Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Everything Old is New Again

In a world where Broadway revivals are king, new works have, of late, been hard to come by.  Until this year, that is.  There is a large number of new plays and musicals coming to Broadway this season and, to focus on them rather than on the revivals that have taken over, Ben Brantley of the NY Times has written some anticipatory buzz about the new works coming to the New York stage, which I have copied below.

GOOD PEOPLE And, it seems, relatively ordinary people as well. David Lindsay-Abaire, once known for works of high whimsy (“Fuddy Meers”), returns to the naturalistic vein he mined so successfully for his Pulitzer Prize Prize-winning “Rabbit Hole” in this story of second chapters in the lives of beleaguered Bostonians. Daniel Sullivan directs a cast that includes Frances McDormandand Tate Donovan. (March 3, Samuel Friedman Theater)
ARCADIA Tom Stoppard, that most wistful and wily of theatrical wordsmiths, has rarely been as exquisitely heartbroken as in this generations-jumping tale of academics and aristocrats pursuing a mystery from the age of Byron. Billy Crudup, who appeared in the original Broadway production 16 years ago, returns in a different (and older and wiser) part. David Leveaux directs. (March 17, Ethel Barrymore Theater)
THE BOOK OF MORMON Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the taboo-busting creators of the animated “South Park” series, have always carried a torch for song-and-dance shows. (Their first collaboration was called “Cannibal! The Musical.”) This story of Mormon missionaries adrift in Africa, written with the composer Robert Lopez, is guaranteed to cross the boundaries of good taste. (March 24, Eugene O’Neill Theater)
THE ____________ WITH THE HAT It seems fitting that the combustible comedian Chris Rock, never one for self-censorship, should make his Broadway debut in a play with an unprintable title. Love, drugs and other mind-altering essences figure in this play from the street-smart Stephen Adly Guirgis, directed by Anna D. Shapiro. (April 11,Gerald Schoenfeld Theater)
WAR HORSE When was the last time a puppet made you cry? Tears have been flowing in London since the title character of this sentimental drama — brought to fully dimensional life by a team of puppeteers — first took the stage of the National Theater in 2008. Nick Stafford adapted Michael Morpurgo’s novel about a country boy and his noble steed, separated by World War I. Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris direct. (April 11, Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center)
JERUSALEM Two helpings of Mark Rylance in one season? Oh, the bliss of it. Having wowed New York as the fatuous title character in “La Bête” last fall, Mr. Rylance takes on the part of a superannuated trailer-park Pied Piper in Jez Butterworth’s sprawling, two-fisted portrait of vanishing British myths, directed by Ian Rickson. (April 21, Music Box Theater)
FAT PIG Dane Cook, like Chris Rock (see above), is tossing aside the stand-up microphone to leap into a bona fide play. Mr. Cook portrays a seriously obnoxious member of the primitive species Homo labutus (that’s man according to the harsh moralistNeil LaBute) in this raw but oddly tender comic drama from 2004. The cast also includes Josh Hamilton and Julia Stiles. (April 26, Belasco Theater)
THE PEOPLE IN THE PICTURE Donna Murphy, the amazing chameleon woman of Broadway musicals, plays a New York grandmother who was once a Yiddish theater star in Poland in this brand-new show by Iris Rainer Dart (the novel “Beaches”), with lyrics by Ms. Dart and music by Mike Stoller and Artie Butler. (April 28, Studio 54)
THE INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES The season’s longest title is a riff on that of a book by George Bernard Shaw, and the play’s author is, but of course, the Shavian (read: eloquent, passionate, long-winded and politically engaged) Tony Kushner, who here pokes at unraveling family ties in blue-collar Brooklyn. Michael Greif directs. (May 5, Public Theater)
BY THE WAY, MEET VERA STARK Lynn Nottage, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the wrenching topical drama “Ruined,” slips into a less somber (but, one imagines, still trenchant) mode with this look at racial stereotyping in Hollywood, which takes a cue or two from vintage screwball comedies. Sanaa Lathan plays an African-American maid with dreams of big-screen stardom. Jo Bonney directs. (May 9, Second Stage Theater)

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