Broadway and US Presidents: Part II

By Patrick Jones

Although it is no longer President’s Day, there are so many shows with Presidents that we had to keep the celebration going. Here are 7 more plays and musicals that feature POTUS.  

The cast of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Photo Credit Joan Marcus)

In 2010, composer Michael Friedman and librettist-director Alex Timbers headbanged their way to Broadway with the hard rocker of a musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a satirical examination of the seventh President. Imagining Jackson as the rock star of his day, the musical follows his life and career, both in and out of the Oval Office. Highlighted throughout are the rise of populism, his relationship with his wife, and the signing of the Indian Removal Act, just to name a few. There are also some other U.S. Presidents who pop up throughout the show, including George Washington, Martin Van Buren, John Quincy Adams, and James Monroe. 

A one-man show proved to be an effective vehicle for James Whitmore, who played President Harry S. Truman in the biographical play Give ‘em Hell, Harry! The title comes from a remark one of Truman’s supporters made while he was giving a speech as part of his victorious 1948 Presidential campaign. Written by Samuel Gallu, Give ‘em Hell, Harry! premiered at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. in 1975. 

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Steven Pasquale, Bianca Horn, and cast in Assassins (Photo Credit Julieta Cervantes)

Stephen Sondheim got in on the Presidential act with 1990’s Assassins. Utilizing the framing device of a sinister carnival game, the tuner looks at a group of deranged individuals who attempted — successful or not — to kill various U.S. Presidents, a list that includes John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau, and Lee Harvey Oswald. Though very few Presidents are actual characters in Assassins, the musical tells audiences a lot about them, and how they became the target of the various assassins singing and being sung about. It took 14 years for Assassins to finally reach Broadway, opening in a stacked 2003-04 season yet winning five Tonys, including best musical revival. More recently, John Doyle directed an acclaimed Off-Broadway production at Classic Stage Company, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 shutdown and finally ran towards the end of 2021. 

Ralph Bellamy and Richard Thomas in the stage production Sunrise at Campobello.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s long battle with polio was dramatized in the 1958 Dore Schary play Sunrise at Campobello, named after the island that served as FDR’s summer home in New Brunswick, Canada. When it opened on Broadway, Ralph Bellamy played the disease-stricken President, and Broadway newcomer James Earl Jones was featured as Edward, the butler. The winner of four 1958 Tonys, including best play, Sunrise at Campobello was also turned into a successful film adaptation in 1960, also starring Bellamy.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue served as Leonard Bernstein’s last original Broadway score. The 1976 tuner — written for America’s bicentennial — parades through the early history of the White House and its inhabitants from 1800 to 1900. It also looks at the influence of several First Ladies and includes additional commentary from White House servants. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ran a grand total of seven performances, but it gave Bernstein one more well-regarded collection of music. 

Sav Souza as Dr. Josiah Bartlett (center-left, pointing a finger) and Brooke Simpson as Roger Sherman (on the right of John Adams in the front) in Roundabout Theatre Company's '1776.'
Roundabout Theatre Company’s ‘1776.’ (Photo Credit Joan Marcus)

While set in a period before the executive office existed, the Sherman Edwards-Peter Stone musical 1776 focuses on future Presidents John Adams and Jefferson, taking audiences inside the making of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 1776 shows Adams as the leading champion of said independence, as he persuades his colleagues to sign the document that he has coaxed Jefferson to draft. 1776 premiered on Broadway in 1969 and won three Tonys, including best musical; it was revived in 1997, before a 2022 production at Roundabout Theatre Company broke new ground for the title by highlighting an all-female, non-binary, and transgender cast. That production is currently on a national tour following its recent January 8 Broadway closing. 

