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Broadway's Best Cover Story

Broadway’s Best Shows Closing in Winter 2024

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:

Photo by Matthew Murphy

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.

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

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.

Photo by Curtis Brown

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.

Photo by Joan Marcus

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.

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best “Broadway Week” Shows – Winter 2024

Mark your calendars because New York City Tourism + Conventions is back with a show-stopping extravaganza – Broadway Week! And it’s not just a week; it’s a theater lover’s dream that stretches from January 16 to February 4! Yes, you read that right – more than a week of Broadway bliss awaits you.

Here’s the scoop: NYC Broadway Week is your golden ticket to the finest theatrical productions, all available at a fabulous 2-for-1 deal. The stage is set, the actors are ready, and the only missing piece? You! Grab your tickets to the Broadway’s best without breaking the bank!

Here is our list of some of the best shows available for this season’s offer:

Hamilton

First up on our list is the phenomenon that took Broadway by storm – Hamilton. Join Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the rest of the Founding Fathers in this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical that seamlessly blends hip-hop, R&B, and traditional show tunes. One of the hottest tickets in town, don’t throw away your shot to witness the magic of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece!

Photo by Matthew Murphy

Gutenberg! The Musical

If you’re in the mood for laughter, look no further than Gutenberg! The Musical. Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad reunite for the first time since their Book of Mormon days in this comedy where two aspiring writers attempt to sell their “masterpiece” – a musical about printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg. Only in performances through January 28, so don’t miss out!

& Juliet

For a fresh take on a classic, look no further than & Juliet. This innovative pop musical, powered by the music of Max Martin, reimagines Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, giving Juliet a chance to rewrite her own destiny. This modern twist on the timeless tale of love is a must-see for romantics and rebels alike!

Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Purlie Victorious

Ossie Davis’s landmark 1961 play Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch is back on Broadway for the first time in over 60 years! Leslie Odom, Jr. and Kara Young star in the roles that Davis and his wife Ruby Dee originated in the original production. Set in the American South, this gem of a revival promises powerful performances and an unforgettable journey that will tug at your heartstrings.

Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

Spamalot

If you’re a fan of irreverent humor and absurdity, Spamalot is the show for you. This Tony Award-winning musical returns to Broadway to lovingly mock the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in true Monty Python style. Some of Broadway’s brightest stars, including Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Michael Urie, James Monroe Iglehart, and Alex Brightman are giving laugh-out-loud performances nightly at the St. James Theatre!

Prayer for the French Republic

Last but certainly not least is Josh Harmon’s latest, Prayer for the French Republic. This thought-provoking epic play explores the continuation of antisemitism around the world by contrasting the experience of a Jewish family in Paris across two periods of recent French history. The new play opened on Broadway on January 9, 2024 after a successful Off-Broadway run last season.

So, what are you waiting for? Click here to snag your 2-for-1 tickets to these Broadway gems. Whether you’re a seasoned theatergoer or a Broadway newbie, NYC Broadway Week is your chance to savor the magic of live performances at a price that can’t be beaten!

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Long Form

When Push Comes to Shove: Spotlighting the Work of Fight Director Thomas Schall

by Ben Togut

In our new series, Unsung Roles of the Theater, Broadway’s Best Shows takes a peek behind the curtain to showcase the work of underappreciated Broadway professionals and their contributions to the theatrical ecosystem. 

This week, we will be highlighting the work of Thomas Schall, a veteran fight director with over 100 Broadway credits to his name, including Waitress, Angels in America, and the 2023 revival of Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch. He has won two Drama Desk Awards: one as an actor for Outstanding Ensemble Performance (Stuff Happens, 2005), and another for Outstanding Fight Choreography (A Soldier’s Play, 2020).

Thomas Schall in rehearsal for the Public Theater’s Othello, 2018.

As a fight director, Schall is intimately concerned with violence as a device of narrative storytelling. When building a scene, Schall considers three main narrative elements: the emotional arc of the characters in the show, the physical story of the violence, and the communication between actors during a fight scene. With these elements in mind, Schall must choreograph fight scenes that serve the narrative of the show at large, ensuring that the violence is readable to the audience and safe for the actors to perform every night. 

Schall’s passion for fight directing emerged while training to be an actor in college. After enjoying stage combat classes in school, Schall followed his passion, working as both an actor and an in-house fight captain for productions at the Folger Shakespeare Theater in Washington D.C. There, he studied with several choreographers who whetted his interest in the art form and trained with the Society of American Fight Directors. Schall soon began choreographing fights of his own while continuing to work as an actor.

