By Naomi Serviss / New York City
There are plenty of reasons to theater-hop this spring.
New productions with older stars (Laurie Metcalf, Annaleigh Ashford) and bloodthirsty stories (Parade, Sweeney Todd) are tempting, but with a caveat. Most theaters no longer require masking (!), which I consider ill-advised, and I’m not alone. Still, depending on your comfort level, attention must be paid to these tasty theatrical delicacies.
Even if you’re reluctant to brave a midtown theater crowd, you may be mighty tempted to catch a new production or even an old chestnut.
Seasoned musical powerhouses like Ben Platt (Parade) and Josh Groban (Sweeney Todd) are wowing preview audiences with wrenching and comic personas.
Parade may be a 1913 musical drama (based on a true story), but it’s not stuck in the early 20th century. Platt portrays Leo Frank, a factory-owning Jewish New Yorker living in Atlanta. Frank was wrongly convicted of murdering a young female employee, and was ultimately lynched.
A strip-downed version at New York City Center’s Encores! was a critical and popular smash last fall. This interpretation of Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown’s musical drama stirred sell-out crowds during its run. A much-revised score and book is a far cry from the musical’s 1998 premiere. In previews at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater, it opens March 16, ending August 6.
Antisemitic protests outside the theater have put a damper on the upcoming opening, but they reinforce the importance of plays such as this. If now is not the time for a Parade revival, then when?
Sweeney Todd: The Demon of Fleet Street will be a hot ticket and prices reflect that. Tony winner Annaleigh Ashford and the golden-throated Josh Groban return to Broadway as the vengeful, blood-letting barber and the human-meat-pie-baking Mrs. Lovett in Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s bloody 1979 operetta.
Directed by Thomas Kail (Hamilton) with magical choreography by Steven Hoggett, the cast includes the Tony winner Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I) as the Beggar Woman. Previews start February 26 at the Lunt-Fontaine Theater, and open March 26.
I’m curious about Amy Herzog’s upcoming adaptation of Ibsen’s Masterpiece, A Doll’s House, with movie star Jessica Chastain playing Nora Helmer. With Arian Moayed (Succession) as Nora’s husband Torvald, the production promises to be bare-bones and emotionally powerful, with Jamie Lloyd directing. It opens March 9 and the limited run ends June 4.
Some Like it Hot takes the 1959 film starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemon and Marilyn Monroe and flicks it with a contemporary spin. In this musical comedy iteration of crime witnesses hiding out in a woman’s band on a train, Christian Borle, J. Harrison Ghee and Adrianna Hicks play the key roles. Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, its book is by Amber Ruffin and Matthew López. Marc Shaiman wrote the music and lyrics with Scott Wittman. At the Shubert Theater.
A dazzling new show, Grey House, promises to scare your socks off. Starring two-time Tony winner Laurie Metcalf (A Doll’s House, Part 2, Three Tall Women) and Emmy nominee Paul Sparks (House of Cards). This spooky thriller hinges on a couple whose car crashes deep in the mountains. Seeking shelter in an isolated cabin might not be the wisest solution, but when you’re stuck, you’re stuck. Just when you think things couldn’t get any hairier or truthier….
Smart and savvy, this new play is “…legitimately terrifying,” wrote the Chicago Tribune.
“We are thrilled to bring the horror genre to Broadway, helmed by one of the greatest directors of our time, Joe Mantello. This will be unlike anything Broadway audiences have ever experienced, brought to life by extraordinary actors—Laurie Metcalf, Tatiana Maslany and Paul Sparks—and a team of brilliant designers,” said producers Kirdahy and Ahrens in a statement.
With the luminously gifted Metcalf starring, seats will fly. With choreography by legendary Camille A. Brown, sound design by Tony nominee Tom Gibbons and lighting design by seven (!) time Tony winner Natasha Katz! That’s entertainment! Tickets are now on sale through September 3rd.
Keep your eyes out for the Off-Broadway Alliance’s 20at20 promotion, offering $20 tickets for off-Broadway plays and musicals 20 minutes before curtain. This biannual event runs March 20-April 9th. Visit 20at20.com for deets. The non-profit promotes and encourages off-Broadway theater and seeks to improve accessibility for new and diverse audiences.
It’s a grand time to catch theater, just remember to either buy from the box office or the TKTS ticket booths (Midtown and Lincoln Center) for bargain day-of prices.
When it’s your turn at the little window, scan for your favorites but take a chance on new shows as well.
Take a chance! Try something new then report back!
I’ll be listening.
Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including BroadwayWorld.com