Why Hamilton is making musical history | Musicals | The Guardian
Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton. (Photo Credit Joan Marcus)

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2015 hip-hop, non-stop juggernaut of a magnum opus Hamilton (still running at the Richard Rodgers Theatre) chronicled the life of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and the birth — and “afterbirth” — of our nation. Hamilton served alongside then-General George Washington as his “Right Hand Man” during the Revolutionary War, before Washington appointed him to his Cabinet after becoming the first President. Soon after, Thomas Jefferson arrives overseas after serving as France’s ambassador (“What’d I Miss”), and Hamilton gains two more political enemies in both Jefferson and James Madison, who are ideologically alike. In addition to Hamilton’s Broadway production, various national tours, and countless international mountings, a proshot featuring the original Broadway cast can now be streamed on Disney+ (featuring Tony winner Leslie Odom, Jr., soon to be seen on Broadway in a revival of Purlie Victorious).


Broadway and U.S. Presidents: Part I

By Jordan Levinson

Today is Presidents’ Day, one of eleven permanent federal holidays in the United States. The executive office is no stranger to the Broadway stage. In fact, several are prominent characters in both plays and musicals alike. This article — presented in two parts — will salute just a few of them:

Robert Sherwood had one of the earliest works of Broadway theatre to feature a Presidential character, as his three-act bioplay Abe Lincoln in Illinois opened at the Plymouth Theatre (now the Gerald Schoenfeld) in 1938 and ran for over a year. The work chronicles Honest Abe’s personal life and career, from humbling Illinois businessman to 16th President of the United States.  

Also in the late 1930s, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s I’d Rather Be Right was a Great Depression-era political satire set in New York City. Since this was about the Depression, there was a high chance Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be a part of the show — and indeed he was, lively played by the entertainer George M. Cohan, who sang such songs as “We’re Going to Balance the Budget” and “Off the Record” while solving a couple’s marriage dilemma. I’d Rather Be Right played nearly 300 performances on Broadway. 

The 1987 musical Teddy & Alice played the Minskoff Theatre and featured music adapted from John Philip Sousa’s catalogue, with other new songs by Richard Kapp and lyrics by Hal Hackady. The show is a fictionalized account of the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and his daughter during his tenure in the White House. Though Teddy is the lead here, his Presidential successor, William Howard Taft, also makes an appearance in the musical. The cast featured several Tony winners and nominees, including Len Cariou, Karen Ziemba, Beth Fowler, Ron Raines, and Nancy Opel. 

John Larroquette, James Earl Jones, Jefferson Mays and Michael McKean
John Larroquette, James Earl Jones, Jefferson Mays, and Michael McKean in the 2012 revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (Joan Marcus)

Gore Vidal’s 1960 play The Best Man is also fictional, as it follows two candidates — Senator Joe Cantwell and Secretary of State William Russell — with opposing values who compete for the Presidency and vie for the support of the soon-to-be-former President Arthur Hockstader. The Best Man was nominated for six Tony Awards, including best play, and Vidal adapted his play into a 1964 film. The original production starred Melvyn Douglas who had previously starred in The Gangs All Here, a play loosely based on the presidency of Warren G. Harding. The Best Man has also received two Broadway remounts as of this writing (2001 and 2012). The 2012 production starred James Earl Jones as Hockstader, as well as John Larroquette, Eric McCormack, Jefferson Mays, and Angela Lansbury.  

From left, Dylan Baker, Nathan Lane and Laurie Metcalf in "November."
Dylan Baler, Nathan Lane, and Laurie Metcalf in November 

On the more recent front, David Mamet’s November premiered in 2008 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. A comedy about the lengths people go to win, it focuses on a fictional President’s day in the life, beleaguered just days before his second election. Low on money, threatened by imminent nuclear war, and facing atrocious approval ratings, the President decides to pardon some turkeys before they get slaughtered for Thanksgiving dinners, hoping he can win back the public’s affection. The original five-person cast of November was led by Nathan Lane, Dylan Baker, and Laurie Metcalf. You can catch Nathan Lane this season in the new play Pictures From Home, playing at Studio 54. 

