Take a Look at Broadway’s Latest Shows


Many of the plays opening this Spring are either revivals or adaptations. (EMMA DIMARCO/ THE OBSERVER)


It is finally spring, and with the season typically comes warmer weather, blooming flowers and a brand new batch of Broadway shows. In fact, with many revivals and beloved classics on stage, this spring may produce some of the most entertaining shows to date.

The most anticipated musicals are adaptations of popular movies recreated for the stage. “Groundhog Day,” a musical based on the Bill Murray film of the same name, tells the story of a pessimistic Pittsburgh weatherman who is sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, PA. However, when he finds himself trapped in a never-ending time loop, he has to figure out how break the cycle. Matthew Warcus (director) and Tim Minchin (composer and lyricist), who first worked together on the Tony-Award-winning “Matilda: The Musical,” have reunited to bring this project from the West End to Broadway. After a successful run at London’s Old Vic Theatre, “Groundhog Day” has found its new home at the August Wilson Theatre where it officially opens on April 17.

Another adaptation this season, Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” might just be the sweetest of them all. The new musical tells the classic story of an impoverished boy who finds a miraculous golden ticket that allows him into the wondrous world that is Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The musical stars Tony-Award-winner Christian Borle (“Something Rotten”) as the master chocolatier Willy Wonka, with three Broadway newcomers Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Foust and Ryan Sell alternating performances as the lucky golden ticket-winner Charlie Bucket. What makes this musical so interesting is that Charlie is the only true “child” in the production. All of the other “kids” in the show are actually played by adults, which is an extremely creative and imaginative take on such a classic story. Marc Shaiman both composed the music and wrote the lyrics with help from Scott Wittman, his partner-in-crime in the popular production “Hairspray.” Previews for the show begin on March 28 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

However, one of the most anticipated musicals this spring is “Anastasia,” based on the stunning 1997 animated film of the same name. Telling the story of one of the last surviving members of the Russian royal family, “Anastasia” is all about the title character discovering her true identity and finding love along the way. The musical will feature the iconic music from the film such as the dreamy yet nostalgic “Once Upon a December”  as well as plenty of new additions from composer Stephen Flattery and lyricist Lynn Ahrens (“Rocky” and “Seussical”). Starring Christy Altomare (“Mamma Mia”) as Anya and Derek Klena as Dimitri, this musical may be the most magical on Broadway come April 24.

While adaptations seem to be extremely popular on Broadway this season, there are also a handful of great revivals on stage as well. Bette Midler, although a star on the big screen in roles such as Winifred Sanderson in “Hocus Pocus,” has yet to star in a Broadway production.  It is finally her time to shine through her role as Dolly Gallagher in “Hello, Dolly!,” a 1964 musical taking place in the turn of 20th century America. Tony-winning director Jerry Zaks (“Guys and Dolls”) and choreographer Warren Carlyle (“After Midnight”) are both working on the production; however, the musical will also be paying plenty of tribute to its original director and choreographer Gower Champion, who launched the musical to fame. So, put on your Sunday clothes, because previews for the show end April 20.

Another revival gaining rave reviews is “Miss Saigon,” a dramatic musical that takes place during the Vietnam War. Broadway newcomer Eva Noblezada stars as Kim, a Vietnamese girl who falls in love with an American soldier, Chris (Alistair Brammer). A role originated and made famous by Lea Salonga, Noblezada has quite large shoes to fill. The musical still stands as an emotional and passionate ode to human connection and consequence during the Vietnam War. Originally written by Claude-Michel Schönberg, the revival will take a new directorial lens through the eyes of Laurence Connor (“School of Rock”). If you would like to see this show, do so quickly—it runs  as a limited engagement until Jan. 15, 2018.

While the musicals on Broadway are certainly eye-catching, it is also important to mention some of the great plays as well. “The Little Foxes,” a revival of a 1939 play written by Lillian Hellman, stars three-time Tony winner Laura Linney as well as Cynthia Nixon, who won a Tony of her own for her performance in “Rabbit Hole.” The two actresses alternate nightly between playing the lead characters of Regina Giddens and her sister-in-law Birdie, two women who are unafraid to clash in a world where a woman’s wealth depended only on the men they marry. However, while the play takes place in the bygone era, the play’s themes will resonate deeply with the issues that our country faces today. Previews for the show begin March 29 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater.

Finally, “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams is currently in its seventh Broadway revival, which features Joe Mantello, who won a Tony last season for directing “The Humans,” stepping out of the shadows along with actress Sally Field. What makes this particular revival of the play so spectacular is that the role of Laura, the disabled daughter of Field’s character Amanda, is actually played by Madison Ferris, an actress with muscular dystrophy. Ferris is therefore the first actress in a wheelchair to play a leading role on Broadway. If you want to see this play, though, do so quickly—it is playing for a limited time and ends on July 15.

Broadway’s growing lack of original concepts makes this season’s batch of new shows extremely interesting. It seems that, in a similar trend to the movie industry, plays are looking to either revive old musicals back to life or base them on already popular films and novels in order to receive more hype and popularity. Looking at the immense success of original ideas such as “Hamilton,” perhaps replacing revivals and adaptations with new concepts to create a completely fresh batch of plays would be extremely refreshing for viewers everywhere. However, no matter what the idea is for a show, it is usually a success—and these spring releases will fare no differently.