“Theater is not so much a profession as a disease, and my first look at Broadway was the beginning of a lifelong infection,” Moss Hart wrote in his memoir Act One, which has been adapted for the Broadway stage 55 years after it was published, 52 years after Hart’s death. He is only one of the theatrical luminaries making a return engagement on Broadway in the Spring of 2014.
It has been about decade since Neil Patrick Harris — Mr. Broadway to millions because of his hosting duties for the Tony Awards — has actually starred in a Broadway show, 11 years for Idina Menzel, and 30 for Diahann Carroll. All three return in Spring 2014 — along with Denzel Washington and Alan Cumming, Sutton Foster and Estelle Parsons.
There are also many familiar names making their Broadway debuts, from Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” fame to pop star Carly Lee Jepson of “Call Me, Maybe,” as well as Fran Drescher, James Franco, Zach Braff, Michelle Williams, and Debra Messing, who, thanks to her role in Smash, many already consider a Broadway baby.
Familiar names making their Broadway debuts are not limited to people: the films Aladdin, Rocky, The Bridges of Madison County, and Bullets
Over Broadway are all being adapted for Broadway this season, and several favorites are returning, including Les Miserables and Cabaret. Act One will star Tony Shalhoub and Santino Fontana.
Below are details about the 20 plays and musicals that have opening dates and theaters in Spring, 2014, listed chronologically by their opening dates. You know the drill: There is no guarantee that any of these will actually happen. Indeed, the only guarantee is that the schedule will change — many additions, some subtractions. I will update periodically.
BEAUTIFUL – THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL
Stephen Sondheim Theater
First Preview: November 21, 2013
Opening: January 12, 2014
Music and Lyrics by: Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil
Book by: Douglas McGrath
Director: Marc Bruni
Cast: Jessie Mueller, Jake Epstein, Anika Larsen, Jarrod Spector
Beautiful tells the true story of Carole King’s stellar songwriting career, beginning as a teenage hitmaker, her partnership with her first husband Gerry Goffin, her relationship with Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, her rise as a singer/songwriter.
American Airlines Theatre
First Preview: December 20, 2013
Opening: January 16, 2014
Written by Sophie Treadwell
Director: Lyndsey Turner
Cast: Rebecca Hall
“Inspired by the infamous 1927 murder trial of Ruth Snyder, Machinal is a gripping drama by American journalist and playwright Sophie Treadwell. For Young Woman (Hall), a stenographer in the industrial, male-dominated world of the 1920s, life is nothing like she hoped it would be. Restless and unfulfilled in a passionless marriage and unwanted motherhood, she finds her only joy in the form of an illicit love affair. But when reality sets in and she must return to her routine existence, she’ll go to any lengths to regain her freedom.”
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
First preview: January 2, 2014
Opening: January 23, 2014
Closing: March 16, 2014
Cast: Debra Messing, Brian F. O’Byrne
Debra Messing plays an eccentric Irishwoman who is trying to make a romantic connection with her shy neighbor (Brían F. O’Byrne). Written by John Patrick Shanley (Doubt, Moonstruck).
Circle in the Square
First Preview: January 10, 2014
Opening: February 6, 2014
Written and directed by Eric Simonson
Cast: Peter Scolari, Tracy Shayne, C.J. Wilson, Christopher Jackson, Francois Battiste, Chris Henry Coffey, Bill Dawes, Keith Nobbs, John Wernke
The third in a series of sports plays, this one is about the Yankees. My review of The Bronx Bombers, with a slightly different cast, when it was Off Broadway.
My review of Bronx Bombers on Broadway
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
First preview: January 13, 2014
Opening: February 20
Director: Bartlett Sher
Cast: Kelli O’Hara, Steven Pasquale
Francesca Johnson, a small-town 1960s Iowa housewife who has a brief but intense affair with Robert Kincaid, a photographer from National Geographic. Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood played the lead roles in the 1995 film.
ALL THE WAY
Neil Simon Theater
First Preview: February 10, 2014
Opening: March 6, 2014
By Robert Schenkkan
Director: Bill Rauch
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Michael McKean, Brandon J. Dirden
Cranston (Breaking Bad) plays LBJ, from 1963, when an assassin’s bullet catapults him into the presidency through the his first year of office, handling civil rights legislation and the beginning of the Vietnam War. Playwright Schenkkan won the Pulitzer Prize for The Kentucky Cycle, a marathon set of plays which took a grim view of the violent founding of the American West.