<strong>All the Way</strong> Bryan Cranston, left, and Brandon J. Dirden, in this tale of the behind-the-scenes battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Bryan Cranston, left, and Brandon J. Dirden, in All the Way (Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

Winner of the 2014 Tony for best play, Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way takes audiences from November 1963 to November 1964 — after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson becomes President of the United States, determined to end American racial injustice by passing a landmark civil rights bill. The play follows Johnson’s journey to a successful reelection campaign, and its title comes from his 1964 campaign slogan: “All the Way with LBJ.” “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston played Johnson, winning a Tony for his performance. All the Way became a TV film in 2016 starring Cranston, and it even spawned a stage sequel, The Great Society, which continues Johnson’s story into his second term of office as the Vietnam War begins to spiral out of control. In its 2019 Broadway run at Lincoln Center Theatre, Brian Cox led the company as Johnson.

Gavin Creel, Will Swenson, and cast of Hair (Joan Marcus)

Many presidents also receive a passing reference in the groundbreaking peace-love-and-rock-and-roll musical Hair, living proof of the hippie subculture and sexual revolution of the 1960s. The song “Initials” links LBJ with several acronyms, including the IRT, the FBI, the CIA, and LSD. Lincoln, Washington, Calvin Coolidge, and Ulysses S. Grant also make appearances during a wild extended second-act acid trip sequence, in which one of the hippies has a vision that he has skydived from a plane into wartime Vietnam.


Six Broadway Shows That Share One Thing in Common… Love!

By Patrick Jones

Richard Thomas and Swoosie Kurtz in Love Letters

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters follows two childhood sweethearts whose correspondence begins with notes and postcards to each other. A performance favorite for big-name actors and actresses, Love Letters is unique in that it requires little to no preparation, and the lines do not have to be memorized. The couple’s notes, letters, and cards make up the entire script, and the actors often sit side by side at tables, reading the letters out loud. The play has seen various rotating casts both in its 1989 Broadway premiere and a 2014 revival; notable performers have included Stockard Channing, Swoosie Kurtz, Elizabeth McGovern, Lynn Redgrave, Elaine Stritch, John Rubinstein, Richard Thomas, Mia Farrow, Alan Alda, and Carol Burnett.  

Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi in She Loves Me

Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick caught the love bug when they wrote the score for 1963’s She Loves Me. Based on a Hungarian play from the 1930s, the tuner is set in a European perfumery, where two feuding shop clerks have no idea they are in love. They exchange love letters after they both respond to a lonely-hearts ad in the newspaper, unaware that they are each other’s pen pal. The original production — starring Barbara Cook and directed by an on-the-rise Hal Prince — played 301 performances. The star-studded 2016 remount, which starred Laura Benanti, Zachary Levi, Jane Krakowski, and Gavin Creel, became the first-ever Broadway production to be livestreamed; it was broadcast on the BroadwayHD service in late June that year and has since aired several times on PBS’s “Great Performances.” This was partially because the story was modernized in the beloved 1998 rom com “You’ve Got Mail”, fronted by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Bock and Harnick’s lovely score includes such standouts as “She Loves Me”,“Tonight at Eight”, “Will He Like Me?”, and “Vanilla Ice Cream.”

Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez in First Date

Before Levi starred in She Loves Me, he ordered love in the 2013 musical First Date, his Broadway debut. With a score by newbies Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner and direction by Bill Berry, First Date follows Levi’s character on a blind date at a New York City restaurant, where a pleasant dinner with his partner (played by “Smash” alum Krysta Rodriguez) turns into a high-stakes evening. As the date unfolds —leading to musical numbers like “The Awkward Pause”, the three “Bailout” songs, and “The Check!” — the other patrons at the restaurant serve as the voices in both of their heads, playing disapproving parents, exes, supportive best friends, and much more. Though the show received mixed reviews, Levi received the bulk of its praise, and his sick burn of an 11 o’clock number, “In Love with You”, brought down the house nightly. 

In the 1960s, Neil Simon dramatized the relatability of the life of newlyweds learning to cope with each other in his romantic comedy Barefoot in the Park. Set over a four-day period, the play follows an optimistic Corie Bratter and her anxious husband Paul; Corie wants Paul to be more easygoing — and perform actions like running barefoot in the park — as they navigate life’s ups and downs. The original Broadway production ran for nearly four years and won a Tony for Mike Nichols’s direction. 

Hannah Yelland and Tristan Sturrock in “Brief Encounter.”

