In a time when even New York City politicos are giving their regards to Broadway, here are a handful of compelling reasons to drop 90 bucks on an evening of entertainment.
—‘OKLAHOMA!’ Never mind that it took the British to redefine Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic piece of Americana: We’re just happy Oklahoma! will finally arrive, courtesy of producer Cameron Mackintosh and director Trevor Nunn (Les Misérables), with the U.S.’ own Susan Stroman (The Producers) as choreographer (Feb. 23). Other revivals we’re high on: Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which reteams Death of a Salesman star Brian Dennehy and director Robert Falls (Feb. 22 at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre); Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci serving up hash and innuendo in Terrence McNally’s 1987 dramedy Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (August); and—not to be forgotten—The Elephant Man with Billy Crudup and Hedda Gabler herself, Kate Burton (March 26).
—ARTHUR MILLER & EDWARD ALBEE Still-in-style Miller gets not one but two revivals this season: First, it’s witching hour for The Crucible stars Liam Neeson and Laura Linney (Feb. 16). Then Chris O’Donnell and Samantha Mathis hope to get lucky with the 62-year-old Man Who Had All the Luck (April 19). And get thee to an Albee: His new plays include The Goat, featuring Bill Pullman and Mercedes Ruehl (Feb. 16), and the Off Broadway Occupant, spotlighting Anne Bancroft (Feb. 5).
—TRANSFERS Three of 2001’s small-scale hits are movin’ on uptown. Elaine Stritch at Liberty showcases the actress’ signature song stylings and extra-dry wit (Feb. 6). Topdog/Underdog is Suzan-Lori Parks’ story of two brothers bound by history, circumstances, and a life-changing game of three-card monte; Jeffrey Wright stars, with rapper Mos Def in the role originated by Don Cheadle (March). And Mary Zimmerman’s mind-boggling Metamorphoses offers a new-millennium twist on the mythology of Ovid, set in and around a glimmering 27-foot swimming pool (Feb. 21).
—‘HAIRSPRAY’ Irreverent composer—and self-professed John Waters fan—Marc Shaiman (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut) takes on the tale of zaftig teen-turned-dance-show diva Tracy Turnblad. Ever-throaty Harvey Fierstein looks set to play the mom in this musicalization of the campy 1988 comedy. (July)
—‘LA BOHÈME’ He made moviegoers care about musicals again; now Moulin Rouge‘s Baz Luhrmann tries to turn theatergoers on to opera with the Puccini classic that also inspired Rent. (fall)