Around The Town

Broadway Update

Imitation of Life Musical in Development

By: David Sheward

June 30, 2023: A new musical based on Imitation of Life, the Fannie Hurst novel and the classic Hollywood film version and subsequent remake, is in development. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Sweat) authors the book and EGOT recipient John Legend will compose the score and write the lyrics. Tony nominee Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed) directs. A private industry reading took place on April 24-28.

Louise Beavers and Claudette Colbert (1934).

Imitation of Life Musical in Development

By: David Sheward

June 30, 2023: A new musical based on Imitation of Life, the Fannie Hurst novel and the classic Hollywood film version and subsequent remake, is in development. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Sweat) authors the book and EGOT recipient John Legend will compose the score and write the lyrics. Tony nominee Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed) directs. A private industry reading took place on April 24-28. 

Lana Turner and Juanita Moore (1959) in Imitation of Life.

The Fannie Hurst novel was published in 1933. Universal Pictures produced two different film versions. The first was released in 1934 and starred Claudette Colbert, Louise Beavers, and Fredi Washington. The 1959 remake was headlined by Lana Turner, Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner. Moore was Oscar-nominated for Best Actress and Kohner for Best Supporting Actress. The storyline focuses on the 1920s friendship of Bea Pullman, a white businesswoman and Delilah Johnston, an African-American who serves as her maid and cook and their difficult relationships with their daughters. Delilah’s daughter Peola is light-skinned, passes for white and is determined to lead a new and dangerous life. Delilah’s secret recipe for pancakes makes both mothers rich, but their economic prosperity doesn’t cure the ills of racism.

“When I met with Universal Theatrical Group to talk about a possible collaboration, the only title I wanted to discuss was Imitation of Life. I’d long been a fan of the book and I knew there was a passionate, contemporary, and newly relevant adaptation of this story uniquely suited to musical theater. To my mind the only collaborators for this beautifully complex, wholly American story are Lynn Nottage and John Legend; thankfully, they agreed to join me immediately in bringing their creativity and immense talents to this re-telling. We are thrilled to partner with UTG as we turn a whole new lens on Imitation of Life, using this great American art form to illuminate and uplift Black life,” notes director Liesl Tommy in a statement.

2023-24 Broadway/Off-Broadway Calendar

July 9–Orpheus Descending (TFANA/Polonsky Shakespeare Center)

July 20–Here Lies Love (Broadway)

July 20–Flex (Mitzi Newhouse/LCT)

July 24–The Cottage (Hayes)

Aug. 3–Back to the Future (Marquis)

Aug. 10–The Shark Is Broken (Golden)

Aug. 20–El Mago Pop (Barrymore)

Aug. 27–The Tempest (Delacorte/Shakespeare in the Park)

Sept. 7–Purlie Victorious (begins previews; opening TBA) (Music Box)

Sept. 19–Merrily We Roll Along (begins previews; opening TBA) (Hudson)

Sept. 28–Melissa Etheridge: My Window (Circle in the Square)

September–Here We Are (The Shed Griffin Theater)

September–The Refuge Plays (Roundabout/NYTW/Laura Pels)

October–I Need That (Roundabout/AA)

Oct. 4–DruidO’Casey (Public/NYU Skirball Center)

Oct. 12–Gutenberg! The Musical (James Earl Jones)

Nov. 13–Harmony (Barrymore)

Nov. 19–Hell’s Kitchen (Public)

Nov.–Appropriate (Second Stage/Hayes)

Nov.–Spain (Second Stage/Terry Kiser)

Dec. 5–Manhatta (Public)

Jan. 9–Prayer for the French Republic (MTC/Friedman)

Feb.–Doubt: A Parable (Roundabout/AA)

Feb.–The Ally (Public)

March–Sally and Tom (Public)

April–Cabaret 

April–Jordans (Public)

June–Cats (Perelman Performing Arts Center)

Fall 2023

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding (MTC/Friedman)

I Can Get It for You Wholesale (CSC)

Poor Yella Rednecks (MTC/City Center Stage I)

Winter 2023-24

An Enemy of the People

I Love You So Much I Could Die (NYTW)

Pericles (CSC)

Spring 2024

Here There Are Blueberries (NYTW)

Home (Roundabout/AA)

Jonah (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

Paula Vogel Play (Second Stage/Hayes)

Wine in the Wilderness (CSC)

The Wiz

Fall 2024

King Lear (Kenneth Branagh Theater Company/The Shed)

2024-25

Smash

Future–Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death; Black Orpheus; BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical; Come Fall in Love–The DDLJ Musical; The Devil Wears Prada; Ella: An American Miracle; Everybody’s Talking About Jamie; Frida, the Musical; Game of Thrones; The Great Gatsby; The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation; High Noon; Imitation of Life; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; The Karate Kid; La La Land; Lempicka; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; The Mousetrap; Nancy Drew and the Mystery at Spotlight Manor; Our Town; Pal Joey; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; The Secret Garden; Sing Street; Soul Train; Water for Elephants; What a Wonderful World; The Who’s Tommy; Working Girl