With the airing of the Tony Awards, the 2016-2017 Broadway theater season officially came to an end. So, let's take a look at some of the shows that are scheduled to open in the coming months.
I've seen this one already, and I will have more to say about it after it officially opens on June 22. For now, here are two things to think about: (1) It pays to be very familiar with George Orwell's remarkably prescient book on which this production is based, and (2) The production is raw, rough, and edgy. Look at Point 1 and think hard about the significance of "Room 101." Not for the faint of heart.
Now in previews and opening on June 29, this is a revival by the Roundabout Theatre Company of Scott McPherson's 1990 play about estranged sisters who come together at the home of their elderly and bedridden father. One of this sisters, Bessie, has served as his primary caregiver, while the other one, Lee, has stayed far away. Bessie has been diagnosed with leukemia, so the ball is now in Lee's court. A well-received 1997 film version starred Diane Keaton as Bessie and Meryl Streep as Lee. In this production, Lili Taylor (known primarily for her work in films at television) appears as Bessie, and Janeane Garofalo (a standup comic who has also done films and television) is the wisecracking and unstable Lee.
The Terms of My Surrender
Provocative political filmmaker Michael Moore's one-man show begins previews on July 28. It is scripted (by Mr. Moore) and has a well-established director in Michael Mayer (Tony winner for the 2007 production of Spring Awakening). Few will wander into the theater unaware that Mr. Moore is no fan of the current President of the United States, who is likely to be mentioned with some frequency and in less than glowing terms over the course of the evening.
Prince of Broadway
Begins previews on August 3. This is the long-awaited production highlighting the career of producer/director Hal Prince, the winner of 21 Tony Awards. It is a revue of songs by Stephen Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and many others with whom the impresario has been associated over the years. If they don't stint on talent, including (please) a decent-sized orchestra, it could be quite entertaining. The cast includes well-known Broadway stalwarts Chuck Cooper, Emily Skinner, Tony Yazbeck, Karen Ziemba, and others of that ilk. Mr. Prince co-directs with Susan Stroman, herself a five-time Tony winner.
Time and the Conways
Don't expect a Downton Abbey look-alike with this revival of J. B. Priestley's pre-World War II play that follows an upper class British family from 1919 to 1937. The most exciting thing about the production is that it will be directed by Rebecca Taichman, who did a marvelously creative job helming Indecent this past season, earning a well-deserved Tony for her efforts. Previews begin September 14.
Playwright Ayad Akhtar, who gave us the excellent high-tension drama Disgraced and (to my mind) the even better The Invisible Hand, is back with this play about the financial mess brought about by the banking/investment industry in the 1980s. Not the first play to tackle this topic (Caryl Churchill's Serious Money from 1987, and Lucy Prebble's Enron from 2010 are two that come to mind), but Akhtar is a master at writing thrillingly about serious conflicts. I do expect this one to be a strong entry, under Doug Hughes's direction. Previews begin September 14.
This revival of David Henry Hwang's best known play, a Tony winner from 1988, marks a first return to Broadway for director Julie Taymor since the debacle that was Spiderman. Date for first preview is not yet set, but will probably be late September.
The Band's Visit
As long as Katrina Lenk arrives with this Off Broadway-to-Broadway transfer, the musical (book by Itamar Moses and a terrific score by Yazbek) that won much acclaim with its debut at the Atlantic Theater Company ought to be a winner. David Cromer once again directs. Previews begin October 7.
Ya never know -- not with music by the likes of Steven Tyler, Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, David Bowie and others of that caliber. Could be a real hoot. Previews begin November 6.
Once On This Island
Revival of Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty musical fantasy from 1990 begins previews on November 9. Directed by Michael Arden, who did the honors for the recent and highly touted revival of Spring Awakening.
British playwright Lucy Kirkwood's well-received, if disturbing drama about a post-apolocyptic world is coming to New York, with a first preview on November 28.
Farinelli and the King
Mark Rylance stars. Need I say more? OK. Here's more. Written by Claire van Kampen (who is married to Mr. Rylance), the play is about the power of music to heal the mind of a Spain's depressed King Philip V. The celebrated castrato singer, Farinelli, provides the cure. Rylance plays Philip, in case you were wondering. Previews begin December 5.
Feel free to share this blog with your friends, and to offer up your own theater stories by posting a comment. I also invite you to check out the website Show-Score.Com, where you will find capsule reviews of current plays from Yours Truly and many other New York critics.