Thomas Schall (right) in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Hamlet, 1992, in which he played Marcellus and served as Fight Captain. Photo by Martha Swope

When Schall moved to New York City in the mid-1980s, he feared his work as a fight director would limit his acting opportunities. 

“I was a little bit afraid of being pigeonholed as an actor who was a ‘fight guy,’” Schall said. “And [hearing] ‘there is no role for a fight guy in this show’ and having my resume set aside. So I stopped doing it completely, and was just an actor and did pretty well in New York over the years.”

After putting aside fight work for a few years, Schall put acting on the back burner and began pursuing fight work full-time as gigs became more regular in the late ‘90s.

In the current revival of Purlie Victorious, Schall choreographed a scene where Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee is about to whip protagonist Purlie, considering each character’s emotional arc throughout the show and the history of their relationship to make the scene work onstage. For Schall, bringing this scene to life onstage was challenging as it required finding the comedy in a moment of real violence.

“It’s the game that the entire play plays,” Schall said. “It’s talking about very serious themes, and very serious pieces of history in the country, but at the same time, it’s also a comedy, it’s a farce, and it’s a romp. And playing those two notes against each other is a very tricky, subtle game.”

Schall worked closely with director Kenny Leon and star/producer Leslie Odom Jr. in order to strike the right balance between seriousness and humor. By examining the overstory, or emotional arc of the scene, the trio found that the crack of Ol’ Cap’n’s bullwhip, a charged piece of imagery for the audience and the cast alike, was the perfect catalyst for the scene’s tonal transformation.

The bullwhip is both a prop and symbol in Purlie Victorious, representing the physical and psychological violence inflicted on African Americans during a time of segregation and oppression. Photo by Marc J. Franklin

“That whip crack became like a button, a sort of a switch for when things went from serious to comedic,” Schall said. “And so we shifted a line so that everything happens, sort of all the threatening things happened up to the whip crack. And then we were free to have fun.”

For Schall, it is these moments of collaboration that he values most. In his work as a fight director, Schall seeks to build a room of trust, asking his collaborators to trust him with their safety and have faith that they won’t feel embarrassed or stupid performing fight sequences onstage. While building trust is often challenging, it is also the most rewarding part of Schall’s job, as it allows him to form close relationships with his collaborators. After decades of working as a Broadway fight director, Schall has had several repeat collaborators, many of whom he calls friends.

“Every show and rehearsal on some level is a celebration of community,” Schall said. “And I love being part of a community of people. There comes a point in your career, hopefully, where you come into one of these rehearsal rooms, and you see people you’ve worked with before and they’re friends, and that, for me, is the most gratifying part.”

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch runs at the Music Box Theatre through February 4, 2024.

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Shows of 2023

Shining a spotlight on the best all-around productions Broadway had to offer this year. And who better to make the top 10 picks than the site titled Broadway’s Best Shows? Keep an eye out for our listing of the year’s best performances!

A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen’s timeless classic took center stage once again, its 14th Broadway production but the first since 1997. The play’s 1889 exploration of the complexities of marriage, misogyny, and societal expectations remains as relevant as ever. With Jessica Chastain starring in a new barebones adaptation by Amy Herzog, this Jamie Lloyd-helmed production brought a fresh eye to this masterpiece. The revival ran at the Hudson Theatre in the spring.

Fat Ham

Shakespeare met hip-hop in ‘Fat Ham,’ a Pulitzer prize-winning bold reimagining of ‘Hamlet’ from writer James Ijames that electrified the stage of the American Airlines Theatre with its innovative fusion of classic and contemporary, after premiering at the Public Theater. 

Here Lies Love

Immersive and pulsating with energy, ‘Here Lies Love’ was the unique theatrical experience that explored the life of Imelda Marcos. The show dazzled audiences with its interior transformation of the Broadway Theatre, inventive staging and infectious music from David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Merrily We Roll Along

Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ finally gets its due, as superstars Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez, and Daniel Radcliffe endure the deterioration of friendship and creative partnership nightly at the Hudson Theatre. The revival, the first since the production’s infamous initial flop, captures the conflict between friendship and ambition among artists, set to a particularly melodic Sondheim score.

Parade

Based on a true story, ‘Parade’ weaves a haunting tale of injustice and redemption in the American South. Starring Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond, the Broadway transfer of New York City Center’s 2022 gala production, brought the gripping narrative to life at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre with powerful staging from Michael Arden and Jason Robert Brown’s stirring score.

