Spring on Broadway: Old Friends and Oddballs

Although the first two thirds of this Broadway season brought us Nathan Lane in The Front Page, Glenn Close returning to Sunset Boulevard, a well-received musical version of A Bronx Tale, a beautiful revival of Falsettos, off-Broadway transfers of Dear Evan Hansen and Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, and, heaven help us, the return of Cats, spring 2017 will be the real test. The calendar from March through April is jam-packed with productions, ranging from the comfortingly familiar to the promisingly novel.

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Hello, Dolly! has a Jerry Herman score for the ages, including “Put on Your Sunday Clothes,” “Before the Parade Passes By” and the title tune, which in context is a lot more moving than you might expect from its ubiquitous pop treatments. The new revival, opening April 20 at the Shubert Theatre, also has Bette Midler and the infallible David Hyde Pierce, expect much joy and scarce tickets.

Spring also brings yet another revival of The Glass Menagerie, but before you roll your eyes, know that Sally Field plays Amanda, a role she earned raves for when she starred in Tennessee Williams’ classic at the Kennedy Center in 2004. Meanwhile, Noël Coward’s Present Laughter gets a new spin with Kevin Kline. Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney will trade roles nightly in The Little Foxes, Allison Janney will cope with class issues in Six Degrees of Separation and Arthur Miller’s The Price will be ponied up by Tony Shalhoub, Mark Ruffalo, Jessica Hecht and Danny DeVito. On the musical front, a new Miss Saigon should offer Broadwaygoers another reminder that, while it’s no Les Miz, it has significantly more to offer than its memorable helicopter scene.

But so much for the time-honored, what about the untested? Certainly the new musical Come From Away fits that description. Based on a true story, it’s about air travelers whose planes are all diverted to a small Newfoundland town—on Sept 11, 2001. In her rave review for its 2015 Seattle Rep tryout, Seattle Times theater critic Misha Berson called the show “rousing, inspiring, yet unpretentious.” Also promising to be intriguingly serious and seriously intriguing are the Lynn Nottage drama Sweat, about factory works facing layoffs; J.T. Rogers’ Oslo, which follows the delicate negotiations between Israel and the PLO (brokered by a Norwegian diplomat); and Paula Vogel’s Indecent, the story behind the controversy engendered by the 1923 premiere of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance.

In a lighter vein, two cult films, Amélie and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, get the high-gloss musicalization treatment this spring, while the Olivier Award-winning comedy The Play That Goes Wrong follows an amateur theater company as it Noises Off-s its way from one disaster to the next.