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Spring Preview: 5 Can’t-Miss Musicals Coming to Broadway Next Season

Category Broadway

|by Ron Fassler |

Author Ron Fassler on the shows that will sing this spring

You wouldn’t know it by the fact that there are currently 16 Broadway theaters dark right now, but by April 30, the cut-off date for the 2020 Tony Award nominations, all those theaters will be lit. Let the celebration begin with a glimpse at five tantalizing new musical productions that are most definitely planning on making “everybody rise!”

Tony winner Katrina Lenk will star as Bobbie in ‘Company’ (Photo: Ahmed Klink)

Tony winner Katrina Lenk will star as Bobbie in ‘Company’ (Photo: Ahmed Klink)

Door rings, bell chimes, in comes…
That’s as good a musical cue as any to bring us to the first one: a revival of Stephen Sondheim’s landmark 1970 musical Company. This is a London import that was the toast of the West End in 2018-2019 and brought Patti LuPone her second Olivier Award (the British equivalent of the Tony). Her rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch” will surely be reason enough to see this production, which includes several gender-flipped roles, most prominently that of Bobby, the show’s lead. Katrina Lenk, herself a Tony winner for The Band’s Visit, will play Bobbie. Two-time Tony winner Marianne Elliott (War Horse, The Curious Incident…) directs, last represented on Broadway by Angels in America starring Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane. She has certainly proven herself a winner with all three of those imports, so hopes are high she will once again prevail. The late George Furth’s book for Company has always been considered a winner as well, so look for only a few things to be changed besides pronouns, with Mr. Sondheim himself providing new lyrics along the way. Previews begin at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre on March 2, with an opening on March 22, specifically timed to coincide with the great composer-lyricist’s 90th birthday.

Prepare yourselves, poppets.
Hot on the heels of last season’s Tootsie, comes another man-in-a-dress musical based on a beloved film. This time Rob McClure has the envious task of filling the high-heeled shoes of Robin William’s redoubtable Mrs. Doubtfire in a new musical that hails from the team that gave us 2015’s hilarious Something Rotten, Karey & Wayne Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell. Directed by the ever-reliable Jerry Zaks, it had a recent sold-out, box office record-breaking Seattle tryout that was so popular the run had to be extended. McClure, who has been charming Broadway audiences ever since his Tony-nominated turn in the title role of 2006’s Chaplin, was most recently seen co-starring in Beetlejuice. With the tourist trade always interested in a title that makes them feel like they’ll be visiting a trusted old friend, Mrs. Doubtfire may be just what the nanny service ordered. Previews begin March 9 with an opening April 5 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.

A Royal Import
Bio-musicals continue to be the rage, especially if the subject is a rock star (Carole King, Cher, Tina Turner). And even though Lady Di never sang, she would still qualify as such since even twenty-two years after her death she is still a rock star. Diana is a new musical about the former Princess of Wales, wife to Prince Charles and mother of William, the future king of England. The songs are by David Bryan, a founding member of Bon Jovi; the book is by Joe DiPietro who (with Bryan) won Tonys for the 2009 Best Musical Memphis. They are joined by another member of that team, Christopher Ashley, who won a Tony of his own for directing Come from Away two seasons ago, adding to the quality of pedigree here. Previously staged at the La Jolla Playhouse in California, Diana will again be played by Jeanna de Waal who was previously seen on Broadway in Kinky Boots and American Idiot. Roe Hartrampf will make his Broadway debut, recreating his role as Charles. And two-time Tony winner Judy Kaye will be Queen Elizabeth. So, if Netflix’s The Crown didn’t satisfy you in that Claire Foy and Olivia Coleman didn’t sing, then maybe Diana will be your cup of tea. Previews begin at the Longacre Theatre March 2 with an opening scheduled for March 31.

A (New) Bob Dylan Musical
It won’t be the first Broadway show to feature music and lyrics by Bob Dylan (Twlya Tharp’s 2006 dance musical The Times They Are A-Changin’ came first – though it went rather quickly), but The Girl from the North Country was a sell-out in 2018 when it played a two-hundred-seventy-five seat house at the Public Theatre. Most of the cast has been recruited to repeat their roles in this original tale created by Irish playwright Connor McPherson (who also directs), that takes place in 1934 Duluth, Minnesota during the dark days of the Depression. I saw it down at the Public and found the songs beautifully woven through the story, never feeling shoehorned in, something which sadly often occurs when a songbook is used for these purposes. But there’s something a bit magical and mystical about Girl from the North Country which I very much enjoyed. It’s certainly hoping to repeat not only the success it had Off-Broadway, but the one it had at the Old Vic in London in 2017. Among a sterling cast, Mare Winningham is a standout, performing “Like a Rolling Stone” almost like a spell. Previews begin at the Belasco Theatre shortly (Feb. 7th) with an opening scheduled for March 5.

Tap dancing and hallucinogens. What could go wrong?
If these shows make you think, “Yeah, they all sound like what constitutes a musical” then how about Flying Over Sunset, a new musical about three famous individuals whose one thing they share in common is a propensity for the psychedelic drug LSD. The trio are the British novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley (b: 1894); playwright, congresswoman and diplomat Clare Booth Luce (b: 1903), and the British (though wildly popular American movie star) Cary Grant (b: 1904). Any show that weaves such unrelated yet distinguished people who all dropped acid in the 1950s (when it was legal to obtain) should make for a thoroughly original show. It’s being undertaken by the Lincoln Center Theatre and will star Harry Haden Paton (who formerly occupied the Vivian Beaumont for more than a year as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady); Carmen Cusack, who wowed audiences as the star of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s 2016’s Bright Star, and Tony Yazbeck (On the Town/Prince of Broadway), a triple-threat actor-singer-dancer. With music by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), lyrics by Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and book by James Lapine (Tony Award winner for Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods), a deep dive into this subject matter is certainly to be expected. Previews begin at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre on March 12, with an opening scheduled for April 16th.

For more of the best of Broadway, check out our list of the 15 Most Highly Anticipated Broadway Shows of 2020

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