There's a lot happening on and off Broadway this spring that is already causing excitement and buzz. With two decades-in-the-making Broadway debuts, a plethora of diva worshiping, and the ability to devote an entire weekend to four masterworks by an iconic composer, here's what to look out for in 2017.
1. Long-Awaited Broadway Debuts of Renowned Playwrights
Paula Vogel and Lynn Nottage have a lot in common. Both have won Pulitzer Prizes (Vogel for How I Learned to Drive; Nottage for Ruined), both have spent several decades working in the theater industry, and both are making their Broadway playwriting debuts in 2017: Vogel with Indecent, about the history of the semi-known drama The God of Vengeance, and Nottage with Sweat, which looks at the recession through the lens of blue-collar factory workers. Both works were received with great acclaim upon their recent off-Broadway engagements and are transferring their authors to New York's most important stages. Finally.
2. Dueling Divas
Bette Midler as Dolly Levi. Donna Murphy as Midler's alternate. Glenn Close as Norma Desmond. Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole as cosmetics pioneers Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden. It's dueling divas on Broadway this season with the revivals of Hello, Dolly! and Sunset Boulevard, and the debut of War Paint. May the brassiest belter win.
3. Iconic Movies Become Musicals
Broadway in 2017 will welcome a slate of classic films that have become musicals, featuring A-list casts and creative teams. Groundhog Day, inspired by the Bill Murray movie classic, features a score by Matilda's Tim Michin and stars Broadway favorite Andy Karl; Amélie will be directed by Tony winner Pam MacKinnon and stars Hamilton's Phillipa Soo; Hairspray scribes Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman craft the score to a new stage version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Christian Borle; and Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty reunite with their Ragtime book writer Terrence McNally to bring Anastasia to the theater. From meet-cutes to golden tickets, there's a movie adaptation for everyone.
4. Return of the 1990s
With the upcoming revivals of Miss Saigon and Sunset Boulevard joining the already-running Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway is looking a lot like it did in the mid-1990s, when the British-bred mega musical was the dominant theatrical form. Falling chandeliers, flying helicopters, and levitating tires, it's as if we never said goodbye.
5. August Wilson's Jitney Rides to Broadway
Before his untimely death in 2005, August Wilson wrote 10 dramas that encompassed the history of African-American life in his native Pittsburgh. 2017 will mark the Broadway debut of the one play in that cycle that heretofore has never made it there: August Wilson's Jitney. With direction by frequent Wilson interpreter Ruben Santiago-Hudson (a Tony winner for his acting in Wilson's Seven Guitars), and a cast including Wilson vets Brandon Dirden and Anthony Chisholm, this Manhattan Theatre Club production at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre will bring one of America's most important dramatists back to the spotlight.
6. Off-Broadway Continues to Flourish
The off-Broadway spring season is looking just as spectacular as Broadway's. At various stages throughout Manhattan, we'll see new plays by Annie Baker, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Steven Levenson, Penelope Skinner, Wallace Shawn, Sarah Ruhl, and David Mamet, as well as a new musical by the legendary John Kander. Off-Broadway is really bringing the razzle dazzle this spring.
7. So Much Sondheim
This April, an intrepid audience member will be able to see Sweeney Todd, Pacific Overtures, and Sunday in the Park With George all in a single New York weekend. Add a train ride to Yale Rep and a flight to the Ahmanson in Los Angeles to your itinerary and you can also catch Assassins and the tour of Fiasco Theatre's Into the Woods. So many possibilities…