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What Musicals Will Light Up Marquees When Broadway Returns?

With Dr. Anthony S. Fauci suggesting that it may be safe for theaters to reopen this fall—a factor that largely depends on distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine—we've been (cautiously) excited about what may be lighting up the Great White Way when the time comes.

Here's a rundown of what's on the horizon. As with any show aiming for Broadway, details are subject to change, and the reality of COVID-19 adds another layer of uncertainty. Actual opening nights, which have been announced and re-announced by some shows multiple times, remain a moving target.


What Won't Be Returning

While some musicals are still dreaming of opening night, several shows won't be returning post-pandemic. Mean Girls, for one, is definitely out. Earlier this month, the show announced it had officially concluded its Broadway run. Others, like Beetlejuice and Frozen, have also closed during the shutdown, and more may follow, making room for new or previously postponed shows.

Delayed Opening Nights

Pre-pandemic, fans were looking forward to many productions that ended up having their opening nights dashed by COVID: Caroline, Or Change (with choreography by Ann Yee); Company (Liam Steel); Flying Over Sunset (Michelle Dorrance); MJ The Musical (Christopher Wheeldon); Mrs. Doubtfire (Lorin Latarro); The Music Man (Warren Carlyle) and Sing Street (Sonya Tayeh). Will they finally get their chance? The answer is likely yes, but we won't have a clear picture of next season's lineup until theaters have been declared safe to reopen.

But First, Streaming

Diana, with choreography by Kelly Devine, did play in previews, but Broadway's shutdown started before opening night. In the interim, Diana has started moving toward a digital audience. In August, Netflix announced that it will release a taping of the show in early 2021. The production is currently aiming to open later on Broadway, but this streaming debut could affect producers' decisions.

Looking Further Ahead

Then there are the shows that weren't as close to their opening nights, but with timelines that were definitely affected. The curtain never went up on the pre-Broadway Chicago run of Keone and Mari Madrid's Once Upon a One More Time, the new feminist musical that's stuffed with Britney Spears' hits.

And Some Like It Hot, Casey Nicholaw's treatment of the popular Marilyn Monroe flick, opted to cancel its Chicago tryout, aiming straight for Broadway—if all works out—this fall.

Further down the pipeline is Soul Train, inspired by the TV show of the same name. When it hits the boards, it will make history as the first Broadway musical with an all-female, African-American core creative team, featuring playwright Dominique Morisseau, director Kamilah Forbes and choreographer Camille A. Brown.

Two New Revivals

Two Broadway reboots are pretty sure bets at this point. 1776, which postponed its out-of-town premiere at American Repertory Theater, held a workshop—albeit over Zoom—for the gender-inclusive revival back in April. Jeffrey L. Page is choreographing the Diane Paulus–directed production. Rock musical The Who's Tommy is also slated to return. Although Wayne Cilento won a Best Choreography Tony for its 1993 debut, a choreographer for the reboot has not yet been confirmed.

Shows That Are But a Sparkle in Creators' Eyes

As always, a bevy of other shows are swirling in various stages of early development. Some will eventually make it to Broadway in future seasons, and others will fizzle out along the way. One possibility that's piqued our interest? A musical about Dolly Parton. Country music's glitzy godmother hinted about a could-be show in a December interview with Marie Claire, saying, "...I'm still working on my life story as a musical, and so I'm not sure if I want to do it as a feature-film musical or if I do want to go ahead and do it on Broadway."

When theaters reopen and curtains go up, we'll be there.

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February 2021