The 2014 spring Broadway season is just around the corner and there is a lot to be excited about, no matter if you are looking for raucous song and dance numbers or more subdued dramatic works. The trends of the last few seasons continue, with familiar titles and faces making Broadway debuts. Coming from the screen to the stage are the new musicals Aladdin and Rocky. Also transitioning from screen to stage are TV and film stars including Denzel Washington, James Franco and Neil Patrick Harris. Of course, revivals are in full effect as well, with Les Miserables making a third trip to the Great White Way and Cabaret once again inhabiting Studio 54 with Tony winner Alan Cumming in the role of Emcee. Here are the 15 most anticipated shows for the next Broadway season.
The Bridges of Madison County
Previews begin Jan. 13, opens Feb. 20.
Romance makes a comeback on Broadway with this musical based on the Robert James Walker novel, which also served as the basis for the 1994 film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood. Kelli O’Hara (South Pacific) plays an Italian-immigrant housewife falling in love with a traveling photojournalist (Steven Pasquale) over the course of a weekend in 1960s Iowa. Some of the top creative names in the business are attached to the project. The score is by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown (Parade, 13, The Last Five Years) and the book is penned by Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Marsha Norman (’night, Mother, The Secret Garden). Tony winner Bartlett Sher, whose productions of South Pacific, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Awake and Sing, and Golden Boy have won raves, will do the staging. Schoenfeld Theater, 236 W 45th St.
All the Way
Previews begin Feb. 10. Opens March 6.
Bryan Cranston follows up his Emmy-winning performance as a science-teacher-turned-drug-dealer on Breaking Bad with a totally different guy in a tough position: President Lyndon Johnson pushing through civil rights legislation in the turbulent 1960s. The historic, large-cast epic by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkken (The Kentucky Cycle) has previously been produced at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass. Also starring are Michael McKean (The Homecoming) as J. Edgar Hoover and Branden J. Dirden (The Piano Lesson) as Martin Luther King, Jr. Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W 52nd St.
Previews begin Feb. 11. Opens March 13.
This stage version of the Oscar-winning boxing film is powerful enough to have knocked the long-running smash Mamma Mia! out of its home. Well, not quiet. The ABBA tuner moved from its longtime perch at the Winter Garden to the smaller Broadhurst and Rocky snapped it up. The large-scale production, which is still running in Hamburg, Germany, will need the cavernous theater to execute some exciting special effects including the climactic championship bout between the titular slugger and the title-holder Apollo Creed. Word is that the entire ring will be moving out over the audience. With the innovative Alex Timbers (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Here Lies Love) at the helm, expect the unusual. Sylvester Stallone, the original Rocky, is one of the producers and co-authors the book with the prolific Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray). The score is by the Tony-winning team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Once on This Island). Drama Desk nominee Andy Karl (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Legally Blonde) takes on the scrappy underdog with Margo Seibert making her Broadway debut as his love interest, the shy Adrian. Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway
Mothers and Sons
Previews begin Feb. 23. Opens March 23.
Based on the Terrance McNally one-act play Andre’s Mother, this emotion-filled play stars Tyne Daly as a mother who shows up at the home of her late son’s former partner unannounced. Daly previously starred when Mothers and Sons was produced earlier in 2013 at the Bucks County Playhouse in Pennsylvania. The Emmy and Tony winner first appeared on Broadway back in 1967 in That Summer – The Fall. She most recently starred as Maria Callas in Master Class, also by McNally, in 2011. John Golden Theater, 252 W 45th St.
Previews begin Feb. 26. Opens March 20.
Disney continues its parade of screen-to-stage transfers with a live version of its hit 1992 favorite about a boy and his genie, currently playing in Toronto before flying a magic carpet to Broadway. This new, full-length stage edition of the classic tale will feature all five songs from the film plus additional numbers written especially for this production. Music is by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) with lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita) and Chad Beguelin (Elf, The Wedding Singer) who also writes the book. Tony winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, The Drowsy Chaperone) directs and choreographs.This will be the eighth musical Disney has brought to Broadway. The others include Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aida, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Tarzan and Newsies. New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 W 42nd St.
Previews begin March 1. Opens March 23.
The international megahit will have another day and another destiny on Broadway when a new production alights at the Imperial, where the original played after transferring from the Broadway Theatre. The show was revived once already (running from 2006 to 2008) and now producer Cameron Mackintosh is hoping the success of the Oscar-winning film version will spark interest yet again at the box office. The new cast features Ramin Karimloo (Love Never Dies, West End) as Jean Valjean, Will Swenson (Hair, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as his pursuer Javert, Tony winner Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon) as the feisty Eponine, Caissie Levy (Ghost The Musical) as the pathetic Fantine, Andy Mientus (Smash) as the revolutionary Marius, Charlotte Maltby as the innocent Cosette, and Cliff Saunders (The 39 Steps) and Keala Settle (Hands on a Hard Body) as the malicious Thenardiers. Imperial Theatre, 249 W 45th St.
Previews begin March 5. Opens March 30.
Tony winner Idina Menzel (Wicked) stars in this new musical from the Pulitzer-Prize-winning writing team of Next to Normal, Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt. She plays Elizabeth, a woman just turning 40 who moves to Manhattan for a fresh start. Also starring are Tony winner La Chanze (The Color Purple, Once on This Island), Anthony Rapp (Rent), James Snyder (Cry-Baby), Jerry Dixon (tick…tick…BOOM!), Jenn Colella (Chaplin), Jason Tam (A Chorus Line), and Tamika Lawrence (Matilda). The show will open on Broadway after its out-of-town try-out in Washington, D.C. Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W 46th St.
