Waiting in the Wings

August 30, 2016

Many things start in September,
and the theater season used to be one of them. But once air-conditioning arrived, theatergoing became possible even during a New York summer. So the 2016–17 theater season began in July, with the return of two oldies but goodies. Motown: The Musical brought the life story of music legend Berry Gordy back to the stage with a soundtrack from the Motown catalog of hit records and dance numbers by Patricia Wilcox. And CATS embarked on the second of its nine lives with new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler. There are more shows due, of course. The ones listed below were scheduled to open at press time, and if the stars align—but only if the stars align—they will open somewhere (some have not yet found theaters) between now and the Tony deadline in May. They are listed, in keeping with theater tradition, in order of appearance. But nothing in the theater is written in stone; count on changes.

The London production of CATS. Photo Courtesy Really Useful Group.

Holiday Inn: The New Irving Berlin Musical
Based on the 1942 movie starring Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby, this show is a treasure trove of classic Irving Berlin tunes—not just holiday anthems like “White Christmas” and “Easter Parade,” but “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” and “What’ll I Do?” Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodges wrote the adaptation, and Denis Jones choreographed under Greenberg’s direction. Starts Sept. 1 at Studio 54.

This wonderful 1992 William Finn–James Lapine musical, about the love, sex and friendship among a gay man, his lover, his ex-wife, his son and his shrink, returns to Broadway with Lapine once again directing and Spencer Liff choreographing. Broadway favorites Christian Borle, Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells star. Starts a limited run Sept. 29 at the Walter Kerr.

The Great Comet
Dave Malloy’s off-Broadway hit, based on Tolstoy’s classic novel War and Peace, now stars Josh Groban as the lovesick Pierre. Rachel Chavkin directs and Sam Pinkleton choreographs. Starts Oct. 18 at the Imperial.

A Bronx Tale
In the beginning, it was Chazz Palminteri’s autobiographical one-man show, about growing up in a mob neighborhood. Then it became a 1993 movie, directed by and co-starring Robert De Niro. Now it’s a musical, well received this spring when it opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. Palminteri has partnered with composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater, and choreographer Sergio Trujillo works with the all-star directing team of De Niro and Jerry Zaks. Starts Nov. 3 at the Longacre.

Rick Thomas in The Illusionists—Turn of the Century. Photo Courtesy The Illusionists.

The Illusionists—Turn of the Century
The magic revue returns to Broadway with an array of acts directed by Neil Dorward. Starts a limited run Nov. 25 at the Lunt-Fontanne.

Dear Evan Hansen
After winning a slew of awards off-Broadway and in Washington, DC, this musical about teenage angst returns to the stage. Steven Levenson wrote the book, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul composed, Michael Grief directed and Danny Mefford did the choreography. Starts Nov. 14 at the Belasco.

In Transit
Kathleen Marshall’s latest project has a Broadway first—an all a cappella score. Its subject, however, belongs to a long line of New York–centric shows, following 11 subway riders as they navigate their lives. Starts in the fall at Circle in the Square.

Singin’ in the Rain
No, Twyla Tharp’s 1985 production isn’t being revived. This version of the 1952 film classic, which some regard as the finest of Hollywood’s movie musicals, comes from Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet, with Derek Hough in the Gene Kelly role. Stephen Mear choreographs for director Robert Carsen. Starts in January.

Hello, Dolly!
Find her an empty lap, fellas! The irrepressible matchmaker is coming back to Broadway in the formidable person of Bette Midler, with David Hyde Pierce as her quarry. Director Jerry Zaks has entrusted Cornelius’ dancing lesson, the waiter’s gallop and the polka contest to choreographer Warren Carlyle. Starts March 13 at the Shubert.

Anastasia at Hartford Stage. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Polk & Co.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
This stage version of Roald Dahl’s beloved book comes to Broadway via London, where it’s been playing since 2013. Jack O’Brien and Joshua Bergasse have taken over the direction and choreography, respectively, but the Golden Ticket still entitles you to David Greig’s book and the songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Christian Borle stars as Willy Wonka. Starts in March at the Lunt-Fontanne.

The team that helped win A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder the 2014 Tony for Best Musical turns its attention to another period piece, based on the legends surrounding the youngest daughter of Russia’s last czar. Did she escape when her family was assassinated? Director Darko Tresnjak and choreographer Peggy Hickey are in charge, working in part with the 1997 animated movie and the songs of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and a book by Terrence McNally. Starts in spring at the Broadhurst.

Come From Away
Arriving by way of Canada, Connecticut and California, this new musical draws on the fact that on 9/11, 38 planes and their passengers were rerouted from New York to Newfoundland. Christopher Ashley directs and Kelly Devine choreographs the show, whose book, music and lyrics are by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Starts in spring.

Come From Away at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo by Chris Bennion, Courtesy Polk & Co.

Half Time
Director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell takes on basketball and hip hop in this show, based on the 2008 documentary Gotta Dance, about the senior-citizen dance team created by the New Jersey Nets. They ranged in age from 59 to 80, and the cast, also made up of Broadway veterans, is led by André De Shields. The writers are stellar, too: music by Matthew Sklar and Marvin Hamlisch; lyrics by Nell Benjamin; and book by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin. Ester Dean also collaborated on the music. Starts in spring.

Miss Saigon
The 1991 musical played over 4,000 performances on Broadway, and this somewhat retooled version was a hit in London. Laurence Connor directed the story of an American GI and a Vietnamese bar girl in the war-weary Saigon of 1975. Bob Avian was credited with musical staging and Geoffrey Garratt with additional choreography. Starts in spring.

The Bandstand
Andy Blankenbuehler adds directing to his glittering Broadway resumé with this musical by Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor. The idiom is swing and the story follows a band made up of World War II veterans as they try to adjust to postwar America. Laura Osnes is their singer. Starts in spring.

Based on the whimsical 2001 French movie, this stage adaptation by Craig Lucas stars Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo. Sam Pinkleton choreographs for director Pam MacKinnon. Starts in spring.