Broadway Update: Springsteen, Skeleton Crew, Paradise, etc.
By: David Sheward
June 10, 2021: The 2021-22 Broadway and Off-Broadway season continues to take shape with new productions and those postponed from previous seasons announcing dates and theaters. In the latest round of updates, Bruce Springsteen returns to Broadway, Manhattan Theater fills out its roster, a new musical set during the Civil War is slated, and The Lehman Trilogy finally makes the transfer from Off-Broadway to on with one cast change.
The beginning of the season keeps getting earlier. Bruce Springsteen on Broadway will now be the first show to open since the theaters closed last March. The Boss’s Tony-winning 2017 concert show is slated for a return engagement at the St. James Theater starting June 26 for a limited engagement through Sept. 4. Just last week Pass Over announced it was commencing performances in August. Springsteen’s show is also the first to announce official COVID audience protocols. Theatergoers must show proof of COVID vaccination and fill out a health screening within 24 hours of attending. We’ll see if anti-vaxxers and libertarians scream invasion of privacy or unconstitutionalism. Last time I checked, you don’t have a constitutional right to see a Broadway show.
Phylicia Rashad will also return to Broadway, headlining Dominique Morriseau’s Skeleton Crew, set in a Detroit auto factory in 2008, part of Manhattan Theater Club’s season at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater. Rashad will play one of four workers at the endangered factory, facing economic instability. Skeleton Crew has previously been presented Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2 in 2016 and regionally. This production will be directed by Reuben Santiago-Hudson who staged the Atlantic version and will also be appearing as part of MTC’s Friedman season in his own autobiographical solo play Lackawanna Blues. Previews begin Dec. 21 in advance of a Jan. 12, 2022 opening. Morriseau is the book-author of Ain’t Too Proud which reopens this fall.
Rashad last appeared on Broadway in August: Osage County, is slated to direct a revival of Charles Randolph Wright’s Blue and has just been named Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman School of Fine Arts at her alma mater, Howard University. MTC has also announced Broadway dates for its revival of Paula Vogel’s How I Learned to Drive with original stars David Morse and Mary-Louise Parker (previews March 29, opens April 19.) Off-Broadway MTC productions have also been announced for the company’s City Center space: Morning Star, Prayer for the French Republic, and Golden Shield.
Paradise Square, another addition to the season, is the first totally new confirmed musical show which has not been previously postponed. It’s another rarity, a musical not based on a movie, TV show, play, novel or the songbook or biography of a music star. Set in 1863, the story focuses on the Five Points neighborhood of Manhattan where free African-Americans and Irish immigrants co-existed peacefully before the Civil War and how the subsequent Draft Riots threaten to the community apart. Joaquina Kalukango (currently Tony nominated for Slave Play) heads the cast. Previews begin Feb. 22, 2022 after a try-out engagement in Chicago. Paradise opens on March 20 at the Barrymore. The creative team is distinguished, but it looks like a case of “too many cooks.” There are four–count ’em four–bookwriters including Black 47 singer Larry Kirwan, Craig Lucas (The Light in the Piazza, Prelude to a Kiss, etc.), Christina Anderson, and Marcus Gardley. The choreography is credited to Bill T. Jones (Fela, Spring Awakening), but Graciela Daniele is contributing “musical staging” in collaboration with Jones and director Moises Kaufman (The Laramie Project). What’s the difference between choreography and musical staging? The main producer is Garth Drabinsky (Ragtime) who served a prison sentence for fraud and forgery.
After successful engagements in London and at the Park Avenue Armory, The Lehman Trilogy was scheduled to make the leap to Broadway, but COVID intervened. Now, the transfer will finally take place when the massive three-man history and economics lesson begins previews at the Nederlander on Sept. 25 with an Oct. 14 opening. Simon Russell Beale and Adam Godley will repeat their multiple roles, but Adrian Lester will replace Ben Miles.
As if all this weren’t enough, a revival of Bob Fosse’s long-running revue Dancin’, with Tony winner and original cast member Wayne Cilento directing, is set to open during the 2022-23 Broadway season.
Here’s a rundown of new productions scheduled for the season so far:
June 26–Springsteen on Broadway (St. James)
July 27–Merry Wives (Shakespeare in the Park/Delacorte)
Sept. 12–Pass Over (August Wilson)
Sept. 26–Tony Awards (CBS/Paramount +)
Sept. 28–Lackawanna Blues (MTC/Samuel Friedman)
Oct 1–Diana premieres on Netflix
Oct. 3–Six (Brooks Atkinson)
Oct. 14–The Lehman Trilogy (Nederlander)
Oct. 27–Caroline or Change (Roundabout/Studio 54)
Oct. 31–Thoughts of a Colored Man (Golden)
Nov. 3–Morning Sun (MTC/City Center)
Nov. 17–Diana (Longacre)
Nov. 18–Trouble in Mind (Roundabout/AA)
Dec. 5–Mrs. Doubtfire (Stephen Sondheim)
Dec. 6–Flying Over Sunset (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)
Jan. 9, 2022–Company (Bernard B. Jacobs)
Jan. 12–Skeleton Crew (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
Jan. 27–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)
Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon)
Feb. 1–Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/City Center)
Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)
March 15–The Minutes (Theater TBA)
March 20–Paradise Square (Barrymore)
April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)
April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)
May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)
Clyde’s (Second Stage/Helen Hayes)
American Buffalo (Circle in the Square)
Plaza Suite (Hudson)
Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)
Romeo and Bernadette: A Musical Tale of Verona and Brooklyn
Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)
Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, The Piano Lesson
2023 and Beyond
Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby
Future–Our Town; Death of a Salesman; Funny Girl; K-pop the Broadway Musical; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Smash; Some Like It Hot; Soul Train; The Who’s Tommy
Originally Posted on the David Desk 2 on June 8, 2021
Photo Credit: Rob deMartin – Bruce Springstein will return to Broadway