While some Broadway shows are lucky enough to run for decades with no signs of slowing, others set out only to play for a finite time in a limited engagement, or, unfortunately close earlier than they had hoped, due to the unpredictable nature of the industry.
Here’s a recap of what you need to see in the next month before they disappear from the Broadway boards for good:
Gutenberg! The Musical! – January 28
Bud & Doug, as played by Josh Gad & Andrew Rannells, are soon to hang their hats (of the yellow baseball variety) as they end their limited Broadway engagement at the James Earl Jones Theatre on January 28. With this metatheatrical musical directed by Alex Timbers, the duo reunited on Broadway for the first time since originating the lead roles in The Book of Mormon together back in 2011.
Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch – February 4
Leslie Odom, Jr. returned to the stage for the first time since Hamilton in September 2023 when he opened the first-ever revival of Ossie Davis’s Purlie Victorious in the titular role. Starring alongside Kara Young in this “outrageous comedy,” as director Kenny Leon put it, Odom, Jr. has put this 1961 play back on the map and you only have a couple weeks left to experience it. Final performance Sunday, February 4.
Harmony – February 4
With music by Barry Manilow and a book & score by his longtime collaborator Bruce Sussman, Harmony came to Broadway in the fall to retell the true story of the Comedian Harmonists. This moving musical darkly dramatizes the rise of Naziism across Europe as it collides with the hopes and dreams of this part-Jewish group of traveling singers. The histori-musical ends its Broadway run on February 4.
How to Dance in Ohio – February 11
Based on the HBO documentary of the same title, this peppy new musical recounts the highs and lows of a group of young adults on the Autism spectrum, as they learn all the skills and behaviors needed ahead of their group therapy program’s spring dance. The show introduces audiences to seven of these young adults, all played by actors who are also on the spectrum. Featuring standout performances from Liam Pearce and Caesar Samoya, endearing storytelling helmed by Sammi Cannold, and authentic representation across the board(s), don’t miss your chance to dance along with this inspiring company until February 11.
Appropriate – March 3
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ family drama made its Broadway debut in late 2023, ten years after it was initially performed in Washington, D.C. Sarah Paulson, Elle Fanning, and Corey Stoll lead the cast as the Lafayette family comes to terms with its dark ancestral past. The play is running in a limited engagement at Second Stage’s Helen Hayes Theater through March 3.
Prayer for the French Republic – March 3
Joshua Harmon’s epic exploration of Jewish identity and perseverance over generations of persecution and hate landed on Broadway as the first new show of 2024. Following its smashing success Off-Broadway, Manhattan Theatre Club has transferred the David Cromer-directed three-act to the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, where its short run is scheduled through March 3.
The threat of antisemitic violence, both past and present, looms throughout Prayer for the French Republic by Joshua Harmon, now running at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway. A portrait of a family in crisis, one of the three-act epic’s great strengths is its dynamic ensemble cast, who embody the humor and pathos at the heart of Harmon’s timely play.
As Elodie, the eldest daughter of the Salomon-Benhamou family, Francis Benhamou is delightfully sardonic as she defends and rails against her family’s antics and staunchly held beliefs throughout the play. Anthony Edwards gives a commanding performance as Patrick Salomon, who recounts his family’s struggle with antisemitism yet struggles with the religiosity and growing anxieties of his sister’s family.
The scenic design by Takeshi Kata is an undeniable highlight, working seamlessly with the play’s alternating timelines, as the Benhamous’ apartment transforms back and forth between Paris of the present day and the 1940s with ease. It elegantly complements David Cromer’s staging, which places the anxieties that the Salomon-Benhamou family confronts in the past and present in conversation with each other and highlights that the struggle against antisemitism is a constant one.
An urgent story of faith and family, Prayer for the French Republic is a thought-provoking and necessary production.
Running at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through February 18, 2024. For more information and tickets, click here.
With the 2023-2024 theatrical season underway, Broadway’s Best Shows is sharing some of the most exciting productions heading to the main stem in the coming months! With more shows still to be announced, this is just a first look at some of what Broadway and beyond has to offer theatergoers in the year ahead.
