As the flowers begin to bloom, so does the theater in New York. This spring is full of exciting new musicals and plays both on and off Broadway. Here is our list of the 10 most promising. Whether you're in the mood for a trenchant political drama or showstopping glitz, we've got you covered:
1. Admissions – First performance February 15
Jessica Hecht plays the head of admissions at an exclusive New England prep school. While she fights for a more diverse student body as part of her job, she has to reconcile her politics with her personal ambition for her white upper-middle-class son. Does that make her a good mother, or merely a hypocrite? Playwright Joshua Harmon has proved his talent for putting his finger on sore spots in our culture and then pressing hard with his previous plays, Bad Jews and Significant Other. This world premiere at Lincoln Center Theater is sure to be another uncomfortable yet necessary night at the theater.
2. Good for Otto – First performance February 20
The New Group's latest show easily wins the most exciting cast award: F. Murray Abraham, Rhea Perlman, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, and cabaret icon Kenny Mellman all appear on the same stage in a new play about a mental health facility on the brink of breakdown, right as its services are needed the most. Playwright David Rabe has shown an uncommon sensitivity for the American moment since his 1969 Tony-winning play Sticks and Bones, which took on the tough subject of returning Vietnam veterans at a time when the wounds were still fresh. Good for Otto has the potential to be just as insightful about today's perfect storm of crisis and austerity.
3. Angels in America – First performance February 23
Tony Kushner's monumental two-part drama returns to Broadway for the first time since its debut in 1993, when the AIDS epidemic was at its height. This revival offers a chance to look back with perspective on a play that not only addresses AIDS, but Reaganism, religion, and mental illness — issues that linger to this day. Nathan Lane stars as Roy Cohn, the infamous Cold warrior whose ghost has come back to haunt America recently. At seven-and-a-half hours spread out over two performances, Angels in America is definitely a commitment, but it promises to be a theatrical event you'll be talking about for the rest of your life.
4. Mean Girls – First performance March 12
Based on Tina Fey's hit 2004 movie, this new Broadway show is the most anticipated musical comedy of the season. It tells the story of Cady Heron, a teen who transfers straight from the African savanna to a suburban Illinois high school. There she encounters an apex predator of a different sort: Regina George. The show features an original score by Jeff Richmond (30 Rock) and Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde), with a book by Fey. Director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw (Aladdin) is Broadway's foremost purveyor of showstoppers, and we suspect he has one or two up his sleeve here.
5. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – First performance March 16
The world's most beloved book series flies into Broadway's Lyric Theatre this March with this eighth installment of the Harry Potter saga. The play has been a smashing success in London, where it won a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards. Presented in two parts, it arrives in New York with over 5 million copies of the script having already been sold in North America alone, something unprecedented for a new drama on Broadway. Still, most Potter fans will prefer to receive their dose of suspense and unexpected plot twists as they were intended to be delivered — onstage. There will be no spoilers here, beyond the prediction that this is going to be the overwhelming hit play of the Broadway season, and a strong contender for the Best Play Tony.
6. Miss You Like Hell – First performance March 20
Daphne Rubin-Vega stars in the role of Beatriz, an undocumented immigrant facing deportation who embarks on a perilous road trip with her 16-year-old daughter. This uncommon musical brings together the talents of Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes (the Elliot plays), singer-songwriter Erin McKeown, and director Lear deBessonet, who helmed last summer's Shakespeare in the Park production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The show will appear in the Public's Newman Theater, which has previously hosted the off-Broadway runs of Fun Home and Hamilton. If you're looking for boundary-pushing musical theater, this is the show for you.
7. Children of a Lesser God – First performance March 22
This is the first Broadway revival of Mark Medoff's 1980 Tony Award-winning play about a star-crossed romance at a school for the deaf. Joshua Jackson (Dawson's Creek) stars as James Leeds, an energetic new speech teacher. Former Miss Deaf America Lauren Ridloff makes her Broadway debut as Sarah Norman, a school janitor who refuses to abandon sign language, even though the school favors speaking and lip reading. Theatergoers looking for a good love story need look no further. This show is poised to steal our hearts this spring.
8. Yerma – First performance March 23
Billie Piper reprises her Olivier Award-winning role in this adaptation of Federico García Lorca's 1934 play, which has been transposed to 21st-century London. It tells the story of a woman obsessed with childbearing, despite her infertility. Anyone who saw the extraordinary revival of The Hairy Ape at Park Avenue Armory last season knows that seeing theater in the vast drill hall can be a breathtaking experience, especially when the designers make big, bold choices. Directed by Simon Stone, Yerma looks set to do just that: The action of the play will take place behind enormous glass walls, with the audience positioned on either side like spectators at the zoo.
9. The Gentleman Caller – First performance May 5
Once upon a time, Tennessee Williams was an unknown playwright, and William Inge was a barely known theater critic. Yet the creator of A Streetcar Named Desire and the writer of Picnic forged a deep connection before either of their careers took off, pushing each other forward in a world that was fundamentally hostile to men like them. This new drama comes from Philip Dawkins, who has become one of Chicago's leading playwrights. Produced by the resurgent Abingdon Theatre Company, it is set to play Greenwich Village's historic Cherry Lane Theatre, which would have been familiar to both Williams and Inge.
10. Log Cabin – First performance June 1
Jesse Tyler Ferguson stars in this world premiere play by Jordan Harrison, which shrewd readers might have already guessed is about gay conservatives. It takes place in the not-too-distant past and examines a breakdown in empathy that initiates a circular firing squad among former allies. Harrison's last play at Playwrights Horizons, Marjorie Prime, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, while another Harrison play, The Amateurs is currently playing a critically acclaimed run at the Vineyard. You won't want to miss what promises to be a scorching new comedy set in the age of political balkanization.
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson
- Abingdon Theatre Company
- Cherry Lane Theatre
- Jessica Hecht
- Lincoln Center Theater
- Daphne Rubin-Vega
- Nathan Lane
- David Rabe
- Joshua Harmon
- Harry Potter
- Ed Harris
- Amy Madigan
- Park Avenue Armory
- New Group
- Casey Nicholaw
- Angels in America
- Jordan Harrison
- Noma Dumezweni
- Curtis Edward Jackson
- Joshua Jackson
- Paul Thornley
- Federico García Lorca
- Lauren Ridloff
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