Around The Town

Broadway Update

B’way Update: Music Man and the Critics; Tony Voters and Bias Training; Etc.

By: David Sheward

January 31, 2022: The Music Man, probably the most anticipated show of this entire post-COVID theater season, will not admit first-string critics until opening night on Feb. 10. This flies in the face of the usual practice of inviting the press during preview performances so the scribes will have time to consider their opinions and craft their prose instead of rushing up the aisles to make the morning edition. No reason was given for this move, but spokesperson Rick Miramontez issued the following snarky statement when the news broke: 

Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster and cast in “The Music Man”.

B’way Update: Music Man and the Critics; Tony Voters and Bias Training; Etc.

By: David Sheward

January 31, 2022: The Music Man, probably the most anticipated show of this entire post-COVID theater season, will not admit first-string critics until opening night on Feb. 10. This flies in the face of the usual practice of inviting the press during preview performances so the scribes will have time to consider their opinions and craft their prose instead of rushing up the aisles to make the morning edition. No reason was given for this move, but spokesperson Rick Miramontez issued the following snarky statement when the news broke: 

“We feel just terrible for offering dozens of theater critics premium seats to a Broadway show. I am sure they will simply loathe having to tell their grandchildren about the time they were forced to witness Broadway history in the making. Most of all, it pains me personally to imagine the burden of having to turn around a review on such a tight timetable, has such a feat ever been attempted before? Well, let it be seen as the greatest vote of confidence by this production in our beloved press corps that we think they just might be up to the challenge!”

Aside from Miramontez’s sarcastic statement, there is no official explanation for the move and it’s hard to decipher the reasoning behind it. According to an interview with Jackman in Vanity Fair, the show has an advance sale of $50 million so mixed to negative reviews can’t really harm the box office. Looking to the past may offer some clues. The last time major critics were forced to exclusively attend opening night was in 2016 for an all-star revival of The Front Page headlined by Nathan Lane and John Slattery. The lead producer of that production was the now-disgraced Scott Rudin who has officially withdrawn from a similar role on Music Man for his past abusive behavior to employees. Could Rudin still be pulling the strings? And what is to be gained by barring the reviewers from previews? Also there is no word on when second-night critics, many of whom vote for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, will be invited. 

Speaking of awards, there will be a new requirement of all Tony voters. In order to qualify for participating in deciding on the top theater accolades, Tony electors must either undergo training in recognizing unconscious bias or attest they have had such training in their jobs. They have until March 1 to fulfill this requirement. The training consists of a free, online course. The British Academy of film and Television Arts has instituted a similar requirement for its BAFTA awards. As with the Music Man critics’ move, no explanation was offered by the Broadway League which administers the prizes, but it’s probably because of the snubbing of Slave Play at last season’s Tonys. Jeremy O. Harris’ controversial comedy-drama about interracial couples engaging in performance therapy, received the most nominations of any straight play in Tony history with 12 and lost all of them. Some saw this as a result of a lack of diversity in the Tony electorate and this bias training may be a way for the Tonys to demonstrate a willingness to address the issue–and cover their asses. Meanwhile, there has been no date announced for the ceremony itself.

A scene from the London production of  Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella.

News of productions for 2022-23 has been leaking out. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new adaptation of Cinderella has posted a casting notice with plans to open on Broadway in the fall of 2022. This version is a current hit in London and features a book by Oscar winner Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and lyrics by David Zippel (City of Angels). The London edition is scheduled to re-open on Feb. 3 after closing temporarily due to COVID outbreaks.

Also in the works is a stage version of Black Orpheus, the Oscar-winning film setting the Greek myth in Rio during Carnival. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz will write the book and Grammy winning legend Sergio Mendes will do the score. Tony winning choreographer Sergio Trujilo (Ain’t Too Proud) directs. Plans are for a 2022 out-of-town try-out and a 2023 Broadway opening. The Orpheus myth is also employed in the currently-running Broadway hit Hadestown.

Two more productions for this season have announced new, later opening dates. The Little Prince will now open April 11 and for colored girls has been pushed back to April 20.

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule

Jan. 31–Intimate Apparel (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

Feb. 1–MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical (Neil Simon); Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/City Center)

Feb. 3–Sandblasted (Vineyard)

Feb. 5–The Merchant of Venice (TFANA/Polonksy Shakespeare Center)

Feb. 7–Tambo and Bones (Playwrights Horizons)

Feb. 10–The Music Man (Winter Garden)

Feb. 14–Sleep No More (McKittrick Hotel)

Feb. 15–Black No More (The New Group)

Feb. 22–English (Atlantic Theater Company)

Feb. 23–On Sugarland (NYTW)

Match 8–The Chinese Lady (Public Theater/Ma-Yi Theater Company)

March 14–Mrs. Doubtfire re-opens (Sondheim)

March 28–Plaza Suite (Hudson)

April 3–Paradise Square (Barrymore)

April 4–Take Me Out (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 6–Suffs (Public Theater)

April 7–The Minutes (Studio 54)

April 8–Beetlejuice (Marriott Marquis)

April 10–Birthday Candles (Roundabout/AA)

April 11–The Little Prince (Broadway)

April 13–Harmony (Museum of Jewish Heritage)

April 14–American Buffalo (Circle In the Square); To My Girls (Second Stage/Kiser)

April 19–How I Learned to Drive (MTC/Samuel J. Friedman)

April 20–for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (Booth)

April 23–Wedding Band (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)

April 24–Funny Girl (August Wilson)

April 25–The Skin of Our Teeth (LTC/Vivian Beaumont)

April 26–A Strange Loop (Lyceum)

April 27–Mr. Saturday Night (Nederlander)

April 28–Macbeth (Longacre)

April 30–The Bedwetter (Atlantic Theater Company)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

June 1–To Kill a Mockingbird re-opens (Belasco)

July 21–The Kite Runner (Hayes)

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

2022

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, Cinderella, The Ohio State Murders, The Piano Lesson

2022-23

Black Orpheus, Dancin’, Pal Joey, Square One

2023 and Beyond

Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby

Future--Our Town; Death of a Salesman; 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

2021-22 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays

Birthday Candles

Chicken and Biscuits

Clyde’s

Dana H. (transfer from Off-Broadway)

Is This A Room (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Lehman Trilogy (transfer from Off-Broadway)

The Minutes

Pass Over (previously presented Off-Broadway)

Skeleton Crew (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Play Revivals

American Buffalo

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

How I Learned to Drive

Lackawanna Blues (previously produced Off-Broadway)

Macbeth

Plaza Suite

The Skin of Our Teeth

Slave Play (return engagement)

Take Me Out

Trouble in Mind

New Musicals

Diana

Flying Over Sunset

The Little Prince

MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical

Mr. Saturday Night

Mrs. Doubtfire

Paradise Square

Six

A Strange Loop (previously presented Off-Broadway in a different production)

Musical Revivals

Beetlejuice (return engagement)

Caroline or Change

Company

Funny Girl 

Waitress (return engagement)

Specialties

Bruce Springsteen on Broadway (return engagement)

David Bryne’s American Utopia (return engagement)

Freestyle Love Supreme (return engagement)

Hugh Jackman, Sutton Foster and cast in “The Music Man”.Credit: Joan Marcus

A scene from the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella.
Credit: Tristam Kenton

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on January 30, 2022