Spring is always packed with shows wanting their place on the Great White Way to make an impression right before the Tony Awards. This year is no exception. The theatre scene this spring is bursting with amazing talent and incredible shows.
Here’s my top 10 must-see shows for the spring season, in chronological order by opening night:
Cinderella: Opening: March 3
If you have a musical starring Laura Osnes (Bonnie and Clyde) and Santino Fontana (Billy Elliot the Musical) with music written by Rodgers and Hammerstein where can you go wrong? Previews for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella began Jan. 25 and are coming to a close soon. The show will open this upcoming Sunday at the Broadway theatre.
This Douglas Carter Beane book show brings the most loved fairytale to life in a way that’s never been done before. It gives a complete makeover to the classic story that we know and love, exploring a more fun side to Cinderella (Osnes) and developing the story with twists and turns that are sure to leave the audience laughing. Paired with a Rodgers and Hammerstein’s score, this show is set to make a significant impression on the Great White Way this year.
The two part musical is the first staging of the Rodgers and Hammerstein version which has previously featured both Julie Andrews and Lea Salonga in the title role. However, the Broadway production features an updated script that explores not only Cinderella’s journey towards her happily ever after but creates fully-developed characters for the Prince, her stepsisters (Marla Mindelle and Ann Harada) and introduces a new character played by Greg Hildreth who wants to take down the monarchy. The show has all the romance, comedy and magic of a big Broadway show.
Why I want to see it: It seems that in past years, Broadway has lost some of its magic. I’m talking real stardust magic. Expect a few crazy wardrobe changes that will leave you wondering how Laura Osnes was able to transform her look so quickly and the fairy godmother, played by Victoria Clark, might even take flight once or twice. This show has literal magic and special effects from movies that come to life on the stage. It is incredible what they have done to bring this production to the stage, finally.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Opening March 20
Based on the Truman Capote novella of the same name, this infectious love story is going to inspire a whole new generation of lovers. The original Broadway musical ran in 1966, never fully opening, closing after just four previews despite its star-studded cast including Mary Tyler Moore in the title role. This story will also follow the same story as the critically acclaimed movie starring Audrey Hepburn, which previewed in 1961.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s tells the story of young socialite Holly Golightly and her adventurous journey moving to New York City from the country. The play, differing from the novella, extends a romance between Fred (the narrator) and Golightly and explores a relationship just as her past begins to catch up to her new lifestyle.
This Edward Albee book and Bob Merrill score are finally tackling Broadway once again, with another star-studded cast with Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Cory Michael Smith (Cock), and George Wendt (Cheers) leading the production.
Why I want to see it: If I’m honest, I had no idea what Breakfast at Tiffany’s was about until the musical marquee went up. As someone who was incredibly interested in Cock, it is super exciting to see Corey Michael Smith make his Broadway debut. From what I’ve heard about the show, Emilia Clarke is an amazing fit for the role and it has really gotten me hyped up to see the show.
Hands on a Hardbody: Opening March 21
Now in previews, Hands on a Hardbody is based on the 1997 documentary of the same name. The story follows ten Texans striving to succeed. All 10 have entered the same competition in order to win a brand new truck. To do so, each contestant must keep one hand on the vehicle at all times in the blazing Texas sun, a story that seems dull but has already proved to be incredibly entertaining.
This book by Doug Wright and music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green have tackled a show that could go very right or very wrong and we can’t wait to see how it plays out. The company includes such favorites as Allison Case (Hair), Keith Carradine (The Will Rogers Follies), John Jay Armstrong (Catch Me If You Can) and Hunter Foster (Little Shop of Horrors).
Why I want to see it: This show first drew me in with its cast, as it did for most people. But the concept, for me, is so interesting. It’s hard to believe that they can make standing around a car interesting to all audiences, but if there is any cast that can do it, it would be this group of people. Still, I’m just incredibly happy that this group of people is putting on a show that seems like it could be a flop. I think that the concept is going to be something that people identify with and it will be much deeper than it seems at face value.
The Last Five Years: Opening April 2
The cult followers of this musical rejoiced when news broke that this Jason Robert Brown musical would be headed back to New York City since its first production back in 2002.
The story follows the romance between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hyatts, a struggling actress. The story tells Jamie’s story in chronological order, starting from the beginning of their relationship, and from Cathy’s point of view from the end of the relationship to the start. The storyline is loosely based on Brown’s failed marriage to Theresa O’Neill.
This production is sure to please considering Brown himself is directing the show. It will star Adam Kantor (Rent) and Betsy Wolfe (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) as Jamie and Cathy.
This story has also gained a lot of public attention recently due to the movie version which will star Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) and Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) in the title roles.
Why I want to see it: I didn’t know anything about this show until someone very recently said that they were excited that it was opening in New York. They seemed appalled that I didn’t know what it was about. So I listened to the tracks and they are brilliant. The music is so fitting and the story is a love story like I’ve never seen before.
Kinky Boots: Opening April 4
There cannot be a more fun-loving and upbeat show than one written by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein. Lauper and Fierstein have teamed up with director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell to adapt this true story into a Broadway musical. The storyline is based off of the story of Divine and the 2005 film of the same name.
Kinky Boots is story of a struggling, traditional Northampton shoemaker, Charlie Price, and his drag queen business partner, Lola, who turns to fetishism footwear more specifically, kinky boots, in order to save his family business and his workers. The adaption opens up a whole new world for the protagonist, teaching that a new outlook might be the thing that could spark a change in your entire world.
This production will be lead by Tony nominee Stark Sands (American Idiot) as Charlie, alongside Billy Porter (Miss Saigon) as Lola and Annaleigh Ashford (Legally Blonde) as Lauren. This will be the first time that this two-part book and score will be featured on Broadway.
