Introductions are in order: presenting Broadway, the theatre world’s gold standard during its most tantalizing time year…when long-awaited shows finally debut; marquees shimmer with dazzling musicals, comedies, and dramas; and opening nights are celebrity-driven events.
Among Broadway’s newest shows-—in previews or soon to be—are Pictures From Home, starring Tony winners Nathan Lane (The Producers) and Danny Burstein (Moulin Rouge!), alongside veteran British actress Zoë Wanamaker (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone); a revamp of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House starring Oscar winner Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye); and a revival of the musical Parade, with Micaela Diamond (The Cher Show), and Tony winner Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen), who, incidentally, made his Broadway debut in 2014 as Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon—a role currently played by Cody Jamison Strand who’s been embodying the nerdy misfit for a decade both on Broadway and in tours across the U.S., Canada, and London. (Note: if you’re ready to kick winter blahs to the curb, get thee to Mormon tout de suite. Deliriously naughty hilarity from start to finish!)
BROADWAY LATEST NEWS
It’s inevitable, when a show makes its mark as a bona fide hit, it will be around for a while… just ask Aladdin, The Book of Mormon, Hamilton, or The Lion King. It also means new company members will rotate in as their counterparts move on to other projects. Here are some recent cast changes, both current and upcoming. And, of course, new blood is always an excellent excuse to revisit a favorite show!
Over at Chicago, two-time winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Jinkx Monsoon recently began a limited eight-week engagement as Matron ‘Mama” Morton—a groundbreaking turn that establishes her as the first drag queen to play the role on Broadway. But if you want to see history being made, I suggest you act fast since Monsoon is only slated to rule the 1920s Cook County Jail roost through March 12th.
On stage at the Gershwin Theatre, Brittney Johnson will take her final bow as Glinda in Wicked on February 12th. Waiting in the wings to step into the way-Popular role is McKenzie Kurtz, who last appeared on Broadway as Anna in Disney’s Frozen. She joins a starry cast that includes two Tony winners—Cleavant Derricks (The Wizard) and Michele Pawk (Madame Morrible)—Tony nominee Clifton Davis (Doctor Dillamond), and an equally impressive young cast featuring Talia Suskauer as Elphaba, James D. Gish as Fiyero, Mikayla Renfrow as Nessarose, and Michael Wartella as Boq.
Long-running Off-Broadway revival, Little Shop of Horrors, is also into some noteworthy cast changes, including Dear Evan Hansen alum D’Kaylah Unique Whitley as Ronnette, and the return of Bryce Pinkham to the role of Dr. Orin Scrivello, D.D.S. on January 24th. And on February 7th, Maude Apatow (HBO’s Euphoria; Netflix’s Hollywood) takes over as leading lady Audrey (through April 2nd), playing opposite Company Tony-winner Matt Doyle’s Seymour.
“We are overjoyed to welcome another incredible performer to the show. With her beautiful voice and immense talent, we cannot wait to see Maude light up the stage alongside Matt Doyle’s brilliant portrayal of Seymour,” said producer Robert Ahrens, on behalf of his partners. “Audiences are also really in for a treat with D’Kayla’s joyous & spunky Ronnette, and Bryce’s hilarious Dr. Orin Scrivello is not to be missed.”
Added director Michael Mayer, “It delighted me to learn that, as a child, Little Shop was [Maude’s] gateway into her lifelong love of performing, and that this show gets to be her professional stage debut. We’re thrilled to have her become a part of the Little Shop legacy.”
Photo: Joan Marcus.
Meanwhile, moving into Broadway’s newly-christened Lena Horne Theatre as of this past December, were a fresh collection of SIX…Henry XIII wives, that is. Hailee Kaleem Wright (Paradise Square) is #1-Catherine of Aragon; Leandra Ellis-Gaston (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical) is #2-Anne Bolelyn; Bella Coppola in her Broadway debut is #3-Jane Seymour; Nasia Thomas (Caroline or Change) is #4-Anne of Cleves; Zoe Jensen (Dear Evan Hansen) is #5-Katherine Howard; while Taylor Iman Jones (Head Over Heels), rounds out the marital count as Henry’s final (and #6)—Catherine Parr.
BROADWAY WEEK: WINTER 2023
Big Apple buzz is never buzzier than it is during NYC Broadway Week, a twice a year phenomenon during which theatre lovers are given the opportunity to score 2-for-1 tickets to the hottest shows in the hottest theatre district in the world. But it gets better, since this bi-annual event doesn’t run for a single week, but rather four—in this instance, January 17th through February 12th!
