Here’s a quick glance of some notable happenings on Broadway’s Great White Way this week:
Beginning Preview Performances this Week:
Summer: The Donna Summer Musical – Begins March 28th
A new musical biography about iconic disco diva Donna Summer, using the songs she made famous, including “Hot Stuff,” “On the Radio,” “Bad Girls,” and “MacArthur Park.”
Travesties – Begins March 29th
In 1917 Zurich, a British military official imagines a meeting between James Joyce and Vladimir Lenin, performed in the style of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” in a revival of Tom Stoppard’s Tony-winning play.
Opening this Week:
Lobby Hero – Opens March 26th
A new play from Oscar nominee Kenneth Lonergan that tells the story of four New Yorkers involved in a murder investigation in the lobby of a Manhattan apartment complex.
Rocktopia – Opens March 27th
A live concert event that fuses rock songs with classical music, featuring an array of rock, Broadway, and opera vocalists, comes to Broadway for a limited 6-week engagement.
Three Tall Women – Opens March 29th
A revival of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece that follows the interactions between three women who represent different versions of the same woman in her 90s, 50s, and 20s.
Escape to Margaritaville, the new musical featuring the songs of Jimmy Buffett, celebrated its opening night at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre on March 15. The response from critics were mixed to negative, with many finding the new musical a disappointing mishmash of a flimsy script and clumsily added Buffet tunes:
New York Times – “[A] lumpy, garish production…the songs themselves…may work well enough on the radio or in concert but, conscripted for theatrical service, grow quickly monotonous.”
New York Magazine – “The story sketched around Buffett’s big hits has all the freshness of a rerun of Friends, and roughly the same kind of network-TV humor and gender dynamics.”
However, some critics looked beyond specific elements of the production and enjoyed the more general vibe of the proceedings:
Hollywood Reporter – “This jukebox musical is the theatrical equivalent of sipping on a frozen drink while lying on a beach chair in the blazing sun. It’s not good for you, but it feels good.”
Newsday – “[A] delightful, energetic frothy drink of a show…Everyone else will quickly get into the island vibe and have a great time, as long as they don’t expect too much.
The new stage adaptation of Disney’s Frozen officially opened on Broadway last week at the St. James Theatre. Reviews from critics were mixed to positive. Most critics were enchanted by the stirring score and visuals, as well as the confident performances of the leading actresses:
New York Magazine – “…powered as it is by gale force blasts of earnest exuberance, a host of solid, sunny performances, and a surfeit of stunning visuals, it confidently throws its fuzzy hat in the ring for a long and lively life on Broadway and, of course, beyond.”
New York Daily News – “The family-friendly musical…is bound to enchant young fans. The show’s two bright stars also deserve shout-outs. When all is said and sung, Frozen ends on just the right note by upending a fairy-tale cliché.”
But some reviewers found the adaptation less inspired and innovative compared to Disney’s previous Broadway outings, judging the production as safe and lukewarm:
New York Post – “…the production’s attempt to replicate the movie onstage has backfired. And not spectacularly. The once lovely story has become visually drab, mechanical and often boring.”
Hollywood Reporter – “For anyone expecting more than a straight-up rehash of the movie on stage, this pricey production will seem low on inspiration. It ends up being merely adequate, a bland facsimile when it should have been something memorable in its own right.”
London’s National Theatre revival of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning master work Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes officially opened at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre Sunday night. The critical responses to the sprawling revival were unanimously positive. While some critics found part 1 (Millennium Approaches) a bit more successful then part 2 (Perestroika), all found the riveting performances and still-relevant script worth the time commitment in seeing the entire work:
New York Times – “Flat-out fabulous…with a top-flight cast…everybody in Angels pulses with that animating spirit….the cast members here make you feel the full force of such vitality. And when characters are this vividly drawn, spending hours in their company is no hardship.”
Entertainment Weekly – “Angels in America remains as relevant as ever, in part because it wrestles with timeless questions of good and evil, faith and loyalty, and what connects us to one another.”
Hollywood Reporter – “Glorious…directed with laser-like acuity…it’s the prescience of the writing that truly astonishes – no less than the harrowing beauty, the wildly imaginative flights and the acerbic humor of the drama, or the riveting work of a magnificent ensemble. ”
New York Magazine – “Under the piercing, balletic direction of Elliott, this brilliant rendering…couldn’t feel more vivid, more eloquently enraged, funnier or more full of life than if the ink on its script were still drying.”
Denzel Washington To Receive New Dramatists Award
- Oscar winner Denzel Washington, returning to Broadway this spring in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh, will be honored by New Dramatists at the organization’s annual gala, to be held Tuesday, May 15, at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. Washington will receive the 2018 Distinguished Achievement Award. On Broadway, he has been seen in Fences, for which he received a Tony Award, and A Raisin in the Sun, as well as Julius Caesar and Checkmates. He received Academy Awards for his performances in Glory and Training Day. Past recipients of the award from New Dramatists include Meryl Streep, Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters, Horton Foote, Edward Albee, Harvey Fierstein, Angela Lansbury, Julie Andrews, and Stephen Sondheim, among many others. More details here.
Dear Evan Hansen Will Be Adapted into a Novel
- Dear Evan Hansen, the smash-hit Broadway musical by Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, is being made into a young adult novel. Actor, singer and author Val Emmich (The Reminders, Ugly Betty) is penning the adaptation of the 2017 Tony-winning Best Musical, which will appear on bookshelves as Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel on October 9. Dear Evan Hansen follows the title character, Evan, a high school senior suffering from anxiety who inadvertently becomes part of a family’s grieving process after their son’s suicide. Emmich’s novel expands upon moments that are not as fleshed out in the stage musical. More details here.
Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano to Star in Broadway Revival of True West
- Tony and Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke and Golden Globe nominee Paul Dano are set to star in a new Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play True West. The revival will play a limited engagement in the American Airlines Theatre beginning December 27. In True West, two brothers – one, a moderately successful screenwriter (Dano), the other, a drifter (Hawke) – reunite to discuss their mother’s recently abandoned house, leading to the airing of old resentments and some unexpected twists in the relationship. Tony nominee and four-time Oscar nominee Hawke, previously seen on Broadway in Macbeth and The Coast of Utopia, worked extensively with the late Shepard, the two friends collaborating both on the stage and screen. Dano’s Broadway credits include A Month in the Country, Inherit the Wind and A Free Man of Color; on screen he is known for his performances in 12 Years a Slave, There Will Be Blood, and Love & Mercy. More details here.