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What to See on Broadway Thanksgiving Week 2016

The turkey float in the Thanksgiving Day parade

The 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature (as it traditionally does) numbers from Broadway musicals — on CBS, The Color Purple,  On Your Feet, and School of Rock; on NBC, Cats, Holiday Inn, Paramour and Waitress. But you can also see the whole shows on Broadway during Thanksgiving Week.

Scroll down to the bottom for  the Broadway schedule for the week — most shows are dark on Thanksgiving Day, but have added matinees for the day after.

Here too are my recommendations, first for new shows that have opened this season so far, and then evergreens suitable for young children.

Recommended New Shows

In truth, I can only wholeheartedly recommend one show that’s opened on Broadway this season so far, so the following list is stacked with Off-Broadway shows. In alphabetical order:

Finian’s Rainbow

finians-rainbow-5-mark-evans-and-melissa-errico

At the Irish Rep, a four-piece orchestra and a 13-member cast led by the glorious Melissa Errico do delicious justice to the show’s terrific tuneful melodies, written by composer Burton Lane (whose long career on Broadway and in Hollywood included the discovery of Judy Garland) and lyricist Yip Harburg (who wrote the lyrics to more than 500 songs, including “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”, “April in Paris”, and many of the songs for “The Wizard of Oz.”) The 15 songs in “Finian’s Rainbow” are an inspiring mix of Irish folk tunes, Southern mountain melodies, Tin Pan Alley, gospel and the blues.

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

Josh Groban as Pierre and the cast of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway

Josh Groban as Pierre and the cast of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway

An opera with an unwieldy title based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace might seem like an unlikely crowd-pleaser, but Great Comet is the freshest, most inviting show on Broadway this season, especially awesome in its stagecraft. Nineteen of the cast members are making their Broadway debuts, including Josh Groban, who is stellar.

Notes From the Field

Notes from the Field 5

Anna Deavere Smith  portrays 17  disparate characters with her usual dazzling virtuosity, in presenting her argument that there is a school to prison “pipeline” for poor people and people of color.

Sweat

Khris Davis and Will Pullen as friends who wind up in prison.

Khris Davis and Will Pullen as friends who wind up in prison.

Like Grapes of Wrath, Lynn Nottage’s play offers a devastating look at social and economic breakdown, told not with rants or statistics, but through a riveting tale about good people in a bad situation. The characters in Sweat live in Reading, Pennsylvania, which 2010 U.S. Census data identified as the poorest city in America.

Vietgone

Jennifer Ikeda as Tong and Raymond Lee as Quang

Jennifer Ikeda as Tong and Raymond Lee as Quang

Qui Nguyen’s rap-infused play about two Vietnamese refugees who fall in love is as puckish as a comic book. But for all the pop culture silliness, the playfulness with language, and the clever stagecraft, “Vietgone” paints complex and credible portraits of the two main characters.

Broadway shows for young children

Aladdin

James Monroe Iglehart

James Monroe Iglehart

The genie is James Monroe Iglehart, and he is the one who provides the bulk of the entertainment, morphing from showbiz master of ceremonies to carnival barker to infomercial huckster to game show host to Cab Calloway-like zoot-suiter to disco dj to hip-hopper in a Hawaiian shirt, to yes, a sparkling-suited magical genie who emerges amid smoke from a little lamp. Every number over which he presides – nearly every moment he is on stage –  answers the question that fans of the 1992 film Aladdin might have wondered about: How would Disney be able to translate to the stage the protean cartoon character of genie voiced by Robin Williams at his peak? The answer is James Monroe Iglehart, and the answer satisfies.

Tickets to Aladdin

The Lion King

CircleofLifefromLionKing

Based on the 1994 Disney animated film about the coming-of-age of a young lion in the African jungle, this musical offers African-inflected music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice and the visual magic of Julie Taymor. Taymor is the director, a composer and lyricist for some of the songs. But above all, she is the designer of the costumes, masks, and puppets — and it is these visuals that make this show a good first theatrical experience — and worthwhile for any theatergoer no matter how experienced.

