The season is suddenly in bloom.
Saoirse Ronan in The Crucible
Author Danai Gurira and star Lupita Nyong’o of Eclipsed
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, creators of Bright Star
Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels in Blackbird
John Krasinski in Dry Powder
Clare Danes in Dry Powder
Phylicia Rashad in Head of Passes
Six shows are opening on Broadway in March, including a musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell; the next installment of Arthur Miller as interpreted by avant-garde director Ivo van Hove; and “Eclipsed” by Danai Gurira, starring the luminous Lupita Amondi Nyong’o making her Broadway debut. March is happening as much Off-Broadway: Gurira has a second play opening at Playwrights Horizons, and let’s not forget that Eclipsed is transferring from its sold-out run at the Public Theater, which is on a definite roll. Just this month, four new plays and musicals are opening at the Public, two of them star-studded — Homeland’s Clare Danes, The Office’s John Krasinski, Phylicia Rashad — and the other two promising to break new ground in theatrical storytelling.
Below is a selective list, organized chronologically by opening date, with descriptions. Each title is linked to a relevant website.
Nothing, of course, is guaranteed about any of these shows, even those that seem the most promising. (This is why I write reviews.)
Color key: Broadway: Red. Off Broadway: Purple or Blue. Off Off Broadway: Green.
To look at the Spring season as a whole, check out my Broadway Spring 2016 Preview Guide and my Off Broadway Spring 2016 Preview Guide
“It’s winter in Minnesota, and a Zimbabwean family is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter, a first-generation American. But when the bride insists on observing a traditional African custom, it opens a deep rift in the household.” The play is written by Danai Gurira,whose Eclipsed opens three days later on Broadway.
Lucas Hnath (The Christians) writes about an Olympic swimmer who “confronts the lure of endorsements, the perils of mixing the personal and professional, and the unforgiving weight of success.”
Neal Brennan takes the stage alternating between three separate microphones, each giving voice to the various aspects of his life – stand-up, one-liners, and “emotional stuff.”
As a kind of follow-up to Richard Nelson’s impressive series, The Apple Family Plays, the playwright is writing a three-play cycle about a different family in the same upstate city of Rhinebeck, using the same approach — the discussion of politics happening on the same day as the play itself is unfolding.
Akosua Busia and Lupita Nyong’o in Eclipsed
Eclipsed is the story of five extraordinary women brought together by upheaval in their homeland of Liberia. Written by Danai Gurira, it stars Lupita Nyong’o
Written by Marco Ramirez and directed by Rachel Chavkin, the play is “loosely based on the real-life experiences of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight world champion.”
An all-star cast, including Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg and George Takei (but one at a time), reads this play by award-winning Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, who has been barred from leaving his native country because of his status as a conscientious objector.
A spoof of 1970s disaster films written and co-starring Seth Rudetsky, using the popular music from that era. Among the cast are Faith Prince and Rachel York.
David Maiullo brings his physics experiments to the stage, demonstrating such concepts as motion, momentum, vacuum, friction, energy,and sound vibration.
In this play written by David Harrower and directed by Joe Mantello, Jeff Daniels stars as Ray, who had sex with Una when she was 12 years old, and went to jail for it. Fifteen years later, Una (Michelle Williams) tracks him down.
A play by Anna Ziegler “based in part on a true story” about an adult who was raised as a girl seeking out a new identity.
A bluegrass-tinged musical based on a documentary that tells the true story of a group of transgender friends living life on their own terms in the back hills of rural Georgia
Steven Pasquale stars in this revival of the musical with book by Alfred Uhry about “a Southern-fried Robin Hood” who falls in love
George Bernard Shaw’s funny debut play tackles the crisis of conscience of a young man who comes face to face with the choice between his love and his ideals.
The new play by Kenneth Lonergan focuses on a world-famous country singer who questions his celebrity after his mother’s death, and moves back to his hometown; “it doesn’t go well.”
Aaron Loeb brings a dark comic edge to this psychological suspense thriller, in which a group of corporate consultants work together on a mysterious and ethically ambiguous project
In this play by Martyna Majok, Darja, a Polish immigrant cleaning lady (Marin Ireland), is done talking about feelings; it’s time to talk money. Over the course of 20 years and three relationships, Darja negotiates for her future with men who can offer her love or security, but never both. Critically acclaimed when it was presented at the Women’s Voices Theater Festival in Bethesda, Md.
In this new comedy by Mona Mansour, Mom has entered a new chapter in her life: Chapter 11. Of course, that doesn’t stop her spending money…or borrowing money…or loaning money. Her daughters stage a financial intervention.
At the parfumerie where both work, Amalia (Laura Benanti) and Georg (Zachary Levi) hate each other. But as secret anonymous pen pals, they are falling in love.
I’m partial to this show.
In a play by Lucy Prebble (Enron) directed by David Cromer (Our Town, Tribes), Connie and Tristan have palpable chemistry with one another—or is it a side effect of a new super-antidepressant? They are volunteers in a clinical trial, but their sudden and illicit romance forces the supervising doctors to face off over the ethical consequences of their work.
A play written and directed by Adam Rapp that “explores love and neglect, the challenges of poverty, the dangerous cost of shiftlessness.”
The wheeling-dealing of the executives (including The Office’s John Krasinski making his stage debut, and Homeland’s Clare Danes) in a private equity firm.
John Krasinski and Claire Danes in Dry Powder
This musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell tells of the meeting between successful literary editor Alice Murphy and an ambitious young soldier just home from World War II. Their connection inspires Alice to confront a shocking incident from her past.
HEAD OF PASSES PUBLIC THEATER/NEWMAN THEATER 425 LAFAYETTE STREET, NEW YORK Cast: Alana Arenas, Francois Battiste, Kyle Beltran, J. Bernard Calloway, Robert Joy, John Earl Jelks, Phylicia Rashad and Arnetia Walker Director: Tina Landau PLAYWRIGHT: TARELL ALVIN MCCRANEY
Inspired by the Book of Job, this play by Tarell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays) and directed by Tina Landau presents the story of Shelah (Phylicia Rashad) who must fight to survive during a reunion held on her birthday.
In The New York Shakespeare Exchange production, ten actors (five male, five female) play all the roles in the play, including, by turns, the role of the tragic Danish prince.
Aaron Posner’s “‘sort of’ adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull
In this play by J. Julian Christopher, two gay couples work together and even live in the same building. But they are closeted. But When one of them ponders his resignation, the others fear the exposure of their hidden relationships.
Running just over a long weekend, this concert version of the musical about how the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence, is certainly well-timed — not just to the election, but thanks to Hamilton. The concert features Santino Fontna (John Adams), John Behlmann (Thomas Jefferson) John Larroquette (Benjamin Franklin) as well as Andre De Shields and Nikki Renee Daniels
Elizabeth Teeter, Saoirse Ronan and Tavi Gevinson
This is the sixth Broadway production of Miller’s popular account of the Salem witch trials of the 1690’s, but it is being directed by the experimental Belgium director Ivo van Hove, who made his Broadway debut in 2015 with another Miller play, A View From The Bridge. The cast includes Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo, Ciaran Hinds, Saoirse Ronan.