Mark Ruffalo, Dreamgirls, Hamilton and More
Welcome to our first Broadway Round-up of 2017 and although many Americans are giving their next President a frosty reception, things are certainly heating up on the Great White Way as we steamroll towards this Spring's Broadway openings and the subsequent, glittering Awards Season.
Speaking of Awards, the theatre calendar's biggest and most glamorous evening is, of course, the Tony Awards, and it was officially announced that the 71st Annual Tony Awards will return to the iconic Radio City Music Hall this year. Due to a clash with The Rockettes' summer show New York Spectacular, last year's ceremony had to be moved uptown to the Beacon Theatre, but it will be great to see the Tonys back in their rightful home on Sunday, 11th June. A host has yet to be named but we are crossing our fingers that our very own James Cordon, a Tony winner himself, may return after his stellar performance last year.
The first official Broadway opening of 2017 took place on 8th January, with the Sydney Theatre Company's production of The Present (an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's 'Platonov' by Andrew Upton) bowing at the Barrymore Theatre. Congratulations in particular to the show's stars - two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh - who both garnered great critical acclaim for their Broadway debuts.
The next Broadway opening is scheduled for tomorrow night (19th January) as the Manhattan Theatre Club's production of August Wilson's Jitney marks the 1979 play's Broadway premiere and means that the famed playwright's series of 10 plays called "The Pittsburgh Cycle" have all now been performed on the Great White Way. Other popular plays in this series include 'Fences' (which was just recently adapted into a film starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, having previously performed it together on Broadway in 2010), as well as 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,' and 'The Piano Lesson.' Break a leg to André Holland, Anthony Chisholm and the rest of the cast of Jitney for tomorrow night!
Mel B returned to Broadway on 28th December (she previously played a limited engagement as Mimi Marquez in 'Rent' in 2004). Scary Spice can currently be seen as Roxie Hart in the Broadway production of Chicago and she will play her final performance on 19th February. In a recent interview in New York, fesity Mel was asked about the musical Viva Forever! and if it would ever make its way to Broadway. Check out her response: "For me personally, it was not how I wanted it to be done. I (and a few of the other girls) wanted it to be the story of Spice Girls not a story that was about something else. It didn’t make sense to me. There’s been no talk of [Viva Forever!]." ...Ouch!
The rumour mill is once again in operation and according to the New York Post, Sonia Friedman's acclaimed West End premiere of Dreamgirls, which currently stars "Glee" favourite Amber Riley at the Savoy Theatre, may well be heading stateside. The new production, directed and choreographed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw, could land on the Great White Way as early as next season. And I Am Telling You... lots of Americans will be going!
The 2016-2017 Broadway season has added yet another A-List name to its line-up as "Marvel Cinematic Universe" star Mark Ruffalo aka Bruce Banner aka Incredible Hulk - Oscar-nominated for his performances in "Spotlight," "Foxcatcher" and "The Kids Are All Right" - assumes the role of Victor Franz in Arthur Miller's The Price. He replaces John Turturro, who has withdrawn due to scheduling conflicts - and joins Danny DeVito, Tony Shalhoub and Jessic Hecht in the Roundabout Theatre Company production. Previews begin at the American Airlines Theatre on 16th February.
In other casting news, "Peter Pan Live" star Taylor Louderman began performances as Lauren in the Broadway production of Kinky Boots on Monday (16th January), whilst "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" star and two-time Tony winner Matthew Broderick will lead The New Group's U.S. premiere of Evening at the Talk House at off-Broadway's Pershing Square Signature Center from 31st January. A starry cast has also been announced for the Lincoln Center Theater's off-Broadway production of Sarah Ruhl's How to Transcend a Happy Marriage, including Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Tony winner Lena Hall and Tony nominee Omar Metwally. Previews begin on 23rd February. And Colin Hanlon joined the Broadway cast of In Transit on 10th January, covering for Broadway favourite Telly Leung during his leave of absence due to an unexpected family obligation. Telly will return to the production on 31st January.
And finally, whilst London enters a ticket frenzy for this year's West End premiere of Hamilton, the Broadway production has also been shaking things up on the other side of the pond. Not only has the company welcomed a host of new cast members recently - J. Quinton Johnson as James Madison/Hercules Mulligan since 6th January, Bryan Terrell Clark as George Washington since 10th January and "Saturday Night Live" favourite Taran Killam debuted as King George last night (17th January) - but producer Jeffrey Seller also announced another upcoming addition. Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart will jump ship and leave his coveted Tony-winning role of Genie in Disney's Aladdin to take on the roles of Marques de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton from mid-April. The switch also means that current Genie standby Major Attaway will now get to play the role full-time from 21st February at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
Keep up to date with all the latest Broadway and off-Broadway news at NewYorkTheatreGuide.com! Until next time, folks!