Spring 2020 stage preview: 15 plays and musicals to look out for
Must-see shows, must-believe revivals, and major stars — this spring, New York’s stages have them all. From rollicking royals to some welcome Company, here are six seasonal trends worth singing about.
Two couples are turning their real-life pairings into marquee double bills. In a case of life decidedly not imitating art, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale team up Off Broadway to play a very unhappy couple in a modern twist on the Greek tragedy Medea. In a less murdery but equally killer pairing, the long-married Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick will play three different couples checking in to a swanky New York hotel in a revival of Neil Simon’s comedy Plaza Suite (making this the first time they’ve shared a Broadway stage since How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 1995).
Movies Made Musical
Let Beetlejuice’s devilish appeal serve as a reminder that good movies can make great musicals. Consider two promising productions: Stage veteran Rob McClure leads an adaptation of Robin Williams’ beloved 1993 family flick Mrs. Doubtfire, playing a divorced dad who poses as his kids’ elderly Scottish nanny, while the Broadway incarnation of Sing Street, based on John Carney’s 2016 indie about a rock-obsessed teen in 1980s Dublin, has a cadre of talented young actors banding together (literally — they play their own instruments) to charm us all.
A Little Surge of Sondheim
It’s never a bad time to be a Stephen Sondheim fan, but lately it’s been a particularly good one: Tunes from his musicals have popped up everywhere from Marriage Story to The Morning Show, and now we’re getting an inventive revival of Company that flips the perma-bachelor lead to a woman (The Band’s Visit’s Katrina Lenk), accompanied by Patti LuPone toasting “The Ladies Who Lunch.” There’s also an Off Broadway staging of Sondheim’s Assassins poised to strike a chord this election year, and if you want even more of the musical maestro…
Visionary director Ivo van Hove’s radical take on West Side Story — a much-talked-about restaging that incorporates some big changes to the beloved musical (e.g., no intermission or replicated Jerome Robbins choreography) — boasts more than 30 limber performers making their Broadway debuts. On another stage not populated by Jets and Sharks, Laurie Metcalf continues the impressive theatrical streak that earned her two Tony Awards in recent years as she steps into Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee’s masterwork of marital toxicity.
Prime Time to Call Time
When the TV season ends, stars always tend to keep their shine going on Broadway. Among this spring’s brightest luminaries: the dynamic trio of Patrick J. Adams, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Jesse Williams (of Suits, Modern Family, and Grey’s Anatomy, respectively) tackling homophobia in baseball in a revival of the Tony-winning Take Me Out; Andre Braugher taking time off from Brooklyn Nine-Nine to team with Debra Messing for a timeline-winding treatise on age in Birthday Candles; and Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne, and Darren Criss cursing up a storm in style in a revival of David Mamet’s American Buffalo. F— yeah.
Fresh New Work
If you think the recent royals drama has been riveting, just wait until you see Henry VIII’s wives take the stage. The already cult-favorite musical Six, now on Broadway after gathering loyal subjects on both sides of the Atlantic, allows the titular sextet to reclaim their stories beyond their famous ex (and that “divorced, beheaded, died…” rhyme you learned in history class). When they stage an elaborate concert full of infectious pop tunes, you’ll rock out and bow down.
And while Tony contention will be tough with the unrelenting momentum of fall’s provocative Slave Play, the crop of new spring plays is already strong at the root, thanks to powerful entries like Tracy Letts’ small-town case study The Minutes (which marks a long-awaited reunion with his August: Osage County director, Anna D. Shapiro), Bess Wohl’s twilight-years marriage story Grand Horizons (the season’s only new play written by a woman), and a likely pearl-clutcher in Hangmen (starring Dan Stevens), the latest dark comedy from esteemed Anglo-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, sure to send one last wintry chill down any theatergoer’s spine.