A new season on Broadway means new opportunities for stage stars to be born among a crop of fresh-faced Broadway newbies. Can you believe that this time last year, neither Carmen Cusack (Bright Star) nor Cyntha Erivo (Tony winner for The Color Purple) had ever appeared on Broadway? Now we cannot imagine the Great White Way without them.
With that in mind, we decided to look forward to the next batch of potential stars. Here are 8 of the most promising Broadway debuts of this fall:
1. Josh Groban — Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
An informal poll of the TheaterMania staff found Groban to be the clear winner when it came to the most anticipated Broadway debut of the season. The honey-voiced multi-platinum recording artist has always had the acting bug (as evidenced by this video of him playing Tevye in his high school's production of Fiddler), but this is his first foray on the Broadway stage. The Great Comet, based on Tolstoy's War and Peace, received positive reviews for its previous off-Broadway (and pre-Groban) incarnations (which included an extended run in a tent pitched over a midtown parking lot). Like those earlier runs, it is helmed by Hadestown director Rachel Chavkin, who is also making her Broadway debut. This is going to be one to remember.
2. Denis Arndt — Heisenberg
The 77-year-old Arndt has an extensive screen and stage resume (he had roles in both L.A. Law and The Practice). He's even done Shakespeare in the Park a couple of times. But incredibly, he's never been on Broadway. That is, until this September when he begins previews in the Broadway transfer of Heisenberg opposite Mary-Louise Parker. Playwright Simon Stephens (who penned the hit Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) delivers an unlikely twist on the Hollywood rom-com with this May-December romance of deception. Both Arndt and Parker received raves when the show played off-Broadway last summer.
3. Birgitte Hjort Sørensen — Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Broadway feels like an inevitable destination for Sørensen, who was first bit by the acting bug while seeing a production of Chicago in London's West End (she later appeared as Roxie in a production in her native Copenhagen, as well as in London). While her stage and screen work in Europe has been extensive, the stunning Dane is best known to American audiences for a relatively minor role in TV's Game of Thrones: She played Karsi, a wildling chieftain who is brutally murdered by a mob of zombie children. She is set to play the saintly Madame de Tourvel, subject of a cruel wager between the debauched Marquise de Merteuil (Janet McTeer) and Vicomte de Valmont (Liev Schreiber), in this revival of Christopher Hampton's perennially popular drama.
4. Harold Perrineau — The Cherry Orchard
Best known for his television roles of Michael Dawson on Lost and Augustus Hill on Oz, Perrineau will be playing the pivotal role of Lopakhin in Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. The son of a serf, the ambitious Lopakhin has become wealthy as he watches fortunes diminish (through their own sloth and stupidity) for the noble family to which his father was formerly tied. Perrineau is a fierce actor and this is a meaty role, so prepare for dramatic sparks.
5. Dann Florek — The Front Page
In a world in which almost every New York theater actor has appeared on Law & Order at least once, it is somewhat surprising that Florek (who has played homicide captain Donald Cragen on both the original and SVU spinoff, making him one of the most recurring figures in the expanded Law & Order universe) has never appeared on Broadway. That is set to change with the revival of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's 1928 comedy The Front Page, about a group of newspaper reporters on the crime beat. Instead of playing a cop, Florek will be playing an unscrupulous politician. He will be joined by an all-star cast including Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, Jefferson Mays, and Sherie Rene Scott.
6. Kristolyn Lloyd — Dear Evan Hansen
Dear Evan Hansen received a slew of love letters from the critics when it opened off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre earlier this year, so it's no surprise that nearly the entire cast is transferring to Broadway. Among them is Kristolyn Lloyd, who plays the overachieving friend of the angst-ridden title character in this new musical by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, and Steven Levenson. Llyod is most widely known for her portrayal of Dayzee Leigh on the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, but she has given memorable stage performances as Grace in Invisible Thread (also at Second Stage) and Heather Duke in both the Los Angeles and off-Broadway productions of Heathers. We're thrilled that she's joining the Broadway family.
7. Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland — Oh, Hello on Broadway
No, we don't mean Nick Kroll and John Mulaney — we mean their alter-egos, Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, the tuna-pushing, coke-sniffing, sexual-harassing septuagenarians first introduced on Comedy Central's Kroll Show. We loved Oh, Hello when it was off-Broadway last year. The fourth wall has always been a porous border for these artful altacockers, so we can expect a lot of outrageous offstage appearances in the coming months. Broadway feels like the natural habitat for the longtime Upper West Siders; so even though this is a debut, it feels more like a homecoming.
8. Cate Blanchett — The Present
This show technically doesn't open until January, but previews begin this year and we're way too excited to leave it off. Two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett is one of our greatest living actresses. She has performed frequently at BAM (A Streetcar Named Desire, Hedda Gabler) and as part of the Lincoln Center Festival (The Maids, Uncle Vanya), but this will be her first time treading the boards of a Broadway theater. A cast of Australian actors joins her for Andrew Upton's reimagining of Anton Chekhov's seldom-performed first play. Honestly, the only thing that could get us more stoked about a Broadway show would be the announcement that Blanchett will make her sophomore Broadway outing opposite Dame Judi Dench in a musical adaptation of Notes on a Scandal.
- Roundabout Theatre Company
- Janet McTeer
- Diane Lane
- Second Stage Theatre
- Sherie Rene Scott
- Josh Groban
- Benj Pasek
- Anton Chekhov
- Comedy Central
- Kristolyn Lloyd
- Andrew Upton
- Dear Evan Hansen
- Nick Kroll
- John Mulaney
- Gil Faizon
- Kroll Show
- The Front Page
- Christopher Hampton
- Birgitte Hjort Sørensen
- Harold Perrineau
- Ben Hecht
- Charles MacArthur
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