Published: September 24, 2009
This summer saw the conversion of Broadway in Times Square into a pedestrian walkway, opening up more room for crowds that were formerly cramped on the sidewalk. This fall, the managers of the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre are going to wish 45th Street had been converted as well, for they will face hordes of fans and autograph-hounds clamoring to see one of the 2009-2010 Broadway theatre season’s biggest attractions.
Daniel Craig (making his Broadway debut) and Hugh Jackman (making his second Broadway appearance) will star in the new drama “A Steady Rain,” opening at the Schoenfeld on Sept. 29. With these two movie stars sharing the stage, it will be a big start to what promises to be a very interesting season.
Another famous actor appearing in the fall is Jude Law, starring in an acclaimed production of “Hamlet” brought over from London. It will open at the Broadhurst Theatre on Oct. 6 for a 12-week engagement. Interestingly, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) will also perform “Hamlet,” from Apr. 22 to May 1, 2010, for its Mainstage season. Students will have an opportunity to observe the different ways that Shakespeare’s classic can be staged.
After playing throughout America for three years, Carrie Fisher will bring her solo show, “Wishful Drinking,” to New York. Opening on Oct. 4 at Studio 54, it is an autobiographical piece detailing Fisher’s celebrity-filled childhood, her “Star Wars” experiences, her drug additions and her bipolar disorder. Fisher’s honesty and wit are sure to make this a very memorable event.
One of the year’s most talked-about musicals is the expensive extravaganza “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” With a score by Bono and The Edge and direction by Julie Taymor, this rock musical is based on the beloved comic book character. Many gossip and theatre columnists have reported on the show’s difficult creation, saying its $40-50 million budget may be too much for its investors. Whether this musical will fly or collapse in the end is turning into one of the season’s biggest questions.
Alex Mitchell, FCLC ’12, said, “[‘Spider-Man’] will either be really good or so completely ludicrous that it’ll be worth seeing just to mock.”
Broadway will also see some smaller musicals this fall. “Memphis,” opening at the Shubert Theatre on Oct. 19, is an original story about a biracial romance set during the early years of rock ‘n’ roll. “Fela!,” opening at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre on Nov. 23, is a musical telling the life of Nigerian musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti. These are two shows that music lovers and dance students should find enjoyable.
Jessica Roach, FCLC ’12, said, “‘Fela!’ should be a remarkable way to experience the life story and musical contributions of such a legendary man.”
This season’s musical revivals cover various points in the history of twentieth century musical theatre. Broadway’s golden age is represented by “Finian’s Rainbow,” a 1947 comedy that opens at the St. James Theatre on Oct. 29.
The 1960s, the decade in which musicals began to reflect the current times, will be represented by “Bye Bye Birdie,” opening at Henry Miller’s Theatre on Oct. 15.
“A Little Night Music,” tentatively aiming for a Dec. 13 opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, will speak for the darker and musically complex shows of the 1970s.
The 1980s, in which controversial subjects like AIDS and homosexuality first showed up on Broadway, will be represented by “La Cage aux Folles,” a London transfer opening at the Longacre Theatre in the spring.
Finally, “Ragtime,” opening at the Neil Simon Theatre on Nov. 15, will exemplify the big-scale shows of the 1990s.
This exciting lineup will give theatre students and Broadway enthusiasts a chance to compare the various forms and styles that the Broadway musical has taken over the decades.
“I think it’s great that these musicals are coming back because we don’t always see these big productions that remind us why they were hits in the first place,” said Tom Dale Keever, adjunct instructor at FCLC. “It’s difficult to get that essence from the texts and cast recordings. Unless these first-rate versions are produced, we lose touch with what they were.”
So many enticing plays, and yet this is only the beginning. The dawning Broadway season is going to be filled to the rafters with big shows and big stars, providing plenty of thrills for die-hard theatre fans and Broadway newcomers alike.