In late 2010, Roundabout Theatre Company presented Brief Encounter, a new melodrama that was a breakout hit in London two years before. This 90-minute play with music combines elements of the 1936 Noël Coward play Still Life, as well as Coward’s screenplay for the 1945 film “Brief Encounter” (which was adapted from Still Life). It adds up to a play about a suburban wife and a married doctor who have a chance encounter in late 1930s England and end up falling passionately in love, but they are never able to find fulfillment. The Broadway cast featured an onstage cast of nine, including future Tony winner Gabriel Ebert (Matilda) and future Tony nominee Damon Daunno (Oklahoma!), while a return engagement in London played a six-month run in 2018. 

Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada in Hadestown; Matthew Murphy

Hadestown, resident of the Walter Kerr Theatre since spring 2019, is a jazz and folk-inflected Greek mythology modernization and the winner of eight Tony Awards, including best musical. Taking audiences on a journey down the road to hell, Hadestown intertwines the love stories of Orpheus and Eurydice and Hades and Persephone. Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell composed Hadestown’s score, based off her concept album of the same name; highlights include “Way Down Hadestown”, “Wait for Me”, “Livin’ It Up on Top”, and “Our Lady of the Underground.”

Beyond Hadestown, there are ample opportunities to see love on Broadway this Valentine’s Day. Currently playing the Al Hirschfeld Theatre is the Tony Award winning jukebox musical, Moulin Rouge!, which tells the fictional story of a lovesick writer and a dazzling performer in Paris. & Juliet, playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, is a modern flip of the Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet featuring hits from pop songwriter Max Martin. Coming soon to Broadway are two reinvented retellings of classic fairy tale romances this year; Andrew Lowd Webber’s Bad Cinderalla, which opens at the Imperial Theatre in March, and Once Upon a One More Time, featuring the music of Britney Spears and begins performances in May. One of the world’s most famous love triangles will take the Vivian Beaumont stage in Lincoln Center Theater’s upcoming reimagined revival of Lerner & Loewe’s Camelot, which opens in April of this year under the direction of musical theater maestro, Bartlett Sher (The King and I, South Pacific, and currently running at Studio 54, the wonderful Pictures From Home). 

Capsule Reviews

Capsule Review: Pictures From Home

By Aubrey Blaine


It begins and ends with a narrator, evoking memories of one’s own childhood and one’s relationships with one’s parents.  That narrator is Danny Burstein (Tony Award winner for “Moulin Rouge”) and the parents depicted on the Studio 54 stage are Nathan Lane (3 Time Tony Award winner) and Zoe Wanamaker (4 time Tony Award nominee and 2 time Olivier Award winner).  The play is “Pictures From Home”, adapted by playwright Sharr White from a photo memoir by Larry Sultan and you will want to purchase the book after seeing the play.  But go into the theatre, unaware of the memoir, as most theatregoers will, and you will be surprised, engrossed, haunted by personal memories and recollections that will make you reflective of your past and give you perspective about your present. 

One thing is certain:  you will never feel the same way about grilling hamburgers again with your family.  But even vegetarians will delight in that scene.  There are so many wonderful moments in this play:  funny, truthful, bittersweet, melancholy, and powerful that one hesitates to single any particular one out, but if you don’t relate to this undeniably affecting and mesmerizing production, the loss is yours.  Bartlett Sher, who did such a first-rate staging of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, has integrated the real life of photos of the Sultans with care and precision; he has also extracted a trio of memorable performances.  Nathan Lane is at his best (and they don’t get any better than Lane), balancing the humor and pathos of the paterfamilias with grace and subtlety; Danny Burstein reminds us that he is one of our finest actors and guides us through his journey with impeccable humanity; and Zoë Wanamaker is both crusty and heartfelt as the mother who refuses to take sides, sometimes, between father and son.  Almost every production on Broadway these days receives a standing ovation, but “Pictures From Home” received one of the most genuine standing ovations I can recall, interspersed with cheers and bravos.  Most deserved!


