Theatre Talk Thursday: Most anticipated shows opening this spring

We saw a sampling of the best of the best coming to the stage this spring so now it’s your turn to sound off on what shows you’re already planning trips to see!

Here are some favorites from the StageDoorDish.com team:

The cast of Hands on a Hardbody in rehearsal

The cast of Hands on a Hardbody in rehearsal

Samantha, founder and editor-in-chief

If someone told me last fall that the spring musical I would be looking forward to seeing most would be about a bunch of people competing to win a truck in Texas, I might have scoffed and questioned their sanity. But as the spring season inches closer, and shows like Matilda, Cinderella and Motown all show their posters and advertisements near their respective homes, I’m itching to get back to the Brooks Atkinson to see Hands on a Hardbody. There’s no question that new art on Broadway is becoming increasingly rare and fresh faces are hard to come by. And while I happily admit that Hunter Foster is a genius, Jay Armstrong Johnson is my Broadway crush this spring and I’m so excited to see Jay and Allison Case working together again post-Hair, I am unfamiliar with most of the talent in the show. The appeal of Hands on a Hardbody is the chance to experience something fresh and exciting. It’s a show with depth, heart and a message that isn’t found in any other Broadway show this spring. It’s about the American dream and having faith in the future. Already the show is receiving rave reviews and they just completed their first week of previews. As great as I expect Matilda to be and as great as the sounds of Motown are, those shows don’t set me on fire quite like Hands on a Hardbody. It’s rooting for the underdog, finding a show that celebrates a dreamer’s spirit, the excitement of being introduced to talented people and the unique theme of the show that makes Hands on a Hardbody the obvious winner for this spring. It’s more important than ever to support new art, new talent and new concepts like the ones found in Hands on a Hardbody because otherwise all we’ll be seeing on Broadway after a while is recycled shows and adaptations with familiar faces and borrowed Hollywood stars and part of the magic of Broadway theatre will cease to exist.

Billy Magnussen and Sigourney Weaver in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Lincoln Center.

Billy Magnussen and Sigourney Weaver in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Lincoln Center.

Alan, managing editor

I am personally looking forward to Christopher Durang’s Broadway run of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. I am a definite fan of Durang’s work, which manages to be loopy, literary, and hilarious all at the same time. For this show, Durang has put his own irreverent spin on the world of Chekhov’s plays and created a farce of sibling rivalry and gloomy depression starring four very Chekhovian characters. Three siblings reunite when the famous sister (Masha) returns to visit her shut-in relations (Vanya and Sonia) with her twenty-something boy toy (Spike), and the result is hilarity. If the off-Broadway run at Lincoln Center last year is any indication, this show is going to be a great night out at the theater. The original cast will all be there, including Sigourney Weaver and David Hyde Pierce, and the director is still Nicholas Martin. Be there for previews on March 5, or the official opening on March 14 to witness this zany, comic creation.

Cinderella

Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes in Cinderella.

Wendi, video blogger

As hard as it is to pick one (so I’m picking two!), On Broadway, I am most looking forward to Laura Osnes as the beautiful and charming Cinderella. Not only is this show a classic with timeless music and wonderful costumes, but Laura Osnes is perhaps the sweetest and most talented woman currently on Broadway. It also doesn’t hurt that she was made specifically for this role (Broadway’s sweetheart, anyone?). The show is still in previews, and already the reviews have been extraordinary. I can’t wait to see Laura in this iconic and lovable role!

On Off-Broadway, I am dying to see the revival of The Last Five Years. I have never seen the production, but have worn out the soundtrack on my iPod and would love to finally see this endearing show. With the movie currently in preproduction (with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan..*fangirl moment*) I would love to get to see the stage show in New York City. I am also hoping the revival and recent casting news of the movie will spread the show’s popularity and give it an even bigger fan base.

Milly Shapiro, Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, and Bailey Ryon in front of the marquee for their Broadway debut.

Milly Shapiro, Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, and Bailey Ryon in front of the marquee for their Broadway debut.

Josh, writer

As a huge fan of Roald Dahl, I am beyond stoked to see Matilda the Musical take center stage when the show opens at the Shubert Theater in April. The 1996 film starring Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, and Pam Ferris was one of the great family films of my generation’s childhood and I can’t wait to see how the text from original story and the visuals from the film come together in the stage adaptation. I am also intrigued by the chance to see Miss Trunchbull be played by a man. Bertie Carvel, the actor who performed the part to great acclaim in London’s West End, will reprise the role on Broadway and is sure to bring the house down. Having never listened to the soundtrack of the West End production, I am also excited to hear the music written for the show, which could very well heighten the story’s already magical moments. And I would be lying if I said I’m not most interested in seeing how Matilda’s powers are executed on stage. If the Broadway production is able to feature the memorable scene from the movie where playing cards fly around Matilda’s living room, I think I might lose my mind a little. We all know just how magical Broadway can be, but I have a feeling that Matilda could very well take it to a whole new level.

