Around The Town

Broadway Update

Sunset Boulevard to Transfer; Smash Workshop; Best Play Contenders

By: David Sheward

January 4, 2024: The minimalist revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard which is about to close in London, will transfer to Broadway. A somewhat vaguely worded press release announced that the show, directed by Jamie Lloyd, is indeed making the transatlantic leap sometime during this year. Former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls Nicole Scherzinger will repeat her star performance as Norma Desmond, along with Tom Francis as Joe Gillis, Grace Hodgett-Young as Betty Schaeffer, and David Thaxton as Max Von Mayerling. The musical version of Billy Wilder’s classic film of faded silent film Norma Desmond was last seen on Broadway in 2017 with Glenn Close recreating her Tony-winning performance from the 1995 production. No specific dates or a theater were reported in the press release. Johnny Olensinski of the New York Post reports the likely venue will be the St. James where Monty Python’s Spamalot is currently playing and the opening will be in the fall of 2024.

Tom Francis and Nicole Scherzinger in the London revival of “Sunset Boulevard” set for Broadway sometime in 2024. Credit: Marc Brenner

Sunset Boulevard to Transfer; Smash Workshop; Best Play Contenders

By: David Sheward

January 4, 2024: The minimalist revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard which is about to close in London, will transfer to Broadway. A somewhat vaguely worded press release announced that the show, directed by Jamie Lloyd, is indeed making the transatlantic leap sometime during this year. Former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls Nicole Scherzinger will repeat her star performance as Norma Desmond, along with Tom Francis as Joe Gillis, Grace Hodgett-Young as Betty Schaeffer, and David Thaxton as Max Von Mayerling. The musical version of Billy Wilder’s classic film of faded silent film Norma Desmond was last seen on Broadway in 2017 with Glenn Close recreating her Tony-winning performance from the 1995 production. No specific dates or a theater were reported in the press release. Johnny Olensinski of the New York Post reports the likely venue will be the St. James where Monty Python’s Spamalot is currently playing and the opening will be in the fall of 2024.

Olensinki also reports that six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald will possibly become the sixth Mama Rose on Broadway in an upcoming production of Gypsy

In other news, Variety reports Smash, the stage version of the cult 2012-13 NBC TV series about the behind-the-scenes intrigue of making a Broadway musical, will have a workshop production for six weeks this month in preparation for a full production next season. Susan Stroman directs and Joshua Bergasse, who devised the dances for the series, choreographs. (This will be the first show Stroman directs without also choreographing.) The score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman will consist of songs they wrote for the series as well as new material. The book is by Tony winners Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Rick Elice (Jersey Boys).

Krysta Rodriguez

The cast for the workshop includes Brooks Ashmanskas (The Prom), Alex Brightman (Beetlejuice), Yvette Nicole Brown (TV’s Community), Bella Coppola (Six), newcomer Nihar Duvvuri, Casey Garvin (Some Like it Hot), Robyn Hurder (Moulin Rouge), Kristine Nielsen (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, The Gilded Age), Krysta Rodriguez (Into the Woods) and Jonalyn Saxer (Back to the Future). Rodriguez had a recurring role on the series and Nielsen appeared on one episode. 

Stereophonic Rumors: There are rumors that Stereophonic, David Adjmi’s well-reviewed, three-hour play about a rock group not unlike Fleetwood Mac recording an album vital to their careers, which recently closed at Playwrights Horizons, may move into the Golden Theater. Playwrights has coyly announced that if you had missed the show, exciting news was on the way. This could mean a Broadway transfer, but it could also mean the release of a CD with Will Butler’s songs from the play. 

Will Stereophonic move to the Golden? Credit: Chelcie Parry

Best Play Speculation: If Stereophonic does transfer to Broadway, it will be a front-runner for the Best Play Tony. Right now there are’t many leading candidates for that category. The Shark Is Broken, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding and I Need That are possibilities but the Broadway straight play to receive the most rapturous reviews of the season so far is technically a revival. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Appropriate played Off-Broadway at the Signature Theater in 2015 and won an Obie Award. The current production presented by Second Stage at the Hayes Theater is on a limited run, earning raves for the production and Sarah Paulson’s lead performance. It could possibly support an extended commercial run in the same way The Humans did a few seasons back (not a strong possibility since there aren’t many suitable theaters available, especially if Stereophonic takes the Golden). Mary Jane, to be presented by Manhattan Theater Club at the Freidman, also had an earlier Off-Broadway run (at New York Theater Workshop). Both Appropriate and Mary Jane‘s Off-Broadway editions were totally different than their Off-Broadway incarnations. Prayer for the French Republican, another contender for Best Play also to be presented by MTC, will have essentially the same staging as it did Off-Broadway. 

Will Appropriate be considered for Best Play or Best Revival? Credit: Joan Marcus

There are precedents for this situation. In 1986, John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves and Athol Fugard’s The Blood Knot were nominated for Best Play though they had previously been presented Off-Broadway in the 1970s in different productions.  

In another twist, since the leading contenders for Best Plays all would be ineligible for new play status from the Drama Desks, Outer Critics, and New York Drama Critics Circle, the contrasts between their choices and the Tonys should be interesting.

In other theater news, Peter Marks has left his perch as theater critic for the Washington Post, taking a company buy-out. This move has caused seismic disruptions in the critical landscape. No replacement has been announced and Marks was one of the country’s leading reviewers, including New York, London and regional productions as well as DC offerings in his coverage. The shrinking of professional theater criticism continues into 2024.

