Beau Salant ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Emertainment Monthly is getting you ready for the spring Broadway season and the anticipated Tony Award nomination on April 28, 2015. Here are our top picks for the Broadway musicals you have to see this spring.
10. Doctor Zhivago
This musical has been in development for years and is finally making its Broadway bow this season. Based on the epic, Oscar-winning film of the same name, the musical is said to be just as epic, with grand staging by director Des McAnuff. Early reports from previews say that the show features some great music, excellent performances from leads Tam Mutu and Kelli Barrett and an extravagant set design. It’s also playing in one of the Great White Way’s nicest venues, The Broadway Theater, to boot. Surely not one to be missed.
9. An American in Paris
Based on the Academy Award-winning film of the same name, early word on this production is that, while the story may leave you unsatisfied, the wonderful production values and the talented cast provide for a great night in the theater. However, the real draw to this show is the extravagant dance numbers, which many who have seen early previews are the show are calling some of the best dance numbers they’ve ever seen on Broadway. This is to be expected of course, as the musical is based on a film famous for featuring some of Gene Kelly’s best dance moves.
Gigi’s transfer to Broadway from its original home at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. was met with groans from critics, who responded coldly to the production at our nation’s capital. But reports from previews indicate that the show has improved greatly, and that Vanessa Hudgens’ (returning from a brief career hiatus) performance in the title role is charming and brilliantly rounded. Also earning much praise is Broadway veteran Victoria Clark, whose performance is already garnering Tony Award buzz, in the supporting role of Mamita. Buy your tickets soon, because pretty soon they’ll be tough to get!
7. Hand to God
It’s not a musical, but we had to make an exception for this new straight play that’s opening this season. After it opened off-Broadway to rave reviews last year, this play about an awkward twenty-something who engages in most of his social interactions through his foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed sock puppet was a shoo-in for Broadway. In what is said to be the next Avenue Q, Steven Boyer gives the performance of a lifetime in a play that touches on themes such as unnatural sexuality, loneliness, social awkwardness and even religious intolerance. Early word from previews is that the show is still a smash on Broadway, so see it now before tickets become a hard find!
6. Finding Neverland
One of the most anticipated shows of the year, this musical (which premiered at the American Repertory Theatre here in Cambridge!) tells the story of J.M. Barrie (Matthew Morrison), the man who wrote Peter Pan, and the story of how he came to create the now-iconic character. While reports from previews have been divided, with some calling the show a masterpiece and others saying it’s missing a spark, the show is doing fabulous business financially. This is most likely due to a fantastic marketing campaign, along with its extraordinary cast including Matthew Morrison, Kelsey Grammer, Laura Michelle Kelly and Carollee Carmello. Get your tickets now, because this could very well become Broadway’s next big hit.
5. The Visit
A show that is truly going to be the last of its kind. Featuring the final score composed by legendary songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb (who are also responsible for Cabaret and Chicago) before Ebb’s death in 2004, The Visit will also be the final Broadway appearance of star Chita Rivera, who, at age 82, has announced her intention to retire after her she completes her run in this show. And what a role to go out with! Rivera will star as a vengeful woman named Claire who also happens to be the richest woman in the world. When she returns to her bankrupt hometown in her old age, she offers to bail the town out of debt if the townspeople execute a former lover who did her wrong. With a dark and chilling story and the presence of a legendary performer on stage, The Visit is sure to be a memorable smash.
4. Something Rotten!
Early word from previews indicate that Something Rotten! is actually something very, very fresh. A wholly original musical that is not based on a movie, book or anything of the like (a true rarity on Broadway nowadays), Something Rotten! tells the story of two brothers in the year 1595, who, in an attempt to rival William Shakespeare, create the world’s first musical. The two heavy hitters in this musical are Christian Borle and Brian d’Arcy James. The show is apparently an uproariously hilarious comedy featuring memorable songs and dance numbers, and has the added prestige of being directed by Casey Nicholaw, the man responsible for two of Broadway’s biggest current hits (including The Book of Mormon and Aladdin). Is Nicholaw looking at a three-peat?
3. On the Twentieth Century
The always reliable Roundabout Theater Company opened the first Broadway revival of this classic musical earlier in March to overwhelmingly positive reviews. I’ve already gotten a chance to see this production and can attest to its brilliance. Featuring a wickedly talented cast led by superstar Kristin Chenoweth (giving her best stage performance in almost a decade) and a hilarious script and score from the legendary team of Comden and Green, On the Twentieth Century is a brilliantly fun night out at the theater. This production is only a limited engagement and is currently scheduled to close in July (though an extension is always a possibility), so grab your tickets to see it now before you lose your chance forever!
2. Fun Home
Just another musical about a lesbian and her gay father. Fun Home, based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel, explores territory not explored nearly enough on the Broadway stage. The musical tells Bechdel’s story (she is portrayed in the show by three different actresses, all different ages) and discloses how she grew up and went on a journey of self-discovery, as well as how she became comfortable with her sexuality. The musical played off-Broadway last year to a critical acclaim and sold out its entire run. Director Sam Gold and a cast of Broadway legends including Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn and newcomer Sydney Lucas are hoping to recreate that success on Broadway, and so far, reports from previews indicate that they have. You will definitely be seeing this one at the Tony’s.
1. The King and I
The #1 production to see this year is Lincoln Center’s revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s legendary classic The King and I. The production marks the reunion of director Bartlett Sher and Kelli O’Hara, who teamed up in the past on the critically acclaimed trio of The Light in the Piazza, The Bridges of Madison County and Lincoln Center’s revival of South Pacific. They are looking to recreate their successes together for the fourth time with this revival, and early word from previews is that the production exceeds all expectations. Opposite O’Hara is Ken Watanabe in the role of the King, and he is also receiving strong notices. But the show reportedly belongs to O’Hara, who could receive her sixth Tony Award nomination for this production. Having yet to win the award, O’Hara – considered to have one of the finest singing voices of her generation – could finally take home the award this year. Time will tell.