Michelle Dorrance's First Broadway Gig, Plus 9 Other Musicals We Can't Wait to See This Season
What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.
Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical
Opens: October 16
Choreography by: Patrick McCollum
The fantasy-book-sensation-turned-musical has been described as "one foot in Harry Potter and another in Dear Evan Hansen" by the Chicago Tribune (though diehard fans of the series might disagree with that assessment). McCollum, who's on hand for the choreography, including fight scenes, brings experience from shows like The Band's Visit, The Last Ship and Rocky.
David Byrne's American Utopia
Opens: October 20
Choreography by: Annie-B Parson
Though not technically a musical, dancers will want to check out Talking Heads' frontman David Byrne in his theatrical concert on Broadway. With moves courtesy postmodern icon Annie-B Parson, we're hoping it's a "once in a lifetime" occasion.
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Opens: November 7
Choreography by: Anthony Van Laast
Filled with hit after hit and produced in collaboration with the great Tina Turner, Tina can't be without a smattering of upbeat numbers—how could "Proud Mary" not be a fiery dance scene? And with Adrienne Warren (from Shuffle Along... and Bring It On) as Tina and Hamilton's Daniel J. Watts as the abusive Ike, the show is stuffed with talent to portray the triumphant rock diva's life.
Jagged Little Pill
Opens: December 5
Choreography by: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Transferring an Alanis Morissette '90s pop record to a narrative musical without it being cheesy is a challenge we think Cherkaoui is up to. When Dance Magazine interviewed him prior to last year's American Repertory Theater premiere of Jagged Little Pill, he said,
This work is about daring to look at the complexity of life and see we are full of paradoxes. There is no easy answer, and it can be exciting to have a whole life to find those answers.
West Side Story
Opens: February 6
Choreography by: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
This Ivo van Hove–directed revival is putting a contemporary spin on the iconic West Side Story, and the cast is already stacked with recognizable dancers like Ricky Ubeda, Amar Ramasar and Jacob Guzman. While we're anxious to see van Hove and De Keersmaeker's interpretation, this pair remains an unconventional choice for the Jerome Robbins classic.
Girl from the North Country
Opens: March 5
Movement direction by: Lucy Hind
Girl from the North Country revisits the songs of Bob Dylan, adapting them for the rolling stones who are passing through a guest house in 1934 Duluth, Minnesota.
SIX: The Musical
Opens: March 12
Choreography by: Carrie-Anne Ingrouille
Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. Such were the fates of the wives of King Henry VIII, and now they're hitting Broadway to belt out their side of the story in the pop-infused SIX: The Musical—but not before it opens at sea.
Diana: A New Musical
Opens: March 31
Choreography by: Kelly Devine
The life of "the people's princess" will make its way to Broadway this spring. Still a topic of great intrigue two decades after her death, Princess Diana's life will be unpacked in Diana, shining a light on her compassion but also the darker aspects of her story. With movement by Devine, of Come From Away, the choreography should strike a balance between down-to-earth and regal.
Caroline, or Change
Opens: April 7
Choreographed by: Ann Yee
This revival returns from the West End, starring 2019 Olivier Award winner Sharon D Clarke, who played Caroline across the pond. Set in 1963 Louisiana, the shows revolves around an African-American maid who works for a Jewish family. The West End trailer alone (see below) is a quick testament to Clarke's powerful performance.
Flying Over Sunset
Opens: April 16
Choreographed by: Michelle Dorrance
The characters in this musical aren't tripping over their feet because of Michelle Dorrance's complex choreo (well, they might be). In Flying Over Sunset, Cary Grant, Aldous Huxley and Clare Boothe Luce are chiefly tripping because they're on LSD. Oh, the theater possibilities abound! Extra bonus: Debonair dancer Tony Yazbeck has been cast as Grant. Could this be the danciest show of the season? Here's hoping.
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
It's a much-repeated part of Francesca Hayward's origin story that she discovered ballet at age 3, when her grandparents bought a video of The Nutcracker to keep her occupied and she immediately started dancing around the room. What's less well-known is that there was another video lined up next to The Nutcracker that Hayward liked to dance along to: Cats. "I really just did the White Cat bit and fast-forwarded the rest," she remembers. "I'd make my friends who came around be the other cats."
Twenty-four years later, she's not only become a Royal Ballet principal, but has been cast as Victoria the White Cat in Tom Hooper's new movie adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, out in theaters on December 20. "I remember the director telling me I'd got the part: 'Just to let you know you're the lead in a Hollywood film,' he said." Hayward laughs. "This is crazy!"
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.