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Looking Forward: The 2011-12 Broadway Season in a (Crowded) Nutshell

The Confirmed

On A Clear Day
Look.  Harry Connick Jr. may, in fact, be the world’s most perfect man.  We’d pay good money to sit in the St. James and watch him lie down in the middle of the stage and just breathe and look pretty for a while.  So, like, clearly we’re interested in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.  Then you throw in some interesting (re)imagination—oh, you mean, Harry’s character was originally a lady?—and Michael Mayer, and you have our curiosity piqued.  We’ll be there. Probably several times a week.

The last time you saw this, the kid you used to babysit when he was 7 played Jesus in the local high school production—No? Just The Mick?—and even then the material held up.  So it stands to reason that in a more sophisticated, hopefully better funded production, things could be interesting.  Which is why we’re generally looking forward to seeing Godspell—back in our list, again—finally make it back to Broadway.  Cast someone really, really exciting as Jesus and we’ll be silk-screening our own Superman T-shirts in no time.

The Mountaintop
Of all the new plays, few have us feeling quite as buzzed as The Mountaintop. Samuel L. Jackson will make his Broadway debut as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Katori Hall’s Olivier Award-winning play about the civil rights leader’s last night on earth. He’ll play opposite the likewise amazing Angela Bassett, but the most TMI casting footnote came care of the show’s original female star, Halle Berry. She dropped out, according to some rather blunt official reports, due to “child custody reasons.”

After taking a momentary break from the world of musicals (!), David Henry Hwang will be represented on Broadway this upcoming season with his comedy Chinglish, which is just coming off a blockbuster run at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. It’s the story of a business man who travels to China and has some minor (and major) communications issues along the way. We are so there. In the meantime, follow David on Twitter! He’s cool!

Bonnie & Clyde
Wildhorn has been so successful on Broadway these days, it seems like a great idea to mount another full production, right?  Especially one about a notorious pair of murderous bank-robbers/lovers, featuring a song called “Dying Ain’t So Bad” whose genius lyrics include the rhyming of bad and sad.  Man.  Laura Osnes better not fall in love, or she’ll get blamed for this ship sinking! Okay. That’s not fair.  We here at The Craptacular genuinely hope this musical is, at the very least, so bad it’s a guilty pleasure.  That is, after all, what craptacularity is all about.

Porgy & Bess
So. You’ve waited your entire theater-loving life to hear Audra McDonald perform (even just a few seconds of) “Summertime,” a treat which your near-constant YouTube trolling has never produced actual evidence of.  (And really, if it’s not on YouTube, does it exist?)  You’re excited.  Then Diane Paulus hired Susan Lori Parks to write and added Norm Lewis and Joshua Henry to the cast for her new book-musical take on the famous Gershwin Opera, and you got REALLY excited.  The best news?  If you can’t wait for December 17th, you can always truck up to ART in Boston this fall to get a glimpse of the new show before it makes its way to the Richard Rogers Theater.  We probably will.

So, it’s Stephen Sondheim, which is important.  And it’s Bernadette Peters and Jan Maxwell and Danny Burstein—among others—which is also important.  But forgive us, we’re just not that excited.  This show is always being revived or re-recorded somewhere, and it’s always about the same group of old people who are seriously miserable and unhappy with the state of their lives.  Content like that just doesn’t inspire enthusiasm on our end, sadly.  That said, we are ready to be proved wrong.  So please, Eric Schaeffer, wow us.  Please!

The Probable

Okay.  Here’s the thing.  This has been set for the spring of 2012 for a while.  And it’s supposed to involve Ricky Martin as Che.  Which.  Seems problematic.  But The Mick may or may not be obsessed with Eva Peron.  So.  She may or may not give a shit if he can act, or if this musical is even worth reviving in the first place.  Besides, it seems that like… Andrew Lloyd Webber has been out of fashion for so long that it is, indeed, cool to like him again.  So.  We’ll be feeling very hip as we stroll into the theater for this one.

Lysistrata Jones
A show about sex and basketball? Sounds like our kind of musical. A love letter from Ben Brantley is helping to nudge this little show – about high school girls who withhold sex until their boyfriends start winning games – toward the Great White Way. Listen, if a rock opera based on La Boheme could work, a pop musical based on Aristophanes has a shot. Cast someone cute and we’re first in line.

The Wildly Speculative

Jesus Christ Superstar
Was Jesus Canadian? Ponder these, and other important spiritual questions next season, when Des McAnuff’s critically acclaimed revival makes it to Broadway. Or so the rumor goes. Our favorite thing about this show, besides the fact that it stars the mind-blowing Brent Carver as Pilate, is this: Everyone who first read about this show, which had its origins at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, thought it was coming over from England. Nah, dude. It’s just crossing the border from Toronto. Thanks for schooling us in like, everything, Canada, including our geography.

Oh God, we do hope this show makes it to Broadway. The fates would not allow us to have Love Never Dies, so maybe there’s a chance that we’ll see this definitely-not-in-English-yet popera based on the classic novel and Hitchcock film. Every clip of this show makes us feel like we’re on drugs, which clearly means that we’re dying to see it. I mean, come on. It has everything – velvet costumes, power ballads, a creative team that’s had tremendous success creating theater for Japanese and central-European audiences. This is a flawless recipe for craptacularity. Bring it.

