10 Shows About Showbiz Currently on Broadway
Spoiler: Andrew Lloyd Webber loves to tell many a backstage tale.
Everyone loves a good show about life behind the scenes. 42nd Street, The Band Wagon, Noises Off: Theater audiences can't get enough of musicals and plays about the glamorous (and sometimes farcical) world of entertainment. Right now, there is a glut of material about actors, musicians, and writers. Here are 10 shows (roughly a fourth of everything on Broadway) that you might want to check out if you need a "backstager" fix.
For tickets, click on the title of a show below.
1. The Play That Goes Wrong
This gut-busting comedy delivers exactly what the title promises: A play in which everything that can go wrong, does. A cast of dedicated physical comedians portray substantially less-talented members of the Cornley University Drama Society in an onstage fiasco of epic proportions. The play-within-the-play is called The Murder at Haversham Manor. We don't know whodunit, but the victim is undoubtedly the live theater.
2. Present Laughter
Kevin Kline plays master thespian Garry Essendine in this frothy Noël Coward comedy in which the liquor flows, the banter sparkles, and the stakes take a holiday. This isn't the kind of play you attend to grapple with the pressing issues of the day. No, you go to ogle David Zinn's spectacular set, a dream apartment for the theatrically inclined. Also, two hours and 30 minutes with a real-live master thespian like Kevin Kline is always time well spent.
Laura Osnes and Corey Cott star in this new musical about a ragtag band of military veteran musicians trying to make it big in post-World War II America. Expect swing dancing and loads of heart in this high-energy show helmed by Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. This is a show-business fable of the greatest generation and the sacrifices they made.
4. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
This bio-musical about singer-songwriter Carole King also features music by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Gerry Goffin (King's then husband). It's a hit parade that includes numbers like "The Locomotion" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" alongside scenes of how they were written and produced. It's like a live version of Behind the Music, but with better costumes and dance breaks.
Few people remember Sholem Ashe's God of Vengeance, but it was the biggest thing to hit the Yiddish theater in the early 20th century. Paula Vogel bases this new play on that controversial title and the group of actors who performed it around the globe. Set against the backdrop of the Holocaust, Indecent is a powerful statement about fear-based decisions, art, and survival.
Before the age of the 24-hour news cycle and snackable infotainment, there was Kander and Ebb's prescient musical about two merry murderesses leveraging their tabloid infamy for a career in showbiz. Running strong since 1996, this Broadway revival seems to become only more relevant with each new reality star and celebrity scandal.
7. On Your Feet!
A young Gloria Estefan realizes her show business dreams in this jukebox musical about the rise of a Latin superstar. We watch Gloria conga her way to the top as her husband, Emilio, negotiates contracts with big record producers. This is a great backstager if you prefer your stage full of sexy dancers and bathed in concert lighting.
8. School of Rock
This high-octane musical is about a slacker masquerading as an elementary school music instructor who forms a rock group with his students so they can compete in the battle of the bands. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the score for this adaptation of the 2003 Jack Black movie. It's a kiddie backstager like none other.
9. Sunset Boulevard
While School of Rock is about a gaggle of starry-eyed dreamers, Sunset Boulevard (also by Andrew Lloyd Webber) follows the ultimate has-been: Norma Desmond. Glenn Close inhabits the role of the faded movie star (and protagonist of the 1950 Billy Wilder film) with divine grandeur. Overflowing with Hollywood intrigue, the show features a 40-piece orchestra onstage, the largest on Broadway.
10. The Phantom of the Opera
The longest-running musical in Broadway history is (surprise, surprise) a backstager by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This fin-de-siècle tale of obsession in the shadows takes place at a Paris opera house under which lives a mysterious phantom. Director Hal Prince's extravagant staging highlights opera rehearsals, a show-within-a-show, and a lavish masquerade gala. This gothic journey into 19th-century French showbiz has bewitched Broadway audiences for over three decades.