Each year it seems Broadway is capable of surprising and surpassing our expectations, and the past two seasons have been no exception. Between the groundbreaking Hamilton, heart-wrenching Dear Evan Hansen, and breathtaking Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, it seems that anything and everything can be turned into a successful musical nowadays. Two months ago I wrote an in-depth look at Frozen’s theatrical debut (which you can read here), and now, as we draw closer to new announcements and opening nights, it’s time for another sneak peek at just a few of the weird, wonderful, and exciting things headed for the stage this season!
Photo from the Chicago run, featuring Danny Skinner as Patrick, Lilli Cooper as Sandy Cheeks, and Ethan Slater as SpongeBob.
Name: SpongeBob Squarepants
Theatre: The Palace Theatre
Opening: December 4, 2017
Featuring songs from the likes of Aerosmith, John Legend, They Might Be Giants, and Panic! At the Disco, this musical is definitely one of the most unique shows to hit Broadway in quite a while. Originally conceived by veteran director and playwright Tina Landau, the musical follows the original characters and premise of the popular children’s television show while telling a brand-new story never before seen by viewers. The music, too, is wholly original; each song on the original Broadway cast recording released this month was written by a different pop artist or band specifically for the show itself. Despite its unusual style, SpongeBob Squarepants opened to mostly favorable reviews when it played in Chicago this summer and remains a highly anticipated show for both theatre geeks and fans of the franchise.
My Fair Lady
A photo of the original 1956 Broadway run featuring Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins and Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle.
Name: My Fair Lady (2018 Broadway Revival)
Theatre: The Vivian Beaumont Theatre
Opening: April 19, 2018
Fear not, traditional theatre-lovers, for along with the wacky and weird musicals of this season comes a revival of a beloved classic. My Fair Lady, perhaps most immortalized by the film version starring Audrey Hepburn in 1964, has had a long and hugely successful history on the Broadway stage and has been revived no less than four times in the past fifty years. The original 1956 production starred Rex Harrison as the pompous Professor Henry Higgins, a phonetics tutor who makes a bet with a friend that with a little bit of training, he can pass off a Cockney flower peddler named Eliza (played by Julie Andrews) as a fine lady of society. The 2018 revival cast has thus far been announced to include Harry Hadden-Paton as Professor Higgins and Hollywood actress Lauren Ambrose as Eliza, with seven-time Tony nominee Bartlett Sher at the helm directing. With an impressive cast, extensive history, and dedicated fanbase, it is no small wonder this show is predicted to be the season’s hottest ticket.
The Band’s Visit
A scene from the Atlantic Theatre run of the show, featuring the live band.
Name: The Band’s Visit
Theatre: The Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Opening: November 9, 2017
In the Israeli town of Peta Tivkah, 1996, the Egyptian Police Band arrives, ready to perform a night’s concert. Unfortunately, they have made a mistake–this isn’t Peta Tivkah at all, but Bet Hativkah, a seemingly insignificant village in the middle of nowhere. Forced to stay the night with no transportation or accommodations, the band members and the villagers begin to interact and communicate, and eventually discover that the band’s blunder may have been more of a blessing than a curse. Based on the 2007 film of the same name, The Band’s Visit premiered Off-Broadway earlier this year to rave reviews from both critics and audiences. The remarkable story and haunting music–played in part by a live band composed of the actors themselves–have already made this show a magnet for awards come Tony season.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Photo of the magical wizarding world from the London production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Name: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two
Theatre: The Lyric Theatre
Opening: April 22, 2018
At last, the highly anticipated stage sequel to the original Harry Potter franchise is coming to New York after the opening of the London production in 2016. Though the story has been fairly divisive among fans of the original book series by J.K. Rowling, the play itself received positive reviews by London critics and is widely regarded for its amazing feats of stage “magic” and unique format that spans over two separate nights of theatre. Picking up where the books left off, Cursed Child follows Albus Potter, Harry Potter’s eldest son, and his best friend Scorpius Malfoy as they make their way through Hogwarts and wind up time-travelling, fighting off monsters, and mending broken relationships to try to set the past right again. All seven lead roles will be reprised on Broadway with the original West End cast, including Jamie Parker as the adult Harry Potter, Sam Clemmett as Albus Potter, and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy. Will Harry Potter and the Cursed Child transfer successfully to American audiences? If ticket pre-sales are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.
What shows are you excited for in the upcoming Broadway season? Any that didn’t make the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions below!