New to Broadway: Debuts from Cate Blanchett, Mel B & More!

When it comes to New York in the throes of winter, the thrill of the chill is a plus only for those who get a kick out of all things arctic. For the rest of us, it’s not as alluring to be hopping giant puddles at street corners and scaling grungy piles—January’s slush fund concept isn’t so much an illicit nest egg as it is an investment in waterproof boots.

Thankfully, since outdoor theatre isn’t an option in January, Broadway and Off-Broadway theatres are heated, cozy, and have bars where you can purchase liquor (aka the universal antidote for nippy). (On a similar note, if you’re escorting little ones to Disney’s The Lion King or Aladdin, rest assured there are myriad places to procure pre- and post- hot chocolate.) And while January 2017 has the bleak distinction of bidding adieu to nine Broadway shows, it also boasts a bit of excellent news in the form of new shows and the arrival of a handful of must-see celebrities.

Kicking off the new year on the Great White Way is The Present starring two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator) and Richard Roxburgh, whose film resume includes Moulin Rouge!, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Van Helsing. Both actors are making their Broadway debuts in this adaptation (by Andrew Upton, Ms. Blanchett’s husband) of Anton Chekhov’s first play—official opening date is January 8th. 

jitney broadway cast

Image: Kareem Black

Also new to Broadway this month is August Wilson’s Jitney, one of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s few plays in his American Century Cycle to be making its Broadway debut. It’s directed by one of the playwright’s leading interpreters, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and features a dazzling cast of actors, the majority of whom have starred in other Wilson works. This major theatrical event coincides with the film version of the last Wilson play to rock Broadway—Fences, which is now a movie starring the same actors who starred here: Oscar and Tony winner Denzel Washington and Tony and Emmy Award winner Viola Davis.

mel b chicago broadway

Image: Len Prince

Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of music and TV luminaries, you’ll want to check out Chicago where Mel B, aka Scary Spice of Spice Girls fame, is making her Broadway debut as the unrepentant, red-hot murderess Roxie Hart. Currently known for her judging skills on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, Mel B will be with the show through February 19th only. Advice to fans: Get your tickets now!

If you have your heart set on seeing some of the theatre world’s most celebrated actors, you might want to veer Off-Broadway for productions like The Man From Nebraska by Pulitzer and Tony Award winner Tracy Letts (August: Osage County), which stars Reed Birney, fresh from his Tony-winning performance in The Humans, and J. Smith-Cameron, one of the stars of SundanceTV’s award-winning Rectify. Previews for what may well become the breakout hit of the season begin January 26th, with an opening night set for February 15th.

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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