Here’s a quick glance of some notable happenings on Broadway’s Great White Way this week:
Now on Sale:
Head Over Heels – Begins June 23rd
A new musical about a royal family that must prevent an oracle’s prophecy of doom, featuring the songs of the all-female rock band the Go-Go’s.
Opening this Week:
My Fair Lady – Opens April 19th
An English professor of phonetics makes a bet that he can transform a Cockney flower girl into a lady, in a revival of Lerner and Loewe’s classic musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Opens April 22nd
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, the Broadway transfer of the London phenomenon that continues the story of former boy wizard Harry Potter, his friends, and his son, in a time-traveling adventure to save the world from the evil Lord Voldemort.
The Broadway revival of Mark Medoff’s Tony Award-winning drama Children of a Lesser God, starring Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff, opened last week at Studio 54. Reviews were mixed for the revival, with some critics taking issue with the play’s confusing themes and lethargic direction:
Hollywood Reporter – “The production tips the balance away from the author’s sensitive handling of deaf politics toward the bland reaffirmation that the heart is a more powerful communication tool than the human voice. If that sounds like the melodramatic fodder of a vintage Lifetime movie, you got it. ”
New York Daily News – “Only fitfully engaging and stirring…Medoff’s script can be simplistic and preachy. Director Leon’s stark and chilly production actually doesn’t nurture intimacy.”
NY1 – “The central message, concerning the bridge that divides the hearing world from the deaf, is compelling. But director Kenny Leon’s staging is poorly paced on that mostly bare stage and the overall effect is rather static.”
But most reviewers were impressed with the still relevant script and the powerful lead performances, especially the robust Broadway debut by Ridloff:
Newsday – “Compelling…the drama’s impact remains…Ridloff plays Sarah with a don’t-mess-with-me vengeance, careful to not let vulnerabilities sneak through.”
New York Times – “A knockout professional debut performance by Ridloff…a lovely performance by Jackson…”
Entertainment Weekly – “[Jackson’s] efforts pay off for the most part; his performance loosens as it goes and is especially noteworthy in the second act. Ridloff, however, is downright powerful from the moment she signs her first sentence. ”
The new Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, featuring Tony winner Jessie Mueller, Tony nominee Joshua Henry and Grammy-winning opera star Renée Fleming, officially opened last week at the Imperial Theatre. Critical response was mixed to positive. Some critics were put off by the story’s dated sexual politics and a lack of chemistry between the lead performances:
Entertainment Weekly – “The revival is made for modern audiences now living in the #MeToo era, and this production makes no effort to tell the tale through a fresh lens. It doesn’t help that Mueller and Henry are devoid of chemistry and egregiously miscast.”
New York Daily News – “Director O’Brien hasn’t discovered anything fresh and exciting. Henry and Mueller are thrilling singers. But elsewhere their characterizations are one-note. And the two don’t spark intense chemistry needed to make the doomed romance believable.”
New York Magazine – “O’Brien and his designers have opted to take a comfortable (or, if you’re not a boy, not so comfortable) amble down memory lane, ending up with a show that seems to spring full-bodied from the mid-century, just with flashier technology. Theater isn’t a time capsule, but this Carousel feels like one.”
But there was no mistaking the unanimous love for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved score, beautifully rendered by the cast:
NY1 – “This is a beautifully sung production. All of the principal performers are in sublime voice. And with a superb company of actors, dancers and musicians, this is still a Carousel worth a mighty spin.”
Variety – “The principal players, who fully embrace the music, are a joy. A fabulous ensemble of singer-dancers…gives wings to this revival…buoyed by a full, rich-voiced chorus. It’s wonderful to see a classic work as it was written and how it was meant to be played.”
Hollywood Reporter – “Stirring…a magnificently sung revival that breathes pulsing new life into this shimmering masterwork. O’Brien has put together a dramatically forceful production that feels earthy and real, almost gritty at times, but is also wrapped in a charming old-fashioned theatricality that’s quite whimsical.”
Broadway News and Notes:
Hamilton Wins Big at London’s Olivier Awards
- The musical powerhouse Hamilton continued its years-long award streak April 8, taking home a total of seven Olivier Awards including Best New Musical. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire received the Outstanding Achievement in Music prize. Other Hamilton wins included Giles Terera (who plays Aaron Burr) for Best Actor in a Musical, Michael Jibson (King George III) as Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical, and honors for lighting, sound design and choreography. On the drama side, Jez Butterworth’s Northern Irish drama The Ferryman, which begins a Broadway run this fall, was named Best New Play. More details here.
Tony Winner Janet McTeer to Star in Bernhardt/Hamlet on Broadway
- Roundabout Theatre Company will present the world premiere of Bernhardt/Hamlet, directed by Tony nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God). kicking off Roundabout’s 2018 – 2019 Broadway season. Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe, Tony & Olivier Award winner Janet McTeer will return to Broadway to star as Sarah Bernhardt in the new production. The story follows the legendary French stage actress, who in 1899 set out to take on the title role in a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. McTeer is a Tony winner for A Doll’s House and a Tony nominee for Mary Stuart. She earned Oscar nominations for Tumbleweeds and Albert Nobbs and an Emmy nomination for Into the Storm. More details here.
Harry Potter Breaks Broadway Box Office Record
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child set a new Broadway previews record last week, earning $2,138,859 through April 8th. The new production shattered the previous box office record of $1.6 million set by All the Way in 2014. Cursed Child officially begins its commercial Broadway run on April 22nd. The two-part play premiered last year in London’s West End and won nine Olivier Awards. The story takes place nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, which was depicted in the novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with Harry now an employee of the Ministry of Magic and his youngest son, Albus Severus, about to attend his first year at Hogwarts. More details here.
Empire Records Broadway Musical in the Works
- Empire Records, the beloved 1995 cult classic film about a group of young record store employees, is being revived as a Broadway musical, with a targeted 2020 premiere, in time for the film’s 25th anniversary. The film’s original screenwriter, Carol Heikkinen, will craft the show’s book, with an original score by 2018 Jonathan Larson Grant winner Zoe Sarnak. Empire Records centers on the last of the independent small-town record stores, which employs a tight-knit group of music-savvy youths. Hearing that the shop may be sold to a big chain, slacker employee Lucas places a big bet with a chunk of the store’s money, hoping to get a big return and save the store. When the plan fails, Empire Records falls into serious trouble, and the teens must find a way to fend off the encroaching Music Town overlords. More details here.