From First Date to Cabaret, A Look at the 2013-14 Season: The Musicals
By Playbill Staff
April 4, 2014
With the 2013-14 Broadway season coming to a close this month (April 24 is the cut-off date for eligibility for the 68th Annual Tony Awards), Playbill.com offers a four-part look at the current season. First up are the musicals.
From the original musical First Date, about getting set up in the city, to the Broadway return of the Tony Award-winning Cabaret, which will open on the last day of eligibility, here is an overview of the 16 musicals that have opened or will open in time for the 2013 Tonys, which will take place June 8 at Radio City Music Hall.
Look out for future roundups of new plays, play revivals and special engagements.
Show: First Date Theatre: Longacre Theatre Preview: July 9, 2013 Opening: Aug. 8, 2013 Closing: Jan. 5 Creators: Book by Austin Winsberg. Music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Direction by Bill Berry. Musical staging by Josh Rhodes. Original Principal Cast: Zachary Levi as Aaron and Krysta Rodriguez as Casey with Sara Chase, Kristoffer Cusick, Blake Hammond, Kate Loprest, Vicki Noon, Bryce Ryness, Eric Ankrim, Kevin Kern and Sydney Shepherd. Synopsis: "When tightly wound Aaron (Levi) is set up with serial-dater Casey (Rodriguez) a quick drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious, high-stakes dinner," according to press notes. "As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this date as Casey and Aaron's inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons and the wait staff get into the act. Dinner is served with sides of Google background checks, fake emergency phone calls, supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. First Date is Broadway's new hysterical and hopeful new musical about the chances we take to find love."
Show: Soul Doctor Theatre: Circle in the Square Theatre Preview: July 17, 2013 Opening: Aug. 15, 2013 Closing: Oct. 13, 2013 Creators: Book by Daniel S. Wise. Lyrics by David Schechter. Concept by Jeremy Chess. Music by Shlomo Carlebach. Direction by Daniel S. Wise. Choreography by Benoit-Swan Pouffer. Original Principal Cast: Eric Anderson as Shlomo, Amber Iman as Nina, Jacqueline Antaramian as Mother, Diana Barger as Flower Child, Jamie Jackson as Father and Zarah Mahler as Ruth. Synopsis: The new musical Soul Doctor, according to producers, "tells the fascinating story of the beloved yet controversial father of popular Jewish music, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. A modern-day troubadour, Shlomo ignited the spirit of millions around the world with his soul-stirring melodies, transformative storytelling and boundless love. After his childhood escape from Nazi Germany, the young Rabbi formed an unlikely friendship with legendary jazz singer Nina Simone, who introduced him to soul and gospel music. Fusing his roots with his new found inspiration, Shlomo created a revolutionary musical sound, writing songs that became instant standards. As a 'Rock Star Rabbi' of the 1960s, he struggled to harmonize his traditional beliefs with the 'free love' generation. Today, his uplifting music and message help to define America’s most defiant era."
Watch Playbill Video's highlights from the musical:
Show: Big Fish Theatre: Neil Simon Theatre Preview: Sept. 5, 2013 Opening: Oct. 6, 2013 Closing: Dec. 29, 2013 Creators: Book by John August. Music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa. Direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. Original Principal Cast: Norbert Leo Butz as Edward Bloom, Kate Baldwin as Sandra Bloom, Bobby Steggert as Will Bloom, Krystal Joy Brown as Josephine Bloom and Zachary Unger and Anthony Pierini alternating in the role of Young Will. Synopsis: Big Fish, according to press notes, "centers on Edward Bloom, a traveling salesman who lives life to its fullest… and then some! Edward's incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone around him – most of all, his devoted wife Sandra. But their son Will, about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales. Big Fish is about dreaming, loving and living bigger."
Watch Playbill Video's exclusive video of the cast in the recording studio:
Show: A Night With Janis Joplin Theatre: Lyceum Theatre Preview: Sept. 20, 2013 Opening: Oct. 10, 2013 Closing: Feb. 9 Creators: Book by Randy Johnson. Direction by Randy Johnson. Choreography by Patricia Wilcox. Original Principal Cast: Mary Bridget Davies as Janis Joplin with de'Adre Aziza, Taprena Michelle Augustine, Allison Blackwell and Nikki Kimbrough as Joplin's backup singers, "The Joplinaires." Kacee Clanton was the Janis Joplin Alternate. Synopsis: "Like a comet that burns far too brightly to last, Janis Joplin (Mary Bridget Davies) exploded onto the music scene in 1967 and, almost overnight, became the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll," according to press notes. "The unmistakable voice filled with raw emotion and tinged with Southern Comfort made her a must-see headliner from Monterey to Woodstock. A Night with Janis Joplin is a musical journey celebrating Janis and her biggest musical influences – trailblazers like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith, who inspired one of Rock 'n' Roll's greatest legends."
Show: After Midnight Theatre: Brooks Atkinson Theatre Preview: Oct. 18, 2013 Opening: Nov. 3, 2013 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Concept by Jack Viertel. Direction and choreography by Warren Carlyle. Original Principal Cast: Fantasia Barrino as Special Guest Star, Adriane Lenox, Dulé Hill. Synopsis: Here's how producers bill the production: "Jazz is a state of mind. It's a structure for innovation, forward momentum and freedom. The evocative new musical After Midnight will take the sexy, smoky glamour of the original Jazz Age and catapult it into a whole new era of heart-pounding, mind-blowing entertainment for modern Broadway audiences. Refracted through a contemporary lens, After Midnight will celebrate Duke Ellington's years at the Cotton Club using his original arrangements and performed by a world-class big band of 17 musicians hand-picked by living jazz legend, Wynton Marsalis. The timeless tunes set against a narrative of Langston Hughes poetry will provide an authentic backdrop for an array of cutting-edge performances by 25 sensational vocalists and dancers, including special guest stars, whose interpretations will shatter everything you think you know about music, nightlife and Broadway. Welcome to the new Jazz Age."
Watch Playbill Video's preview of After Midnight with Barrino:
Show: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder Theatre: Walter Kerr Theatre Preview: Oct. 22, 2013 Opening: Nov. 18, 2013 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Music by Steven Lutvak. Book by Robert L. Freedman. Lyrics by Freedman and Lutvak. Direction by Darko Tresnjak. Choreography by Peggy Hickey. Original Principal Cast: Jefferson Mays as The D'Ysquith Family, Bryce Pinkham as Monty Navarro, Lisa O'Hare as Sibella Hallward, Lauren Worsham as Phoebe D'Ysquith and Jane Carr as Miss Shingle. Synopsis: Here's how the dark musical comedy is billed: "Monty Navarro (Pinkham) has just received some really great news from his late mother's lifelong friend Miss Shingle (Carr)! He's a long-lost member of a noble family and could become the next Earl of Highhurst. There are only eight minor issues, namely the other relatives who precede him in line for the title. So Monty does what any ambitious, highborn gentleman would do: he sets out to eliminate them one by one, all while juggling his mistress (O'Hare) (she’s after more than just love), his fiancée (Worsham) (she’s his cousin, but who’s keeping track?), plus the constant threat of landing behind bars! But it will all be worth it if he can slay his way into Highhurst Castle… and be done in time for tea. Each of the eight heirs perilously standing in the way of Monty's fortune are played by Tony Award-winner Jefferson Mays, in one of the most breathtaking, whiplash-inducing performances ever attempted on the American stage."
Watch Playbill Video's preview of Gentleman's Guide:
Show: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Theatre: Stephen Sondheim Theatre Preview: Nov. 21, 2013 Opening: Jan. 12 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Book by Douglas McGrath. Music and lyrics by Barry Mann, Carole King, Cynthia Weil, Gerry Goffin. Direction by Marc Bruni. Choreography by Josh Prince. Original Principal Cast: Jessie Mueller as Carole King, Jake Epstein as Gerry Goffin, Anika Larsen as Cynthia Weil, Jarrod Spector as Barry Mann, Jeb Brown as Don Kirshner and Liz Larsen as Genie Klein. Synopsis: Here's how the creators bill the musical: "Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock 'n' roll. But it wasn't until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice. Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of King's remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation."
Show: The Bridges of Madison County Theatre: Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre Preview: Jan. 17 Opening: Feb. 20 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Book by Marsha Norman. Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Direction by Bartlett Sher. Movement by Sanny Mefford. Original Principal Cast: Kelli O'Hara as Francesca, Steven Pasquale as Robert, Hunter Foster as Bud, Michael X. Martin as Charlie, Cass Morgan as Marge, Caitlin Kinnunen as Carolyn, Derek Klena as Michael and Whitney Bashor as Marian/Chiara. Synopsis: The Bridges of Madison County is based on the Robert James Waller romance novel about a woman who sees love anew when a rugged photographer pulls into town. The romantic musical centers on a brief, four-day love affair between a National Geographic photographer and an Italian-American housewife in 1965 Iowa. Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep starred in the 1995 film adaptation.
Watch Playbill Video's backstage video with Klena:
Show: Rocky Theatre: Winter Garden Theatre Preview: Feb. 13 Opening: March 13 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Book by Thomas Meehan and Sylvester Stallone. Music by Stephen Flaherty. Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Direction by Alex Timbers. Choreography by Steven Hoggett. Original Principal Cast: Andy Karl as Rocky Balboa, Margo Seibert as Adrian, Terence Archie as Apollo Creed, Dakin Matthews as Mickey, Danny Mastrogiorgio as Paulie and Jennifer Mudge as Gloria. Synopsis: Rocky, according to press notes, "brings to life the iconic and inspiring story of struggling small time Philly boxer, Rocky Balboa, who gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot to go the distance against heavyweight champ Apollo Creed. Both an adrenaline-infused spectacle and a surprising story of blossoming romance between two lonely outsiders, Rocky is a heart-stopping and viscerally theatrical new musical for everyone brave enough to follow their dream."
Watch Playbill Video's feature with Rocky songwriters Ahrens and Flaherty:
Show: Aladdin Theatre: New Amsterdam Theatre Preview: Feb. 26 Opening: March 20 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Book by Chad Beguelin. Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. New lyrics by Chad Beguelin. Direction and choreography by Casey Nicholaw. Original Principal Cast: Adam Jacobs as Aladdin, Jonathan Freeman as Jafar, James Monroe Iglehart as Genie, Courtney Reed as Jasmine, Brian Gonzales as Babkak, Brandon O'Neill as Kassim, Jonathan Schwartz as Omar, Clifton Davis as Sultan, Don Darryl Rivera as Iago. Synopsis: Here's how the new musical is billed: "Aladdin, adapted from the Disney film and centuries-old folktales including 'One Thousand and One Nights' is brought to fresh theatrical life in this exuberant new musical. Aladdin's journey will sweep audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance. This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage."
Show: Les Misérables Theatre: Imperial Theatre Preview: March 1 Opening: March 23 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. Lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. Direction by Laurence Connor and James Powell. Musical Staging by Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt. Original Principal Cast: Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean, Will Swenson as Javert, Caissie Levy as Fantine, Nikki M. James as Eponine, Andy Mientus as Marius, Samantha Hill as Cosette, Cliff Saunder as Thénardier, Keala Settle as Madame Thénardier and Kyle Scatliffe as Enjolras. Synopsis: Les Misérables is based on the 19th-century novel by Victor Hugo. The story focuses on the character of Jean Valjean, the musical's protagonist who was imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread — forever branded as prisoner number 24601 — escapes and creates a new life for himself in 1800s France. The Tony-winning score includes such classics as "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "Stars," "Bring Him Home," "Do You Hear the People Sing?," "One Day More," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," "Master Of The House" and more.
