For decades, just one-in-four commercial Broadway shows earns money. This year has been rougher. Since Broadway reopened 15 months ago, tourist and ticket sales have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, meaning several well-received musicals have suffered.
So, as we anticipate spring 2023, you never know what will work out or not. However, the most popular programs aren’t usually the greatest. Looking at who authored the screenplay (and soundtrack, if it’s a musical), who is directing, and who is the lead actor or actress is often the only thing you can do to determine what will be worth watching.
I’m keeping an eye on nine Broadway and off-Broadway productions, some of which I’ve seen before. The sequence of their performance appearances in New York City is mentioned.
The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window
This revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s (A Raisin in the Sun) last play stars Oscar Isaac (Star Wars) and Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) as a married pair. This 1960s Greenwich Village drama deals with racism, death, and queerness. Anne Kaufman, who directed a 2016 revival at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, will direct the play’s first New York engagement since 1964. The BAM Harvey Theatre opens on Feb. 23.
Even as The Phantom of the Opera performs its last performances after 36 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber brings his new Cinderella production to New York. With a script by Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and music by David Zippel (City of Angels), Cinderella in London closed early because of the COVID outbreak. The team has since uploaded more tracks. Lord Lloyd Webber’s last Broadway hit was School of Rock. Will his next musical be a blockbuster? Imperial Theatre, Feb. 17-March 23.
This immersive 2018 event places audiences inside a refugee camp in Calais, France. It highlights the heartbreaking experiences of migrants from the Middle East and Africa who aspire to reach England for a better life. It was powerful the first time; now more people can see it. St. Ann’s Warehouse opens on Feb. 18.
Stephen Sondheim’s masterwork is being recreated in a full-scale production starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots). Thomas Kail (Hamilton), Stephen Hoggett (Once), and Alex Lacamoire will lead Jonathan Tunick’s 26-piece orchestration (Hamilton). This promises to be a presentation that does the late composer’s quasi-operatic music credit. Lunt-Fontanne Theatre opens on March 26.
Lerner & Loewe’s last play seemed incomplete since director Moss Hart had a heart attack at the Toronto test and Alan Jay Lerner was hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer. Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher has engaged Tony Award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, To Kill a Mockingbird) to rewrite the text and cast Andrew Burnap (The Inheritance) as King Arthur, Phillipa Soo (Hamilton) as Guinevere, and Jordan Donica (My Fair Lady) as Lancelot. Sher has revived Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, The King and I, and Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, so this is a fascinating new production. Lincoln Center, Beaumont Theatre, opens on April 13
White Girl in Danger
What will Michael R. Jackson’s follow-up to A Strange Loop bring? This drama, set in Allwhite, incorporates soap opera clichés and centers on Keisha, who walks out of the “blackground.” Liliana Blain-Cruz (The Skin of Our Teeth) will direct and choreograph (A Strange Loop). Jackson’s upcoming work excites me. Second Stage/Vineyard Theatre, Tony Kiser Theatre, March 15-April 10 performances.
James Ijames’ Pulitzer-winning comedy played at the Public Theater in 2022; how will it do on Broadway? A Hamlet retelling set at a Black family picnic, it deals with masculinity and queerness and is hilarious and joyful. Off-Broadway cast and director Saheem Ali are hired. American Airlines Theatre, Roundabout, March 21-April 12.
New York, New York
John Kander and Fred Ebb penned “The World Goes Round” and the title song for Martin Scorsese’s 1977 disaster, starring Robert DeNiro and Liza Minnelli. David Thomson (The Scottsboro Boys) and Sharon Washington (Feeding the Dragon) wrote a post-WWII New York narrative, and Susan Stroman (The Producers) directed and choreographed. John Kander, 95, is writing new songs for Hamilton alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda. St. James Theatre opens on April 26.
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) stars in this London blockbuster by Suzie Miller. Comer portrays an attorney who defends sexual assault suspects and is victimized herself. This actress’s appearance will be thrilling. Golden Theatre, opens on April 23.
Other shows to keep an eye on
Each season brings its own unique and unwelcome assortment of shocks. It has been believed that John Doyle’s critically acclaimed production of the chamber musical A Man of No Importance by Lynn Ahrens, Steven Flaherty, and Terrence McNally, which starred Jim Parsons and Mare Winningham, may transfer to Broadway.
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