‘Capturing a Lifetime’ of the Stars of Pictures From Home

By Gianfranco Lentini

Pictures From Home—a new American play based on the late Larry Sultan’s photo memoir of the same name—celebrates both its Broadway bow and world premiere on Thursday, February 9th. Now playing at the landmark Studio 54, Pictures From Home vividly brings to life a heartfelt, tragicomic portrait of a family, all captured through the lens of a son’s camera. 

As the play dares to ask, “How do you capture a lifetime?” Well, we know you don’t have all day, so here is just a snapshot of the incredible and inventive work of the stars of Pictures From Home. 

Nathan Lane 

With a heavily-lauded career that has spanned stage, television, and film, Nathan Lane has become a household name. Currently playing Irving in Pictures From Home, Lane was last seen on Broadway in 2019 playing the titular character in Gary: A Sequel to Titus Adronicus. And prior to that, Lane deftly portrayed Roy M. Cohn in the Royal National Theatre’s Broadway transfer of Angels in America, which earned him his third Tony Award (the other two being for 2001’s The Producers and 1996’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum). But on a night indoors, turn on the TV and catch Lane as the indomitable Ward McAllister in HBO’s The Gilded Age (Season 2 coming soon) or as Ted Dimas in Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building (for which he won the 2022 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series). 

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Danny Burstein 

There’s zero argument about it: Danny Burstein is SPECTACULAR. Before assuming the role of Larry in Pictures From Home, Burstein dazzled as the boisterous Harold Zidler in the long-running Moulin Rouge! The Musical, assuring audiences that they, too, could “Can Can Can”! And that’s just what Burstein Did Did Did eight times a week, earning himself the IRNE Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, and, last but not least, a Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. 

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Zoë Wanamaker 

After 17 years, Zoë Wanamaker makes her long-awaited return to the Broadway stage as Jean in Pictures From Home. But since her Tony-nominated performance as Bessie Berger in the 2006 Broadway production of Awake and Sing!, Wanamaker has been no stranger to the UK theater scene. Having taken the stage with many of London’s most premier and acclaimed theater companies—including The Young Vic, Bridge Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Royal

National Theatre, and Royal Shakespeare Theatre—Wanamaker has earned an impressive nine Olivier Award nominations, with two wins for 1998’s Electra and 1979’s Once in a Lifetime. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention Wanamaker’s unforgettable work across pop culture fandoms, including her portrayals of Madam Hooch in 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the evil villain Lady Cassandra in 2005’s Doctor Who, and Baghra in 2021’s Netflix adaptation of Shadow and Bone

Photo by Bruce Glikas

Sharr White 

Pictures From Home marks the third Broadway play for playwright Sharr White in only a decade. His two other plays—The Other Place (starring Laurie Metcalf) and The Snow Geese (starring Mary-Louise Parker and Danny Burstein)—both took their bow at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in 2013. But White knows his way around Off-Broadway just as well. In 2014, his two-hander Annapurna premiered at The New Group, starring everyone’s favorite real-life couple, Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. And after that, The True, another play premiered with The New Group in 2018, starred Edie Falco and Michael McKean. And as if that hasn’t kept White busy enough, his television career boasts a number of notable credits, including writing for Showtime’s The Affair, creating Netflix’s Halston, co-showrunning HBO Max’s Generation, and writing/executive producing Apple TV’s upcoming Mrs. American Pie

Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Bartlett Sher 

If you’ve ever been within shouting distance of Lincoln Center, you’ve heard his name. Bartlett Sher captains the dynamic, powerhouse team of Pictures From Home as their director at helm. With a Broadway career that has spanned nearly two decades, Sher’s direction has become as 

iconic as many of the theatrical titles he’s worked on. This includes, but certainly is not limited to, 2005’s The Light in the Piazza, 2008’s South Pacific, 2015’s The King and I, and 2018’s My Fair Lady and To Kill a Mockingbird. The 9 Tony Award nominations behind his name (including a win for Best Direction of a Musical for South Pacific) agree: there’s no such thing as too much Sher. And good news, there’s more! Sher’s revival of Camelot will open at Lincoln Center Theater in April 2023, AND, recently announced, Sher is set to direct the Broadway adaptation of the six-time Oscar-winning movie La La Land, with a premiere date yet to be revealed.