The current roster of 22 shows includes a cavalcade of established hits, critically acclaimed newcomers, and (seven!) Tony winners. With so many high-profile options in the mix, I urge you to log onto nycgo.com/broadway-week ASAP—these tickets go fast. Just check out the list below and get ready to fulfill your wildest, and most electrifying, Broadway dreams.
A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical
Between Riverside and Crazy
The Book of Mormon
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
The Lion King
MJ the Musical
The Piano Lesson*
Pictures from Home
Some Like It Hot
Take Me Out**
THESE JUST IN: TWO TO DEBUT
It’s no surprise that as soon as theatres become available, new shows line up to move in. The latest productions to announce they’ll begin Broadway runs this spring are two stunningly diverse works.
Parade, by Emilio Madrid.
First to launch previews—on February 21st for a March 16th opening—is Parade, a musical revival that began life at New York City Center this past fall. Reprising their leading roles from the sell-out run are Tony winner Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) and Micaela Diamond (The Cher Show). With a book by Tony-Oscar-Pulitzer Prize winner Alfred Uhry, music and lyrics by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown, and co-conceived by multi-Tony-winning legend Harold Prince, the production is directed by Tony nominee Michael Arden and dramatizes the story behind Leo Frank’s 1913 trial for murder in fundamentalist Georgia.
Notes Arden, “Parade has been a seminal piece of theater for me as an artist since it premiered 25 years ago, and to be collaborating with this incredible group of producers, designers, and artists… is truly a dream come true. The story of Leo Frank is more important than ever to re-examine, and it is my hope that audiences are both inspired and activated to reflect on both the past failure and the enduring promise of the complicated tapestry we call America.”
In contrast, the next show to announce its debut is the ferociously farcical Peter Pan Goes Wrong, from (spoiler alert??) the same creators who gave Broadway (and currently Off-Broadway) the unapologetically screwball The Play that Goes Wrong. Previewing on March 17th at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre—following a ten-year string of variations in London (Best New Comedy Olivier Award nominee), tours of the U.K., on the BBC, and in Canada—this slapstick swan dive into J.M. Barrie’s world of vengeful pirates and kids who refuse to age comes, like its predecessor, courtesy of “The Cornley Drama Society,” whose personal, backstage, and onstage shenanigans proudly collide at a breakneck pace. Official opening is set for April 19th.
OFF-BROADWAY: CELEBRITY CHECK-IN
In case you hadn’t heard, Anthony Rapp’s Without You, an intimate, memory-infused musical recently kicked off performances at New World Stages. Based on his New York Times best-seller, the solo show, backed by a five-piece rock band, revisits Rapp’s trajectory from Starbucks barista to mega-career-break-coup after he was cast in Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking Rent. The show also touches upon the legacy of loss that came with the Larson’s death in 1996 at age 35—just prior to the show’s first Off-Broadway preview. Notably, Without You features songs from Rent’s score as well some of Rapp’s original compositions.
Meanwhile, a couple other productions slated to break Off-Broadway ground towards the end of January are The Wanderers by Anna Ziegler, boasting a star turn by Katie Holmes who plays a movie star who puts a famous Jewish writer’s marriage to the test – along with his belief that he can write his own future—when she sends him an email. The play, debuting on January 26th at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre, is slated to run through March 26th.
Moving from midtown to Chelsea, Irish Repertory’s Theatre is getting ready to go all Samuel Beckett with Endgame, the playwright’s tragicomedy that strips the idea of survivalism down to four individuals inhabiting an equal parts functioning and dysfunctional room. Absurdist in the purest sense, the one-act stars Tony winner Bill Irwin (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Fool Moon); John Douglas Thompson (21 Bridges); Joe Grifasi (Batman Forever); and Patrice Johnson (NYPD Blue; ER). To date, Endgame is scheduled for a limited engagement from January 25th through March 12th.
Finally, heading into its final weeks, Colin Quinn: Small Talk at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in the West Village is the sort of stand-up performance you shouldn’t hesitate to see before it’s too late. “I'm doing this show because I’m fascinated with how personality in general, and individuals in particular, have fed into society,” said Quinn, adding “Fascinated might be a strong word.” A veteran of a several New York shows, including a couple on Broadway: Colin Quinn: An Irish Wake and Colin Quinn: Long Story Short, he’s a comedian’s comedian…and a personal favorite. And FYI, Small Talk ends its limited run February 11th.