Prima Facie

The drama of the courtroom took center stage as this new play, on Broadway last spring from across the pond, tackles issues of justice and gender. Jodie Comer won a Tony Award for her compelling and thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of finding justice or healing for sexual assault survivors from within the legal system.

Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch

A celebration of African-American culture and resilience, ‘Purlie Victorious’ is a jubilant comedy that remains relevant and uplifting 62 years after its original Broadway bow. Ossie Davis’s essential words are brought to resounding life by Leslie Odom, Jr., Kara Young, and the rest of the pitch-perfect cast under the direction of Kenny Leon. The revival runs at the Music Box Theatre through February 4, 2024. 

Photo by Matthew Murphy & Evan Zimmerman

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Stephen Sondheim’s macabre masterpiece continues to thrill audiences with its chilling tale of revenge and obsession. Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford give two of the great musical theatre performances of our times at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, with Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster taking over the leads in early 2024. 

Summer, 1976

Manhattan Theatre Club’s ‘Summer, 1976’ captured the essence of a generation in a nostalgic journey. Theatrical perennials Laura Linney and Jessica Hecht starred in this new play presentation at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

The Thanksgiving Play

In the comedic exploration of political correctness, Larissa Fasthorse’s ‘The Thanksgiving Play’ satirizes the challenges of creating an inclusive holiday celebration. Finally premiering on Broadway after a 2018 off-Broadway premiere, the play tickled audiences at the Helen Hayes Theatre with standout turns from Chris Sullivan and D’Arcy Carden.

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Rising Stars

There’s no one way to become a Broadway star–some blow up at the beginning of their careers, while others work for decades before their big break comes. We want to highlight some of the former understudies, and mid-run replacements, originating roles this season, as well as one director making her debut this season. The Broadway to Hollywood pipeline is real (we’ll get into that in a different article). But we’d like to hang onto the below talents in the theater space for as long as we can!

Julie Benko as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. Photo by Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade

Julie Benko

Julie Benko became an internet darling in 2022 and 2023 as the alternate Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. Lea Michele was out every Thursday evening, and fans would flock to see Benko’s equally excellent Fanny. Before that, she understudied all five of Tevye’s daughters in Fiddler on the Roof, and was a backup Cosette in Les Mis. This fall, Benko gets to originate a role on Broadway for the very first time, in another very Jewish project, as Ruth in the new Barry Manilow musical Harmony.

Isabella McCalla & Caitlin Kinnunen in The Prom. Photo by Deen Van Meer

Isabelle McCalla

McCalla, a former Jasmine in Aladdin, played the soft spoken love interest Alyssa Greene in 2018’s The Prom. She can currently be seen as Maizy in Shucked, while original star Caroline Innerbichler takes maternity leave. Her breakout moment might be coming next year – McCalla received glowing reviews for Water for Elephants’ Atlanta tryout, and it’s likely that she’ll move from 40th to 45th Street when Elephants starts performances at the Imperial on February 24th. 

Santino Fontana and Julia Lester in I Can Get It For You Wholesale. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Julia Lester

Julia Lester started her acting career on television, breaking out as wry theater geek Ashlyn on Disney+’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Theater audiences were introduced to her in summer 2022, playing Little Red Riding Hood in the Encores! Revival of Into the Woods, which later transferred to Broadway. After becoming one of the youngest Tony nominees ever for that performance, she can be seen this season in the Classic Stage Company revival of I Can Get It For You Wholesale, as the beleaguered secretary Miss Marmelstein.

Sky Lakota-Lynch in Dear Evan Hansen.

Sky Lakota-Lynch

Lakota-Lynch made his Broadway debut replacing Will Roland as Jared Kleinman in Dear Evan Hansen, the only actor of color to play the part on Broadway. In spring 2023 he starred as Johnny in The Outsiders at La Jolla Playhouse, based on the classic novel about working class 1950s teenagers. The Outsiders starts performances at the Jacobs in March 2024. 

Heather Alicia Simms and Billy Eugene Jones in Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch. Photo by Marc J. Franklin

Billy Eugene Jones

Jones has been an understudy on Broadway seven times, including in Kenny Leon’s 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun. Earlier in 2023, he was both Rev and the ghostly Pap in Fat Ham (the equivalent of Claudius and Hamlet Sr. in the show’s rewrite of Hamlet) making a memorable entrance in an all-white ensemble billowing smoke. After nearly two decades on Broadway, Jones was singled out by critics for his performance as Gitlow Judson in Purlie Victorious, currently at the Music Box. 

