Curtain Call: Wives, Jazz and the 1960's
Broadway: The hit British musical, Six will open on Broadway in 2020. The musical, created by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss when they were students at Cambridge, tells the story of each of Henry VIII's six wives- Catherine of Aragon, Ann Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Ann of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr. The production features an all female cast and band as the audience learns the untold truths and the secrets of the monarch’s multiple unhappy marriages. Six is currently running in Chicago and will premiere in Massachusetts, Missouri and Alberta. Following a national tour in Britain, the new musical will open in February of next year. Critics swear it’s worth losing your head over.
Based on the beloved Rick Rioridan fantasy books, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief will open on Broadway following a national tour and an Off-Broadway residency. The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical will premiere on September 20th at the Longacre Theater. This limited engagement production tells the story of Percy who recently find out that he is the son of the Greek god, Poseidon. The cast of the national tour will reprise their role with Chris McCarrell as Percy joined by Izzy Figueroa, Jorrel Javier and Ryan Knowles. With a cult following of the book series, movie adaptations and now stage performances, the Broadway musical is sure to draw a large crowd of fans hopeful to witness the power of gods in sing song form.
Robert Schenkkan will premiere the sequel to his Tony-winning play, All The Way this fall. While All The Way told the story of Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, The Great Society follows Johnson’s four year term after his victory in the 1964 election. The play shows Johnson as he navigates the issues that saturated America in the 1960’s, including the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Brian Cox will play Johnson with Grantham Coleman as Martin Luther King Jr.. Previews begin September 6th leading to an opening date of October 1st to last for a twelve week engagement.
Off-Broadway/ Regional: The first musical ever premiered Off-Broadway by Filipino Americans will open on September 3rd at Theater Row. Felix Starro follows a famous faith healer in the Philippines who decides to take his business to San Francisco with his nineteen year old grandson as his assistant. Writer Lysley Tenorio adds Alan Ariano and Nacho Tambunting to the cast as her lead characters. This new musical from the Ma-Yi Theater Company tackles issues of immigration, spirituality and family in a fun and innovative way.
In the realm of famous royal wives, Jaclyn Backhaus’s new comedy, Wives, beings performances at Playwright’s Horizons on August 23rd. The play time hops to different so-called “Great Men” of history and the wives behind the facade. Purva Bedi, Mahira Kakkar, Sathya Sridharan, and Adina Verso join the cast in an effort to portray the truths behind revered men in history all around the world from a modern feminist perspective.
Anna Deavere Smith’s play, Fires in the Mirror, will premiere on November 11th at Signature Theater directed by Saheem Ali. Smith’s play acts as a response to the 1991 Brooklyn riots that broke out following the deaths of a young African American boy and a young Orthodox Jewish boy. Smith’s play is born out of over fifty interviews she conducted with members of the Black and Jewish communities. The Boys in the Band star, Michael Benjamin Washington will star in the production, scheduled to run until November 24th.
James Jorsling’s new play, (A)loft Modulation, reveals the hidden secrets behind the walls of 821 Sixth Avenue in the 1950’s and 60’s. This address housed many artists and visionaries who fought for purpose in a world sullied with social chaos. The most remarkable aspect of the performance occurs within the in-house jazz band led by saxophonist Jonathan Beshay who will improvise music nightly with each performance. Jorsling hopes to transport audiences back in time for a night at the Mezzanine Theater starting September 26th.
International: The Yiddish version of Fiddler on the Roof and the 1991 Broadway musical, The Secret Garden will open in Australia in 2020. The current Off-Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof will open at the Sydney Opera House’s Joan Sutherland Theater from September 10- October 31 of next year before moving to Melbourne’s Comedy Theater. The original Broadway creative team will bring The Secret Garden to life down under at the Sydney Lyric Theater starting August 4, 2020.
The West End production of Aladdin has recently come to a close on August 24th as the Prince Edward Theater makes room for its next Disney musical, Mary Poppins. Dean Wilson-John, Jade Ewen and Trevor Dion Nicholas led the cast of Aladdin for the past three years. Zizi Strallen will star as the titular character in the newest production accompanied by Charlie Stemp as Bert. Previews for the magical musical will begin October 23 preceding a November 13th opening date.
London’s new play, The Watsons, sets its cast including Olivier Award winner, Laura Wade. Based on Jane Austen’s incomplete novel, the production explores Austen’s legacy and the inconclusivity of unfinished work, especially regarding the characters written. Samuel West will direct the play premiering on September 20th at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Sam Alexander, Sally Bankes and Joe Bannister among others will join Wade as they unveil what may have happened after the unfinished story ends.