TALES WITH A TWIST
Arriving last November, the jukebox musical & Juliet capsizes The Bard’s drama of feuding families and ill-fated teen lovers by introducing an alternative plot—proposed by Anne Hathaway, a.k.a. Mrs. Shakespeare-—in which the heroine forgoes eternal sleep for a madcap road trip with her nurse and BFF. With a cast featuring Tony winner Paulo Szot (South Pacific), Tony nominee Stark Sands (Kinky Boots), and Lorna Courtney (The Equalizer) in the title role, the show is the ultimate Elizabethan-21st century mashup.
Meanwhile, Bad Cinderella, a cleverly recalibrated take on the much-adapted Charles Perrault fairy tale, has sailed across the Atlantic infused with heady buzz from critics and U.K. audiences. It also boasts top-flight credentials from its script by Oscar winner Emerald Fennell, to its lyrics by David Zippel (City of Angels), and its music by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber (but yet another plume in his multi-feathered cap)—hopefully, keeping the composer’s theatrical equilibrium front and center once his iconic Phantom of the Opera departs Broadway on April 16th following a record-shattering 35-year run.
And while we’re on the subject of magical “what ifs”, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is, not surprisingly, more than it seems. Yes, it’s a stunning theatrical sequel filled with eye-popping visuals, bromance, mystery, and thrilling twists and turns, but thanks to its amazing setting—Broadway’s Lyric Theatre —it’s also an invitation to explore the wizarding universe firsthand. By downloading the Instagram app, you have the power to conjure the theatre’s “Enchanted Ceiling”, or a Patronus, and to animate the lobby gallery’s portraits. Naturally, photo ops are a given, as are Hogsmeade temptations like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and Butterbeer.
Knowing that the Hogwarts Express is exclusive to the Lyric’s stage, I should point out that Broadway’s theatre district only spans about ten blocks and two avenues with Times Square at its heart—walkable and endlessly diverting (think restaurants, shops, and star-spotting!).
Next stop Hadestown, the Tony and Grammy-winning musical that entwines two mythological love stories into a stunning theatrical experience. On January 4th, with 918 performances under its Broadway belt, the show scooped up bragging rights to the title “longest running show in the history of The Walter Kerr Theatre” when it surpassed previous title-holder Proof. It’s a milestone that arrives on the heels of a major cast change.
Photo by Emilio Madrid.
Tom Hewitt, who nabbed a Tony nomination in 2001 for his portrayal of Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, has picked up the king of the underworld’s sulfur-smudged gauntlet from the production’s original Hades, Patrick Page, who took his final curtain call on December 31st. Having stepped in for Page briefly when Broadway reopened in 2021, Hewitt’s familiarity with the role—coupled with his skill in portraying complex characters with a sinister tinge—makes Hewitt the perfect addition to the production. Still thrilling are original cast members Reeve Carney (Orpheus) and Eva Noblezada (Euridice), as well as more recent costars Jewelle Blackman (Persephone) and Tony-winner Lillias White (Hermes).
Lorna Courtney and Melanie La Barrie in & Juliet, photo credit Matthew Murphy.
The latest crop of musicals to arrive over the past several months range from the unexpected (Kimberly Akimbo, about an irrepressible girl played by Tony winner Victoria Clark, who’s navigating her teens in the body of a 72-year-old), to revisionist (a jukebox flip on Shakespeare’s beloved love story courtesy of & Juliet), to pop-icon bio vis-à-vis A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical, starring Tony nominee Will Swenson.
Also front and center are a couple of high-profile film-to-stage adaptations, the most recent being the Broadway incarnation of the hilariously seminal 1959 Billy Wilder farce Some Like It Hot, headed by two-time Tony winner Christian Borle and notoriously captivating J. Harrison Ghee as two musicians fleeing the mob by joining a traveling all-girl band, circa the early 1930s.
In terms of long-running stats—along with the sort of enviable sell-out cred the new musicals aspire to—there are two shows that are total must-sees for anyone craving an unforgettable Broadway experience.
