evan Hansen. Not the easiest ticket to score, but worth the effort, I assure you.
Two of Broadway’s high-profile musicals will make the leap to the silver screen in 2021.
#1. Hamilton. Not a star-reimagined take on the stage show or a made-for-TV nose dive into classic musical theatre fare, this is the real deal: a filmed version of the Broadway show complete with original stars, sets, and costumes—as close to seeing the sell-out production in person as possible.
#2. Mean Girls. On the flip side, the motion picture version of the Mean Girls musical will be from Paramount—produced by Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey, with the key creative players being the same as the ones who captured Broadway: Fey as writer with her husband Jeff Richmond composing the music alongside lyricist Nell Benjamin. Totally fetch.