Most Anticipated Musical Revival: Cabaret
From across the pond, where this production of Cabaret has been playing in the West End since 2021, the Kander & Ebb classic will make its fifth Broadway appearance spring 2024. The Rebecca Frecknall-helmed revival will play the August Wilson Theatre with a cast yet to be announced (though some reporting suggests Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne will resume the Emcee role in which he opened the London production).
Most Anticipated Play Revival: Doubt: A Parable
Liev Schreiber and Tyne Daly are set to lead the first Broadway revival of the 2005 Tony-winning Best Play Doubt: A Parable. The John Patrick Shanley play, which was later adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Viola Davis, will run at Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines Theatre in the new year. The theater is also set to be renamed after late Roundabout Artistic Director Todd Haimes, who passed away in May 2023.
Most Anticipated New Musical: Harmony & Water for Elephants (TIE)
After successful world premiere productions, two exciting new musicals are headed to Broadway this season, and we couldn’t pick our favorite!
With music by Barry Manilow and book and lyrics by Bruce Sussman, Harmony will play the Ethel Barrymore Theatre beginning October 18. The cast, under the direction and choreography of Warren Carlyle, is led by Chip Zien and Sierra Boggess reprising their roles from the Off-Broadway run at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, and Funny Girl standout standby Julie Benko will join the cast.
Though official word has not been given, we have reason to believe that Water For Elephants is destined for a Broadway bow after wowing audiences in its Atlanta premiere at the Alliance Theatre this summer. Directed by Kimberly Akimbo’s Jessica Stone, this musical adaptation of the novelbrings high-flying circus to the stage.
Most Anticipated New Play: Prayer For the French Republic
Manhattan Theatre Club is transferring its Off-Broadway hit from last season, Joshua Harmon’s three-act epic about Jewish identity and resilience during and after the Holocaust, to the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in early 2024. Directed by David Cromer with a cast yet to be announced, Harmon’s second Broadway at-bat after 2017’s Significant Other may have some exciting surprises in store…
Most Anticipated Comedy: Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Leslie Odom, Jr. and Kara Young will lead the first-ever Broadway revival of Ossie Davis’ landmark 1961 play Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch. Kenny Leon directs the biting comedy, which will run at the Music Box Theatre beginning September 7, with an opening night set for September 27. The cast also features Billy Eugene Jones, Jay O. Sanders, and Heather Alicia Simms.
Most Anticipated Off-Broadway Production: Hell’s Kitchen at the Public Theater
Alicia Keys. Shoshana Bean. Michael Greif. Camille A. Brown. This musical and theatrical A-Team is coming together to bring the world premiere of Hell’s Kitchen to New York City this fall. A semi-autobiographical musical about a young “Ali” growing up in midtown Manhattan, it will feature both classics and new songs by pop icon Alicia Keys.
Most Anticipated Special Theatrical Event: Pal Joey at City Center Encores! Annual Gala
Ephraim Sykes, Aisha Jackson, and Elizabeth Stanley lead the cast of a reimagined take on Rodgers and Hart’s Pal Joey. Set to play for just one week in November as part of New York City Center’s annual gala, the production is co-directed by Tony Goldwyn and Savion Glover, with Glover also choreographing. Also set to appear in the production are Brooks Ashmanskas, Loretta Devine, and Jeb Brown.
Which Broadway directors gave onstage performances before leaping to the other side of the table? Find out below!
The larger-than-life Abbott, who lived until he was 107, directed over 50 Broadway shows, including the original productions of Pal Joey, On the Town, The Pajama Game, Once Upon a Mattress, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He made his Broadway debut as an actor in The Misleading Lady all the way back in 1913.
This year’s Tony winner for Best Direction of a Musical for Parade, Arden made his Broadway debut as an actor in the 2003 revival of Big River, and also performed in Twyla Tharp’s The Times They Are A-Changin’.
Vinnette Justine Carroll
Vinnette Carroll became the first Black woman to be nominated for a directing Tony in 1973, for Micki Grant’s Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope. She was nominated for both directing and writing the book of Your Arms Too Short to Box With God in 1976. Her numerous acting credits include the 1961 revival of The Octoroon.
Champion was the original director and choreographer of hits like Bye Bye Birdie,Hello, Dolly!, and 42nd Street. He got his start as a dancer in 1940s revues like The Streets of Paris.