Whitney White in the rehearsal room. Photo by RJ Eldridge

Whitney White

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, by Jocelyn Bioh, premiered on Broadway in October 2023. Many critics attribute the play’s success to Whitney White’s direction, which balances a dozen different characters with wildly different personalities, keeping the tone comic but not cartoonish. White makes her Broadway debut with the show, after directing downtown hits like What to Send Up When It Goes Down at the Public and Our Dear Dead Drug Lord at Second Stage.

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Long Form

“Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch” Is A Great Ossie Davis Legacy—Fresh, New and Relevant On Broadway!

By Linda Armstrong

“Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch” has withstood the test of time and stands as evidence of the genius of the late great Ossie Davis, but it is also so much more than that. When I heard that this play was returning to Broadway after 62 years I was absolutely thrilled! It began performances on Thursday, September 7, 2023, and officially opened on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at the Music Box Theatre. The production was later extended through February 4, 2024! Talk about a legacy and a play with a timeless message. 

Leslie Odom, Jr. stars as Purlie Victorious Judson. Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

Ossie Davis is regarded as an incredible person who left a great legacy as an actor, playwright, and activist. His play contains a timeless message about Black love, pride, identity and the Black person’s indomitable spirit that allows them to fight for their rights. “Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch” shares the story of Purlie Victorious Judson, a Black Preacher fighting segregation and trying to save his church. When Davis first debuted this play at the Cort Theatre—now the James Earl Jones Theatre—on September 28, 1961, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing. Blacks had few opportunities to be on stage, let alone Broadway stages and Black roles on stage were not something that promoted Black pride. With this play Davis offered an incredible solution to so many issues of the time. He used this play to not only tell an African American story that fought against segregation, but to encourage Black people to love themselves—take pride in their physical appearance—and he created this play to give Black actors much needed jobs and establish their names in the industry. 

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee in “Purlie Victorious.” Photo by Friedman-Abeles.

He starred in the play as Purlie Victorious Judson and he created the role of Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins for his wife Ruby Dee. Other prominent actors were Godfrey Cambridge–who received  a nomination for the 1962 Tony Award for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play for the role of Gitlow Judson, and a young Alan Alda appeared as Charley Cotchipee before becoming known for his role in the long-running television series M*A*S*H. The company also included Sorrell Booke who played Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee, Helen Martin who played Missy Judson, Beah Richards who played Idella Landy, Ci Herzog as The Sheriff and Roger C. Carmel as The Deputy. The original work was directed by Howard Da Silva. Sadly, the racism that existed when this play first ran continues to be a part of our society’s fabric. Black people are still fighting racist hatred, being treated poorly and having a hard time feeling proud of who they are. And consequently, this play is as relevant today as it was 62 years ago.

Leslie Odom, Jr. and Kara Young as Purlie Victorious Judson and Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, respectively. Photo by Marc J. Franklin

When “Purlie Victorious…” debuted in 1961 it played 261 performances and critics happily acknowledged Davis’ writing talent, his acting talent and that of his wife, Ruby Dee. The Daily News wrote, “As a playwright, Davis is well equipped with crackling jokes and jabs…As a comic actor he is very skillful, with a remarkable voice, a most amiable presence…Miss Dee reveals herself as a deft and charming comedienne…”Variety raved, “Purlie Victorious reveals a new playwright of promise, particularly in the race field of broad comedy…Davis and his wife, Ruby Dee, are costarred in this conglomerate mixture of comedy, melodrama, farce, fantasy and tolerance sermon, with a basically serious, if not intense, theme…A novel aspect of the play is its uninhibited use of racial stereotypes (both Negro and white) for comedy. Beneath all the laughs, of course, the author is purposeful, and his points are effectively made.” The New York Times remarked, “Ossie Davis, actor and author, has passed this miracle of uninhibited and jovial speaking out in his new play, Purlie Victorious …While Purlie Victorious keeps you chuckling and guffawing, it unrelentingly forces you to feel how it is to inhabit a dark skin in a hostile or, at best, grudgingly benevolent world.”

