Revivals allow audiences to see works from previous seasons in new ways, and this year’s Tony nominees for Best Revival of a Musical reinvent three shows from the recent past. Two are making their Broadway debuts after celebrated runs Off-Broadway in intimate houses and one is a new staging of a long-running smash hit.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
From the moment Neil Patrick Harris descends from the top of the Belasco Theatre as the flamboyant titular transgendered punk rocker to the dazzling finale when he strips himself almost naked, this is one wild ride. In Michael Mayer’s new production of the 1998 cult classic, this “internationally ignored song stylist” has taken over a Broadway house for a one-night concert. Between the hard-rocking songs by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, she tells her bizarre life story of surviving political upheavals, a botched sex change operation, a failed marriage, and a doomed love affair with the Christian Army brat who is now a much bigger star than her.
The megahit based on Victor Hugo’s massive novel of faith and redemption sees one more day on Broadway in this new production, based on a touring version which began in 2010. Employing new set and image designs by Matt Kinley based on Hugo’s paintings, the Imperial Theatre is transformed into revolutionary Parisand the French countryside. The saintly Jean Valjean, the relentless Javert, the heartbreaking Fantine, the tragic Eponine, the valiant Marius, the sweet Cosette and the comically vulgar Thernadiers are compelling as ever.
Tony nominee Sutton Foster stars as the title character, a fiercely independent, but naïve young woman, traveling by bus from her rural home in 1964 North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma to find a televangelist whom she believes can heal her scarred face. Along the way, she meets two GIs, who may change her life. Country, gospel, bluegrass, rock, and R&B flow through the rich score with music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Brian Crawley. Originally presented Off-Broadway for a brief run at Playwrights Horizons in 1997, this new Broadway version is derived from a recent concert staging as part of the Encores! series. Tony nominated director Leigh Silverman maintains the work’s intimacy with the excitement of a large Broadway production.