Around The Town

Broadway Update

By: David Sheward

March 3, 2022: James Earl Jones, whose theatrical career spans six decades, will become the second African-American theatre artist and the only living person to have a Broadway theater named after them when the Cort Theater is renamed the James Earl Jones Theater. (Playwright August Wilson was the first African-American to be so honored.) The Cort Theater, built in 1912, has had extensive renovations done during the COVID pandemic shutdown and will be formally reopening with a dedication ceremony this coming summer.

James Earl Jones

B’way Update: Cort to Be Renamed James Earl Jones; POTUS Opens in May

By: David Sheward

March 3, 2022: James Earl Jones, whose theatrical career spans six decades, will become the second African-American theatre artist and the only living person to have a Broadway theater named after them when the Cort Theater is renamed the James Earl Jones Theater. (Playwright August Wilson was the first African-American to be so honored.) The Cort Theater, built in 1912, has had extensive renovations done during the COVID pandemic shutdown and will be formally reopening with a dedication ceremony this coming summer.

Jones made his full Broadway debut in 1958 at the Cort in Sunrise at Campobello. (He was an understudy for a flop call The Egghead in 1957.) He has since won two Tony Awards for The Great White Hope (1968) and Fences (1987); seven Drama Desk Awards; the Kennedy Center Honor; a National Arts Medal; and two Emmy Awards in the same year (1990) for Gabriel’s Fire and Heat Wave. His numerous additional Broadway credits include Les Blancs, The Iceman Cometh, Of Mice and Men, Paul Robeson, Othello (opposite Christopher Plummer), On Golden Pond, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Driving Miss Daisy, You Can’t Take It With You, and The Gin Game. At the Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, he has played the Prince of Morocco in The Merchant of Venice, Claudius in Hamlet, and the title role in King Lear (captured on video for PBS’ Theater in America series). Also Off-Broadway he appeared in The Blacks, Boesman and Lena, and The Cherry Orchard. Probably best known as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars films, Jones’s movie roles range from Dr. Strangelove and The Comedians opposite Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor to Coming to America with Eddie Murphy to Field of Dreams.

James Earl Jones and Paul Sorvino in King Lear

“The Shubert Organization is so incredibly honored to put James—an icon in the theatre community, the Black community, and the American community—forever in Broadway’s lights,” said Robert E. Wankel, Shubert CEO and board chair. “That James deserves to have his name immortalized on Broadway is without question.” 

“For me standing in this very building sixty-four years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today,” said Mr. Jones of Shubert’s decision to rename the Cort Theatre in his honor. “Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors.”

In other news, a new Broadway play has been announced for this spring. POTUS: or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Great Women Trying to Keep Him Alive will begin preview performances at the Shubert Theater on April 14 with a May 9 opening for a limited engagement through Aug. 14. The plot focuses on a PR gaffe committed by a fictional president which spins into an international crisis and the seven women of his staff who save his ass.

Rachel Dratch on SNL Credit: Saturday Night Live/NBC

The comedy by Selina Fillinger (making her Broadway debut) will be directed by Tony winner Susan Stroman and will feature an all-female cast including Tony Award nominee Lilli Cooper (Tootsie, The Good Fight); Screen Actors Guild Award winner Lea DeLaria (Orange is the New Black, The Rocky Horror Show); Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live, Wine Country); Emmy Award winner Julianne Hough (Footloose, Safe Haven) ; Suzy Nakamura (Dr. Ken, Horrible Bosses 2, Avenue 5); Tony Award winner Julie White (The Little Dog Laughed, Nurse Jackie, Transformers); and Grammy, Emmy & Tony Award nominee Vanessa Williams (Into the Woods, Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives). 

Director Susan Stroman stated, “I could not be more excited to be headed to the Shubert Theatre this spring with Selina Fillinger and POTUS. Selina’s wickedly funny satire questions how complicit we really are in the woes of the world — and what would happen if we simply stood back instead of continuing to empower the leaders who got us to where we are in the first place. Truly, it’s an honor to work with her and this incredible cast of women. I am thrilled this comedy is part of Broadway’s return—we all need to experience a good laugh right now.”

“Growing up in Oregon, long before I could fathom working on Broadway, all I wanted was to glimpse it,” says playwright Selina Fillinger. “To be premiering my play at the Shubert, with this extraordinary cast and the legendary director, Susan Stroman, is quite literally the stuff of dreams. I hope the show offers joy, folly, and the strength to keep fighting at a time when the world needs all three.”

To Kill a Mockingbird flew away from the Shubert because its box office was weakened by the omicron surge and will fly to the Belasco to re-open in June. POTUS appears to be a summer filler for the theater until a big show (as yet unknown, possibly Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella or maybe the Off-Broadway transfer Kimberly Akimbo) arrives in the fall. It’s not clear if POTUS will be eligible for 2021-22 Tony Awards since the Tonys have not announced any firm dates for nominations or the awards ceremony itself. Normally, any show opening after the end of April is considered part of the next season, but COVID has thrown a wrench into everything. Probably POTUS will be in the running for 2022-23.

2021-22 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule

March 3–On Sugarland (NYTW)

March 8–Confederates (Signature)

March 9–The Chinese Lady (Public Theater/Ma-Yi Theater Company)

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)

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

April 14–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 21–Hangmen (Golden)

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 9–POTUS or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Great Women Trying to Keep Him Alive (Shubert)

May 17–Golden Shield (MTC/City Center)

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

June 2–what the end will be (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

July 21–The Kite Runner (Hayes)

Summer 2022–Richard III; As You Like It (Delacorte)

Nov. 10–Kimberly Akimbo (theater TBA)

Fall 2022

1776 (Roundabout/AA)

A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical

Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)

the bandaged place (Roundabout/Underground)

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

Winter 2022-23

The Wanderers (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

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)

Hangmen (previously presented 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 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)

Originally Posted on The David Desk 2 on March 2, 2022