BROADWAY SPRING 2014 PREVIEW: Rocky, If/Then, Denzel Washington, Les MisÚrables, Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and More

By Robert Simonson
27 Dec 2013

James Franco
Photo by ABC

Harvey Fierstein is a frequent presence on Broadway, though in recent years it's been in connection to musicals, either as a star or librettist. This spring, he returns to his playwriting roots with Casa Valentina, the story of a 1962 Catskills bungalow colony that catered to a very special clientele: Heterosexual men who enjoyed dressing and acting as women. Manhattan Theatre Club presents the premiere, which begins April 1 and is directed by Joe Mantello.

Receiving his Broadway debut this spring is idiosyncratic playwright Will Eno, whose The Realistic Jones will star Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, Marisa Tomei and Tracy Letts as two neighboring couples who find out they share much more than identical names and houses. Also netting his Broadway debut is writer Eric Coble, whose The Velocity of Autumn will star Estelle Parsons and play the Booth starting April 1. John Patrick Shanley's career has being going on far longer than Eno's and Coble's, but his latest, Outside Mullingar, still represents only his second Broadway outing, and his first since the 2005 success Doubt. The story of Anthony and Rosemary, two introverted Irish misfits approaching 40, it will open at MTC's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre Jan. 23. Debra Messing and Brían F. O'Byrne star, and Doug Hughes directs. Transferring from Off-Broadway, meanwhile, is Bronx Bombers, the third sports-oriented play in as many seasons from playwright Eric Simonson. Peter Scolari stars as Yogi Berra in the Yankees-related yarn at Circle in the Square beginning Jan. 10.

The new Terrence McNally drama Mothers and Sons stars Tyne Daly as a woman, who having lost her son to AIDS, pays a visit to her late son's ex-partner, who is now married to another man and has a young son. Sheryl Kaller will direct the play that begins Feb. 23 at the John Golden Theatre.

Adding the credit "Broadway actor" to his already heavily hyphenated resume is Hollywood actor James Franco, who will join Chris O'Dowd in a stage rendition of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Previews will begin at the Longacre Theatre March 19, with Anna D. Shapiro directing. Another big name due on the big street is Bryan Cranston, just off the triumph of the final season of TV's "Breaking Bad." He will play Lyndon Johnson in Robert Schenkkan's All the Way, commencing at the Neil Simon Feb. 10. Meanwhile, the biggest name connected to Lincoln Center Theater's Act One, beginning at the Beaumont on March 20, is, arguably, Moss Hart, the theatre man who wrote the deathless memoir that inspires the new stagework. James Lapine did the adaptation.

For those who missed the last Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun in 2004, the classic will be back on March 8 at the Barrymore in a production starring the reliable box-office bait Denzel Washington. Also on offer in the way of revivals will be a new production of Sophie Treadwell's expressionistic landmark Machinal, opening at the Roundabout Theatre Company Jan. 16 (the play's first visit to Broadway since it opened in 1928); the Broadway debut of Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley's 1997 musical Violet, with Sutton Foster in the title role, beginning at the American Airlines Theatre March 28; the musical Les Miserables, back for its third visit to Broadway March 1 at the Imperial; and Cabaret, which begins performances March 21 at Studio 54. Those who didn't catch the most recent revival of the Kander and Ebb musical, which won Tony nominations for co-directors Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, and a Tony for its star Alan Cumming, you've been granted a second chance. This is the same production, and all three men will be involved.