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By Sylviane Gold
Mystery, romance, adventure—coming your way
Director/choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who won the choreography Tony for In the Heights, returned to Broadway last month with high-flying cheerleading moves and new songs from two more Tony winners, Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Based on a series of popular movies, Bring It On, at the St. James, kicked off a parade of new Broadway musicals—over a dozen—set to open during the 2012–13 season. And bringing it on seems to be the theme this season, with only a sprinkling of revivals playing it safe. There will undoubtedly be some surprises; there always are. But here’s a preliminary guide to the musicals challenging the theater gods for this season’s Broadway laurels. Note: All the information below is subject to change—drastic change.
Chaplin One of the few screen stars who was as famous for the way he moved as for the way he looked, Charlie Chaplin would seem to be an ideal biographical subject for the talents of director/choreographer Warren Carlyle. The composer is Christopher Curtis, who also wrote the book in collaboration with Thomas Meehan. Opens Sept. 10 at the Barrymore.
At right: Rob McClure helps kick off the new Broadway season in Chaplin. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Chaplin.
Annie Bet your bottom dollar there’ll be sun for the spunky Depression-era orphan who started as a comic strip and then bewitched Broadway in 1977. Director James Lapine and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler will stage the Meehan book and the Charles Strouse-Martin Charnin score. Starts Oct. 3 at the Palace.
Rebecca The suave Maxim de Winter and his insecure second wife return to Manderley and its sinister housekeeper in this European hit, a musical adaptation of the famous Daphne du Maurier novel—not to mention the even more famous Alfred Hitchcock film. Graciela Daniele choreographs for directors Michael Blakemore and Francesca Zambello. Starts Oct. 20 at the Broadhurst.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood The great Chita Rivera returns to Broadway in the Rupert Holmes musical that was interactive before anyone knew the word. Scott Ellis directs and Warren Carlyle choreographs as a troupe of English music hall performers put on a show based on Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel—and ask the audience to finish it. Starts in Oct. 19 at Studio 54.
A Christmas Story: The Musical John Rando directs this adaptation of the 1983 holiday-season movie about growing up in 1940s Indiana. Warren Carlyle (he’s a busy guy) takes charge of the choreography. Starts Nov. 6.
Empire Books, films, and record albums have all inspired musicals, why not architecture? This show’s plot centers on the construction of the Empire State Building, with direction by Matt Lenz and choreography by Michele Lynch. Starts in the fall.
Big Fish The multifaceted Susan Stroman will direct and choreograph Andrew Lippa’s musical version of the story—or, more properly, the stories—of Edward Bloom, the fabulist hero of the Daniel Wallace novel and Tim Burton movie of the same name. Starts in spring of 2013.
Cinderella The glorious Rodgers and Hammerstein score, created in 1957 for a television version of the fairy tale, gets a fresh look from playwright Douglas Carter Beane. Mark Brokaw directs and Josh Rhodes does the choreography, with Laura Osnes starring in the title role. Starts in spring.
Diner Barry Levinson’s all-star adaptation of his own 1982 coming-of-age film, with music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow and direction and choreography by Kathleen Marshall. Starts in spring.
Flashdance Alex Owens is back, welding and dancing her way to the top as she did in the movie. Director/choreographer Sergio Trujillo is in charge. Starts in spring.
Hands on a Hardbody As recounted in the film documentary, an auto dealer’s publicity stunt becomes the starting point for a tale of true grit. The musical version began at the LaJolla Playhouse, with Benjamin Millepied staging the numbers for director Neil Pepe (for more on Millepied, see page 34). Starts in spring.
Jekyll and Hyde The Frank Wildhorn musical returns to Broadway, with Constantine Maroulis as the title character/s and Jeff Calhoun as director/choreographer. Starts in spring.
Josephine She was a sensational entertainer who thrilled Paris between the wars, but this show tells the story of Josephine Baker’s lesser-known exploits in the French Resistance. Joey McKneely is the director/choreographer. Starts in spring.
Kinky Boots Director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell has been incubating this one for a while, but it looks like footwear freaks will finally have a musical to call their own. With songs by Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein, it retells the story of the 2005 film that made it clear there’s no business like shoe business. Starts in spring.
Matilda: the Musical Peter Darling, who rather famously choreographed for a scrappy, super-talented boy (Billy Elliot), now takes on the scrappy, super-talented girl created by Roald Dahl. Matthew Warchus directs the show, a hit in London last fall. Starts in spring.
Motown Yes, the jukebox musical lives, this time telling the story of the Detroit record company that drove American pop music to Supreme heights. Starts in spring.
Sylviane Gold writes on theater for The New York Times.