Nicole Scherzinger in the London Sunset Boulevard. Credit: Marc Brenner

2023-24 Broadway/Off-Broadway Schedule

Winter 2023-24

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

Jan. 17–Public Obscenities (TFANA/Polonsky Center)

Jan. 21–Aristocrats (IRT)

Jan. 24–Once Upon a Mattress (Encores/City Center)

Jan. 26–Oh, Mary (Lortel)

Jan. 28–Days of Wine and Roses (Studio 54)

Jan. 30–Sunset Baby (previews begin; opening TBA) (Signature Theater)

Feb. 1–The White Chip (Frankel Theater/MCC Theater)

Feb. 1–Jonah (Roundabout/Laura Pels)

Feb. 3–Russian Troll Farm: A Workplace Comedy (Vineyard Theater)

Feb. 6–The Connector (MCC)

Feb. 11–Hamlet (Solo version with Eddie Izzard) (Greenwich House)

Feb. 13–The Apiary (Second Stage/Tony Kiser Theater)

Feb. 14–I Love You So Much I Could Die (NYTW)

Feb. 21–Jelly’s Last Jam (Encores/City Center)

Feb. 22–The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers (New World Stages)

Feb. 22–A Sign of the Times (New World Stages)

Feb. 25–The Seven Year Disappear (The New Group/Signature Center)

Feb. 26–Pericles (CSC)

Feb. 27–The Ally (Public)

Feb. 28–Brooklyn Laundry (MTC/City Center Stage I)

Feb. 29–Doubt: A Parable (Roundabout/AA)

Spring 2024

March 10–Dead Outlaw (Audible/Minetta Lane)

March 11–Corruption (LCT/Mitzi Newhouse)

March 12–My Son’s a Queer (But What Can You Do?) (Lyceum)

March 12–Teeth (Playwrights Horizons)

March 13–The Effect (The Shed/Griffin Theater)

March 14–The Notebook (Schoenfeld)

March 14–Ibsen’s Ghost (Primary Stages/59E59)

March 18–An Enemy of the People (Circle in the Square)

March 19–Fish (previews begin; opening TBA) (Keen Co./Theater Five) 

March 21–Water for Elephants (Imperial)

March 24–Philadelphia, Here I Come (IRT)

March 28–The Who’s Tommy (Nederlander)

March 28–Sally and Tom (Public) (previews begin; opening TBA)

April 2–Mary Jane (previews begin; opening TBA) (MTC/Friedman) 

April 2–Orlando (previews begin; opening TBA) (Signature Theatre)

April 5–Macbeth (an undoing) (TFANA/Polonsky Center)

April 11–The Outsiders (Jacobs)

April 11–Jordans (Public) (previews begin; opening TBA)

April 12–Staff Meal (previews begin; opening TBA) (Playwrights Horizons)

April 14–Lempicka (Longacre)

April 17–The Wiz (Marquis)

April 18–Suffs (Music Box)

April 20–Hell’s Kitchen (Shubert)

April 20/21–Cabaret (August Wilson)

April 22–The Heart of Rock and Roll (James Earl Jones)

April 24–Uncle Vanya (LCT/Vivian Beaumont)

April 25–Mother Play (Second Stage/Hayes)

April 30–Tony Nominations Announced

April 30–Three Houses (previews begin; opening TBA) (Signature Theatre)

April–Here There Are Blueberries (NYTW)

May 2–Wine in the Wilderness (previews begin; opening TBA) (CSC)

Summer 2024

June 5–Home (Roundabout/AA)

June 12–The Welkin (Atlantic Theater Company)

June 12–Titanic (Encores/City Center)

June 16–Tony Awards (David Koch Theater/Lincoln Center)

June–Cats (Perelman Performing Arts Center)

TBA–All of Me (The New Group/Signature Center)

2024

Sunset Boulevard

Fall 2024

King Lear (Kenneth Branagh Theater Company/The Shed)

2024-25

Our Town

Smash

Tammy Faye

Spring 2025

Show Boat (Target Margin/NYU Skirball)

Future–Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death; Beaches the Musical; Black Orpheus; BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical; Come Fall in Love–The DDLJ Musical; Death Becomes Her; 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; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; The Mousetrap; Nancy Drew and the Mystery at Spotlight Manor; Pal Joey; The Queen’s Gambit; Rear Window; The Nanny; The Normal Heart/The Destiny of Me; The Secret Garden; Sing Street; Soul Train; Stranger Things: The First Shadow; What a Wonderful World; Working Girl.

2023-24 Broadway Season Breakdown:

New Plays:

The Cottage

Grey House

I Need That

Jaja’s African Hair Braiding

Mother Play

Prayer for the French Republic

The Shark Is Broken

New Musicals:

Back to the Future

Days of Wine and Roses

Harmony

The Heart of Rock and Roll

Hell’s Kitchen

How to Dance in Ohio

Lempicka

The Notebook

Once Upon a One More Time

The Outsiders

Suffs

Water for Elephants

Play Revivals:

Appropriate

Doubt: A Parable

An Enemy of the People

Mary Jane

Purlie Victorious

Uncle Vanya

Musical Revivals:

Cabaret

Gutenberg! The Musical

Here Lies Love

Merrily We Roll Along

Monty Python’s Spamalot

The Who’s Tommy

The Wiz

Solos/Specialties:

Alex Edelman: Just for Us

Melissa Etheridge: My Window

My Son’s a Queer (But What Can You Do?)