10 Musicals Due for a Broadway Revival

Lists   10 Musicals Due for a Broadway Revival
From Tony-winning favorites to rarely seen short-lived gems, musical theatre fans are still waiting to see these shows return to Broadway.
Barbra Streisand in<i> Funny Girl</i>
Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl

Over the past year musical theatre fans were able to check some long-awaited revivals off their “overdue” checklist, including Sunset Boulevard, Sunday in the Park With George, Falsettos, Miss Saigon, and Hello, Dolly!, not to mention the upcoming return of Once On This Island, which will be re-imagined with a new instrumental and vocal soundscape.

Last summer, Playbill published our revival wishlist. With several shows on that list have either made it back to Broadway, or announced plans to do so—from the aforementioned as well as the upcoming Dreamgirls, My Fair Lady, and The Secret Garden—we decided a new list was in order.

Here’s a look at some additions to our list, and some shows we are still waiting to see.

1. Grand Hotel

The cast of <i>Grand Hotel</i>
The cast of Grand Hotel Martha Swope

Tommy Tune’s spectacular original, which placed the orchestra in an onstage platform above the stage—and in full view of the audience—premiered on Broadway in 1989 to critical acclaim. Based on the 1929 novel and 1932 MGM film of the same title, the musical features a score by Robert Wright and George Forrest, with additional character-driven music by Maury Yeston. The intermingling lives of hotel guests and staff were introduced to the audience through an ever-turning revolving door. The original featured star turns from late Tony winner Michael Jeter, as well as Jane Krakowski, Lilianne Montevecchi, as well as the late David Carroll, who was succeeded by Brent Barrett. Tune won Tony Awards for his work as director and choreographer, and it would be a thrill to see the production return.

2. Rags

Judy Kuhn and Lonny Price in Rags Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Written by composer Charles Strouse (Annie), lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), and late Fiddler on the Roof book writer Joseph Stein, the original 1986 Broadway production of Rags ran for only 22 performances, but is remembered for its sweeping, Tony-nominated score. The musical about the Jewish-European immigrant experience in America at the turn of the century, was born out of numerous requests Stein received to write a sequel to Fiddler. The melodic score includes such stand-outs as “Children of the Wind,” “Brand New World,” “Yankee Boy,” and “Blame It On the Summer Night.” The show’s writers (and its fans) have long-hoped that Rags will one day get its due on Broadway—all eyes are on a revised version of Rags that is set to premiere at Goodspeed this fall.

3. Mame

Angela Lansbury in Mame.
Angela Lansbury in Mame. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

Last season marked the triumphant return of two musical theatre treasures: a radiant Bette Midler in Jerry Herman’s Tony-winning crowd-pleaser Hello, Dolly!. The timing feels ripe for a revival of Herman’s other hit musical Mame, which premiered in 1966 starring Angela Lansbury. The musical based on Patrick Dennis’ 1955 novel about the life of 1920s eccentric socialite Mame Dennis hasn’t been revived on Broadway since 1983 with Angela Lansbury (who originated the role in the original 1966 production and took home the Tony Award for her performance).

4. City of Angels

James Naughton and Gregg Edelman in City of Angels
James Naughton and Gregg Edelman in City of Angels Martha Swope

The 1990 Tony Award-winning musical features music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and a book by Larry Gelbart. Staged in split screen format between the real world (color) and fiction (in black and white film noir), City of Angels centers on a crime novelist adapting his latest work into a screenplay as his marriage falls apart.

5. Kiss of the Spider Woman

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993): “Extraordinary. A great, important script written by Terrence McNally.” Martha Swope

Harold Prince’s current Broadway retrospective Prince of Broadway serves as a reminder of the impact his innovative shows have had on Broadway, a handful of which have not been revived since their premiere. Among them is the Tony-winning musical Kiss of the Spider Woman. John Kander and Fred Ebb teamed up with playwright Terrence McNally for the 1993 adaptation of Manuel Puig’s novel, which won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Staged as a dazzling vehicle for Chita Rivera, fantasy and brutality combine in this politically-charged musical that would be thrilling to see return in its original staging.

6. Parade

Brent Carver and Carolee Carmello in Parade.
Brent Carver and Carolee Carmello in Parade. Joan Marcus

Another Prince-directed musical that feels primed for a return is the Jason Robert Brown-Alfred Uhry musical Parade. Based on the true story of a Brooklyn-born Jewish man falsely accused of raping and murdering a young girl in 1913 Atlanta—a city that was still influenced by the dream of confederate glory—Parade opened on Broadway in 1998 and took home the 1999 Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score. A star-studded 2015 concert staging at David Geffen Hall starring Laura Benanti and Jeremy Jordan, reminded audiences how deeply affective and ahead of its time this musical was.

7. 1776

Ronald Holgate and cast Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Politics are at the forefront of nearly every conversation these days, and Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone’s hit 1969 musical about America’s Founding Fathers seems due for a timely revival. Exploring the complexities and hypocrisies involved in the creation of the U.S. constitution, 1776 was recently seen in a multicultural Encores! staging that brought a new, contemporary vitality to the musical, especially in the era of Hamilton.

Show’s we’re still waiting for:

8. Titanic

Cast of <i>Titanic</i>
Cast of Titanic Joan Marcus

A planned Broadway revival of Maury Yeston and Peter Stone’s Tony-winning musical Titanic—reimagined as an intimate chamber production—has yet to materialize. U.K. director Thom Southerland was attached to helm the revival that was postponed in 2014 due to the lack of an available theatre. The production was recently announced to launch a new U.K. tour in 2018.

9. Funny Girl

Barbra Streisand in<i> Funny Girl</i>
Barbra Streisand in the Broadway production of Funny Girl Friedman-Abeles/NYPL

More than any other Broadway classic, Funny Girl seems to have had the most on-again-off-again relationship with Broadway. The 1964 Jule Styne-Bob Merrill musical officially launched Barbra Streisand into superstardom, and it has yet to return. It almost made a comeback in 2012, when it was announced that it would resurface with Lauren Ambrose, and Glee creator Ryan Murphy was at one point rumored to be interested in reviving it with Lea Michele as Fanny Brice. Broadway director Michael Mayer staged a recent London revival, starring Sheridan Smith, which earned praise from U.K. critics. With Streisand’s legendary original turn as Brice still looming large, perhaps no Broadway producer is brave enough to attempt to capture lightning in a bottle again.

10. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Zero Mostel in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
Zero Mostel in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

A spring 2015 Broadway revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which was initially announced to star Tony Award winner James Corden, was postponed following the news that its star would succeed Craig Ferguson as the new host of The Late Late Show. With Alex Timbers and the Nederlanders attached, fans are still hopeful that Forum will again delight audiences with some much-needed “comedy tonight.”

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