Another show with an impressive run—hitting the dozen year mark in March—is Trey Parker, Matt Stone (South Park), and Robert Lopez’s (Avenue Q) The Book of Mormon. This Grammy and multi-Tony-winning, profanity-packed, ultimately uplifting powerhouse of a musical hit the ground running when it opened and continues to leave its audiences weak from laughing (it’s that funny…really!). The plot involves two young, albeit hapless, Mormon missionaries, Elder Price (Kevin Clay) and Elder Cunningham (Cody Jamison Strand), who find themselves assigned to a Ugandan village filled with extremely jaded residents, including Nabulungi (Kim Exum) and Mafala Hatimbi (Jacques C. Smith). Highly recommended for anyone in need of a hilarious dose of escapism.
The Broadway Company of Leopoldstadt. Photo by Joan Marcus (2022).
In terms of non-musical productions, this season shines with a stunning collection of dramas. Turning a number of provocative and historic corners are works like Tom Stoppard’s latest, the spellbinding epic Leopoldstadt, and a couple of killer Pulitzer Prize winners: August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson starring Samuel L. Jackson, in its first Broadway revival, and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen) and Corey Hawkins (The Walking Dead). These works pierce the human condition while engaging theatregoers.
Theatre buzz is also hot and heavy for The Collaboration, about artists Andy Warhol (Paul Bettany) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (Jeremy Pope) and asking can they co-exist, or even thrive?
PREVIEW SHIFT FOR PICTURES FROM HOME
Sharr White’s stage adaptation of Larry Sultan’s photo memoir Pictures From Home will now have its first preview performance on January 13th vs. previously announced January 10th. Opening night, however, remains Thursday, February 9th. A trio of powerhouse performers—Tony and Olivier winner Nathan Lane, Tony winner Danny Burstein, and Olivier winner Zoë Wanamaker—promise to make this lovingly etched play about parents and the son who photographed their lives one of the season’s best-selling plays. Directed by Tony winner Barlett Sherr.
Apparently, you can’t sink a cinematic satire…or, at least not for long. The musical Titanique recently posted an extension to its limited engagement at Off-Broadway’s Daryl Roth Theatre (101 E. 15th St.), allowing audiences to savor the skewering of the tragedy-at-sea-romcom through May 14th. Joining the cast as “Victor Garber” on January 26th is Ross McCorkell, better known to fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race as Rosé. Ken Wulf Clark (Jagged Little Pill) is currently playing the role.
Jeremiah Garcia, Jeffrey Laughrun, and Jamir Brown. Photo by Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade.
Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical – Spoofing on Netflix’s Emmy-winning sci-fi horror series Stranger Things, this unabashedly off-center parody cuts a sassy musical swath through the show’s alternate dimension/Hawkins, Indiana/flawed character/monster-centric/1980s gestalt. Great cast; cool numbers; zero filters. No wonder audience demand has extended the run through March 5th.
While scoring a ticket to New York Theatre Workshop’s sold-out production of Merrily We Roll Along (running Off-Broadway through January 22nd) isn’t the likeliest of scenarios, there’s reason to rejoice. The white-hot show, along with its trio of high-profile stars—Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter and….; Miracle Workers; Weird: The Al Yankovic Story), Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening; Hamilton; Glee), and Tony winner Lindsay Mendez (Carousel; All Rise) will be moving to Broadway next fall, marking the first Broadway revival of the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical.
Directed by Olivier Award winner Maria Friedman, the show, based on George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s play, centers on the lifelong relationship between composer Franklin Shepard, writer Mary Flynn, and lyricist/playwright Charley Kringas. The musical arrived in New York after racking up numerous five-star accolades in London, leading up to its Olivier Award for Musical Revival.
BOB FOSSE’S DANCIN’
Photo by Julieta Cervantes.
The sizzle is on with the return of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’ to Broadway. Previews are set to being on March 2nd at the Music Box Theatre; opening night will be on March 19th. The show, a celebration of dancers, dancing, and the genius of Bob Fosse, hasn’t been seen on Broadway since the original production debuted in 1976 and this 2023 edition—reimagined for contemporary audiences—showcases some of Fosse’s most innovative choreography in true Broadway style.
According to original cast member Wayne Cilento, who directed and staged this 21st-century version, “Bob achieved immortality through his work, and I consider it both the responsibility and honor of my life to steward his legacy for a new generation. None of Bob’s shows exemplified the fullness of his spirit quite like DANCIN’ and bringing it back in this fresh way is how I hope to keep that spirit alive.”
The Broadway Company of Leopoldstadt. Photo by Joan Marcus (2022).
