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10 Edgy Shows Headed to Broadway in 2019

Category Broadway

|by Mikey Miller |


From profanity to political themes, these shows have built some serious buzz

What could possibly be better than seeing a new Broadway show, right when it opens this spring? The answer to that is definitely seeing a Broadway show where a crazy, daring or edgy thing happened during the performance – giving you bragging rights, since you were among the first to see it – or seeing a show that has some wild buzz associated with it. If you’re looking to be surprised, excited or (pleasantly!) perplexed by what’s happening on the Great White Way this season, look no further than the shows on this list. Then see them yourself to find out what the buzz is all about.

‘Beetlejuice,’ ‘Hadestown’ and ‘Oklahoma!’ are among the buzziest Broadway arrivals this season (Photos: Matthew Murphy; Helen Maybanks; Paula Court).

‘Beetlejuice,’ ‘Hadestown’ and ‘Oklahoma!’ are among the buzziest Broadway arrivals this season (Photos: Matthew Murphy; Helen Maybanks; Paula Court).

Hadestown
This spring, Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown, a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, will erupt on Broadway. Ten years ago, while creating the basic idea of the musical, Mitchell wrote a song entitled “Why We Build the Wall,” during which the residents of the Underworld (in this version, a kind of corporate hell where the citizens serve their CEO, Mr. Hades) sing about how the wall that imprisons them makes them feel free. Of course, she had absolutely no idea how her song would age and translate in today’s political climate, but nevertheless, “Why We Build the Wall” remains the finale of the first act, making a timely statement that Mitchell did not initially intend.

Beetlejuice
Based on one of the most beloved and bizarre movies of the 1980s, which was directed by the equally beloved and bizarre Tim Burton, a musical version of Beetlejuice comes to Broadway at the end of this month. However, Beetlejuice received its fair share of buzz during its pre-Broadway run last fall in Washington, D.C., where critics noted that the dark comedy featured no shortage of profanity. Will the Broadway Beetlejuice be just as unhinged? Fans of the film will have to take this musical trip to the Netherworld themselves to find out.

Be More Chill
Be More Chill is being marketed as the musical that would result from feeding Dear Evan Hansen to the Little Shop of Horrors plant, but for a show about teens and for teens, it also uses its fair share for four-letter words and raunchy jokes. In just the first thirty seconds of the show, the protagonist, Jeremy Heere, admits that he’s “waiting for (his) porno to load.” As the show progresses, the school’s popular girls, Chloe Valentine and Brooke Lohst, sing the less-than-subtly suggestive – and insanely catchy – “Do You Want a Ride?,” with the former eventually going so far as to attempt to seduce Jeremy while sporting a sexy baby Halloween costume. If you want to take your teens to see Be More Chill, be aware that the humor is hardly PG.  

Gary
Taylor Mac’s newest comedy has been getting quite a bit of press since one of its stars, Tony Award winner Andrea Martin, broke four ribs during rehearsal, forcing former supporting player Kristine Nielsen to assume Martin’s leading role opposite Tony and Emmy Award winner Nathan Lane in the title role of Gary. However, the drama doesn’t end there. The play, set in the immediate aftermath of Shakspeare’s Titus Andronicus, features the antics of the servants given the unfortunate task of cleaning up the corpses of those lost in the civil war. A running gag throughout the show is the fact that each of the dead bodies (portrayed by life-size puppets) are anatomically correct, a joke which eventually takes center stage in a “folly” put on by Gary and his fellow maid, Janice. Additionally, word on the street is that some preview audience members in the front row are emerging splattered with fake blood.

Hillary and Clinton
As 2020 approaches, many are still analyzing the outcome of the last presidential election, and the citizens of Broadway are no exception. Hillary and Clinton, the newest play by Lucas Hnath (A Doll’s House, Part 2), stars Tony and Emmy winners Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow as the two political lovers. The play exists in a world where a former first lady named Hillary is trying to achieve the 2008 bid to run for President of the United States. Think you know how this story ends? Well, think again; in the world of the play, anything can happen.

Oklahoma!
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, considered to be the first musical to successfully integrate song, dance and story, transfers to Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre from its Off-Broadway run in Brooklyn’s St. Ann’s Warehouse. However, this isn’t your grandparents’ Oklahoma! This production gives the classic and beloved Broadway score a huge makeover, bringing the music into the twenty-first century through rock and punk stylizations. This show is sure to make waves. Go check it out for yourself and see if Oklahoma! can hold its own in the ranks of both classic musicals like Carousel and Anything Goes, as well as modern ones like Spring Awakening and Hamilton.

Ain’t Too Proud
The tale of the Temptations’ rise to fame, as chronicled in Ain’t Too Proud, is hardly squeaky-clean, with the show exploring how various members were impacted by alcoholism, sickness and relationship conflict. An even more buzzed-about element of the slick new production, though, is how Jarvis B. Manning, Jr., who plays Al Bryant and Norman Whitfield, received widespread attention when he posted about his journey auditioning for the musical on Facebook. He wasn’t granted a callback or an invite to the dance call, but he showed up anyway, and after being told to leave, he left his headshot and résumé in the room. As he was starting to leave the building, he was called back, and he ultimately booked the show. Fans have been relishing in his message that if you work hard enough for what you want and make sure you’re in the right place at the right time, you can achieve your dreams.

King Lear
The role of King Lear is often cited as one of Shakespeare’s greatest, a part fit for only the strongest of actors. And although the role has been played by several women in the past, this spring, Broadway will see its very first female King Lear. Glenda Jackson, who won last year’s Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as A in Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, will make her highly anticipated – and now, historic – return to the Great White Way in one of the most difficult dramatic roles of all time.

Kiss Me, Kate!
The new revival of Kiss Me, Kate!, written by one of Broadway’s seminal composers, Cole Porter (Anything Goes), stars Broadway mainstays Kelli O’Hara (The King and I, The Bridges of Madison County) and Will Chase (Something Rotten!, The Mystery of Edwin Drood). But this Kate aims shake things up for the modern era, as writer Amanda Green (the daughter of playwright-lyricist Adolph Green, known for On the Town and On the Twentieth Century) has reworked some of the original material. For example, “I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple” has become “I Am Ashamed That People Are So Simple.” Will these changes be well received by diehard fans of this classic? Head to Studio 54 to find out.

What the Constitution Means to Me
If you thought that full-throttle audience participation on Broadway ended with The Mystery of Edwin Drood and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, you are sorely mistaken. What the Constitution Means to Me, written by and starring Heidi Schreck, and voted #1 Play of the Year by New York Magazine, NewNowNext and The New Yorker, is an experimental piece where Schreck and an eleven-year-old debate about whether or not the US Constitution still has relevance in the modern world. The performance culminates in an audience vote as to whether our 232-year-old Constitution, the document in which the basic tenets of our nation were set, should be thrown out.

For more of the best of Broadway this spring, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in April 2019

 

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