Bus Stop
It’s barely more than a twinge in some theater producer’s mind right now, but we’re already salivating over the idea of Ben Walker in Bus Stop. In a cowboy hat. And maybe chaps. Sometimes, in our minds, there’s chaps. Recently staged as a reading with Ben and Amanda Seyfred (Ooohkaaay…), we’d love to see this onstage, stat. And anything that keeps Benjamin Walker out of the clutches of horrible Hollywood is fine by us.

The Stuff We Kind of Don’t Care About

Nice Work If You Can Get It
A Katherine Marshall musical starring Matthew Broderick with Gershwin songs? Oh god. Shoot us in the face. We already had a Frankenstein Gershwin musical and that was totally insufferable. (Right at you, Crazy for You.) Do we need another one? Also, is Matthew Broderick going to dance? Say it ain’t so, Kathleen. Say it ain’t so.

Man & Boy
Seriously, we had to Google this to even remember what it was.  That’s where we’re at here.  It stars Frank Langella, which is always worth a mention, but we’re just not terribly excited by the idea of this Roundabout production.  Maybe they’ll cast someone real cute to play his socialist son.  That’d certainly add some interest.

Private Lives
A straightforward production of Noel Coward starring Kim Cattrall and Paul Gross.  We love Kim and all, but… mustering enthusiasm for this one is hard.  Also, who even is Paul Gross and will we have a crush on him?

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Emmy July 27, 2011, 12:00 pm

    I had decided in my head that naturally Michael Esper was going to be in Man and Boy (knowing he’d already booked something else for the time), so when the casting came out I forgot that it was just in my head and not real. But Adam Driver is great too.

    Also, how much money would you pay to lie down on that stage and breathe next to Harry Connick, Jr.? That’s the real question.

    And I’m right there with you on Rebecca, by the way.

    • the mick July 27, 2011, 12:06 pm

      RE: Lying beside Harry Connick Jr., World’s Most Perfect Man ™.



  • Geoff July 27, 2011, 12:16 pm

    Sooo looking forward to “Porgy and Bess.” Will Audra really sing “Summertime”? That song usually goes to Clara, although Bess gets a short reprise, singing it to Clara’s baby in Act III (Clara drowns during the climax of Act II). Perhaps in the rewrite the song will go to Bess. I’m all for authenticity, but we’re talking Audra McDonald here folks!

    I expect you both will be smitten with Paul Gross. Check out “Slings and Arrows” on Netflix for a preview. Great show and he’s great in it.

    • the mick July 27, 2011, 12:20 pm

      Even 10 seconds of Reprise will make us happy, man.

      Also, we like this idea of just letting Audra (Bess) sing it anyway. Or at least. I do.


  • Linda July 27, 2011, 12:32 pm

    I have to come to the defense of Ricky Martin. I’ve loved him for a long time (pre-Living La Vida Loca, post-Menudo). I’ve never seen him act, but he was in Les Mis, so he’s not a theater newbie. I have complete faith in him. And I’m excited that Elena Roger, who will be playing Evita, is actually from Argentina.

  • Dee July 27, 2011, 1:55 pm

    Do you really not know Paul Gross? He was the gorgeous mountie in “Due South” and he was absolutely sublime as Geoffrey Tennant in the brilliant Canadian TV series “Slings and Arrows” (a must-see for any theater aficionado). And he won raves for his Hamlet at the Stratford Festival (wish I could have seen that!) I can’t wait to see him in “Private Lives”!

  • Paige July 27, 2011, 5:17 pm

    Paul Gross is a Canadian actor…kind of a poor man’s Brent Carver (like 10 times less talented and I’m not even sure he can sing) He’s handsome, but his arrogance shines through in like all his roles. I personally don’t like him, but I guess it will be up to you guys to judge!

    Here’s a link to his website: http://paulgross.org/indexhigh.htm

    PS- Congrats on The Times! :)

  • karen July 28, 2011, 11:12 am

    i guess my canadian influence didn’t go so far as to introduce paul gross – but i’ve been beaten to it, here. he’s sort of classically good looking, but i’m assuming you won’t get him dressed as a mountie, which might have been half of the appeal.

  • Lisa July 28, 2011, 1:02 pm

    Audra and Norm. Bliss. Evita could be exciting. As could Superstar. Not to sound too obsessed, but could Steel maybe be in line to play Jesus? That could ratchet up the excitement level!

  • Esther July 28, 2011, 2:46 pm

    I’m still interested in The Mountaintop even though I think Samuel L. Jackson is too old. But I am excited about seeing Angela Bassett! I’m also looking forward to the 3 one-acts in Relatively Speaking. A Woody Allen play and a chance to see Marlo Thomas. I’ve loved her ever since That Girl!

  • Joe H August 2, 2011, 9:13 pm

    Tell you what. You put the astounding Audra in the GERSHWIN’s “Porgy and Bess” and I’m on the way to the opening!!! But I shall avoid like the plague, any rewrite of George, Ira and DuBose’s “take” on the story. Sorry, but I prefer my classics to be “classic!”

  • Joe H August 2, 2011, 9:16 pm

    Sorry, folks….but I give up reading this article at the silly dismissal of FOLLIES, one of the 20th-century’s greatest works, as being uninspiring…… well. Guess I’m just getting old (hmmmmm…….)

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