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The Stars and Stories Hitting Broadway Stages This Year

The Spongebob Musical, PC Joan Marcus

The closing months of the 2016–17 season brought a glut of extraordinary music and dance to Broadway's stages, and the superabundance has left 2017–18 looking a bit anemic.


Partly it's real estate—there are only so many Broadway theaters; in June, nearly three dozen were occupied. The only musical scheduled to open this summer was Prince of Broadway. A retrospective look at the life and legacy of one of the American musical's most influential luminaries, producer/director Harold Prince, it is co-directed by Prince and Susan Stroman, and features numbers from his iconic shows—they include West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof and Sweeney Todd.

The Band's Visit, PC Ahron R. Foster

The rest of this new season may not provide musicals with that kind of success and staying power, but the hopefuls are listed here in order of appearance. The usual warnings apply—things could change between press time and opening night—names, dates and entire shows can disappear before the first rehearsal. And it's worth noting that the last three Tony Awards for Best Musical went to shows that began off-Broadway.

The Band's Visit

Based on a 2007 movie about a group of Egyptian musicians who take the wrong bus and land in a remote desert backwater instead of the Israeli city where they were supposed to perform, this was an off-Broadway hit last season at the Atlantic Theater Company. It arrives on Broadway with laurels from the New York Drama Critics' Circle, who named it best musical, and again stars Tony Shalhoub as the bandleader. David Yazbek is the composer, Itamar Moses wrote the book, David Cromer directs and Patrick McCollum does the choreography. Starts Oct. 7 at the Ethel Barrymore.

The Band's Visit, PC Ahron R. Foster

M. Butterfly

The 1988 Tony winner for best play, David Henry Hwang's drama about a French diplomat who falls for a Chinese opera star is not, strictly speaking, a musical. But this revival starring Clive Owen earns a place here by dint of its director, the extraordinary Julie Taymor, who won a Tony for The Lion King; its composer, Elliot Goldenthal, who wrote the score for American Ballet Theatre's Othello; and its choreographer, China-trained, Tulsa-based Ma Cong, who was one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" in 2006. Starts Oct. 7.

SpongeBob SquarePants

The Spongebob Musical, PC Joan Marcus

The eponymous hero and the other underwater creatures of Bikini Bottom swim from Nickelodeon's animated television series to the Broadway stage in this pop-music anthology co-conceived and directed by Tina Landau. Steven Tyler, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie are just a few of the stars contributing to the score and giving choreographer Christopher Gattelli a multitude of styles to play with. Starts Nov. 6 at the Palace.

The Spongebob Musical, PC Joan Marcus

Once on This Island

When a show begins with a song called "We Dance," you know the choreography will be important. For this revival of the 1990 Caribbean-flavored musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the assignment falls to Camille A. Brown, whose Black Girl: Linguistic Play was nominated for a 2016 Bessie Award. Michael Arden, who did the 2015 sign-language revival of Spring Awakening, is the director. Starts Nov. 9 at Circle in the Square.

Escape to Margaritaville

Inspired by Jimmy Buffett's 1977 hit song about a beach bum "wasting away again in Margaritaville," the show relocates the Come From Away team—Tony-winning director Christopher Ashley and Tony-nominated choreographer Kelly Devine—to a different kind of island. This one's a tropical resort, and Buffett's patented flip-flop songs are both old and new. Starts Feb. 16 at the Marquis.

Escape to Margaritaville, PC Matthew Murphy

Carousel

Christopher Wheeldon created a beautiful evocation of this classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical when he was resident choreographer at New York City Ballet. Now his successor in that job, Justin Peck, is choreographing the whole clambake, in which raffish barker Billy Bigelow falls fatally in love with prim New Englander Julie Jordan. Jigger, the show's villain, is not usually a dance role, but that's sure to change with NYCB principal Amar Ramasar in it. His colleague in the company, Brittany Pollack, will dance the famous dream ballet. Tony-winning Jack O'Brien, who did Hairspray and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is the director. Starts Feb. 27.

My Fair Lady

They could have danced all night when this glorious musical, by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, arrived on Broadway in 1956. It hasn't been back since 1993, and Lincoln Center Theater is correcting that oversight with a new production directed by Bartlett Sher. The choreographer will be Sher's partner on South Pacific and The King and I, Christopher Gattelli. Starts March 15 at the Vivian Beaumont.

Escape to Margaritaville, PC Matthew Murphy

Frozen

Based on the Oscar-winning Disney animation about princesses Elsa and Anna of Arrendelle, the show includes new songs by the film's composers, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Anderson-Lopez created the a cappella score and the concept for last season's In Transit, and Lopez won Tonys for The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. They are joined by Tony winners Michael Grandage and Rob Ashford, doing the direction and choreography. Starts in spring.

Health & Body
Gettty Images

It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.

Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.

It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?

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Dance on Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.

Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.

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What Dancers Eat
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Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.

So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?

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News
Simon Soong, Courtesy DDT

When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

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