6 Predictions for the Theater in 2016
TheaterMania takes a look at the big stories on the horizon.
The future is a hazy and capricious realm, but with a little foresight and knowledge, one can make some startlingly accurate predictions. We at TheaterMania have tried our hand at augury and come up with some surprising results. Here are the things that our sources (and our hunches) tell us might occur in the next 366 days. (Happy Leap Year!)
1. Director Martin Scorsese Helms a Hamilton Concert Documentary
Oscar-winning film director and native New Yorker Martin Scorsese knows a thing or two about chronicling both New York history (Gangs of New York) and rock concerts (The Last Waltz). So it's only fitting that he's the man to bring a historical Broadway musical to the screen in exactly the way we'd want to see it: as a concert documentary. Can you even imagine the duel scene between Hamilton and Burr? It would be the most suspenseful, slow-motion tracking shot in the history of filmmaking. Lincoln Center might have fantastic archives that chronicle performances of great musicals, but we think history has its eye on Scorsese and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda teaming up to create the portrait of a musical as we've never seen it before.
2. Danny Burstein Wins the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical
Last year, we were on the money in our prediction that perennial Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara would finally take home a statue for her performance in Bartlett Sher's The King and I. This year, we're sprinkling our fairy dust on Sher's other oft-nominated muse, Danny Burstein. He's been up for the Tony five times — soon to be six if his Tevye in Sher's revival of Fiddler on the Roof is as phenomenal as we anticipate it to be. So here's lookin' at you, Danny. TheaterMania thinks 2016 will be your year.
3. Phillipa Soo Leaves Hamilton to Star in Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812
Before landing Hamilton, Phillipa Soo made a name for herself with her radiant performance as Natasha in Dave Malloy's acclaimed electro-pop opera Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Soo played the role in several incarnations of the musical, starting with the original Ars Nova run in 2012. She traveled with it to a specially constructed tent in the Meatpacking District in 2013, and then back uptown to 45th Street when the tent, called Kazino, had to change locations. Then Soo was cast in Hamilton, in which she currently plays Alexander's wife, Eliza. But The Great Comet is coming to Broadway in September 2016, with superstar Josh Groban leading the cast. We predict that Soo will return as Natasha for the main-stem engagement, departing Hamilton shortly after the 2016 Tony Awards.
4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Will Be on Broadway by the End of 2016
With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling is finally returning to the story of The Boy Who Lived after a nearly decade-long hiatus. But this eighth installment in the series isn't a 900-page novel. It's an epic play in two parts, to be presented on London's West End at the Palace Theatre beginning in May 2016, with an official opening on July 30. Though no plans for additional productions have been announced, we feel confident predicting that The Cursed Child will take the world by storm and even mount a Broadway production by the end of 2016 — why should all those little Siriuses and Minervas running around the U.S. have to wait any longer than necessary to see their namesakes onstage?
5. Two Hours, No Intermission Becomes Standard
This one is already happening: A View From the Bridge and Lazarus both stretch to two intermissionless hours; the women's-prison production of Henry IV blasted past that mark without a break. The theater being a creature of trends, we expect this one to continue (and not just for productions directed by Ivo van Hove). While those of us with weak bladders will not be pleased by this development, there's logic to it: How many two hour, 20 minute shows could be shaved down to two hours flat by cutting the 15-minute intermission (which invariably stretches to 20 minutes as the bathroom line wraps around the lobby)? Presenting a whole show in one piece will allow the drama to progress unimpeded, keep you from spending more money at the bar, and get us all home faster. Resigned to the inevitable rise of two hours, no intermission, we offer a bonus prediction: 2016 is the year you will learn to hold it...or else.
6. The Wiz Will Bring Shanice Williams and All of Its Famous TV Cast to Broadway
When NBC announced that it would present The Wiz on television, it was also revealed that the live broadcast would be the precursor to a Broadway run during the 2016-17 season. Given the popularity of its leading lady, newcomer Shanice Williams, it's pretty safe to say that she will lead Kenny Leon's revival to the stage (where it will play — drumroll please — the Imperial Theatre). But we predict she won't be the only TV cast member to join the team; the other famous names from the show, including Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo, David Alan Grier, and Common, will all sign on as well (along with Stephanie Mills and Elijah Kelley). It will be the starriest musical and hottest ticket of the season — and it'll be as good as we want it to be.