Broadway is getting ready for the main 2018 season, with big changes at some major venues. Jimmy Buffett’s “Escape to Margaritaville” is about to open, while previews are starting for Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls,” “My Fair Lady” and of course the long-awaited “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” Previews already underway include serious plays such as “Angels in America” and Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women,” as well musicals: “Carousel” with Renée Fleming, and – another one for the kids especially - Disney’s “Frozen.” From all of these, we can obtain a clear idea of staging for the months ahead.
The format of these weekly short capsule previews is to list newly opening and one-time shows; those near the end of their run, and others highly recommended. We continue to review the best and most noteworthy in depth and separately.
LAST CHANCE TO SEE
“The Parisian Woman”
At Hudson Theater, through March 11.
Uma Thurman plays the central character in “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon’s story first penned about 2013. If playgoers aren’t attracted by her starry presence, they may be by the makeover of this story to give it a harder political edge in this era of President Trump. There are so-so- topical references to “fake news.” While it doesn’t quite deliver, it’s still an evening of class. Thurman, playing a Francophile in an open marriage to a lawyer, is onstage for all 90 minutes (no interval). She certainly proves her stage credentials.
“Escape to Margaritaville”
At the Marquis Theatre, previews from February 16 and opening on March 15, booking into November
Songwriter Jimmy Buffett’s hits such as “Margaritaville,” “Come Monday,” “Volcano,” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” are cunningly worked into a feel-good musical comedy about a romance between a lawyer and a barman. Buffett fans bought every ticket for its off-Broadway tryouts.
At the August Wilson Theatre. First preview: March 12, opening April 8, booking through September.
No pressure. Tina Fey has got some $15 million of theater money rising on this. It cannot fail for her, and the word is that it should not - she has recruited serious talent. The director-choreographer is Casey Nicholaw and lyrics are by Nell Benjamin, of “Legally Blonde” fame.
“My Fair Lady”
At the Vivian Beaumont, first preview: March 15, opening April 9, to September.
Bartlett Sher is an obvious choice of director after reviving “South Pacific” and “The King and I.” The cast includes TV star Lauren Ambrose – not the most obvious Eliza Doolittle. Harry Hadden-Paton moves on from “Downton Abbey” as Henry Higgins, and, best of all, there is Diana Rigg as his mother.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 and 2”
At the Lyric Theatre, first Preview: March 16, opening April 22, open dates.
Those of us who have seen the London hit will know that a good knowledge of Harry Potter is useful, but it all makes some kind of sense even if you don’t. This is a sequel to the books, with Harry Potter now an adult and out to save the world. Hint: see Part 1, then Part 2 in that order. You’ll be mightily confused to see them the other way around. See Part 1 alone, and you are left at a cliffhanger; see Part 2 alone and it makes no sense at all. One of the reasons for its success is that most playgoers see both, and hopefully in the right order.
ALSO IN PREVIEWS
“Angels in America”
At the Neil Simon Theatre, previews from February 23 and opening March 21, booking through June.
This critic saw the early versions of this production at London’s Royal National Theatre. Tony Kushner’s 1993 epic play was winner of many awards, including the Pulitzer. The two-part story was initially controversial with its exploration of the topics of AIDS and gay couples. Nathan Lane plays White House lawyer Roy Cohn and Andrew Garfield plays AIDS patient Pryor Walter.
At Imperial Theatre, previews from February 28 and opens on April 12, booking through September
The cast includes opera singer Renée Fleming as well as Joshua Henry and Jessie Mueller. It is a classic and early buzz has been positive.
“Three Tall Women”
At Golden Theatre, previews from February 27, opens March 29, through June 4.
Edward Albee’s acclaimed later play, which rescued his reputation, was inspired by his mother. It has two-time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson returning to Broadway after her 30-year absence. She is backed by Laurie Metcalf – the Tony winner for “Doll’s House,” although still waiting for her first Oscar. Alison Pill, of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” fame, takes on the younger role. As most playgoers know, the story has three versions of the same woman at various stages of her life.
At St James Theatre, previews from February 22, opens March 2, booking through December currently.
The ubiquitous Michael Grandage directs as the Oscar-winning movie comes to Broadway. In its new form, some of the film magic is replaced by a new magic: there are twice as many songs woven in. This is a surefire sellout just given the level of interest in the film and all things Disney. If “Aladdin” can make it big even after mixed reviews out of town, this Denver transfer certainly can. It is helped by set pieces such as the signature song “Let It Go.”
ALSO WORTH SEEING
“In The Body of the World”
At Manhattan Theatre Club, through March 25.
Eve Ensler shot to fame with “The Vagina Monologues.” She’s since written an autobiography of sorts on injustices and its success. This solo show adapts the memoir for stage.
“A Bronx Tale”
At Longacre Theatre, open dates, booking though June.
This show is recommended any week, not just this one. The show is a musical account of the story that has already been a book, a play and of course a Robert De Niro movie.
At Richard Rodgers Theater, open dates.
A show about American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton might not sound a rewarding prospect, but this is still one of the highlights of Broadway. Hamilton had a huge character and a most eventful life. The raps are hilarious. It also has contemporary resonance – how will we be remembered… and our Presidents too.
At Brooks Atkinson Theatre, extended through December.
This wonderfully funny show keeps getting extended. You might remember the 2007 film of the same name. It’s the basis of play which makes it worth heading to Brooks Akinson for. A theater-loving writer friend, who was a waitress in her college days, just saw it. She went along with low expectations, and came out impressed with its cheery feminist messages and sympathy for waiting staff – “the hardest job in the world.”
PREVIEWS COMING SOON
“Travesties” by Tom Stoppard
At American Airlines Theatre, from March 29, booking through June 17
“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”
At Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, from March 28
“The Iceman Cometh”
At the Bernard B. Jacobs, previews from March 22, opening April 26
Founder Louise Blouin: http://www.blouinartinfo.com/artists/louise-blouin--2953510