Spring Broadway Buzz: Chicago, The Tonys & More!

While March may be the jumping off point for spring’s new Broadway shows, it is also a month of bountiful theatre buzz—current, upcoming, and off into the future. From a historic anniversary for a musical legend to a welcome to some high-wattage talent, here’s a lowdown on what’s shaking on New York’s theatre scene for spring 2016.

Chicago: Killing It Worldwide

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Naomi Kakuk, Shamicka Benn, Amra-Faye Wright, Jennifer Dunne, and Angel Reda of Chicago; photo by Max Vadukul

November 14th may be the official 20th anniversary date for 1997’s Tony-winning musical revival, but that’s not stopping Chicago, Broadway’s longest running American musical, from launching a year of celebratory goodies. To wit:

The just released 20th anniversary ad campaign’s tagline “Killing It Worldwide,” proffers a global nod to Chicago’s hit status in 34 countries and more than 473 cities. Featuring some totally cool new photos by famed photographer Max Vadukul, who shot the show’s original 1996 ad campaign. Among those who participated in the shoot are current and alumni performers as well as Tony-winning original cast members Joel Grey, James Naughton, Bebe Neuwirth, and Ann Reinking.

Six-time Tony-winning costume designer William Ivey Long is currently revising some of his Tony-nominated designs for the show and will debut them around the show’s November anniversary performance.

From July 20th to the 24th, the legendary stars of Takarazuka, the all-female Japanese musical revue troupe, celebrate the centennial of their founding with their first appearance in New York in over 25 years. Takarazuka CHICAGO will mark the first time ever that two identical productions in two different languages will be running at the same time in NYC. As a coda to the performance, a razzle-dazzle revue—replete with glittering costumes and dance—will be performed by the entire company (It’s the tradition with all Takarazuka’s shows, which attract an audience of 2.5 million annually.) Takarazuka CHICAGO will play at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center for six performances only.

On August 31st, SummerStage, the City Parks Foundation’s free performing arts festival, will present a one-night-only concert-style Chicago performance in Central Park featuring Kander and Ebb’s groundbreaking score and Ann Reinking’s award-winning choreography.

Opening in October at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center will be an exhibition of Chicago materials (currently on display at London's Victoria and Albert Museum). The Library for the Performing Arts will also present public programs examining Chicago's history, featuring the show's Broadway cast and creative team members.

The 2016 Tony Award Nominations

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Photo: Joan Marcus

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, May 3rd and set your alarm for 8:30am ET if you want to be among the first to hear the official Tony nominations live from the Paramount Hotel’s Diamond Horseshoe on either CBS This Morning or (locals only) NY1.

The nominations announcement will be co-hosted by Tony winner/Madam Secretary star Patina Miller and Tony nominee/Grammy winner Andrew Rannells. Also in attendance will be William Ivey Long, Chairman of the American Theatre Wing; Heather Hitchens, President of the American Theatre Wing; Robert E. Wankel, Chairman of The Broadway League; and Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League.

And if you decide to sleep in don’t panic—you can visit for the entire announcement, probably within minutes of its conclusion! Spolier alert: Hamilton will be mentioned.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

Here’s an upcoming Broadway show that isn’t hedging its bets—it WILL open in the spring of 2017. Billed as  “A Wonka-Sized Everlasting Showstopper,” the Golden Ticket musical based on the best selling novel by Roald Dahl is evidently steering clear of affiliation with either of the two film versions. (With the exception of the iconic songs created by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the 1971 Gene Wilder version.) As for the Broadway creative team, it includes as director three-time Tony winner Jack O’Brien; choreographer: Tony nominee/Emmy winner Joshua Bergasse; music: Tony/Grammy/Emmy winner Marc Shaiman; and lyrics: Tony/Grammy winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. The show’s book is by David Greig, Artistic Director of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre. 

Now in its fourth and final year, the Olivier-winning London version directed by Sam Mendes is still breaking house records at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

"I loved directing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I'm really proud it's having such great run at Drury Lane. But I knew I couldn't marry the time commitment to make a Broadway production with the development of my next projects,” said Mendes. “As such I am thrilled to be turning the keys to the Broadway Chocolate Factory over to the brilliant Jack O’Brien.” 

Design team, Broadway theatre, and dates TBA shortly.

Tick Tock: Catch Buried Child While You Can

buried child on broadway ed harris

Photo by Monique Carboni

A final—and quick—heads (and thumbs) up on a must-see Off-Broadway play that will be bowing out on April 3rd: Buried Child. This revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play (centering on a dysfunctional family that puts all other dysfunctional families to shame) is a stunner on every level, including its cast lead by Ed Harris and his wife, Oscar-nominee Amy Madigan. It also features Rich Sommer (Mad Men); Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire); Taissa Farmiga (American Horror Story); Larry Pine (The Grand Budapest Hotel); and Nat Wolff (known to Nickelodeon fans—who definitely should not see this play—for The Naked Brothers Band). Incidentally, Wolff, Shepard, and Harris will be seen together soon in the film In Dubious Battle, directed by James Franco.

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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