The Realistic Joneses
Previews begin March 13. Opens April 6.
Broadway audiences may not be familiar with the works of Will Eno, but the Pulitzer-nominated author has a high profile Off-Broadway with thought-provoking pieces such as Thom Paine (based on nothing), Middletown and Title and Deed. He’ll make his Broadway debut with this piercing comedy-drama about two suburban couples with the same last name and similar existential angst. Obie-winner Sam Gold, who directed the play’s critically-praised premiere at Yale Repertory Theater, will repeat his staging chores. The four-member, all-star cast consists of Toni Collette (Hostages, The United States of Tara), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Marisa Tomei (Oscar winner for My Cousin Vinny), and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor Tracey Letts (August: Osage County). Lyceum Theatre, 149 W 45th St.
A Raisin in the Sun
Previews begin March 8. Opens April 3.
When it was announced Denzel Washington would be playing Walter Lee Younger, the ambitious young man thwarted by racism, in Lorraine Hansberry’s classic 1959 drama A Raisin in the Sun, there were a few squawks. After all, Washington is in his 50s and Walter Lee is usually played by a much younger man—Sydney Poitier and Sean Combs were in their early 30s when they essayed the part. But the double-Oscar-winning Washington should be able to surmount the age barrier. Plus Tony winner Diahann Carroll will tone down her usual glamour (remember her on Dynasty?) as Walter Lee’s down-to-earth mother. Kenny Leon, who staged the 2004 revival starring Combs, directs this new production. Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W 47th St.
Bullets Over Broadway
Previews begin March 11. Opens April 10.
Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning 1994 comedy arrives at its natural home – Broadway — in this stage version featuring a book by Allen himself, based on the screenplay he wrote in collaboration with Doug McGrath, and songs from the Roaring ’20s. The hilarious plot follows an ambitious playwright-director who must allow the talent-free girlfriend of a mobster to star in his latest work in order to get it produced. Complications arise when the mobster’s henchman turns out to be a gifted dramatist and he starts helping the author with his script. Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman directs and choreographs. This will be her follow up to Big Fish, which ends its run on Dec. 29. Bullets stars Golden Globe and Emmy nomnee Zash Braff (Scrubs, Garden State), Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos), Helene Yorke (Grease), Brooks Ashmanskas (The Producers), Betsy Wolfe (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and Lenny Wolpe (Old Jews Telling Jokes). St. James Theatre, 246 W 44th St.
Of Mice and Men
Previews begin March 19. Opens April 16.
Movie star-director-author James Franco ticks Broadway debut off his to-do list when he takes on the role of George in John Steinbeck’s classic tale of friendship Of Mice and Men. Also appearing on Broadway for the first time will be Irish actor Chris O’Dowd who will play the simple-minded giant Lenny, George’s pal. Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County) directs this anticipated revival. Longacre Theatre, 220 W 48th St.
Previews begin March 28. Opens April 20.
Two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes) returns to Broadway in a revival of this 1997 musical about a young woman traveling on a bus to see a televangelist in hopes that he will heal a disfigurement she received in a childhood accident. Along the way, she forms unlikely friendships with her fellow riders. The show won the New York Drama Critics Circle, Obie and Lortel Awards for Outstanding Musical and features music by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Caroline or Change) and book and lyrics by Brian Crawley. The production, directed by Leigh Silverman (Chinglish, Well) is based on the 2013 Encores! Off Center staging of Violet which starred Foster and was staged by Silverman. American Airlines Theatre, 227 W 42nd St.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Previews begin March 29. Opens April 22.
The endlessly versatile Neil Patrick Harris goes from the womanizing Barney on How I Met Your Mother to the transgendered wanna-be rock star in this revival of the cult musical. Hedwig originally premiered Off-Broadway in 1998 with book-author John Cameron Mitchell starring as title character, a German singer telling his/her life story after a botched sex change operation. Tony winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening, American Idiot, Thoroughly Modern Millie) directs and Emmy nominee Spencer Liff (So You Think You Can Dance) will choreograph. Belasco Theatre, 111 W 44th St.
Previews begin April 1. Opens April 23.
Four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein returns to the other side of footlights with his new play Casa Valentina, presented by Manhattan Theatre Club. After writing the books for such musicals as La Cage Aux Folles, A Catered Affair, Newsies, and Kinky Boots, this will be the first non-musical work of Fierstein’s on Broadway in nearly 30 years. Based on actual events and set in 1962, the plot centers on a Catskills resort where the exclusively male guests are free to dress and live their lives as women. Samuel J. Friedman Theater, 261 W 47th St.
Previews begin March 21. Opens April 24.
Life is a cabaret again as Roundabout Theatre Company remounts its hit 1998 production of the classic John Kander-Fred Ebb musical set in pre-WWII Berlin. Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall repeat their award-winning staging while Alan Cumming recreates his Tony-winning role as the lascivious Emcee and Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) makes her Broadway debut as the reckless chanteuse Sally Bowles. Tony nominees Danny Burstein (Follies, Golden Boy) and Linda Emond (Life x 3) co-star as Herr Schultz and Fraulein Schneider, whose late-in-life affair is thwarted by the rising power of the Nazis. As it was in 1998, the legendary Studio 54 space will be converted into a cabaret setting with intimate tables to approximate a decadent nightclub of the period. Studio 54, 254 W 54th St.