Here’s a quick glance of some notable happenings on Broadway’s Great White Way this week:
Opening this Week:
Summer: The Donna Summer Musical – Opens April 23
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 – Opens April 24
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.
Saint Joan – Opens April 25
A revival of George Bernard Shaw’s classic play that recounts the story of Joan of Arc, a peasant girl who claimed to hear the voices of saints directing her to help the Dauphin of France drive the English out of the country.
The Iceman Cometh – Opens April 26
Tony winner and two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington returns to Broadway in a new production of Eugene O’Neill’s four-act epic play about a newly sober, charismatic traveling salesman whose renewed outlook on life threatens to upend the lives of his old friends.
Lincoln Center Theater celebrated the official opening of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady at the Vivian Beaumont Theater last week. Reviews were mostly positive for the anticipated revival, though some critics felt director Bartlett Sher’s direction did not completely measure up to his previous reworkings of classic musicals, while others felt star Lauren Ambrose’s vocal abilities were not up to the demands of her role:
Hollywood Reporter – “It’s a polished production with an accomplished – if not spectacular – cast. But it doesn’t come close to the sweeping cinematic fluidity of Sher’s best work…Nor does it approach the thrilling emotional engagement.”
New York Daily News – “Audiences have grown accustomed to director Sher’s ability to breathe fresh and thoughtful life into classics. He does it again – mostly. The show isn’t an overt romance, but the heat that can be summoned gets the cold-shower treatment.”
Variety – “Despite the eccentric casting choice of Ambrose…it’s a triumph of acting that this non-singer manages to sing like a trouper. But the strain shows.”
However, there was unanimous praise for the accomplished cast, high production values and the new approach to the musical’s not-so-modern gender politics:
Newsday – “Happily, [this] production is everything it needs to be, and quite a bit more. Director Sher returned to the story’s origin in the Shaw play and made it more acceptable for our times without messing with the musical.”
New York Times – “Plush and thrilling…director Sher’s production uses the current climate of re-examination not only to restore the show’s feminist argument but also to warm it up considerably.”
Time Out New York – “Sher is acutely alert to the shifts of balance within both My Fair Lady itself and the way it plays to contemporary audiences, and nowhere is that clearer than in his clever solution to the show’s notoriously slippery ending.”
The Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a transfer of the universally acclaimed London production continuing the stories of author J.K. Rowling, celebrated its official opening Sunday night at the newly renovated Lyric Theatre. Reviews were enthusiastically positive for the two-part, six-hour epic play. While a few critics found the plot somewhat convoluted and the running time a bit long, the technical wonder, well-allocated production values, lovingly crafted performances and exciting storytelling were more than enough for all to give the production their highest recommendations:
Newsday – “Extraordinary… even if you’ve not read a single book, it’s the getting there that creates the wonder of it all. The stagecraft on display [has] magical moments taking your breath away at every turn.”
Hollywood Reporter – “The storytelling is more sophisticated here and the acting infinitely superior, but the edge-of-the-seat participation is the same. There’s also a universal dimension to the human drama here…that will prove poignant and meaningful even to audiences unversed in the wizarding wars.”
New York Daily News – “Eventually, the ending gets a bit shaggy…But the show gleams like a bolt of lightning – not one that leaves marks on your forehead, just vivid memories in your mind.”
Time Out New York – “A triumph of theatrical magic…the two-part epic combines grand storytelling with stagecraft on a scale heretofore unimagined. It leaves its audience awestruck, spellbound and deeply satisfied.”
New York Magazine – “It’s heartfelt and sometimes a touch hokey, it could have used a more rigorous editor, and you’re pretty much willing to forgive its shortcomings as it sweeps you along in a rush of rip-roaring, good-natured imagination.”
Variety – “For all its inventive stagecraft devices, the show has a plot that really works as an extension of the Potter saga…theater that shows us the true magic of great storytelling.”
Broadway News and Notes:
Bette Midler to Return to Broadway’s Hello, Dolly!
- Bette Midler will return to Broadway’s Hello, Dolly! for the final six weeks of the hit Tony-winning show that won her a Tony of her own. Bernadette Peters, who took over the role after Midler’s departure, will end her run as previously scheduled on July 15, with Midler taking the stage July 17 through the show’s closing on August 25. Tickets for Midler’s return go on sale next week. Returning to their roles alongside Midler will be Tony winners David Hyde Pierce and Gavin Creel (who returns May 8). Leaving with Peters on July 15, as scheduled, will be Victor Garber. More details here.
Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban to Host Tony Awards
- Tony and Grammy nominees Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban will host the 2018 Tony Awards. Bareilles, who composed the score to Broadway’s Waitress and recently took center stage in the musical, made the announcement alongside Groban in a video posted to her Twitter. Groban made his Broadway debut in The Great Comet, earning a Tony nomination for his performance as Pierre. The 72nd annual ceremony, broadcast on CBS, will take place June 10 at Radio City Music Hall. Current Waitress star Katharine McPhee and Hamilton Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. will announce the nominations May 1. More details here.
Producer Offers to Stage Broadway-Bound Mockingbird in Court
- Producer Scott Rudin has struck back at a lawsuit filed by the estate of Harper Lee over the Broadway-bound stage adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird. The New York Times has reported that Rudin filed a $10 million federal countersuit against the estate in Manhattan this week, citing damages over the rejection of a script by award winning writer Aaron Sorkin. According to the lawsuit, Rudin has even offered a single courtroom performance of the drama, proposing a presentation of show for a jury to prove that the adaptation remains faithful to the spirit of the source material. More details here.
Full Pre-Broadway Cast Announced for The Cher Show
- The complete cast is now set for the pre-Broadway engagement of The Cher Show. Portraying the music icon are three women who will play Cher at various stages of her life: the previously reported Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block (Avenue Q), Teal Wicks (Wicked, Finding Neverland), and Micaela Diamond (NBC’s recent live Jesus Christ Superstar). Performances will begin at Chicago’s Oriental Theatre June 12, where the pre-Broadway engagement will play a limited run through July 15. The musical will then start performances on Broadway November 1 at the Neil Simon Theatre (currently home to Angels in America), where it will officially open December 3. More details here.