To say there’s a lot going on right now in theater would be an understatement. Spring always brings a flurry of exciting openings on- and off-Broadway, but this season’s thrilling diversity might also make it hard to tell which shows are the most worthwhile to splurge on. Here are the biggest plays and musicals you won’t want to miss in the coming months.
Of the new musicals opening in the coming weeks, one instant standout is Come From Away, opening March 12. After breaking sales records in runs across North America, the touching true story about the 38 planes diverted to Newfoundland after 9/11 finally makes its way to NYC. While both topical and flush with fresh talent -- featuring 12 unknown actors playing dozens of parts, representing over 16,000 displaced travelers -- it’s ultimately the well-deserved, hard-earned, feel-good parable about human kindness that even New Yorkers open their hearts for once in awhile.
Sunset Boulevard is going to have to share the nostalgics with Miss Saigon, which is heading for its first-ever Broadway revival in just two weeks, at the theater where it debuted in 1991, led by newcomer Eva Noblezada. Another West End transfer, the production choppers into the U.S. after breaking box office records in London on March 23. Then comes another female-powered revival with Bette Midler headlining Hello, Dolly! Fifty years since her Broadway debut, she’s slipping into a role she seems destined to play, joined by David Hyde Pierce in a production opening April 20. Although that’s a strong lineup of Broadway’s moxiest broads, Glenn Close’s Norma Desmond can probably handle a little competition.
Rest assured, there are also some original works to get excited about this season. One is The Play That Goes Wrong. And unless something goes horribly wrong, which is likely, it’s set to open April 2 (and, wisely, not a day sooner). Produced by J.J. Abrams, this classic British comedy conjures the sort of mayhem that comes when a small theater troupe’s murder mystery gets a little too real. On the more dramatic end is A Doll’s House, Part 2, opening April 27. Lucas Hnath’s greatly anticipated sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s classic is directed by Sam Gold and stars Laurie Metcalf as a Nora who returns home, changed.
Somewhere between the new musical and the revival lies the movie adaptation. They’re coming fast and furious this spring, but if you want the absolute best bang for your buck, you’ll want Groundhog Day, which opens April 17. But if you want the absolute best bang for your buck, you’ll want Groundhog Day, which opens April 17. (Add some music and you’ve got yourself a show!) But seriously, it’s supposed to be a knockout, and not just because Rocky's Andy Karl leads. Romantics will also gravitate toward Amelie, opening April 3 with Phillipa Soo as the title’s quirky crusader for good. Meanwhile, families may prefer the Christian Borle-helmed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, opening April 23, or the now-in-3D Anastasia, which opens April 24 -- both with all-new songs plus the obvious film favorites.
There’s so much great theater beyond the Great White Way, too! You don’t have to take it from us, you can just listen to the voices. Or, that’s the gist of new rock musical Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, which opens March 15 at the Public Theater. Nearby is In and Of Itself, which blends magic and theater for a unique show about identity by sleight-of-hand phenom Derek Delgaudio, opening April 12. Again, you don’t need to take our word: It’s presented by Neil Patrick Harris, who directed Delgaudio in 2013’s Nothing to Hide. If you do feel like venturing uptown, there’s a promising installment of Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape, starring Bobby Cannavale. It opens March 30 at the Park Avenue Armory; and though we’re just upright apes with keyboards ourselves, you can take our word on this one -- if not for the set alone, which rotates before the audience on a disk.