Clive Owen, Cher: The Musical, 1984 and More
Welcome to our latest edition of the Broadway Round-up and as previews begin for the first handful of new shows of the spring season, exciting news is already pouring in about what we can expect in the 2017-2018 Broadway season. One announcement that has us all of a flutter is the Broadway revival of David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, which will see the Broadway return of British A-Lister Clive Owen. The Oscar nominee and Golden Glober winner will take on the lead role of Rene Gallimard and if that's not enough to satisfy your theatrical thirst, the production will also be directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor! Opening on 26 October 2017, this will mark the first major New York revival of M. Butterfly, which was awarded the Tony for "Best Play" in 1988 and tells the story of a scandalous romance between a married French diplomat and a mysterious Chinese opera singer, blurring gender and cultural boundaries and resulting in a devastating betrayal.
Do you believe in life after love? Well, we're starting to really believe in the possibility that Cher: The Musical will actually happen! New details have emerged for the bio-musical in development, as the first official readthrough was held in New York City a couple of weeks ago, according to the New York Post. Cher herself attended the reading, as well as the musical's producer Jeffrey Seller (currently represented on Broadway by Hamilton) and TV executive Flody Suarez. Broadway favourites Lesli Margherita, Jillian Mueller and Tony winner Lena Hall played three different incarnations of the pop legend, whilst Jarrod Spector took on the role of Cher's late first husband and performing partner Sonny Bono. Watch this glittery space!
Another just as fabulous project in development is the musical adaptation of the hit 2006 movie The Devil Wears Prada! Producers Kevin McCollum, Fox Stage Productions and Rocket Entertainment officially announced that Sir Elton John has been enlisted to write the music and lyrics for the show, whilst popular screenwriter Paul Rudnick (whose film credits include "Sister Act," "Addams Family Values," and "In & Out") will be supplying the book. Already boasting Tony nominations for his work on Disney's The Lion King and Billy Elliot: The Musical, as well as his Tony-winning score for Aida, we can't wait to hear what the Rocketman does with this much-loved, 5-time BAFTA-nominated modern classic!
Sonia Friedman will be adding yet another Broadway credit to her ever-growing resumé as she teams up with New York Heavyweight producer Scott Rudin to bring Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan's stage adaptation of George Orwell's best-selling novel 1984 to New York audiences. Having already played four acclaimed engagements on our shores, this hard-hitting thriller, depicting a dystopian future where critical thought is suppressed under a totalitarian regime, will begin performances at the Hudson Theatre on 22 June 2017. Big Brother is watching... and the Big Apple will be watching too!
3-time Tony winner and 6-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close has reprised her iconic role of Norma Desmond once again, following her epic performances at the London Coliseum last year. The Broadway transfer of Sunset Boulevard began previews at the Palace Theatre last Thursday and will officially open tomorrow night. We're restlessly waiting to see whether Ms. Close can capture the hearts of the tough NY critics "With One Look" like she did in the West End! Congratulations also goes to Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who now has the rare distinction of having four of his musicals playing on the Great White Way simultaneously, as Sunset joins School of Rock, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera!
Speaking of that infamous Phantom, the Broadway production reached another tremendous milestone recently, as it celebrated its 29th Birthday at the Majestic Theatre on 26 January. Webber's gothic love story continues as the longest-running show in Broadway history!
Yesterday, yet another A Lister made a much-hyped return to treading the boards as 2-time Oscar winner Sally Field took on the iconic role of Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams' memory play The Glass Menagerie which will officially open at the Belasco Theatre on 9 March. The production also marks a return to acting for the 2-time Tony Award-winning director Joe Mantello, who takes on the role of Tom Wingfield. With the West End transfer of The Glass Menagerie, starring Cherry Jones as the matriarch of the family, recently earning rave reviews over here, it will be interesting to see how the Williams classic fares over the pond.
Hip Hop has had an interesting history with musical theatre. Most recently it has inspired the greatest smash hit in modern times with Hamilton as well as a huge commercial flop with the 2 Pac-infused 'Holler If Ya Hear Me.' Let's hope that The Scenario can find its audience when it lands on Broadway during the 2017-2018 season for its world premiere ahead of a 30-city U.S. National Tour. Good news for Hip Hop pioneer and founder of Def Jam Recordings Russell Simmons, as Universal Music Group has officially joined him as a lead producer on the project. The musical tells an original story set in the “golden age” of Hip Hop in the mid-80s to mid-90s, which culminates in the chart-topping artists at the turn of the millennium. Get ready to drop some beats, Broadway!
Lincoln Center Theater has also revealed its first Broadway production of the 2017-2018 as Junk - a new play by Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar - will be staged at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre from 14 September 2017. LCT previously collaborated with Akhtar on his drama 'Disgraced,' which went on to earn a Tony nomination in 2015, and so the company has high extensions for his latest offering. Junk staged its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse in California last July and is set in 1985, portraying the meteoric and controversial rise of Robert Merkin as 'America's Alchemist,' who incites what can only be described as a financial civil war.
Finally, here's a quick round-up of casting news from New York City - Congratulations to British actor Stephen Carlile who made his Broadway debut as Scar in Disney's The Lion King on 31 January... Be Prepared, New Yorkers! On the same night, Broadway favourite and Glee star Telly Leung returned to the Broadway production of In Transit following a leave of absence. Abby Mueller will be stepping in her big sister Jessie's footsteps and starring as Carole King in Beautiful from 7 March. She previously originated the role on the U.S. National Tour. Japanese TV star Ryoko Yonekura will return to the role of Roxie Hart in Broadway's Chicago from 3 to 13 July before starring in the touring production at the Tokyo Theater Orb in Japan from 2 to 13 August 2017. And in off-Broadway news, Emmy Award winner and Tony & Oscar nominee Mare Winningham has joined the upcoming Public Theater premiere of David Byrne's new musical Joan of Arc: Into the Fire and "American Horror Story" star Jamie Brewer takes the title role in the Roundabout Theatre Company's world premiere of Amy and the Orphans in 2018!
Until next time, be sure to read all the latest news from the city that never sleeps at our sister site NewYorkTheatreGuide.com!