Freya Grant gives us a taste of what’s to come on Broadway this year – and it sure is looking bright!
It’s a leap year, the Year of the Dragon, an American election year, another Summer Olympics and inevitably a year of Broadway newbies and revivals destined to influence theatre communities around the world. Some will rise, some will fall and well-known and couch critics alike will be making their verdicts on the class of 2012.
Any new production that attempts to join the Broadway crew this year will have to compete with the still-thriving phenomenon of The Book of Mormon as well as the heavyweights – Wicked, The Lion King, Jersey Boys – for their share of grosses and public attention.
Several productions have already met a short run at the end of 2011 and start of 2012 including Lysistrata Jones, Bonnie & Clyde as well as the Harry Connick, Jr.-headlined On a Clear Day. And Broadway has also lost stalwart Billy Elliott after a strong three-year run.
Overall, 2011 was a good to the Broadway community with the aforementioned but unforgettable Book of Mormon; the saga but ultimate success of Spiderman’s on-again, off-again opening night drama (and its ongoing lawsuits and epic budget); a triumphant Follies revival and, for Australians, the warrior performance and marketing strategies of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Hugh Jackman’s record-breaking, one-man show run.
But back to 2012 – a year when Ricky Martin will make his Broadway debut as Che in the much-anticipated revival of Evita through to the potentially cringe-worthy mounting of new musical, Ghost,. There is much to look forward to on the Great White Way this year.
The next three months will be a slew of opening nights as both Broadway veterans and Hollywood celebrities kick off new productions.
Academy Award-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman will star as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s soaring Death of a Salesman, joined by the increasingly up-and-coming Andrew Garfield, of Social Network fame. The show has overcome a little hitch with its initial previews cancelled after Hoffman’s illness but is expected to begin performances any day now.
The start of March will bring the revival of the Lloyd Webber/Rice classic, Jesus Christ Superstar. While the buzz surrounding the show has been lukewarm on the streets of New York, the production received strong reviews in its previous homes of San Diego and Ontario.
A sharp injection of larger-than-life talent will come together for Gore Vidal’s presidential drama, The Best Man. It has already turned in to a competition amongst the cast of just who can claim Broadway seniority with James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury fighting over the mantle. The pair will be joined by Candice Bergen, John Larroquette (who only six weeks ago left the cast of How to Succeed) as well as Will & Grace alum Eric McCormack. Tony nominee Kerry Butler (last seen in Catch Me If You Can) said in the show’s recent press conference that it was a veritable master class rehearsing with her co-stars.
It’s time to insert the appropriate ‘Shake Your Bon Bon’ joke here as next up will be the Ricky Martin debut alongside veteran Argentine actress Elena Roger, who has previously played the role of Eva Peron on the West End. Roger also won a Laurence Olivier Award for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in Piaf. Amazingly, this will be the first time that Evita has been revived on Broadway since the indomitable Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin opened the show in 1979 here in New York a year after it’s West End debut. The combination of the pop star and credible theatre stalwart is creating a nice amount of press attention and audience murmurings.
Broadway royalty will come together in April when Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara star in the new musical comedy Nice Work If You Can Get It. The show, centering on a Prohibition-era playboy, will feature classics from George and Ira Gershwin including Someone to Watch Over Me, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off and I’ve Got a Crush on You. Broderick did a reading of the piece 18 months ago with Sutton Foster which obviously went better than the 2009 attempt to mount the musical with Harry Connick, Jr. as the leading man.
The rest of the northern spring will be filled out by Ghost, the Musical, which has fans and critics confounded over what to expect as well as a highly-anticipated mounting of Harvey starring Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) and Jessica Hecht.
It won’t only be new productions delighting in 2012, some off-Broadway shows will be getting an upgrade to the top mantle. Both Peter and the Starcatcher as well as the Judy Garland-inspired End of the Rainbow will officially join the Broadway ranks.
And it’s not just 2012 which will thrill fans and send ripple around the world, but the coming years have exciting projects on the horizon. A surely-unbeatable combination of Stephen Schwartz, Aaron Sorkin and Hugh Jackman will come together for the yet-to-be-named story of magician Harry Houdini, slated to hit Broadway in 2013 or 2014. And the poignant story of the struggling city of Detroit will play out on the boards in the coming years as well. Detroit serves as a touchstone for America in many ways, the former car capital now on the brink of bankruptcy as a city has shocked and rattled the country in the post-recession climate.
The influence of movies will continue to dominate in the coming years with new works rumoured to be coming to Broadway including Betty Boop, Bring It On: The Musical, Bruce Less:Journey to the West and Father of the Bride.
It’s not all new shows and opening nights though, some things do stay the same on Broadway – Phantom of the Opera just celebrated its 10,000th performance.
The New York Theatre Workshop has launched an innovative experience for theatre fans. The new public program, Casebook, will allow audiences unprecedented insight in to one of their productions. The program this year will feature Food and Fadwa, and for $350, participants will witness conversations with the playwrights, director and designers as well as meetings with NYTW staff members discussing topics such as casting, marketing and production. They will then attend a preview performance and then come back for opening night to see the show in its full glory.