Opening: March 13 2014
Written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (score), Thomas Meehan (book)
Director: Alex Timbers
Cast: Andy Karl and Margo Seibert
The new stage production based on the Academy Award-winning film of the same name.
First Preview: February 26, 2014
Opening: March 20,2014
Based on the 1992 Disney animated movie, Aladdin tell the story of a poor street kid who falls in love with a princess, is imprisoned but discovers the secrets of a magic lamp.
First Preview: March 1, 2014
Opening: March 23, 2014
Written by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer
Director: Laurence Connor and James Powell
Cast: Ramin Karimloo, Will Swenson, Nikki M. James, Caissie Levy, Andy Mientus
Cameron Mackintosh returns to Broadway with the 25th-anniversary production of Les Misérables, with new orchestrations.
MOTHERS AND SONS
John Golden Theater
First Preview: February 23, 2014
Opening: March 24, 2014
Written by Terrence McNally
Director: Sheryl Kaller
Cast: Tyne Daly:
The play is about a mother who pays a surprise visit to the New York apartment of her late son’s ex-partner, who is now married to another man and has a young son.
First Preview: March 4, 2014
Opening: March 27, 2014
Written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey
Director: Michael Greif
Cast: Idina Menzel
On the verge of turning 40, Elizabeth moves to New York City, the ultimate city of possibility, intent on a fresh start – new home, new friends, and hopes for a resurgent career.
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
First preview: March 8, 2014
Opening: April 3, 2014
Closing: June 15, 2014
Director: Kenny Leon
Cast: Denzel Washington, Diahann Carroll, Anika Noni Rose
A revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s drama about the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the African-American Younger family.
THE REALISTIC JONESES
First Preview: March 13, 2014
Opening: April 6,2014
Director: Sam Gold
Cast: Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Marisa Tomei, Tracy Letts
Playwright Will Eno (Middletown; Title and Deed; Thom Pain (based on nothing)) makes his Broadway debut in this comedy about two suburban couples who have become new neighbors and discover they share more than a surname.
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY
St. James Theater
First Preview:March 11, 2014
Opening: April 10, 2014
Director: Susan Stroman
Cast: Zach Braff, Vincent Pastore, Helene Yorke, Betsy Wolfe
A musical adaptation of Woody Allen’s Academy Award-nominated film, about a playwright whose first taste of success comes with mobsters and a domineering diva attached.
Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater
First preview: March 20, 2014
Opening: April 17, 2014
James Lapine directs his own adaptation of Moss Hart’s classic autobiography that chronicles his struggle to escape poverty and forge a career in the theater, which led to his collaboration with George S. Kaufman and culminated in his first great success, Once in a Lifetime.
Theatre: Longacre Theatre
First Preview: March 22, 2014
Opening: April 17, 2014
Written by John Steinbeck
Director: Anna D. Shapiro
Cast: James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, Leighton Meester
A Broadway revival of John Steinbeck’s classic novel/play.
American Airlines Theatre
First Preview: March 28, 2014
Opening: April 20, 2014
Written by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley
Director: Leigh Silverman
Cast: Sutton Foster
Violet tells the story of a young woman’s quest for beauty amidst the image-obsessed landscape of the 1960s.” This revival was part of the new Encores Off-Center series.
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN
First Preview: April 1, 2014
Opening: April 21, 2014
Written by Eric Coble
Director: Molly Smith
Cast: Estelle Parsons, Stephen Spinella
“The Velocity of Autumn swirls around Alexandra, a 79-year-old artist in a showdown with her family over where she’ll spend her remaining years. She’s barricaded herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with enough Molotov cocktails to take out the block. Her youngest son manages to work his way into the place.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
First preview: March 29, 2014
Opening: April 22, 2014
Neil Patrick Harris stars in this rock musical about a transgender singer’s quest to find her other half.
Samuel J. Friedman Theater
First preview: April 1, 2014
Opening: April 23, 2014
Written by Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Joe Montello
Based on actual events and set in 1962, Casa Valentina focuses on a Catskills resort which caters to a very special clientele—heterosexual men whose favorite pastime is dressing and living as women.
First preview: March 21, 2014
Opening April 24, 2014
Closing: August 31, 2014
Cast: Alan Cumming, Michelle Williams
Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s Tony Award-winning production (Best Revival, 1998) returns, starring Alan Cumming in his Tony-winning role as Emcee opposite Michelle Williams, making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles, the clueless American singer in Berlin before World War II.