Tickets to The Lion King

Matilda

Matilda 10

“Matilda” is based on Roald Dahl’s dark children’s book about a girl with extraordinary gifts who is at first unappreciated by the adults. The musical  offers dazzling stagecraft overseen by director Matthew Warchus, a faithful and intelligent book by David Kelly, and Tim Minchin’s clever lyrics. The production also, however, sometimes feels in need of a translator. It is very British both in milieu and in enunciation. A major reason to choose this show is that it is set to close on January 1, 2017.

Tickets to Matilda

School of Rock

School of Rock

In his first original musical on Broadway in a decade, Andrew Lloyd Webber has chosen to adapt a movie with a plot that could hardly be sillier, and supplies a new score that could hardly be more addictive. School of Rock – The Musical is full of both hard-charging rock n roll and supremely catchy melodies.

An implicit message of the musical — that rocking and stomping are far more important to fourth graders than math or history – could make a convincing case for the depravity of rock n roll. But if anybody is still alive to be receptive to that argument, they’re sure to be won over by the thrilling performances by the baker’s dozen of talented kids, several sure to share stardom with the adults.

Tickets to School of Rock

Wicked

Wicked NY

Wicked NY

The musical tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” from the witches’ perspective, more specifically from the Wicked Witch of the West, who was not, as a child, wicked at all, but just green-tinted, taunted, and misunderstood. There is so much to like about this musical, the clever twists on the familiar tale, the spectacular set, and music that is a lot more appealing in context (such as the song “Defying Gravity”) that I will forgive the contortions necessary to tack on a happy ending.

Tickets to Wicked

Tickets to Hamilton

Broadway’s Thanksgiving Week Schedule

As the Broadway schedule below for Thanksgiving week indicates, seven shows are performing Thanksgiving Day. A Bronx Tale; Chicago; Fiddler on the Roof; Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812; Paramour; Phantom of the Opera; and Waitress. Every other show is dark that day. But most have added matinees on Friday.Some dozen of the shows have also added a performance on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

The show names in the chart below are linked to my reviews, or other relevant articles, when available. I put an asterisk next to those shows that I enjoyed without significant reservation. (Or just one significant reservation — tickets are expensive.)

A key to understanding the chart:
Crossed out dates means canceled performance
Bold faced dates means added performance
Italic dates means a different than usual curtain time

SHOW Mon. Nov. 21 Tue. Nov. 22 Wed. Nov. 23 Thu. Nov. 24 Fri. Nov. 25 Sat. Nov. 26 Sun. Nov. 27
*Aladdin DARK 7pm 1pm, 7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 6:30pm
Alton Brown Live DARK 8pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 1pm, 5:30pm
Beautiful 7pm 7pm 2pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7pm
*The Book of Mormon DARK 7pm 2pm,7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
A Bronx Tale 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Cats 8pm 7pm 7:30pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7pm
The Cherry Orchard 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Chicago 8pm 8pm 8pm 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 2:30pm, 7pm
*The Color Purple 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Dear Evan Hansen 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
The Encounter DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Falsettos DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Fiddler on the Roof DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
The Front Page DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Hamilton DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Heisenberg 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Holiday Inn DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
*The Humans DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
The Illusionists DARK 7pm DARK 7pm 3pm, 8pm 11am, 3pm, 8pm 1pm, 6:30pm
In Transit 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Jersey Boys DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Kinky Boots DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Les Liasons Dangereuses DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Lion King DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 6:30pm
*Matilda 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 6:30pm
*Natasha, Pierre… DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Oh, Hello 8pm 8pm 8pm 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7pm
*On Your Feet! 8pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7pm
Paramour 7pm 7pm 7pm 5pm DARK 3pm 2pm
Phantom of the Opera 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK
*School of Rock 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 1pm, 6pm
Something Rotten! 7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Waitress DARK 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 7:30pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
*Wicked DARK 7pm 2pm, 7:30pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm

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About New York Theater
Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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