PLAYBILL PICKS: Playbill Contributors Share Titles They're Eager to See in Spring 2014

By Playbill Staff
01 Jan 2014



Sutton Foster in Violet.
Photo by Joan Marcus

CAREY PURCELL, Playbill.com Features Editor

Tales from Red Vienna. This play sounds fascinating. Exploring the effects that war has on women through the story of Heléna, who is struggling to survive financially after losing her husband in World War I, it's a story I think needs to be told. And who better to tell it than the force of nature that is Nina Arianda? One of the most entertaining and compelling women I've seen perform live, Arianda's return to the stage is eagerly awaited. After seeing her in Born Yesterday, where she made me laugh simply by screwing her face into different expressions while playing cards — without saying a single word — and her tour-de-force performance as Vanda in Venus in Fur, I can't wait to watch her take on a darker and more serious role.

A Doll's House. I've never seen Ibsen's story of maritial discontent and blackmail performed before, but I've wanted to since I read the play in high school English class. I still remember cheering when Nora slammed the door on Torvald, and I am thrilled the play is coming to Brooklyn Academy of Music. (I'm also excited that it's directed by a woman — Carrie Cracknell.) Given the evolving role that marriage plays in present-day society, as well as the ongoing debate about the roles of men and women, I think A Doll's House couldn't be more timely, and I can't wait to hear Nora slam that door in the Harvey Theater.

Violet. I was so moved by Violet when I saw it at City Center as part of the Encores! Off-Center series. The story, the music AND the Sutton. Sutton Foster's charm and charisma are so well-suited to the role of Violet, to say nothing of her incredible voice. The themes of the story — inner and outer beauty, faith, superficiality — are timeless, and Foster portrays Violet's loving spirit, as well as her insecurity and anger, so wonderfully. I can't wait to hear her sing "On My Way" in the American Airlines Theater.

Cabaret. Alan Cumming as the Emcee. Need I say more? I probably don't, but I will. Everything about this production excites me. Michelle Williams has given amazing performances in her recent movies and I'm incredibly excited to see her take on Sally Bowles, and I think Danny Burstein is one of the best actors onstage in New York. The story and the music are just as exciting as the cast. And it's all coming back to Studio 54.

Macbeth. No, I'm not sick of Macbeth yet. I love the play, and I've enjoyed something about every production of it I've seen in the past two years. I always find something new to think about after seeing this story of ambition and murder, and I'm confident Kenneth Branagh, one of the world's greatest interpreters of Shakespeare, won't fail to bring something new to his production. I'm sure Branagh and co-director Rob Ashford will find exciting ways to present the play in the vast setting that is the Park Avenue Armory.

I'm also looking forward to Frank Langella take on King Lear, Neil Patrick Harris strapping on some heels in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Harvey Fierstein's new play Casa Valentina and Idina Menzel's return to Broadway in If/Then.  Continued...