Looking Back on Groundhog Day

By Jordan Levinson

Is it a squirrel? Is it a beaver? (Kinda both, but not quite either!)

That’s right, woodchuck-chuckers, Thursday, February 2 is Groundhog Day! Though it is not considered a federal holiday, many Americans turn their attention to the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where its famed groundhog, Phil, will either see his shadow or not at sunrise. If so, that means six more weeks of winter, and if not, spring may just be around the corner. 

The last pre-COVID Groundhog Day ceremony in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

Punxsutawney gained immense popularity when the town’s annual Groundhog Day celebrations were captured in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. The story of an arrogant TV weatherman (also named Phil) forced to relive the same day over and over until he learns to better himself, it has become one of the most successful comedy films ever, with several quotes now entrenched in the American pop culture lexicon. 

Crowd perspective of Gobbler’s Knob — the site of the Groundhog Day ceremony

As early as 2003, there were initial talks of potentially adapting Groundhog Day for the stage — Stephen Sondheim was interested at first but ultimately decided to back out, stating that “it could not be improved.” The year 2014 linked a new trio to a potential musical version: composer-lyricist Tim Minchin, librettist Danny Rubin (who also wrote the film’s screenplay, and had been working on a musical version for years at that point), and director Matthew Warchus. Minchin and Warchus were reunited after their Matilda became a smash hit in London and New York.

Bill Murray as Phil Connors in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day”

Groundhog Day, The Musical was officially confirmed in 2015. It was announced it would play London’s Old Vic Theatre in the summer of 2016, during Warchus’s debut season as their artistic director. Andy Karl led the company as Phil. Opening night was on August 16, 2016; reviews were overwhelmingly positive. The musical received two 2017 Olivier Awards, including best new musical.

Andy Karl and Carlyss Peer as Connors and Rita Hanson in the 2016 Old Vic production of Groundhog Day

It was announced in September 2016 that Groundhog Day would transfer to Broadway, succeeding the long-running Jersey Boys at the August Wilson Theatre. Karl would reprise his role and find himself surrounded by an all-new cast. 

Karl and Barrett Doss as Connors and Hanson in the 2017 Broadway production of Groundhog Day

First preview was set for March 16, 2017, but 15 minutes in that evening, there was a problem with the revolving stage (a crucial part of the show’s set design) and the show had to be continued as a “concert version” for the rest of the performance. 

The musical made unfortunate headlines when Karl tore his ACL mid-performance just three days before Groundhog Day’s scheduled opening night, but despite his injury, he would return for the official opening on April 17, 2017, receiving raves once again, along with the show itself. “A star is born (and born and born),” Ben Brantley of The New York Times praised, “Karl is so outrageously inventive in ringing changes on the same old, same old, that you can’t wait for another (almost identical) day to dawn.”  

Groundhog Day was nominated for seven 2017 Tonys, including best musical. However, in what proved to be an extremely stacked 2016-17 Broadway season for new musicals — a climate that also included Dear Evan Hansen, Come from Away, and Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 — it walked away empty-handed. As it also competed against family fare like Anastasia and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as star-studded revivals of Hello, Dolly! and Sunset Boulevard, ticket sales began gradually slipping after the Tony ceremony, and a September 17, 2017 closing date was announced in mid-August. Groundhog Day shuttered after 31 previews and just 176 regular performances.

A Broadway cast recording was released during the show’s opening week. It shows Minchin taking the form of a fine musical chameleon, utilizing countless styles to make up his score. Highlights include the yearning group ballad “There Will Be Sun” (in which the Punxsutawnians pine for spring to arrive), the rollicking hillbilly anthem “Nobody Cares” (in which Phil goes drunk-driving with two other drunkards stuck in a rut, upon realizing they all have no future), the tap-happy delight “Philanthropy” (where Phil performs random acts of good for various townspeople), and the gorgeous finale “Seeing You” (where Phil shares a tender moment at a bachelor auction with the associate producer he has gotten to know very well across many Groundhog Days, yet it feels like he has just met her for the first time).

