By Aubry D'Arminio
Updated October 05, 2011 at 04:40 PM EDT
The Submission, Jonathan Groff, ...
Credit: Joan Marcus

Broadway’s biggest news this week was sad stuff: Tony-winner Billy Elliot will shut its doors on Jan. 8 after 1,304 performances. Yet there were some things to be happy about. Rumors that Newsies could be headed to Broadway gained some ground when producers confirmed that they had been approached by several NYC theater owners wanting to host the show. Ghost the Musical announced its U.S. debut date: April 23, 2012. Jesus Christ Superstar is returning to Broadway in March. Alicia Keys will be writing original music for December’s Stick Fly. And Alan Rickman gave readers a little taste of what it’s like to be one of his cast members in Theresa Rebeck’s upcoming Seminar. As for off-the Great White Way, our reviewers saw four shows. Read the highlights below (click on the titles for the full reviews).

The Submission: Critic Melissa Rose Bernardo finds this “breezy, slickly directed, and immensely watchable” off-Broadway play about a playwright who submits his work to a festival using a false identity to have “a minefield of structural problems.” Nevertheless, it’s “one of those well-packaged 100-minute evenings of entertainment that survive on the strength of their telegenic young casts.” (Here, that group includes Glee’s Jonathan Groff, True Blood’s Rutina Wesley, and How to Make it in America’s Eddie Kay Thomas.) Bernardo gives the play a B-.

Iris: Cirque du Soleil’s new $100 million dollar cinema-themed production at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre earns a B+ from writer John Young, who feels most of the show is the same-ol’, same-ol’ Cirque. However, he has heaps of praise for Danny Elfman’s “propulsive” original score that “bounces and leaps in perfect harmony with the acrobats.” “The whole shebang,” he adds, “might have crumbled had Cirque opted for its customary Enya-like yoga-perfect soundscape.”

Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling: I find off-Broadway scribe Adam Rapp’s superficial mediation on the poorly behaved rich to be a grave disappointment. The Connecticut-set family dramedy lacks the playwright’s usual incisive eye for human foibles and instead relies too much on simple stereotypes. I graded it a B-, calling it “old hat and tiring.”

Traces: Writer Stephan Lee calls this Cirque-style acrobatic show by Montreal-based troupe 7Fingers “pulse-pounding, electric, and immensely entertaining,” writing that it’s “full of show-stopping moments.” He gives the production an A-.