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5 Revivals That Reimagined Your Favorite Broadway Musicals

Category Broadway

|by Marshall W. Mabry IV |

Radically re-envisioned musicals are the new norm

New orchestrations, stunning casts, innovative staging, and classic material. These elements are shaping up to be the modern formula for selling a Broadway revival, and it seems to be working. Audiences are interested in shifting the perspective or flipping a classic narrative upside down. With Ivan Van Hove’s radical new West Side Story causing serious buzz, and the upcoming gender-swapped Company revival challenging the way we look at classic pieces of musical theater, we’re examining several recent productions that reimagined musicals we know and love.

Solea Pfeiffer starred in ‘Evita’ at New York City Center (Photo: Paula Lobo and Leah Portis)

Solea Pfeiffer starred in ‘Evita’ at New York City Center (Photo: Paula Lobo and Leah Portis)

Once on This Island, 2017 Revival
The 2017 Tony award winner for Best Revival of a Musical not only had to be on this list, but our number #1 pick specifically. Michael Arden’s direction for the piece was quite possibly the most beautiful work on Broadway that season. With the help of new vocal arrangements from AnnMarie Milazzo, Arden found a way to bring the island to life in a way that it hadn’t been before. Backed by an incredible star-studded cast, crew, and animal cast (shoutout to the goats and chickens), Once on This Island was truly a show not to be missed.

Evita, 2019 Revival
Directed by Forbes’ 30 Under 30 honoree Sammi Cannold, the City Center Encores production of Evita was one-of-a-kind. Starring Solea Pfeifer and Maia Reffico in the title role, this Evita took a more discerning view of the life and hardships of Eva Peron. Specifically, by splitting the title role between two actresses of different ages, the production highlighted just how young Eva was when she first came to Buenos Aires. The classic Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber score, paired with Cannold’s detailed direction, was a match made in heaven, and this production of Evita acted as commentary on feminism then and now.

Pippin, 2013 Revival
The Tony-winning production changed the way we looked at the Stephen Schwartz classic. With Patina Miller as Pippin’s guide, the stellar Leading Player helped this production to soar. Featuring direction complete with acrobatics and high-flying stunts, Dianne Paulus brought the circus to Broadway’s Music Box theatre eight shows a week. While maintaining some of the show’s original Fosse choreography and nuances, it remained true to the original show in 2013. This production went on to win Miller a Best Actress Tony, Paulus a Best Director Tony, and the award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Carousel, 2016 Revival
Starring Joshua Henry and Jessie Mueller, and featuring an adapted book in addition to Justin Peck’s stunning choreography, the 2016 revival of Carousel was mesmerizing. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic took on a new light when layers of interracial relationships and a reworked script were added to the mix. Though it didn’t feature a physical carousel, the production still made up for it in talent and heart. We’ll forever dream of Renee Fleming’s rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and that stunning “Blow High, Blow Low” choreography.

Oklahoma!, 2019 Revival  
Set in Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre, this Oklahoma! is like no other. Featuring stripped down orchestrations played by the cast, fresh chili, and an intimate space, it reimagines the classic completely. By pulling away the grandeur of the orchestrations, set, and even actors, we’re forced to tune into the storytelling. You lock into this very real sense of honesty that this story needs specifically in 2020. This revival also reimagined what Oklahoma looks like today, from its representation of actors of color to its dream ballet.

For more of the best of New York Theater, read our list of the 15 Most Highly Anticipated Broadway Shows of 2020

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