THE WEEK AHEAD, April 13-19: Motown, The Nance, Big Knife, Assembled Parties, Orphans and Jekyll Open on Broadway

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13 Apr 2013

Jay Armstrong Johnson and Allison Case in <i>Hands on a Hardbody</i>.
Jay Armstrong Johnson and Allison Case in Hands on a Hardbody.
Photo by Chad Batka

Playbill.com's weekly planner reminds you that Motown is "Sign, Sealed, Delivered" to Broadway… Nathan Lane and Alec Baldwin reemerge on the boards… "This is the Moment" for a new Jekyll and Hyde… and The Rascals reunite! Forget March Madness, it's April Madness for us theatre folk with the Broadway barrage of new shows! Get on it this WEEK AHEAD!

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Saturday, April 13
LAST CHANCE→ Hands on a Hardbody, the downhome musical about Texans down on their luck, has hit a rough patch itself with the early Broadway closure of the musical. Phish frontman Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green provide the honkytonk, soul and pop-infused score that musicalized the source material — a 1997 documentary about a car dealership that throws a promotional contest where contestants vie for the chance to win a new truck by keeping their hands on it for days on end. (Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 W. 47th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave. Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

Sunday, April 14
OPENS→ Berry Gordy, Jr.'s take on the building of the iconic Motown record label hits Broadway — with over 60 hit songs from the Motown catalogue in tow! Gordy serves as book writer, producer and sometime songwriter for the mostly jukebox musical that follows Gordy’s life from a high school dropout to a professional boxer to a music industry impresario. Some famous faces depicted in the musical include Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and, of course, Diana Ross (who had a tempestuous relationship with Gordy that resulted in one child and endless amounts of speculation). (Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 W. 46th St., btwn. 8th Ave. & Broadway. Info/tickets.)

Monday, April 15
OPENING→ Nathan Lane returns to Broadway in a decidedly darker role than we're used to. In The Nance, a new play from Douglas Carter Beane, we find Lane playing Chauncey Miles, a burlesque performer who is a well-known "nance" (a popular stock character portraying a campy, effeminate man). While Chauncey's perceived sexuality onstage garners him fame, his actual offstage relationship with a man must be kept secret in an unforgiving 1930s New York City. (Lyceum Theatre, 149 W. 45th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave. Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)



PREVIEWS→ Peace-loving rock 'n' rollers The Rascals bring their patented brand of pop-soul music to the Great White Way in a series of concerts entitled The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream. E Street band guitarist and "Sopranos" actor Steven Van Zandt serves as co-producer and book writer for the reunion concert that charts the band’s rise to fame via old video footage and their hit catalogue. Officially opens April 18. (Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave. Info/tickets.)

Bobby Cannavale
photo by Joan Marcus

Tuesday, April 16
OPENING→ Bobby Cannavale stars in his second revival of the 2012-13 Broadway season with the return of Clifford Odets' The Big Knife. Cannavale plays Charlie Castle, a contracted film star in 1940s Hollywood who has some dark demons that threaten his career and already disintegrating marriage. Co-starring Marin Ireland, Chip Zien, Richard Kind and Reg Rogers. (American Airlines Theatre, 227 W. 42nd St., btwn. 7th & 8th Aves. Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

RELEASED→ World-renowned soprano Sarah Brightman releases her newest solo album, "Dreamchaser." The former Phantom of the Opera star will tour her 11th studio album in a 40+ city world tour launching this summer (hitting North America, Japan and China) followed by (no joke!) an intergalactic trip to the International Space Station. Talk about out of this world! (Info.)

Wednesday, April 17
OPENING→ Tony winner Judith Light and Tony nominee Jessica Hecht star in the premiere of Richard Greenberg's family drama The Assembled Parties. Light and Hecht play sisters-in-law who bring their families together for the holidays in the 1980s. Things change course when a visitor enters the scene and stirs up family drama. We revisit the brood 20 years later to see if time, does in fact, heal everything. (Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 W. 47th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

Thursday, April 18
OPENING→ Lyle Kessler's 1980 drama Orphans, about a retired gangster and a pair of thugs who kidnap him, finally opens on Broadway following the abrupt and bizarre exit of its original star Shia LeBouf. Ben Foster now joins the three-hander that includes Alec Baldwin and Tom Sturridge. (Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Ave., Click here for Playbill Club discount tickets.)

OPENING→ Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis and R&B singer Deborah Cox star in the Broadway revival of Jekyll & Hyde. The pair has been touring the country with the popular Frank Wildhorn musical, based on the famous Robert Louis Stevenson novella, since last October. (Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway, at 45th St. Info/tickets.)

Friday, April 19
LAST CHANCE→ The Off-Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Passion ends at Classic Stage Company. The dark 19th century-set musical about a young Colonel (Ryan Silverman) torn between two women — the vibrant Clara (Amy Justman) and the helpless Fosca (Judy Kuhn) — has garnered critical acclaim and multiple extensions. (Classic Stage Company, 136 E. 13th St., off 3rd Ave. Info/tickets.)

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

Watch highlights of The Big Knife: