BROADWAY SPRING PREVIEW: Matilda, Tom Hanks, Jekyll & Hyde, Nathan Lane, Cinderella and More
By Robert Simonson
In the winter and spring months ahead, Broadway offers Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy, Benjamin Walker and Scarlett Johansson in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, plus Kinky Boots, Cinderella, Matilda, Motown and Nathan Lane in The Nance.
A lot of fabulous, but unfortunate women will be on the Broadway stage this winter and spring, with romantic frustration spread out evenly between the females of New York, the South, and the Midwest, with a little stress left over for a faraway kingdom.
That final woman in question, the title character in Cinderella, without a doubt enjoys the happiest ending — it's a fairy tale after all. This lesser-known musical by the duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II began as a 1957 television special starring Julie Andrews. Its reputation has since grown, and it's enjoyed periodic stagings. This version — the property's Broadway debut — has been given a new dramatic approach by playwright Douglas Carter Beane. Mark Brokaw directs Laura Osnes, Harriet Harris and Victoria Clark. Previews begin Jan. 25 at the Broadway Theatre.
Most of the damsels in distress in William Inge's 1953 drama of romantic desperation, Picnic, don't get their Prince Charming. But theatergoers attending this Roundabout Theatre Company revival will get a fine cast, including Reed Birney, Maggie Grace, Elizabeth Marvel, Sebastian Stan, Mare Winningham, and Ellen Burstyn, all directed by Sam Gold at the American Airlines Theatre, opening Jan. 13.
Also set in the South are Beth Henley's 30-year-old The Miss Firecracker Contest, which gets its Broadway debut at a theatre to be announced, with Amber Tamblyn as a pageant wannabe; Ann, a biographical drama about outspoken Texas governor Ann Richards, by and starring Holland Taylor, at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater starting Feb. 18; and The Trip to Bountiful, Horton Foote's tale of a woman who takes an unexpected trip to her hometown, starring Cicely Tyson, plus Cuba Gooding, Jr., Condola Rashad and Vanessa Williams, at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre starting March 31.
Emilia Clarke has the difficult task of stepping into a role closely associated with Audrey Hepburn (and originally penned for the screen with Marilyn Monroe in mind): Holly Golightly in Richard Greenberg's new adaptation of Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. Sean Mathias directs the timeless 1940s tale of a New York good-time girl. Previews begin March 4 at the Cort Theatre.
Greenberg also has an original story up his sleeve this spring, and it, too, centers on women. The Assembled Parties takes place during a holiday dinner at the Manhattan home of the Bascov sisters, played by Judith Light and Jessica Hecht. One of the sisters is a former movie star, the other is not. Previews of the Manhattan Theatre Club premiere begin at the Samuel J. Friedman on March 19. Lynne Meadow directs.
In Clifford Odets' Hollywood melodrama The Big Knife the kidnapping is more figurative, than literal. Actor Charlie Castle is being held hostage by his bullying studio ever since they helped cover up a secret in his past. Bobby Cannavale stars in the Doug Hughes staging, due March 22 at the American Airlines Theatre. It's the second major Odets revival this season, following Golden Boy.
The trials of a different sort of performer are depicted in The Nance, a new play by the busy Douglas Carter Beane, beginning March 21 at the Lyceum. Nathan Lane stars as Chauncey Miles, an actor who is a headlining "nance" — that is, a stereotypically effeminate character type — on the 1930s burlesque circuit.
Tabloid columnist Mike McAlary was considerably more fortunate than those above, but he has his bad days, too. Both sides of the man are shown in Lucky Guy, a play Nora Ephron wrote before her death last year. The production is lucky in its casting, having netted major film star Tom Hanks to play the central role. Richard Masur, Christopher McDonald and Peter Scolari and other will lend support. George C. Wolfe directs. Previews begin at the Broadhurst on March 1.
The problems shared by the men in Diner, a new musical based on the iconic 1982 film by Barry Levinson, mainly have to do with a group of Baltimore-based friends and their unwillingness to enter adulthood, with its inconvenient responsibilities. Kathleen Marshall, known for her musical revivals, directs the new work, which has a book by Levinson and a score by popdom's Sheryl Crow. It is expected in the spring (theatre and dates to be announced).
Like quirky, 1980s New Wave? Cyndi Lauper has a show for you. It's called Kinky Boots, and it's based on the 2005 British film of the same title, with a book by Harvey Fierstein and direction by Jerry Mitchell. Previews begin March 5 at the Hirschfeld.
Relish country and honky-tonk? The truckstop-set, 1980s hit Pump Boys and Dinettes is coming back, starring "American Idol" contestant Bo Bice in a staging directed by Sweeney Todd Tony winner John Doyle, a master at actor-musician conceits. Previews begin March 19 at Circle in the Square.
Long for shows like Frank Wildhorn used to write? Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde is back on the Broadway boards this spring with a different Idol — Constantine Maroulis — in the title role, following a national tour.
If you're looking for something more tunefully up-to-date, Hands on a Hardbody might be your ticket. Commencing Feb. 23 at the Atkinson, the Trey Anastasio-Amanda Green-Doug Wright effort is a reality-inspired, American-Dream-on-trial musical about an auto dealership that launches an endurance contest in which the contestant who keeps one hand on a brand-new truck the longest gets to drive it off the lot.
Finally, got kids? Then take them to Matilda the Musical, a new musical based on the classic Roald Dahl story about a girl with extraordinary powers. This London import is by playwright Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Australian comedian and musician Tim Minchin. Previews begin March 4 at the Shubert.
This information was accurate at press time. Schedules and artists are subject to change.
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