Both King Kong and Olaf, the goofy snow man from Frozen, will loom large on Thanksgiving Day — but not on Broadway; neither current musical is one of the four Broadway shows performing on Thursday. (see Thanksgiving Week Broadway schedule below.)
Olaf will be one of the huge balloons hovering over Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the cast of “King Kong” will be performing a number from the new musical during CBS’s coverage of the parade. (Also performing on CBS: the casts of “Dear Evan Hansen.” and “Head Over Heels.” Performing at the parade itself, broadcast by NBC: “Mean Girls,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Prom,” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.”)
both Frozen and King Kong have added a matinee on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving — as have most other Broadway shows. Many have also added a Monday night performance.
Below is the Broadway schedule for Thanksgiving Week, as well as a list of my four favorite shows that have opened this season so far, and another four that are evergreens suitable for young children.
Recommended new shows
Of my four favorite new shows listed below (shows that have opened in the second half of 2018 that you can still see), only two are on Broadway, and only one is suitable for young children …but they’re too good to pass up.
By the time “The Ferryman” has ended, we have been treated to a breathtaking mix of revenge action thriller, romance, melodrama, family saga, and a feast of storytelling – ghost stories, fairy stories, stories of Irish history and politics, stories of longing and of loss.
Jez Butterworth’s play about farmer Quinn Carney and his sprawling, colorful family is rich, sweeping entertainment — epic, tragic….and cinematic.
Recommended for 10+, barred to children under 4.
Elaine May is back on a Broadway stage after more than 50 years, and making the most of it in The Waverly Gallery, Kenneth Lonergan’s meticulously observed, funny and sad play about a woman’s decline and its effect on her family. May is not alone. She is one of five stellar cast members, notably Lucas Hedges making a splendid Broadway debut. They turn this 18-year-old play into…if not required, certainly well-rewarded viewing.
Recommended for 10 +, barred to children under 4.
“ Lewiston/Clarkston” are two powerfully affecting plays by Samuel D. Hunter about 21stcentury descendants of the 19thcentury North American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The plays are being presented one after the other in a single evening, separated by a communal dinner during the half-hour intermission, in an extraordinary production at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. The theater has been completely reconfigured for the show, with the removal of its decades-old proscenium stage and of its raked stadium seating. Now, just 50 members of the audience sit in a row of folding chairs on either side of a plain playing space only 13 feet wide. As a result, the two dramas play out in close-up.
Yes, it’s in Yiddish — the first Yiddish-language production of the musical in the United States — but the Folksbiene production of ‘Fiddler,’ directed by Joel Grey, is as entertaining as any I’ve seen…All the performers have great voices, and this Fiddler has an advantage that the Broadway ‘Fiddlers’ don’t match. The surtitles assure that nobody who can read English (or Russian) misses a single word.
Tickets to Fiddler (Note: There is a show today, but none other on Thanksgiving week. I list anyway because there are plenty for the rest of the holiday season, until it closes at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on December 30, then transfers uptown.)
Broadway shows for young children
The genie ( now Major Attaway) 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? Also new to the cast: Telly Leung as Aladdin!
Disney celebrated The Lion King’s 20th anniversary on Broadway last year with lots of self-congratulations, but in this case it is deserved. 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, and 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.
In his first original musical on Broadway in a decade, Andrew Lloyd Webber chose 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. This show is closing in January
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.
Broadway Thanksgiving Week Schedule
Four Broadway shows are scheduled to perform on Thanksgiving Day — Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Torch Song and Waitress. All the others are dark that day, but most have added matinees on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and nine have even added performances on the Monday, before Thanksgiving.
The show names in the chart below are linked to my reviews, or other relevant articles, when available. (Several of the shows haven’t opened yet.) I put an asterisk next to those shows that I enjoyed without reservation. (Or just one reservation — tickets are expensive.)
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