Here’s a quick glance of some notable happenings on Broadway’s Great White Way this week:
Beginning Preview Performances this Week:
Farinelli and the King – Begins December 5th
Three-time Tony Winner Mark Rylance stars in the the true story of Philip V of Spain who finds relief from depression by performances of a court musician, the famous castrato Farinelli.
Buy discounted tickets for Farinelli and the King
Opening this Week:
SpongeBob SquarePants – Opens December 4th
A new musical based on the hit Nickelodeon cartoon series, SpongeBob SquarePants and the denizens of Bikini Bottom must rally to save their undersea world from total annihilation.
Buy discounted tickets for SpongeBob SquarePants
Steve Martin’s new comedy Meteor Shower, starring Emmy winners Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key in their Broadway debuts, opened last week at the Booth Theater. Reviews were mixed to positive, with most critics praising Martin’s razor sharp writing and the performances of the skilled cast:
Entertainment Weekly – “In the confident hands of Martin, the premise is polished to sparkling…”
New York Magazine – “A fizz of naughty, good-natured absurdity…Schumer brings a confident, fully committed nuttiness to her Broadway debut.”
Newsday – “Martin has enlisted some high-power comedians…to deliver the goods. And that they do…”
But some reviewers were let down by the lack of substance in the play’s themes and complex structure of the storytelling:
Variety – “…clever lines and canny body language only get you so far, and there comes a point when this lightweight comedy just gives up and implodes on itself from lack of thought and direction.”
Hollywood Reporter – “Neither director nor cast can disguise the lack of substance in the padded sketch material. It’s fun but feeble; bulging with enjoyable jokes but thematically threadbare.”
Uma Thurman made her official Broadway debut last week in House of Cards creator Beau Willimon’s politically-charged drama The Parisian Woman, which opened at the Hudson Theater. Reviewers were generally underwhelmed by the lack of intrigue, finding Willimon’s script flat and confusing:
Hollywood Reporter – “This is a play with an identity crisis…echoing the confusion of a work that can’t decide if it’s a sly political thriller about our alarming reality or a conventional drawing-room comedy about no credible reality at all.”
Entertainment Weekly – “Unfortunately, Willimon brings none of his shrewd insight into the political machine to the stage here…it quickly starts to feel stale and cliche. ”
Many critics found the central performance disappointing, while others thought Thurman’s skills were underserved by the playwright:
New York Daily News – “Chloe, ably embodied by Thurman, puts everyone under her thumb. It’s a juicy role…but the script does little to show why. But Thurman’s striking presence, I’ve-got-this-covered confidence and flinch-proof gaze goes a long way to making Chloe attention-getting.”
New York Magazine – “Thurman can’t transcend the flatness of the material she’s been given.”
A new revival of the 1990 musical Once on This Island, with a Caribbean-flavored score by Tony Award winners Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, officially opened on Broadway Sunday evening at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Critics were unanimous in their delight for the energetic revival, with much praise heaped upon director Michael Arden’s staging:
New York Times – “Arden’s staging serves his top-to-bottom terrific cast…he has also aced every theatrical trick he’s torn from the ancient handbook, freshening the show, and the tricks, in the process.”
Hollywood Reporter – “Arden has approached the piece with the nurturing hand it requires – striking a balance between child-like story theater and folkloric ritual with a fantastical dash of dangerous voodoo.”
Reviews were equally as enthusiastic about the production’s lively score, inventive choreography and top-notch performances:
Newsday – “Glorious…really this is an ensemble piece, and the superb cast is fun to watch cavorting across the sand-covered stage, occasionally playing instruments made of found objects. Choreographer Brown lets them cut lose with energetic, ethnic-influenced dances…”
New York Daily News – “Over a fast-moving 90 minutes, the score mixes captivating calypso beats and warm ballads, all brought to life vividly by the fine-tuned cast.”
News and Notes:
Springsteen on Broadway to Extend
- Producers announced last week that Springsteen on Broadway will extend through June 30. The show, a celebration of Bruce Springsteen’s 40-year career, includes many of his top hits and readings from his 2016 autobiography, Born to Run. One of the hottest tickets on Broadway, the show opened on October 12 and was almost immediately extended into February. This stripped-down performance features only The Boss, his guitar and his piano in the ultimate evening for any Springsteen fan. The extension will go on sale to the general public later this month. More details here.
Hamilton Sets Broadway Box Office Record
- Hamilton brought in more than $3.4 million last week, which is the highest gross ever recorded by a Broadway show in history, according to the Broadway League. The musical grossed $3,453,772 across its eight performances during Thanksgiving week. With that gross, Hamilton breaks the record it set in January of last year, when it brought in $3.3 million. The Lion King came in second place with $2.6 million and Hello, Dolly! was in third place with $2.5 million. More details here.
M. Butterfly to End Broadway Run in January
- The new Broadway production of David Henry Hwang’s 1988 Tony-winning play M. Butterfly will play its final performance at the Cort Theatre on January 14. Directed by Tony Award winner Julie Taymor, M. Butterfly features Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Award winner Clive Owen. The pre-Vietnam War drama, about a male French diplomat’s two-decade affair with a star of the Chinese opera who turns out to be a spy and a man received tepid reviews and an indifferent box office, forcing the production to end short of its original February 25th end date. More details here.
Sara Bareilles Returning to Broadway’s Waitress
- Sara Bareilles, who made her Broadway stage debut earlier this year in Waitress, will return to the musical in 2018. The singer-songwriter, who earned Tony and Grammy nominations for her score for the show, will don an apron once more to take center stage as Jenna. Betsy Wolfe, who currently plays the small-town baker with big dreams, will take her final bow at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre January 9. Bareilles will begin performances January 16, playing a limited engagement through February 25. Bareilles will share the stage briefly with friend and collaborator Jason Mraz; the Grammy winner stepped into the show November 3. While he was initially slated to appear in the musical through January 14 only, he will now star opposite Bareilles for the first two weeks of her run through January 28. More details here.