In between directing The House of Blue Leaves and The Band’s Visit on Broadway, Cromer found time to play racist Homeowner’s Association member Karl Lindner in Kenny Leon’s revival of A Raisin in the Sun, as well as appear opposite Jeff Daniels in the pilot of HBO’s The Newsroom. He is also currently starring in an off-Broadway production of Uncle Vanya.
Graciela Daniele started her career as a dancer for legends like Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett – she was in the original company of Follies, and was the original Hunyak, a.k.a. Uh-Uh in “Cell Block Tango,” in Chicago. She’s since choreographed 9 Broadway shows, and directed and choreographed another 6, including Once on this Island. She is the only Latina nominee in history for Best Choreography and Best Direction of a Musical at the Tonys, and she won a Lifetime Achievement Tony in 2020.
Graciela Daniele’s Tony-nominated choreography:
Before he was the legendary director-choreographer of Pippin, Chicago, The Pajama Game, Sweet Charity, and the director of movies like Cabaret and All That Jazz, he made his Broadway debut as a dancer in the forgotten 1950 revue Dance Me a Song. He understudied the role of Joey in the 1953 Pal Joey revival that turned it into a hit, and played the role at City Center in between choreography jobs in 1963.
Friedman will direct this fall’s upcoming revival of Merrily We Roll Along. She is a celebrated Sondheim interpreter, and earned Olivier awards for her performances as Fosca in Sondheim’s Passion, as well as Mother in Ahrens and Flaherty’s Ragtime.
Tony Goldwyn is co-directing the upcoming Pal Joey rework at City Center, but he’s best known to television audiences as Scandal’s President Fitz, and he’s also going to appear this summer in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer.
While Kenny Leon was the artistic director of Atlanta’s Alliance theater in the 1990s, he also found time to act in a number of TV shows– including The Rosa Parks Story, starring Angela Bassett. He won his Tony for directing A Raisin in the Sun in 2014, and is next represented on Broadway with Purlie Victorious, opening this fall.
Marber actually began his career in British sketch comedy. He then began writing for the English stage, and wrote and directed Closer, which transferred to Broadway in 1999 and was turned into a film directed by Mike Nichols in 2004. He is now known best for his work directing Tom Stoppard plays, including 2017’s Travesties and this season’s Leopoldstadt, for which he won his first Tony award.
Jerry Mitchell started dancing on Broadway as a replacement in A Chorus Line. He worked his way up to being Jerome Robbins’ assistant on Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, and choreographed You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1999. His first time directing on Broadway was the beloved Legally Blonde.
Nicholaw, who won a Tony this year for choreographing Some Like It Hot, was an ensemble member in 8 Broadway shows, including dancing Susan Stroman’s choreography in Crazy For You, and understudying Horton the Elephant in the original Seussical. Those performance chops came in handy this March, when Nicholaw went on as an emergency understudy in Some Like It Hot.
Robbins, the legend at the helm of West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and Gypsy, was born Jerome Rabinowitz, and began his career as a dancer in the 1920s in Yiddish modern dance companies. He was also a soloist with American Ballet Theatre in the early 1940s, and danced in George Balanchine’s Broadway revues. He choreographed Fancy Free for ABT, which he and Leonard Bernstein then transformed into his first Broadway choreography credit, On The Town.
Santiago-Hudson was Tony nominated for his direction of August Wilson’s Jitney, and has acted in three other Wilson plays on Broadway. He also wrote, directed, and starred in his one man show Lackawanna Blues.
Stone made her Broadway directing debut this year with Kimberly Akimbo, but her many credits as a performer include Frenchy in the 1994 Grease revival and replacing Sarah Jessica Parker as Rosemary in the 1996 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Her next project is directing the Broadway-bound Water for Elephants, which just premiered at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.
Five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman, represented on Broadway this year with New York, New York, made her debut as a dancer in the country Western musical Whoopee! in 1979.
Schele Williams, who will direct the upcoming revivals of The Wiz and Aida, was an ensemble member in the original production of Aida in 2001.
Williams understudied the title role in Aida – here she is singing “Easy as Life” from that show:
Jerry Zaks is a four-time Tony winning director, including for his Broadway directing debut, The House of Blue Leaves. He’s also known for lavish revivals like Hello, Dolly! and The Music Man. His Broadway resumé goes back quite far – he originated the role of Kenickie in Grease.