Original Broadway production of “Purlie Victorious.” Photo by Friedman-Abeles

While the original production in 1961 launched careers, the 2023 production is being embraced by established, award-winning stage artists. Tony Award winner and Oscar nominee Leslie Odom, Jr. (HamiltonOne Night in Miami) plays the lead role of Purlie Victorious Judson, twice Tony-nominated actress Kara Young (Clyde’sCost of Living) plays Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins; they are be joined by Billy Eugene Jones (Fat Ham), Vanessa Bell Calloway; Heather Alicia Simms, veteran theater actor Jay O. Sanders,; Noah Robbins, Noah Pyzik and Bill Timoney. The play is directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the SunFences).

Recently, the three children of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Nora Davis Day, Guy Davis, and Hasna Muhammad, talked about what Purlie Victorious meant to their family, and what this play meant back then and means today. Nora recalled that her father worked on this play for 5 years. “He told me what he was doing from beginning to end,” she said, sharing why this work has a special place in her heart. “I remember being a little girl and knowing when it got late at night Dad would be downstairs with a legal pad–that’s how he wrote and he wrote in pencil and he would tape his pinky finger because when he was writing if he wasn’t careful he would get a callus or a blister on his pinky. He used scotch tape which was always interesting. So, when we had the opportunity to bring the play back there was no question that we would respond to Jeffrey [Richards-one of the producers] and others for this opportunity to get Dad’s poetic play back on Broadway.”

Jay O. Sanders, Billy Eugene Jones, Kara Young & Leslie Odom, Jr. Photo by Marc J. Franklin.

Considering the importance of the character of Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, Guy realized that his father was an innovator for women. “It was something that was ahead of its time in terms of women getting important roles. But, I think that Dad’s motive was more love than politics…It was a chance for the family to work together.”

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee taught their children the value of having Black stories and putting Black actors to work. Hasna shared, “Mom and Dad always talked with us about the significance of having African American writers, producers and directors and people behind the scenes, people owning the studios. And the fact that they were in a play where they were working actors was always something to be celebrated and they were glad for it and we felt happy for them, but they never lost sight that there were so many other Black actors who weren’t working. Some of them weren’t working just because they were Black and because there were no roles for Black folk. I think that the fact that Dad was able to write something that both he and Mom were able to perform in, but not only perform in, but perform on Broadway, this was incredible.”

Speaking on the legacy of this beloved play Hasna reflected, “It’s legacy, an African American playwright has had a play on Broadway and a play that is considered a classic… For the character of Purlie Victorious the legacy speaks about manhood, about finding oneself acceptable and beautiful without needing the white gaze and being able to use wit and the constitution to fight segregation, to use humor to fight segregation. It’s another tool in our toolbox for the liberation of our people. There’s all types of art that bring different perspectives on what resistance looks and feels like and what Dad does is he adds to those tools the value of laughter and humor and our ability to resist.”

The foremost First Lady of her time, or perhaps ever, Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “If you have not seen ‘Purlie Victorious’ I think it is well for you as an American citizen to see it and to ponder our racial problem, not as a question affecting our lives here in the United States but as a question affecting our standing and our real sincerity among the peoples of the world.”

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee left a great legacy for their children and the world. They raised their children in theater, but also in civil rights and made them a part of any protest they participated in, instilling in them the importance of supporting the Black community. Today they are artists, teachers, photographers and they continue, through their work, the legacy that Davis and Dee started. See a piece of their and our history at the Music Box Theatre.

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best “Broadway Week” Shows

The Mayor’s Office for Tourism and Conventions’ annual Broadway Week promotion is almost upon us, which means that you can now get 2-for-1 tickets to select Broadway shows for performances between September 4-17! (Yes, Broadway Week is actually two weeks long. Lucky us!) 

Unlike TDF’s Half Price Ticket Booth, which only offers same-day discounts, the Broadway Week tickets can be purchased up to a month in advance. Use code BWAYWK23 to access this exciting offer today. Participating shows are also offering premium orchestra seats, usually $250-$400, for just $125 with code BWAYUP23. Check the official website for full details. 

Here are some of the shows we recommend catching while this offer lasts:

HADESTOWN

The 2019 Best Musical Tony Award winner recently welcomed new cast member Solea Pfeiffer in the lead role of Euridyce! Betty Who and Philip Boykin join the company Sept. 5 as lovers Persephone and Hades, respectively. See them alongside Lillias White as Hermes and Reeve Carney as Orpheus.

SOME LIKE IT HOT

This toe-tapping big band musical is from Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman (the composer-lyricist duo behind Hairspray!, Catch Me If You Can, and Smash) and book writers Matthew López and Amber Ruffin. With direction and Tony Award-winning choreography by Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, The Prom), this one is not to be missed!

