Broadway 2023-24 Shapes Up: I Need That, Spamalot, The Notebook. Broadway’s Best Movie Adaptation? #Stageworthy News of the Week

“Back to the Future” opening on Broadway last week seemed well-timed, since theatergoers seem to be time traveling: We’re looking ahead as the Broadway 2023-2024 season unfolds, and at the same time recalling theater in its glory days: Witness the eager response to my poll for the best Broadway show based on a movie.

Results so far: “Little Shop of Horrors” leads at 11 percent of respondents, “The Producers” at about ten percent, and “The Lion King” at 9 percent. But what’s most interesting is how many shows had die-hard adherents, The initial list of 25 shows couldn’t contain the enthusiasm.  There were write-in votes for 19 additional shows – including two for “Back to the Future”

If the past is looking glorious, and the future hopeful, the present is harder to embrace — amid, among other things, a possible Covid surge, political polarization at its peak, and because of a theater in crisis. In an American Theatre Magazine interview with Sara Holdren and Jackson McHenry, the new co-lead theater critics at New York Magazine/Vulture, Holdren explains why she is returning to reviewing, in a way that sounds almost optimistic: “It feels like such a time of flux and crisis, and also hopefully opportunity, in the arts. I feel a call to try to reflect that back….”

August 2023 New York Theater Openings.

The Week in New York Theater Reviews

Back to the Future

“Back to the Future,” opening tonight on Broadway, is a nearly scene-by-scene re-creation of the 1985 movie on which it’s based. This is in some ways a lost opportunity to reimagine a story that’s as tied to a specific era as the sports car it showcases, the DeLorean, which stopped production in 1983. So it’s perhaps a tad ironic that it’s the DeLorean that redeems this musical, far more than the serviceable score or familiar choreography or competent cast. The car serves as the main vehicle for the often thrilling stage design and special effects. Full Review


Let’s Call Her Patty 

 Let’s Call Her Patty” can most charitably be considered a character study, since there is little discernible plot, with the one tangible development occurring close to the end of the 70-minute play, which feels longer. Unfortunately, the character under study in Zarina Shea’s play, while meant to be colorful, comes perilously close to a stereotype, stopped from falling into flat-out caricature by the warmth and breadth of the cast. Full Review

The Nobodies Who Were Everybody 

When the Federal Theatre Project was shut down in 1939 after just four years, the government-funded program had presented an astonishing 830 theatrical productions on Broadway and in newly created regional theaters across the United States, for an average ticket price of 25 cents. “And in just four years, about one quarter of all Americans saw a Federal Theatre show.” That’s what the character Jo (Rashad Brown), the evening’s pianist and liaison with the 21st century, tells us at the end of this ambitious play by the thirteen-year-old company Theater In Asylum about an inspiring moment in American theater history. Full review


Views from the Miniature City.

“I can laugh at my own extinction,” says the dinosaur with the face of Theodora Skipitares, in the last and most ironic of the six eerie scenes in her show at La MaMa entitled “Views from the Miniature City” which ended its short, memorable run this weekend, forty-two years after the show, originally entitled “Micropolis,”  launched her career as a puppeteer.


Deaf Broadway Signs Sondheim’s Company 

Deaf Broadway, a theater company founded on Stephen Sondheim’s 90th birthday in 2020, performed the musical “Company” at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. How? They projected the filmed version of the live 2011 production at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall that featured a starry cast including Neil Patrick Harris and Patti LuPone, adding vivid captions, while eleven actors simultaneously performed the roles in American Sign Language. The result made for a fascinating evening of theater (see video below)

The Week in New York Theater News


Three new announcements for the Broadway 2023-2024 season:

“I Need That” Theresa Rebeck’s play about a hoarder with Danny and Lucy DeVito, will open November 2 at  Roundabout’s American Airlines Theater.

The first Broadway revival of the 2005 Tony winning musical “Spamalot” ( “lovingly ripped from the film classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail,”) will open at the St James Nov 16

 “The Notebook”, a new musical based on Nicholas Sparks 1996 debut novel, is opening March 14 at Broadway’s Schoenfeld Theater.  It tells the story of the relationship between Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson spanning over five decades.

One More COVID Summer? (Atlantic)

“three and a half years into the outbreak…some public-health experts are now worried that, after a relatively quiet stretch, #COVID19 is kick-starting yet another summer wave.”

In Memoriam

Pamela Blair,73, an original ‘Chorus Line’ cast member

Jerome Coopersmith, 97, Tony-nominated playwright.

Paul Reubens, 70, children’s entertainer, who conquered Broadway with “The Pee-wee Herman Show.” He left a statement: “Please accept my apology for not going public with what I’ve been facing the last 6 years”(cancer) “I have loved you all so much and enjoyed making art for you”

This Week’s Theater Video

Author: 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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