The musical served as a launchpad for many of its Broadway cast members. Karl led Pretty Woman a year later and was most recently seen in the revival of Into the Woods. Barrett Doss, who played Rita Hanson (the associate producer) is one of the leads on the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff “Station 19.” Andrew Call — Karl’s understudy — is the current Orin Scrivello in Off-Broadway’s Little Shop of Horrors.

As for the ensemble, Taylor Iman Jones is the current Catherine Parr in SIX. Gerard Canonico was in Be More Chill and recently played Dick Roswell in Almost Famous. Rheaume Crenshaw can soon be seen in Shucked, and Vishal Vaidya will appear in a forthcoming revival of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. Raymond J. Lee will soon feature in Once Upon a One More Time, as Heather Ayers (recently seen in Off-Broadway’s Between the Lines) tours the country as the adult women in Mean Girls.

It was announced in early December 2022 that Groundhog Day would return to the Old Vic in the summer of 2023, with Karl once again reprising his role and Warchus’s staging still intact. Opening night is set for June 8, and tickets are on sale now. 



“We still need togetherness; we still need each otherness—with faith in the futureness of our cause. Let us, therefore, stifle the rifle of conflict, shatter the scatter of discord, smuggle the struggle, tickle the pickle, and grapple the apple of peace!” – Purlie Victorious Judson

Tony & Grammy Award winner and Academy & Emmy Award nominee Leslie Odom, Jr. will star in the new Broadway production of the classic American comedy Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch by the legendary Ossie Davis.  Purlie Victorious will be staged by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon who directed the critically acclaimed productions of Ohio State Murders by Adrienne Kennedy and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog earlier this season. This production, scheduled to begin in late summer 2023, will mark Odom’s return to Broadway after winning the Tony for his iconic performance as “Aaron Burr” in Hamilton.

The creative team will feature scenic design by Tony Award winner Derek McLane (Moulin Rouge, MJ), costume design by Tony Award nominee Emilio Sosa (Trouble in Mind, A Beautiful Noise) and lighting design by Adam Honoré (Ain’t No Mo’, Chicken & Biscuits).

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attends “Purlie Victorious”

Purlie Victorious premiered on Broadway in 1961 at the Cort Theatre (now the James Earl Jones Theatre), directed by Howard Da Silva, and starred Ossie Davis as “Purlie Victorious Judson” and his wife and frequent collaborator, Ruby Dee as “Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins.” Original cast members also included: Alan Alda, Godfrey Cambridge, Sorrell Booke and Beah Richards. For its 100th performance, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the company and celebrated the milestone with them. The play was later adapted into the musical, Purlie, which premiered on Broadway in 1970 at the Broadway Theatre.  

Davis and Dee were named to the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame; were awarded the National Medal of Arts and were recipients of the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors. Davis was also inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1994.

“Ossie Davis gave the American theater an American hero in Purlie Judson,” said Leslie Odom, Jr. “I have loved this piece and its author, Mr. Davis, for well over half my life. His writing and acting, his integrity, the commitment he and his brilliant wife made to nurturing young talent, and the example of citizenship have meant so much to me! I am thrilled beyond measure to be part of this revival company. Mr. Davis’s pages are full of joy and rhythm, laughter and hope. We will endeavor to live up to the demands of a challenging text and the legacy of a great American.”

The Davis family stated the following: “The Dee-Davis family is so excited that Purlie Victorious will return to Broadway. Dad’s genius with words was never more evident than in the voice of Purlie Victorious Judson, who takes a humorous look at a serious subject.  His call to justice is timeless and needed now more than ever. Thanks to producers Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, and Leslie Odom, Jr., and to director Kenny Leon for bringing Reverend Purlie to his feet once again. With Leslie Odom, Jr. in the role, Purlie will rise with magnificence.”

The producing team is led by Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, Irene Gandy, Jacob Soroken Porter, Kayla Greenspan and Leslie Odom, Jr., making his Broadway producing debut. 

Theatre, dates, additional casting and creative team members will be announced at a later date.

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