KIMBERLY AKIMBO

Last season’s Best Musical stars two-time Tony Award winner Victoria Clark as Kimberly herself, with music by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Caroline, or Change, Shrek: The Musical) and a book & lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire in an adaptation to his 2001 play of the same name.

PURLIE VICTORIOUS: A NON-CONFEDERATE ROMP THROUGH THE COTTON PATCH

Leslie Odom, Jr. (of Hamilton Tony-winning fame) stars as the titular role in this first ever revival of Ossie Davis’ landmark 1961 satire, directed by Kenny Leon. Two-time Tony Award nominee Kara Young co-stars as Lutiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins. Performances begin Sept. 7!

HERE LIES LOVE

The immersive disco bio-musical with music by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim tells the life story of former Filipino first lady Imelda Marcos. Here Lies Love is a fascinating parable about fascism, the media, and the effects of 20th century American cultural dominance and empire on so-called “Third World” countries like the Philippines. We recommend using your Broadway Week discount to splurge on a Dance Floor ticket, where you’ll be inches away from the actors and part of the storytelling. Good luck getting the title song out of your head. 

SIX

This UK export retells the story of the six ex-wives of King Henry VIII, with a pop concert twist. The Tony-winning score by Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow features pop-powered showtunes such as ‘Heart of Stone,’ ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head,’ and the iconic ‘Megasix’ encore to wrap it all up.

THE COTTAGE

Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) makes his directorial debut with this brand new England countryside-set comedy by Sandy Rustin. The cast features Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) in his Broadway return since appearing in 2012’s Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Laura Bell Bundy in her Broadway play debut after leading the 2007 musical Legally Blonde, Lilli Cooper (POTUS, Spring Awakening), Nehal Joshi (Flying Over Sunset, All My Sons), Alex Moffat (Saturday Night Live), and Dana Steingold (Beetlejuice the Musical).

BACK TO THE FUTURE: THE MUSICAL

Time travel back to 1985 (and beyond) for this musical adaptation of the classic film, straight from its hit world premiere in London’s West End! Casey Likes (Almost Famous) is Marty McFly and Roger Bart (The Producers) is Doc Brown, reprising his acclaimed performance on the other side of the pond.

Categories
Creative

Most Anticipated Shows Coming This Season

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.

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Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Directors Who Started As Actors

By Katie Devin Orenstein

Which Broadway directors gave onstage performances before leaping to the other side of the table? Find out below!

George Abbott

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. 

Michael Arden

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. 

Gower Champion

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. 

David Cromer

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

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:

Bob Fosse

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. 

Maria Friedman

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

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

Kenny Leon

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. 

Patrick Marber

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

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.  

Jerry Mitchell backstage at The Will Rogers Follies,

Casey Nicholaw

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. 

Nicholaw in the ensemble of Seussical (far right).

Jerome Robbins

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. 

Ruben Santiago-Hudson

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. 

Jessica Stone

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. 

Jessica Stone in Grease, with Billy Porter as the Teen Angel.

Susan Stroman

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

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

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. 

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Creative

Leslie Odom, Jr. and Kara Young to star in PURLIE VICTORIOUS: A NON-CONFEDERATE ROMP THROUGH THE COTTON PATCH

Tony & Grammy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Leslie Odom, Jr. will star alongside two-time Tony nominee Kara Young (Clyde’s, Cost of Living) in the first Broadway revival of Ossie Davis’ Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch. Kenny Leon is set to direct the production, which will mark Odom, Jr.’s return to the Broadway stage after his Tony-winning turn in Hamilton.

Odom, Jr. announced live on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning that the comedy will run at the Music Box Theatre with performances beginning September 7. An opening night date will be announced at a later date.

The cast also includes Billy Eugene Jones, who is in the Broadway cast of Fat Ham, and Jay O. Sanders, who was last seen on Broadway in Girl From the North Country. Vanessa Bell Calloway, Noah Robbins, Heather Alicia Simms, Bill Timoney, and Noah Pyzik round out the company.

As previously announced, set design is by Tony Award winner Derek McLane, costume design is by Tony Award nominee Emilio Sosa, and lighting design is by Adam Honoré. Sound design will be by Peter Fitzgerald.

Davis’ play originally ran on Broadway in 1961 before being adapted into a film titled Gone Are The Days!, in which he and his wife and collaborator, Ruby Dee, reprised their stage roles. A classic piece of American theatre, the production will mark the play’s grand return to the Broadway stage. 

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