King Kong, Glenda Jackson, Idina Menzel, Michael Moore, Mark Rylance & More
No wonder they call New York the city that never sleeps! Since our last Broadway Round-up, the Great White Way has been on fire with announcements of new shows and celebrity castings... and we are slap, bang in the middle of Awards Season now to boot! Many of the coveted trophies - such as the Outer Critics Circle Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, Drama League Awards and last night's Obie Awards - have already been handed out, but we steamroll onwards via the Drama Desk Awards on 4th June to the biggest night of the theatrical calendar - The 71st Annual Tony Awards! The ceremony will be held on 11th June and hosted by Academy and Tony Award winner Kevin Spacey at the iconic Radio City Music Hall. Check out all the nominees HERE and my own humble predictions for this year's Tony winners HERE!
So what exactly has been happening over the pond? Let's get to it...
Our first bit of exciting, monstrous news is that the long-in-the-works Broadway premiere of King Kong is finally going to happen! This behemoth of a musical, which originally premiered in Melbourne, Australia in 2013, has been through a string of re-writes, re-works, developmental labs and creative team switches, but it is now official and Kong will invade the Broadway Theatre in the autumn of 2018! Congratulations go to a couple of talented Brits who have been enlisted for the giant project - Olivier Award-winning playwright Jack Thorne (currently represented in the West End by that little know hit by the name of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) will suply the book for the musical, whilst fellow Olivier Award winner Drew McOnie (who will once again be represented this summer by the return of Jesus Christ Superstar) will direct and choreograph. Well done, gents! Make us (and Kong) proud!
London audiences were treated last year with the return to the stage of two-time Oscar winner (and former MP) Glenda Jackson, as she took on the title role of the Old Vic's acclaimed production of King Lear. New York audiences were obviously feeling a little left out because now, after a thirty-year absence from the Great White Way, Ms. Jackson will be returning to the Big Apple! Producer Scott Rudin has announced the Broadway premiere of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Three Tall Women, directed by two-time Tony winner Joe Mantello, in which Ms. Jackson will star alongside current Tony nominee and "Roseanne" star Laurie Metcalf. Previews will begin on 27th February 2018, ahead of an official opening on 29th March.
If seeing hunky superheroes on stage is more your cup of tea, then worry not, as Captain America himself - Chris Evans - will be making his Broadway debut alongside "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" star Michael Cera in Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero. The revival will mark the first production for Second Stage Theatre at their new Broadway home - the Helen Hayes Theatre - and is expected to begin performances in March 2018.
Although not quite sporting a superhero's physique, there is a certian Oscar-winning film-maker who wages war in his own right... and he's about to make his Broadway debut too! I'm of course referring to the infamous activist and mastermind behind such documentaries as "Bowling For Columbine" and "Farenheit 9/11" - Michael Moore. His theatrical debut by the name of The Terms of My Surrender will play Broadway's Belasco Theatre from 28th July to 22nd October 2017. The show promises to be just as controversial and provocative as his films as Mr. Moore poses the question: Can a Broadway show take down a sitting President?"
And what's coming to the Belasco after that, I hear you cry? Well, it seems as if the New Yorkers just can't get enough of our national treasure Mark Rylance! After three Tony-winning performances to date, could another be in store as the West End hit production of Farinelli and the King transfers to the Belasco for a strictly limited engagement from 5th December 2017 through to 25th March 2018? Or will "King Philippe V of Spain" be left wanting?
Sonia Friedman is one of the main producers of the Mark Rylance-led transfer and we now have further details of two of her other Broadway-bound West End smash hits. An official opening date was revealed for the Broadway transfer of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be 22nd Apirl 2018 at the Lyric Theatre, whilst according to a recent Equity casting notice, the London production of Dreamgirls, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, is also eyeing a 2018 Broadway bow! "And I Am Telling You"... 2018 is going to be a magical year for Ms. Friedman (and Broadway fans, of course)!
Another sure-to-be hit of 2018 is the latest offering from Disney Theatrical... Frozen! And principal casting has now been revealed for the icy epic! Congratulations to Caissie Levy and Patti Murin, who have secured the coveted roles of Elsa and Anna, respectively, as well as Jelani Alladin (who will play Kristoff), Greg Hildreth (Olaf), John Riddle (Hans) and Robert Creighton (Duke of Weselton). Performances are expected to begin at Broadway's St. James Theatre in the spring of 2018!
Speaking of 'Frozen,' the original Elsa - Idina Menzel - will be making a return to the New York stage in 2018. She will take on the lead role of Jodi Isaac in the Roundabout Theatre Company's off-Broadway production of Skintight. Written by Joshua Harmon - the talented scribe behind Bad Jews - this promises to be a raucous comedy and a hot ticket, when previews begin on 31st May 2018!
If you've been wondering what all those lovely "Downton Abbey" stars have been doing since the series ended, then I can tell you that one of them will be making a welcomed return to Broadway! Elizabeth McGovern (aka Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham) will star in the first-ever Broadway revival of J.B. Priestley's Time and the Conways. The Oscar, Emmy & Golden Globe nominee will take on the lead role of Mrs. Conway in the Roundabout Theatre Company production which is set to play a strictly limited engagement at the American Airlines Theatre from 14th September to 26th November 2017.
Another intriguing production announced for the 2017-2018 season is the Florian Borchmeyer and director Thomas Ostermeier’s internationally acclaimed production of An Enemy of the People, which began life at Berlin's Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz and has played at venues across the globe including London's Barbican. The Broadway incarnation will also feature a brand new English adaptation by Pulitzer Prize finalist Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
And I guess Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel will continue to never walk alone... After Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins gave their superb singing talents to the roles of Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan at the London Coliseum recently, an opening night for a Broadway revival has been set for 23rd March 2018. What's got our theatrical taste buds salivating, however, is the casting of Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller (as Julie), two-time Tony nominee Joshua Henry (as Billy) and opera singing sensation Renée Fleming (as Nettie Fowler)!
In other casting news, congratulations to hot British export Michael Xavier (currently starring as Joe Gillis in Broadway's Sunset Boulevard) as he has scored his second, consecutive Broadway credit! He became the final addition to the cast of the Manhattan Theatre Club's upcoming Broadway premiere of Prince of Broadway - A Musical Celebration Of The Career Of Harold Prince, which begins previews on 3rd August. Congrats also go to Broadway favourite Telly Leung, who will assume the title role in Disney's Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre from 13th June. We're proud of you, boy!
Mr. Leung became available for new gigs after the unfortunate early closure of Broadway's a cappella musical In Transit, which posted an early closure for 16th April. It is my sad duty to also inform you that the Phillipa Soo-led Broadway premiere of Amélie and Sally Field-led Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie both were forced to post early closure notices and played their final performances last Sunday, 21st May.
But we can't end this Broadway Round-up on a sad note, so we would all like to congratulate legendary star of stage and screen James Earl Jones, who will be honoured with the Tony Award for "Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre" at the ceremony on 11th June... a richly deserved accolade for an icon of our industry.
For all the latest from over the pond, be sure to keep an eye on our sister site - www.NewYorkTheatreGuide.com!