SpongeBob SquarePants, The Band's Visit, Escape to Margaritaville & More
Despite King George III's puerile claims of "You'll Be Back," the Americans are celebrating yet another Independence Day today and so we thought it would be a great time to bring everybody up to speed on all the latest happenings from over the pond! Since our last Broadway Round-up, there has been a mountain of both official and rumoured news with brand new productions announced for the 2017-2018 season and - what has become a sad, annual tradition - a wave of early closure notices following this year's Tony Awards. So let's get started...
It seems that everybody wants a slice of the Great White Way these days. Disney have long been represented in New York - currently by The Lion King, Aladdin and next year's Frozen, Warner Bros. are represented by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Twentieth Century Fox have joined the fray with Anastasia, but now it's official that Nickelodeon will also be making its Broadway debut this year. After a successful world premiere engagement at Chicago's Oriental Theatre in the summer of 2016, SpongeBob SquarePants will be swimming into the Palace Theatre to begin previews on 6 November 2017, ahead of an official opening on 4 December. Conceived and directed by Tina Landau, the Broadway premiere will feature original cast members Ethan Slater (as SpongeBob SquarePants), Lilli Cooper (as Sandy Cheeks), Danny Skinner (as Patrick) and Gavin Lee (as Squidward), with additional casting to be announced in the coming weeks. And instead of just one composer to create an underwater score to die for, the world's favoruite sponge has enlisted the help of a small army of the music industry's top players to provide songs for the musical, including Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, Panic! At the Disco... and even the late great David Bowie himself will be showcased! We're certainly looking forward to seeing how the team transforms Times Square into Bikini Bottom this autumn!
And now for the something completely different... One of the runaway hits from the last off-Broadway season had to be the multi-award winning production of The Band's Visit. Featuring music & lyrics by David Yazbek and a book by Itamar Moses, the musical played a world premiere engagement at the Atlantic Theater Company's Linda Gross Theater from 11 November 2016 and, after two extensions, closed on 8 January 2017. After picking up Lucille Lortel Awards, New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards and Obie Awards, a Broadway transfer was surely on the cards and we didn't have to wait long for the official confirmation. Previews begin at the Barrymore Theatre on 7 October 7 2017, ahead of an official opening on 9 November. Even more good news is that the show's original stars Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk have already been confirmed for the transfer.
Another new addition to the 2017-2018 season looks set to bring a dose of sunshine and chilled vibes to Broadway. Escape to Margaritaville, which features the hits of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, will officially open at the Marquis Theatre on 15 March 2018, following previews from 16 February. Known for his "island escapism" lifestyle, Buffett promises that the musical will be full of Caribbean rhythms and might just turn out to be the ideal getaway spot in the heart of Manhattan.
The current tenant of the Marquis Theatre - On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan - has had a lengthy run on Broadway compared to many of the show's that opened in the same season. The musical has been encouraging crowds to do the Conga down the aisles since October 2015, but will now come to an end on 20 August 2017, before embarking on an 80-week tour of the United States from September. So the rest of America be warned - the rhythm is gonna get you!
After each Tony Awards ceremony comes a wave of inevitable closure notices, if productions didn't fare as well as they had hoped on the theatre industry's big night. This year's victims include the Broadway revival of Six Degrees of Separation, which closed on 18 June (instead of 16 July), and even the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Sweat, which played its final performance at Studio 54 on 25 June. Playwright Paula Vogel's Broadway debut Indecent had also posted a closure notice of 25 June, but due to a subsequent peak in box office sales, a new closing date of 6 August was announced. Sad news too for feline fans as it was announced that the Broadway revival of Cats will shutter. The Memory will now only live on at the Neil Simon Theatre through to 30 December 2017. There was good news, however, for the Tony Award-winning "Best Play" Oslo, which extended its limited engagement at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater through to 16 July after its win, and another surprise hit of last season - A Doll's House, Part 2 - earned Laurie Metcalf her first Tony Award and added a massive extension through to 7 January 2018 at the Golden Theatre. It was originally scheduled to close on 23 July. For a full reminder of all the winners from The 71st Annual Tony Awards, click HERE!
"Out with the old and in with the new" they say and barely has the dust settled from the 2016-2017 season and we have already had the first two Broadway productions of the new season officially opening on the Great White Way. Check out our review round-ups for the Broadway premiere of George Orwell's 1984, starring our very own Tom Sturridge, HERE and the Roundabout Theatre Company's first offering of the season - Marvin's Room, starring US comedienne Janeane Garofalo in her Broadway debut, HERE!
In casting news, two of the top-selling Broadway shows recently welcomed new leads with Telly Leung assuming the title role in Disney's Aladdin and Betsy Wolfe taking on the lead role of Jenna in Waitress, both on 13 June. Pie and three wishes for everybody!
Finally, the rumour mill has been churning out lots of juicy gossip of (possible) upcoming shows on the Broadway. After her Tony and Grammy Award-winning success with Kinky Boots, Cyndi Lauper's next musical venture is looking to be a stage adaptation of the 1988 hit movie Working Girl, as she teams up with "New Girl" scribe Kim Rosenstock. The National Theatre's epic production of Angels in America is also potentially looking at some sort of Broadway transfer. Two-time Tony winner Jerry Mitchell has signed on to direct the hotly anticipated musical adaptation of Pretty Woman and he is also reportedly in negotiations to bring a jukebox musical featuring the hits of one Britney Spears to Broadway. Stage adaptations for the 1982 movie Tootsie (with Tony nominee Scott Ellis at the helm), the 1983 novel Gorillas in the Mist (with Gorilla puppets to be provided by Jim "The Muppets" Henson's Creature Shop) and the 1955 novel and 1999 film adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley are all in the mix too! Find out more about all the rumoured projects in development HERE.
And be sure to keep an eye on our sister site www.NewYorkTheatreGuide.com for all the latest news from the Big Apple! Until next time, Happy 4th of July, y'all!