Some of the most anticipated productions of the spring Broadway season were previewed as part of the January 29 BroadwayCon First Look presentation.
BroadwayCon attendees were among the first to get a glimpse of 10 new productions slated to hit Broadway this spring, including Amélie, Anastasia, Bandstand, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Come From Away, Indecent, Miss Saigon, Significant Other, Sunday in the Park With George, and The Play That Goes Wrong.
Two London productions that are making their way to Broadway this spring taped video messages for BroadwayCon fans, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Christian Borle (Willy Wonka) and director Jack O’Brien (beginning March 28 at the Lunt-Fontanne); as well as the cast of The Play That Goes Wrong (beginning March 9 at the Lyceum). But, 9 other new shows previewed songs, scenes, and more as a teaser for what’s to come:
What We Learned: The big band musical requires its principal band members to play their own instruments onstage. Some came on board as musicians who were leaning toward acting, while other actors had to learn how to play an instrument—that includes the show’s leading man Corey Cott, who learned how to play the piano for his role.
What Was Performed: Co-stars Laura Osnes and Cott performed the world premiere of “This Is Life,” a brand-new romantic ballad that has been added since the show’s initial 2015 run at the Paper Mill Playhouse for the Broadway production.
When It Starts: Previews begin March 31 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.
2. Come From Away
What We Learned: The musical about a group of travelers whose planes were diverted to a small Newfoundland town during the events of 9/11, is very much an ensemble piece. Nearly every song in the score includes the full cast, except for a few characters whose stories are more isolated. One of them is Captain Beverley Bass, the first woman pilot to fly for American Airlines, who was sheltered in a hotel room awaiting word on when they would be able to return home.
What Was Performed: Cast member Jenn Colella, who plays Bass in the musical, performed “Me and the Sky,” a song exploring her character’s drive to break new ground.
When It Starts: Previews begin February 18 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.
3. Significant Other
What We Learned: Director Trip Cullman and playwright Joshua Harmon collaborated on the project for about three years, doing workshops and readings before its 2015 Off-Broadway world premiere at Roundabout Theatre Company. Much of the original Off-Broadway cast, including Gideon Glick and Lindsay Mendez, transfer with the production to Broadway. Cullman and Harmon said that the friendships the cast established Off-Broadway have strengthened over the past year-and-a-half, and that intimacy has deepened the onstage performances.
What Was Performed: Gideon Glick, who plays a gay 20-something looking for love in the city, performed a monologue in which his character describes the experience of meeting and seeing a guy for the first time.
When It Starts: Previews begin February 14 at the Booth Theatre.
4. Hello Again
What We Learned: Director Tom Gustafson and screenwriter Cory Krueckeberg, who also produced the film, said they are hoping to use Hello Again as a springboard to bring even more musicals to the screen.
What Was Performed: The producers screened a five-minute teaser including the “Montage” sequence with Cheyenne Jackson, as well as a new scene for the film between Jackson and Audra McDonald, which includes the new song “Beyond the Moon” (a disco dance track performed by McDonald).
When You Can See It: The film is in post-production now, and the producers expect to announce its festival premiere shortly.
5. Miss Saigon
What We Learned: If the duet of Kim and Chris are any indication, this production will be as moving as the original when it bows at the Broadway (the same theatre that hosted the show from 1991–2001).
What Was Performed: London revival stars Eva Noblezada and Alistair Brammer, who will repeat their performances on Broadway this spring, performed “The Last Night of the World.”
When It Starts: Previews begin March 1 at the Broadway Theatre.
What We Learned: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel was on hand to discuss her latest work that traces the creation, history, and controversy that surrounded Sholem Asch’s 1923 Broadway play God of Vengeance, a love story between two women. Vogel explained that the night it opened on Broadway, the cast was arrested for presenting a play that was deemed “immoral, obscene, and indecent.” The entire production was shut down. Vogel also revealed that God of Vengeance marked the first time two women ever kissed onstage in New York.
What Was Performed: Rather than a reading from the script, Vogel captivated the audience with her explanation of the origin of her Broadway debut play and its personal meaning.
When It Starts: Previews begin April 4 at the Cort Theatre.
What We Learned: Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen, the songwriters for the stage adaptation of the French film, shared their connection to the work. Messé disclosed a personal story about seeing the film for the first time shortly after the September 11 attacks. “I was in a really dark place, and I was blocked. I was pretty sure I’d never write another song again,” he said. “I remember seeing the film and crying, and going home, and songs just started pouring out of me. So when producers came to me and said, ‘If you could write any musical you wanted, what story would you want to tell?’ I knew immediately it would be Amélie.”
What Was Performed: Messé and Tyson performed “Thin Air,” a song written for Amélie’s love interest Nino (played by Adam Chanler-Berat). Cast members Harriett D. Foy, Alyse Alan Louis, and Maria-Christina Oliveras, who play Amélie’s co-workers, were also on hand to perform “A Better Haircut.”
When It Starts: Previews begin March 9 at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
8. Sunday in the Park With George
What We Learned: Jeanine Tesori, who served as the associate artistic director of Encores! Off-Center for the past five years, spoke about the upcoming Broadway transfer of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical that began as an Encores! Off-Center concert last fall. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford, the revival will re-open the historic Hudson Theatre—marking Broadway’s 41st theatre.
What Was Performed: In lieu of a performance, Tesori also offered a bit of history about the theatre, which opened in the 1920s. “The gentleman who owned the theatre died on the Titanic,” she said, “and he left his wife to run the theatre, which she did until 1929. She was the first woman to operate a theatre on her own. As a woman alone often in the room with men I love, I feel like her ghost is there, and I really hope that you will come by and see it.”
When It Starts: Previews begin February 11 at the Hudson Theatre.
What We Learned: Lyricist Lynn Ahrens told the audience that the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. gave her a completely new perspective on the story of a young woman who thinks she may or may not be the lost Princess Anastasia. “She is walking across a country to find out who she is and what’s she made of,” Ahrens said. “And I thought, ‘We are all doing that this year, and next year, and for however long it takes. So it put a new spin on the show to me.”
What They Performed: Ahrens introduced co-stars Christy Altomare and Derek Klena (who play Anya and Dmitry) to perform two numbers from the musical. Audiences were treated to another world-premiere song, a solo for Dmitry, which is brand-new for the Broadway production (re-written since its tryout at Hartford Stage). It was then Altomare’s turn to debut her take on Anastasia’s Oscar-nominated song, “Journey to the Past.” “Some of you may know this song, but what you do not know is the new place and location that it exists in our show, which is just absolutely fabulous and magical in every way,” she said. “This song brought Lynn and Stephen to the red carpet for the first time, and I’m so grateful that this song is bringing me to Broadway this season.” Altomare then closed the First Look presentation with a heart-stopping, full-voiced performance of the driving ballad.
When It Starts: Previews begin March 23 at the Broadhurst Theatre.