You have an extra four months to see Leopoldstadt. Set in Vienna, Tom Stoppard’s latest work takes its title from the Jewish quarter. A passionate drama of love and endurance begins in the last days of 1899 and follows one extended family deep into the heart of the 20th-century. Full of wit and beauty, this Olivier Award-winning play spans 50 years of time over two hours. Through July 2nd, 2023.
BROADWAY BREAKING NEWS
Emilie Kouatchou as Christine with Ben Crawford as The Phantom. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
The Phantom of the Opera extends until April 16th, 2023! This long-running record breaker opened in January, 1988 and picked up a Tony a few months later. Based on the Gaston Leroux thriller, Phantom centers on a beautiful young soprano and the mysterious masked figure who adores her. Featuring Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Music of the Night,” the musical is as iconic as it is a visual masterpiece. It was slated to wrap up in February but strong demand for tickets has it pushed until mid-April.
BRITNEY SPEARS HITS BROADWAY
Once Upon a One More Time as it played at the Shakespeare Theatre in D.C. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
New jukebox musical Once Upon a One More Time, drawing on the songs of Britney Spears, is slated to hit broadway next spring. Previews will begin May 13th, 2023 at the Marquis Theatre ahead of an official opening on June 22nd. The story in brief: storybook heroines gather for book club, always discussing the same selection, Grimm’s Fairy Tales. (As far as they know, it’s the only book that’s ever been written.) Attitudes change when a rogue fairy godmother drops Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique into the circle and show "there’s more to life than finding a prince."
A DOLL'S HOUSE
Previews begin February 13th for A Doll’s House, playing the Hudson Theatre on Broadway, When Henrik Ibsen’s drama about a married woman who defies tradition in the most profound way debuted in 1879 it shocked audiences and triggered a new era of theatre. Playwright Amy Herzog’s re-energized version, starring Oscar winner Jessica Chastain, makes relevant the story for a whole new generation. Limited 16-week engagement.
There are currently seven on Broadway. Hadestown, Hamilton, and Moulin Rouge! all scored statuettes post-2014, joining a quartet of shows that have been around at least a decade (or in the case of all-time champ The Phantom of the Opera, nearly three and a half decades). First runner up with a 1996 opening night is Chicago, but it wasn’t until a year later, almost to the day, that Disney’s The Lion King scored the biggest theatrical triumph of the 20th-century’s final decade.
If you’ve yet to see The Lion King—or if it’s been a while—expect an opening that spellbinds, overlapping music with serendipity of movement. Prepare to be drawn deeper and deeper into the Pride Lands’ anthropomorphized world of family, friends, enemies, and emotions. In return visits, I’m always struck by just how timeless this show is 25 years on and counting.
For a complete list of Broadway shows (and tons of Off-Broadway, too), check out our Everything You Need to Know guide.
OFF-BROADWAY: ENGLISH NOT REQUIRED
They’re bold, they’re bald, they’re blue, and they splatter reality with hilarity at every paint-drum-pounding-wide-eyed-sci-fi-esque turn. They’re Blue Man Group—seen by 35 million people worldwide, but NYC is homebase numero uno. See them in the historic venue where their comedic cobalt empire continues to run gloriously amok!
THEATRE LOVERS REJOICE!
Photo: Monique Carboni.
For those of us who live and breathe all things theatre, The Museum of Broadway is an excursion through decades of cherished memories as well as a visual exploration of all that unfolded theatrically before our time. And it’s spot-on amazing.
Created by Tony-winning producer Julie Boardman and Rubik Marketing founder Diane Nicoletti, the museum is smartly situated in the Times Square area (145 W. 45th St.), meaning landmark theatres and legendary addresses are within walking distance. But the big payoff is the exhibition itself, with historical data dating back to the 18th-century and immersive showcases like Oklahoma’s corn field and set recreations from shows like West Side Story. Labyrinthine, for sure, but blissfully so since visitors are invited to snap photos throughout. There are a handful of show-specific photo-op backdrops along the way, a case in point being Hair, where a swing beckons you into a “Let the Sun Shine In” backdrop. Earworm alert: show tunes match up to the displays.
For me, the reconstructed Ziegfeld Follies dressing room with its vintage costumes (the real awesomely preserved deal, right down to the feathers) was especially seductive, as was the first of the museum’s limited run special exhibits: The American Theatre as seen by Hirschfeld, curated by the creative director of The Al Hirschfeld Foundation, David Leopold.
Here you not only get a glimpse into original artist drawings and some pretty rare theatre posters, you’re able to get your interactive freak on by turning yourself into a Hirschfeld drawing. A star is born!