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Your Broadway Spring Preview! 2019 Edition

Date: Feb 01, 2019

A guide to 16 upcoming productions

The Broadway season is about to kick into high gear with 14 new shows opening between now and the end of April, plus two big summer entries. Highlights include buzzed-about musicalizations of the movies Beetlejuice, Tootsie and Moulin Rouge; revivals of Oklahoma! and Kiss Me Kate; stars getting steamy in Burn This and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune; Nathan Lane and Kristine Nielsen yukking it up in a new off-kilter comedy; plus Glenda Jackson as King Lear and Laurie Metcalf as Hillary Clinton. Our guide helps you navigate everything that's coming. Happy theatregoing!

NOTE: Within each category, shows are listed in first preview date order.


Be More Chill
Lyceum Theatre, 149 West 45th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue

Previews start February 13. Opens March 10. Open run.

A Generation Z sensation thanks to its original cast album going viral, Be More Chill arrives on Broadway in large part thanks to its avid fan base. Based on Ned Vizzini's YA novel of the same name, this sci-fi pop-rock musical premiered at New Jersey's Two River Theater back in 2015 but promptly stalled. Songwriter Joe Iconis (of Smash fame) and his collaborators put out an album for posterity, and it was soon discovered by legions of musical-loving misfits online. The tale of a high school nerd (Dear Evan Hansen's Will Roland) who becomes popular after ingesting a minuscule supercomputer that tells him how to be cool, Be More Chill played a sold-out run Off-Broadway last summer and makes the leap to the Main Stem with the full cast intact. 


Kiss Me, Kate
Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue

Previews start February 14. Opens March 14. Closes June 2.

The drama-filled relationships of two sets of lovers play out on and backstage as they mount a musical version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. With droll Cole Porter songs ("Wunderbar," "So In Love," "Always True to You In My Fashion," "Brush Up Your Shakespeare") and a starry cast (Tony winner Kelli O'Hara and Tony nominee Will Chase play the leading couple, with High School Musical heartthrob Corbin Bleu providing comic support), Roundabout Theatre Company's production of this screwball romantic comedy is one of only two musical revivals this Broadway season. While director Scott Ellis may make some small adjustments to accommodate our #MeToo era, the production promises to be much closer to the original than the dark reimagining of Oklahoma! (keep reading).


Ain't Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations
Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Previews start February 28. Opens March 21. Open run.

Inspired by the career of the popular Motown quintet, this jukebox musical features a slew of hits ("My Girl," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone") by the legendary R&B group. Obie winner Dominique Morisseau's book traces their rise to fame, and the personal and political conflicts that ensued against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. Two-time Tony winner Des McAnuff helms the production, which began at Berkeley Rep and has played regionally on its way to Broadway where it's sure to spark nostalgia in theatregoers of a certain age.


Circle in the Square, 1633 Broadway at 50th Street

Previews start March 19. Opens April 7. Closes January 19, 2019.

You've never seen Oklahoma! like this... unless you caught it at Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse this past fall or in 2015 at Bard SummerScape, where director Daniel Fish's daring production originated. Although the turn-of-the-20th-century story about a girl named Laurey (Rebecca Naomi Jones) wooed by cowboy Curly (Damon Daunno) and farmer Jud (Patrick Vaill ) remains unchanged, the stripped-down, naturalistic staging mines dark undercurrents about desire, gender roles and the birth of our nation, and Rodgers and Hammerstein's iconic songs get a country makeover. Definitely not your grandmother's Oklahoma!


Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 West 48th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue

Previews start March 22. Opens April 17. Open run.

Back in 2010, singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell released a concept album called Hadestown, an indie folk rock retelling of the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice set during the Great Depression, but she'd always imagined it as a stage show. So Mitchell reached out to visionary director Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), who transformed it into an immersive opera at New York Theatre Workshop in 2016. Since then, the piece has been reconceived for a proscenium theatre, and the Broadway-bound production stars the cast of the recent Royal National Theatre run, including Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada as the young lovers torn apart by the tricks of Patrick Page's Hades. Ancient Greek myths have rarely sounded so cool.


Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway at 51st Street

Previews start March 28. Opens April 25. Open run.

A goth classic is coming to Broadway! Tim Burton's 1988 cult movie about a pair of recently deceased newlyweds (Tony nominees Kerry Butler and Rob McClure) who attempt to scare off the new inhabitants of their house has been transformed into a musical. Helmed by convention-busting director Alex Timbers (Here Lies Love, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) with songs by Eddie Perfect (King Kong), the show had an out-of-town tryout in D.C. last fall. Tony nominee Alex Brightman stars as the titular demon who makes trouble for the living and the dead, including strange and unusual teen Lydia Deetz (Sophia Anne Caruso) and her obnoxious parents Leslie Kritzer and Adam Dannheisser.


Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway at 46th Street

Previews start March 29. Opens April 23. Open run.

A lot has changed in gender politics and pop culture since the 1982 cross-dressing comedy snagged a slew of Oscar nominations. That's why Tony-winning songwriter David Yazbek (The Band's Visit) and his collaborators have given the story a 21st-century makeover. Instead of snagging a part on a soap opera, perennially unemployed actor Michael Dorsey (Tony nominee Santino Fontana, who originated the role in the Chicago tryout) lands the lead in a musical as his alter ego, Dorothy. The ladies in his life are granted more agency, and some homophobic-leaning humor has been excised as Michael learns firsthand that being a woman isn't a cakewalk... especially in heels.


