THE WEEK AHEAD, March 31-April 6: Best Man, End of the Rainbow Open on Broadway; Seminar Welcomes New Cast

Inside Track   THE WEEK AHEAD, March 31-April 6: Best Man, End of the Rainbow Open on Broadway; Seminar Welcomes New Cast
 
Playbill.com's weekly planner reminds you that the season's starriest political ticket hits Broadway… Judy Garland's Rainbow fades (and shimmers)… Blair Underwood is Stanley Kowalski… and the politics of Joe Alsop's life are examined — courtesy of John Lithgow. April showers us with new Broadway shows this WEEK AHEAD!
Tracie Bennett
Tracie Bennett Photo by Carol Rosegg

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Saturday, March 31
LAST CHANCE→ Soul singer extraordinaire Bettye LaVette ends her engagement at the Café Carlyle. The Grammy-winning songstress takes on pop, country and indie songs, all with her patented brassy brand of R&B-jazz flair. (Café Carlyle, 35 E. 76th St., at Madison Ave, info/tickets.)

Sunday, April 1
OPENING→ Gore Vidal's 1960 play about a tumultuous presidential primary — and the bad things that seemingly good people do to get elected — receives a starry election-year revival courtesy of director Michael Wilson (Dividing the Estate, The Orphans' Home Cycle). James Earl Jones leads the pack as the former President of the United States who is stricken with cancer and must choose to endorse one of two candidates — a young gun Senator (Eric McCormack) or a stately politician with some secrets (John Larroquette). The rest of the starry company, including Candice Bergen, Kerry Butler, Michael McKean, Angela Lansbury, Donna Hanover and more make up the ragtag team of political adversaries, campaign managers, journalists, lobbyists and family members, all out to try and shape the political landscape. (Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

LAST CHANCE→ Members of the debut company of Theresa Rebeck's biting new comedy Seminar — including Alan Rickman, Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater — will exit the show. Succeeding the trio (starting April 3) in the play about a snarky literary lion and the students he tortures will be Jeff Goldblum (succeeding Rickman), Zoe Lister-Jones and Justin Long. (Golden Theatre, 252 W. 45th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

GO→ Celebrate April Fool's Day with Fools for Love, a collection of love songs written by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk (The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown), Peter Mills and Steve Weiner (Iron Curtain) and Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (A Christmas Story, The Musical!). Up-and-comers like Playbill's own Kelechi Ezie will perform alongside Karl Josef Co, Kyle Eberlein, Charles Lowery IV, Jaygee Macapugay, Barry Shafrin, Sarah Statler and Nikki Switzer. (7 PM, Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 W. 42nd St., btwn. 9th & 10th Aves., info/tickets.) Monday, April 2
OPENING→ The last year of Judy Garland's life is chronicled in the bittersweet play with music End of the Rainbow. Britisher Tracie Bennett plays the troubled icon who is hoping to stage a career comeback while battling drug and alcohol addiction. Bennett earned rave reviews and an Olivier Award nomination during the production's London premiere. Directed by Tony winner Terry Johnson (La Cage aux Folles). (Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

Tuesday, April 3
PREVIEWS→ Tennessee Williams' classic A Streetcar Named Desire gets a new life and a multi-racial cast, thanks to producer Stephen Byrd (the purveyor of the 2008 all-African-American revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Blair Underwood, Nicole Ari Parker and Daphne Rubin-Vega star, with Emily Mann (Anna in the Tropics, Miss Witherspoon) directing. Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter and New Orleans native Terence Blanchard will provide the score to Williams' famous French Quarter-set drama. (Officially opens April 22. Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., info/tickets.)

PREVIEWS→ Raúl Esparza stars in Alan Menken and Glenn Slater's newest Broadway musical, Leap of Faith, based on the 1992 Steve Martin comedy of the same name. Esparza plays Jonas Nightingale, a swindling preacher who tricks a small town in Kansas out of their hard-earned dollars. Jessica Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) plays the town sheriff determined not to give in to Nightingale's deceptive yarn-spinning. The script is by Side Man Tony winner Warren Leight and "LOF" screenwriter Janus Cercone. (Officially opens April 26. St. James Theatre, 246 W. 44th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

GO→ Chicago star Amra-Faye Wright is Sittin' on Top of the World when she returns to the stage at Feinstein's for her one-woman show that traces the triple-threat's journey from African farm girl to the star of one of Broadway's longest-running hits — via songs from the Great American Songbook (Through April 5, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, 540 Park Ave., at 61st St, info/tickets.)

Wednesday, April 4
PREVIEWS→ Tony winner John Lithgow plays powerful Washington political commentator Joseph Alsop in the fictionalized biographical play The Columnist. It's the dawn of the 1960s, and the height of the Cold War, and Alsop is at the top of his game, wielding enormous influence in the political arena thanks to his popular syndicated newspaper column. His character comes into question when the KGB tries to bribe him after taking pictures of Alsop in a homosexual liaison with a Soviet agent. Also starring Tony winner Boyd Gains, Margaret Colin, Stephen Kunken and Grace Gummer. Written by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn (Proof) and directed by Tony winner Daniel Sullivan. (Officially opens April 25. Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., Click here for Playbill Club previews tickets.)

Thursday, April 5
PREVIEWS→ After a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway run at the Vinyeard Theatre last fall, Nicky Silver's The Lyons transfers to Broadway, with its original cast intact. The dark comedy centers around a dysfunctional family confined (for much of the play) to the hospital room of their terminally ill patriarch (Dick Latessa). Linda Lavin plays the cynical, overpowering mother who, when not berating her kids, dreams of what her life (and her new house) will look like after her husband passes. (Officially opens April 23. Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St., btwn. 6th & 7th Aves., Click here for Playbill Club previews tickets.)

Friday, April 6
PREVIEWS→ One Man, Two Guvnors, one of the hottest West End tickets, comes to Broadway with original leading man James Corden in tow. Based on Carlo Goldoni's commedia dell'arte classic The Servant of Two Masters, this Richard Bean adaptation finds a portly manservant forced to juggle two masters in order to feed his appetite. Nicholas Hytner's creative staging of this face-paced farce employs the use of an onstage "skiffle" band performing original songs by Grant Olding. (Officially opens April 18. Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., click here for Playbill Club previews tickets.)

Blake Ross is the editor of Playbill magazine. Follow her on Twitter @PlaybillBlake.

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