Watch Playbill Video's highlights from the musical:
Show: If/Then Theatre: Richard Rodgers Theatre Preview: March 5 Opening: March 30 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey. Music by Tom Kitt. Direction by Michael Greif. Choreography by Larry Keigwin. Original Principal Cast: Idina Menzel as Elizabeth, LaChanze as Kate, Anthony Rapp as Lucas, James Snyder as Josh, Jerry Dixon as Stephen Jenn Colella Anne, Jason Tam as David and Tamika Lawrence as Elena. Synopsis: According to the creators, "If/Then is an original musical set at the intersection of choice and chance, where the road you takes meets the road you didn't. Tony Award winner Menzel makes her much-anticipated return to the stage in this contemporary new musical as Elizabeth, a woman rebuilding her life in New York, a city of infinite possibilities."
Watch Playbill Video's coverage from If/Then's free fan concert:
Show: Bullets Over Broadway Theatre: St. James Theatre Preview: March 11 Opening: April 10 Closing: Open-ended Creators: Book by Woody Allen. Direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. Original Principal Cast: Brooks Ashmanskas as Warner Purcell, Zach Braff as David Shayne, Nick Cordero as Cheech, Marin Mazzie as Helen Sinclair, Vincent Pastore as Nick Valenti, Betsy Wolfe as Ellen, Lenny Wolpe as Julian Marx and Heléne Yorke as Olive Neal. Synopsis: Bullets Over Broadway centers on an aspiring playwright who finds out that his play God of Our Fathers is getting the Broadway treatment thanks to a wealthy gangster who has taken a sudden interest in producing. The only snag is that his dimwitted moll has to star in one of the leading roles. Thrown into the mix are a mafia thug with a real knack for playwrighting and a theatrical grand dame who gives Norma Desmond a run for her money.
Playbill Video visits rehearsal:
Show: Violet Theatre: American Airlines Theatre Preview: March 28 Opening: April 20 Closing: Aug. 9 Creators: Book and lyrics by Brian Crawley. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Direction by Leigh Silverman. Choreography by Jeffrey Page. Original Principal Cast: Sutton Foster as Violet, Colin Donnell as Monty, Alexander Gemignani as Father, Joshua Henry as Flick and Emerson Steele as Young Violet. Synopsis: Violet, according to Roundabout Theatre Company, "tells the story of a young woman's quest for beauty amidst the image-obsessed landscape of the 1960s. Facially disfigured in a childhood accident, Violet (Foster) dreams of a miraculous transformation through the power of faith. Convinced that a televangelist in Oklahoma can heal her, she hops a Greyhound bus and starts the journey of a lifetime. Along the way, Violet forms unlikely friendships with her fellow riders, who teach her about beauty, love, courage and what it means to be an outsider."
Watch Playbill Video's coverage from Violet's press preview:
Show: Hedwig and the Angry Inch Theatre: Belasco Theatre Preview: March 29 Opening: April 22 Closing: Aug. 17 Creators: Book by John Cameron Mitchell. Music and lyrics by Stephen Trask. Direction by Michael Mayer. Musical staging by Spencer Liff. Original Principal Cast: Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig and Lena Hall as Yitzhak. Synopsis: Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about a fictional rock and roll band, the Angry Inch, fronted by Hedwig — an East German transgender singer.
Watch Playbill Video's interviews with the cast and creatives:
Show: Cabaret Theatre: Studio 54 Preview: March 21 Opening: April 24 Closing: Aug. 31 Creators: Book by Joe Masteroff. Music by John Kander. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Direction by Sam Mendes. Co-direction and choreography by Rob Marshall. Original Principal Cast: Alan Cumming as Emcee, Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles, Linda Emond as Fräulein Schneider, Danny Burstein as Herr Schultz, Bill Heck as Clifford Bradshaw, Aaron Krohn as Ernst Ludwig and Gayle Rankin as Fräulein Kost. Synopsis: In Cabaret, nightclub singer Sally Bowles performs at the decadent Kit Kat Klub as the Nazi Party quietly takes hold of 1930s Berlin. The musical features iconic songs, including "Willkommen," "Maybe This Time" and "Cabaret."