Moulin Rouge! The Musical
Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues

Previews start June 28. Opens July 25. Open run.

Technically part of the 2019-2020 season, this stage adaptation of Baz Luhrmann's audacious 2001 movie musical was a smash at Boston's Emerson Colonial Theater last year, and aims to seduce Broadway audiences this summer. Featuring a cavalcade of pop and rock hits, this over-the-top romance focuses on the love triangle between a 19th-century writer (Aaron Tveit) a nightclub temptress (Tony winner Karen Olivo) and a lecherous Duke (Tam Mutu), as opportunistic impresario (six-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein) presides over the louche scene. A subtle story it's not. Instead, spellbinding sensory overload takes center stage courtesy of endlessly inventive director Alex Timbers.



King Lear
Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues

Previews start February 28. Opens April 4. Closes June 9.

Fresh off winning a Tony for her performance in Three Tall Women last season, venerable British thespian Glenda Jackson returns stateside to play one of the most challenging roles in the theatrical canon: Shakespeare's King Lear. This production has prestige written all over it: It's directed by Tony-winning director Sam Gold, and Jackson's costars include Tony winner Jayne Houdyshell as the Earl of Gloucester, Tony nominee John Douglas Thompson as the Earl of Kent, and Elizabeth Marvel and Ruth Wilson as two of her daughters. Jackson turns 83 during this limited-run production, and it's amazing that she's tackling a part that's such a visceral reminder of our shared mortality.


Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus
Booth Theatre, 222 West 45th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Previews start March 11. Opens April 21. Closes June 16.

Tony winner Nathan Lane and Tony nominee Kristine Nielsen (replacing Andrea Martin, who had to leave due to injury) headline this outrageous comedy by MacArthur genius and downtown luminary Taylor Mac. If anyone could pen a sequel to Shakespeare's bloodiest tragedy it's Mac, whose previous projects include tracing 240 years of American history through popular period songs and an absurd patriarchy-smashing romp. So, what to expect from Gary, which is directed by Tony winner George C. Wolfe? Everything! Mac is unpredictable, all we know is that two servants are tasked with disposing of bodies as the Roman Empire falls. Any similarities to today's political quagmire are entirely on purpose.


What the Constitution Means to Me
Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 West 44th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Previews start March 14. Opens March 31. Closes August 24.

After two sold-out Off-Broadway runs last fall, playwright-performer Heidi Schreck's almost solo show transfers to Broadway. As a teen, Schreck earned scholarship money for college by giving speeches about the U.S. Constitution at American Legion posts. She recreates that experience on stage while simultaneously commenting from her adult feminist perspective on the founding document's flaws and its impact on the women in her family. A skillful blend of autobiography and analysis, What the Constitution Means to Me makes politics personal, and includes spirited debates with real-life NYC teens.


Burn This
Hudson Theatre, 141 West 44th Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue

Previews start March 15. Opens April 16. Closes July 7.

Oscar nominee Adam Driver and TV favorite Keri Russell star in a revival of Lanford Wilson's sexy 1987 drama about two very different people -- a drug-addled bully and a sensitive dancer -- whose lives collide thanks to a funeral. Tony winner Michael Mayer directs this production, which is sure to be a hot ticket due to its celebrity cast.


Hillary and Clinton
Golden Theatre, 252 West 45th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Previews start March 16. Opens April 18. Closes June 23.

Two-time Tony winner Laurie Metcalf stars as Hillary and two-time Tony winner John Lithgow is Bill in Lucas Hnath's take on the former's failed 2008 bid to become the Democratic nominee for president. Make no mistake, this isn't a history show. As Hnath's proved with A Doll's House, Part 2, he's a master at exploding stories we think we know. So expect a fanciful fiction that parses gender roles, marriage and what helped pave the way to where we are now. Two-time Tony winner Joe Mantello directs.


Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue

Previews start April 2. Opens April 24. Closes June 9.

A half century ago, before print started its march toward extinction, Rupert Murdoch began building his media empire with the purchase of a struggling London tabloid. James Graham's drama about the controversial mogul's early days transfers from the West End to Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway home, with stars Bertie Carvel as Murdoch and Jonny Lee Miller as an anything-goes editor intact. Tony nominated director Rupert Goold helms this play that explains how we got Fox News.


All My Sons
American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Previews start April 4. Opens April 22. Closes June 23.

Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Arthur Miller's 1947 play kicked up some off-stage drama when original director Gregory Mosher left the production due to creative differences. But Tony winner Jack O'Brien has stepped in to helm this classic about an American family grappling with a dark secret post-World War II. Tony winner Tracy Letts and Annette Bening star.


Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune
Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Previews start May 4. Opens May 30. Closes July 28.

Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald and Tony nominee Michael Shannon star in a revival of Terrence McNally's raw romance between a pair of lonely, middle-aged, blue-collar coworkers. McDonald is a cynical waitress who can't believe Shannon's short-order cook wants more than a one-night stand. We anticipate full frontal nudity and lots of four-letter words.



Raven Snook is the Editor of TDF Stages. Follow her at @RavenSnook. Follow TDF at @TDFNYC.

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