Nicole, intern

The show I’m most looking forward to this spring would definitely be Matilda, the story of a young, smart and imaginative girl with extraordinary abilities who dreams of a different life. I grew up with both the Roald Dhal book and the 1996 movie, so I’m eager to see the beloved story told in a new and exciting way with big musical numbers and what looks to be a really incredible set. Because the original production received rave reviews and many awards, my expectations are high for this West End-transfer, but I have a feeling that this new Broadway musical, which begins previews March 4 at the Shubert Theatre, will be a hit. How can it not be with such a classic story, music and lyrics by the incomparable Tim Minchin, and an ensemble that includes some of our favorite newsies (Ryan Steele, Thayne Jasperson and Clay Thompson) from the Nederlander?

Joe, intern

When the Roundabout Theatre Company announced a little over a month and half ago they would be producing a revival of the Clifford Odets masterpiece The Big Knife I couldn’t help but wonder who was going to be cast in the lead role of Charlie Castle the famous Hollywood actor who is facing his own demons when his wife decides that the marriage is over. The choice to cast Bobby Cannavale in such a wrought with emotion stylized piece is what made pick this production as my must see for this upcoming season. Cannavale fresh off the heels of a mind-altering turn as Ricky Roma in the revival of David Mamet’s tour de force “Glengarry Glenross” will be joined by Rachel Brosnahan in her Broadway Debut as Charlie Castle’s devious wife Marion Castle. What makes a play great is its intensity in its highs, and the amazing level of somberness and tenderness in its lows, Odets knew how to craft a play better than most and he did it at a time of union unrest and corruption. In The Big Knife he separates himself from that world and puts us through a ringer of tension and comedy the likes of which we haven’t seen in many years.

Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor

Betsy Wolfe and Adam Kantor

 Claire, intern

I am so excited for The Last Five Years to open off-Broadway this spring. I was introduced to the cast recording years ago just as I’d started to discover the world of musical theater. I was completely overwhelmed by how beautiful the music is and wished more than anything that I could see it onstage. Now that the show is returning to New York I’ll finally get the chance and I can’t wait. I was pretty young when I first heard the score, and the older I get, the more poignant and resonant the score becomes to me. I’m so curious whether the show will play out onstage in the same way that I imagined it would when I pictured it in my head for all these years. I’m a huge fan of Adam Kantor, so that just makes it even better.

Now that you heard from us, it’s your turn! What show are you most excited for this spring? Who do you think will nab a Tony nomination at the last minute? Is there a show you anticipate will flop? Tell us your thoughts!

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About Samantha S.

"I found the theatre and I found my home.” ― Audra McDonald
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12 Responses

  1. I love Adam Kantor! That would definitely make me want to go see Last Five Years. Also, Harriet Harris as the evil stepmother? Yes please!

  2. I haven’t been to NYC since last summer, so I’m GASPING to see Cinderella! I performed it with my high school several years back and I love it to this day! I hear Laura is definitely something to see.

    I’m also going to go with The Last Five Years as a second show for me! There is just something about it – whether it be the story or the haunting music that is just not to be missed!

  3. I saw Cinderella in January so it doesn’t register as a spring show in my mind but I cannot recommend it enough! Santino, Laura, Greg and the whole cast are just fantastic. And it’s so fun to see how much “magic” is in the show, from the very charming love story to some really fast on-stage wardrobe changes.

  4. I’m most excited for Cinderella! I mean what girl didn’t have a fantasy of being Cinderella one day? So seeing it onstage would be a dream! Plus I adore Laura. She was the first Broadway actress I really loved.

  5. If I end up in New York anytime soon, Cinderella is at the top of my list at the moment, along with the off-Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher (since I’ve yet to see it). I’m also really intrigued by Hands on a Hardbody… always good to see and support original work.

    • You’re going to fall in love with Peter and the Starcatcher, everyone does!

  6. It’s definitely between Last Five Years and Matilda for me. I’m crazy about the London production of Matilda, and have no doubt it’ll be successful on the Great White Way!

    And of course, the music from Last Five Years is great. Plus Adam Kantor and Betsy Wolfe? It’s bound to be a great show!

    (Another show I’m excited for is Peter and the Starcatcher. I’m thrilled that it’s going to be off-Broadway.)

    • Have you been watching the videos that 2ST put up of the rehearsals for TL5Y? Isn’t it crazy how much Adam sounds like Norbert?