Broadway Update: What’s Up with Into the Woods and Piano Lesson?
By: David Sheward
July 22, 2022: The Encores! revival of Into the Woods is such a big hit that there are rumors it will extend beyond its relatively brief limited run ending Aug. 21 at the St. James. But the revival of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson starring Samuel L. Jackson, Danielle Brooks and John David Washington is slated to begin previews at the St. James on Sept. 19. Johnny Oleksinski of the New York Post reported last week that Woods producers want their show to stay put and have Piano Lesson move to the Barrymore where Paradise Square has just closed. (Side note: Paradise producer Garth Drabinsky has been placed on Equity’s Do Not Work list for “outstanding payments and benefits, and a continued pattern of abuse and neglect that created an unsafe and toxic work environment.”) There has been no confirmation on Woods extending or Piano Lesson changing its venue. Tickets are not being sold for Woods beyond Aug. 21 and tickets are being sold for Piano Lesson at the St. James from Sept. 19 until Jan. 8, 2023.
The St. James has mostly housed musicals including such smash hits as The King and I, The Pajama Game, Hello, Dolly!, Barnum, The Secret Garden, and The Producers. Among the few straight plays the theater has played host to are Luther (1963), Tennessee Williams’ short-lived Vieux Carre (1977), Desire Under the Elms (2009) and Kevin Kline starring in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter (2017). There was also What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, based on Raymond Carver’s short story. But that was only a fictional show, filmed at the St. James as part of the 2014 Oscar-winning Birdman movie starring Michael Keaton.
Meanwhile, Oleksinski mentioned in the Post that a Kander and Ebb revue called New York, New York, produced by Sonia Friedman, is supposed to go into the St. James in the Spring of 2023. Again, no confirmation or mention about this show on the website for Friedman’s production company.
Incidentally, Cheyenne Jackson (Finian’s Rainbow, Xanadau) will take over Gavin Creel’s dual Woods roles of the Wolf and Cinderella’s Prince from July 24-Aug. 2 while Creel is in residence at the O’Neill National Musical Theatre Conference starring in the show he wrote Walk on Through: Confessions of a Museum Novice. Jackson played the roles in a Hollywood Bowl summer production of Woods in 2019. Understudy Jason Forbach will take over the double roles from Aug. 3-5. Creel returns on Aug. 6. I saw Forbach covering for Brian d’Arcy James as the Baker.
So if Woods does not extend at the St. James and Piano does move in, that leaves the possibility of ITW just ending its limited run or moving to another theater, possibly the Barrymore, or even the Nederlander where Mr. Saturday Night starring Billy Crystal will close on Sept. 4. Rumor again has it that Sing Street, which played Off-Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop in 2019, might snatch up the Barrymore, but nothing is certain or confirmed. Sing Street, based on the 2016 film about a group of Dublin high-school students forming a rock band, was slated to transfer to Broadway in 2020, but plans were halted by the COVID pandemic. That show is slated to play the Huntington Theater in Boston Aug. 26-Oct. 2.
2022-23 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule
July 21–The Kite Runner (Hayes)
Aug. 25–Kinky Boots (Stage 42)
Aug. 30–As You Like It (Delacorte)
Sept. 19–The Piano Lesson (St. James) (previews begin; opening TBA)
Sept. 22–Sesame Street: The Musical (Theater Row)
Sept. 24–Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge (Public Theater) (previews begin; opening TBA)
Sept. 27–A Raisin in the Sun (Public Theater) (previews begin; opening TBA)
Oct. 2–Leopoldstadt (Longacre)
Oct. 6–1776 (Roundabout/AA)
Oct. 9–Death of a Salesman (Hudson)
Oct. 20–Topdog/Underdog (Golden)
Oct. 26–Straight Line Crazy (The Shed/Griffin)
Oct. 28–Where We Belong (Public Theater) (previews begin; opening TBA)
Oct. 30–A Man of No Importance (CSC)
October–Catch as Catch Can (Playwrights Horizons); Downstate (Playwrights Horizons)
Nov. 2–Where the Mountain Meets the Sea (MTC/City Center Stage I)
Nov. 3–Almost Famous (Bernard Jacobs)
Nov. 4–Plays for the Plague Year (Public Theater) (previews begin; opening TBA)
Nov. 10–Kimberly Akimbo (Booth)
Nov. 17–& Juliet (Sondheim)
Nov. 20–KPOP (Circle in the Square)
Dec. 1–Ain’t No Mo (Belasco)
Dec. 4–A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical (Broadhurst)
Dec. 11–Some Like It Hot (Shubert)
Dec. 20–The Collaboration (MTC/Freidman)
February–The Trees (Playwrights Horizons)
March–Regretfully So the Birds Are (Playwrights Horizons)
April 13–Camelot (Lincoln Center/Vivian Beaumont)
May–Wet Brain (Playwrights Horizons)
Fall 2022 (no dates yet)
Between Riverside and Crazy (Second Stage/Hayes)
the bandaged place (Roundabout/Underground)
Camp Siegfried (Second Stage/Tony Kiser)
Cost of Living (MTC/Friedman)
Summer, 1976 (MTC/City Center Stage II)
2022-23 (no dates or theaters yet)
Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, Black Orpheus, Cinderella, Come Fall in Love–The DDLJ Musical, Dancin’, The Ohio State Murders, Pal Joey, Square One
Dark Disabled Stories (Public)
The Wanderers (Roundabout/Laura Pels)
Prime Facie (a Shubert theater TBA)
The Thanksgiving Play (Second Stage/Hayes)
Good Bones (Public)
Poor Yella Rednecks (MTC/City Center Stage II)
2023 and Beyond
Game of Thrones, The Great Gatsby
Future–Good Night, Oscar; The Devil Wears Prada; The Griswolds’ Family Vacation; The Karate Kid; Back to the Future; Our Town; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; Sing Street; Smash; Soul Train; The Who’s Tommy
Gavin Creel and Julia Lester in “Into the Woods”. Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.