Why I want to see it: The first time I was introduced to this musical was walking to Schmackary’s and passing the marquee outside the Al Hirschfeld where it will be opening in a few short weeks. Ironically, when I had gotten home that day, I found my mom to be watching Kinky Boots on the television. I was immediately drawn to it. The storyline is so unique and unlike any other story I’ve seen on a Broadway stage so I’m very glad that a whole throng of people is going to get to see this theatrical experience.
Matilda: Opening April 11
This new Royal Shakespeare Company musical transferred directly from the West End is one of the most highly anticipated musicals of this season. Already before previews, the show has gained a huge following for the New York production.
The story is based off of the Roald Dahl novel of the same name about a precocious little girl in a house and a society that drives her to pull pranks on her wicked mother, father and headmaster. The West End production won seven Oliver awards (the West End equivalent of the Tony Awards), including Best New Musical, breaking the record for most awards ever won by a single show.
The role of Matilda, like in London, will be played by four different girls, Sophie Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon, and Milly Shapiro, who will all be making their Broadway debuts. Bertie Carvel and Lauren Ward will reprise their London roles as Miss Trunchbull and Miss Honey respectively. However, other notable Broadway stars will also be joining this company. The cast will include Taylor Trensch (Bare the Musical) as Michael Wormwood as well as former Newsies cast members Clay Thompson, Ryan Steele and Thayne Jasperson in the ensemble.
Why I want to see it: This is probably the show that I’m most excited for this season. I already have my tickets and I can’t wait to see the production. They have kept most of the stuff from the London production, which got rave reviews and looks incredible. There is a particularly soft spot in my heart for the newsies in the cast but where can you go wrong with Tim Minchin and Roald Dahl?
Motown: Opening April 14
The Berry Gordy, Jr. book tells true story of the one-of-a-kind music that first hit the radio in radio in 1959 and revolutionized the way that we listen to music. The show follows Berry Gordy’s journey from heavyweight boxing to the music industry, where he proceeded to discover and launch the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. The musical will feature Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple) as Berry Gordy himself.
Why I want to see it: I’ve been waiting for Motown for probably coming up on a year now. The Lunt-Fontanne is one of my theatres and when I had heard that this show was going in, I did my research. I’m a sucker for music like this, catchy and fun and altogether nothing like a normal Broadway score or like what we normally hear on the radio nowadays. Sticking with the iconic music that was in Memphis, this musical is following right on along. The energy is infectious and I think and hope that people will be up in their seats and dancing in the aisles, I think this is one show we should all be watching out for.
Jekyll and Hyde: Opening April 18
It’s about time that a Frank Wildhorn score played in the Broadway scene again. After last year’s short-lived Bonnie and Clyde, the theatre community should rejoice in that this beautiful music will be playing another Broadway house this season.
Jekyll and Hyde (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) is one of the best known stories of all time. The first Broadway production ran for four years, grossing more than $1.5 million. It tells the story of the strange occurrences between well-regarded scientist Dr. Henry Jekyll and evil and to some extent insane. Edward Hyde, who are consequently the same person. The story line explores Jekyll’s split personality disorder and the musical itself portrays different topics such as varying levels of tolerance and morality while also exploring two explosive beautiful love stories.
This limited engagement will include Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages) as Jekyll/Hyde, pop-singer Deborah Cox as Lucy and Teal Wicks (Wicked) as Emma.
Why I want to see it: I love Frank Wildhorn. There is so much bad energy surrounding him in the Broadway community but I think that this show is truly one of his successes. The music is gorgeous. Jeckyll and Hyde explores so much inside as well as so many issues that we still face in our world. I’m so excited for so many people to see this show because it is one thing to read the novel and be touched by the story but completely different to see it come to life right in front of your eyes.
Macbeth: Opening April 20
The cursed Scottish play is back…and it is now a one-man show.
Tony Award winner Alan Cumming will play every role in the show.
How can the story of Macbeth be portrayed by one actor? Alan Cumming has transformed this Shakespearean tragedy into a tasteful play all within the mind of a patient suffering alone in a clinical room within the psych ward. The show will keep its scary aspect while using new forms of multimedia and technology to reinterpret the original text.
Why I want to see it: Macbeth might be one of my favorite plays ever written. The characters in the show are so well developed and intricate and human that I’m a little doubtful as to whether this reinterpretation of the text is really staying true to the original. While I have no doubt that Alan Cumming has transferred the text to the best of his ability into something that resembles the Shakespearean play, there is no way that I will be able to judge his show on the same scale that I would had I seen the last revival of the Scottish play on Broadway. I have a feeling that it is just going to be too different.
Pippin: Opening April 25
Classic Broadway has returned! The American Repertory Theatre is bringing Pippin back to its home on Broadway.
The revival ended last month in Boston with rave reviews and immediate plans to come to New York. The original production, under the direction of legend Bob Fosse opened in 1972, and ran for five years, winning five Tony awards. (Interestingly, the original show was partially financed by the same Motown records that is spoken of earlier in this article). The show has become a staple of high schools, summer stocks and community theatres. The score is written by Wicked and Godspell’s Stephen Schwartz.
Pippin is loosely derived from true stories from the Middle Ages, however holds little historical accuracy.
The musical will feature Matthew James Thomas (Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark) as Pippin himself. Patina Miller (Sister Act) will be taking over the role of the Leading Player, a role that won Ben Vereen a Tony award for the original production.
Why I want to see it: I was introduced to Pippin at a very young age so you can imagine that I’m beyond excited to finally see it brought to the stage. Patina Miller is one of my favorite stage performers because of her energy and she is sure to bring that spirit to Pippin.
This article was corrected to properly identify Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a stage play. We apologize for the error.