Another opening from another April show
As temperatures rise, flowers bloom, and days lengthen, we look forward to several exciting events that come with the onset of spring. In the case of the theater community, theater practitioners and fans alike are thrilled with the wide range of shows beginning their run on Broadway. Theater lovers and critics alike flock to new shows, hoping to see an exciting production they will always remember. In turn, the cast, crew, and creatives involved in these shows work tirelessly to craft a production that will engage audiences and give them a sense of accomplishment. Although no shows opened in spring 2021 due to the pandemic, April has already demonstrated that Broadway is back with the opening of ten new productions! For those who haven’t been able to catch those productions yet, here’s a quick recap of Broadway openings in April 2022.
For fans of musicals, April was a sensational month with three new musicals and the revival of a musical on the Broadway stage. At the beginning of April, place of paradise began its run, telling the story of the patrons of an 1863 saloon in Lower Manhattan’s Five Points slum. With a large and talented cast that includes Joaquina Kalukango and Chillina Kennedy, and energetic choreography, place of paradise explores what it means to be American as a black woman, Irish Catholic, black minister, newly arrived Irish immigrant, struggling songwriter, and anti-abolitionist battling the tumultuous Civil War within the confines of the saloon. On April 11, a stage adaptation of The little Prince, based on the book of the same name, open. With aerial acrobatics, video-mapping technology and unique staging, the production depicts the abstract story of a prince who visits various planets and tackles the themes of friendship, love and loss in road course. Despite its recent opening, production closes early on May 8, so be sure to catch it soon. Another new musical that debuted last Sunday was the highly anticipated first revival of funny girl, the 1964 musical that catapulted Barbara Streisand to fame. Led by an all-star cast including Beanie Feldstein, Ramin Karimloo, Jared Grimes and Jane Lynch, audiences enjoyed this lavish revival which showcases the rise of American comedian and singer Fanny Brice with her soaring score of classic songs, such as “Don’t rain on my parade” and “People”. Later last week, Billy Crystal returned to Broadway in Mr Saturday night. This new musical is based on the 1992 film of the same name, which depicts a stand-up comedian’s attempt to find fame and a relationship with his estranged family. In addition to Billy Crystal, audiences and critics enjoyed seeing Broadway stars Randy Graff and Shoshana Bean return to Broadway with Jason Robert Brown’s latest score.
In addition to the four musicals that opened this month, six revivals of Broadway plays have returned to the stage. In early April, the revival of Richard Greenberg’s dramatic comedy, take me out, opened at the Helen Hayes Theatre. The play centers on the events following the release of a gay baseball player. This critics’ pick is sure to please audiences, especially with a cast led by Jesse Williams, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Patrick J. Adams. On April 14, the famous play by David Mamet, American buffalo, opened, with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Rockwell and Darren Criss. This production takes place in the round with an audience seated on all four sides of the stage, watching the fate of a flea market owner who plans to recover a valuable coin he sold for less than its true value. The following week, Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer-winning play, How I learned to drive open, presenting to a new audience the powerful story of a woman coming to terms with the abusive relationship she endured with her uncle, a relationship that heavily impacted the trajectory of her life. Starring Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse, this is another must-have piece. Opening the following night, April 20, was Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking play, For girls of color who have thought about suicide / When the rainbow is insufficient. Shange’s joyful piece, directed and choreographed by Camille Brown, uses poetry, song and movement to tell the stories of seven women of color. Last Tuesday Thornton Wilder’s 1943 Pulitzer winning play, The skin of our teeth, opened at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. In this postmodern avant-garde play, directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, audiences experience the enduring human spirit of a family living through an ice age, biblical flood, and war. Finally, last night, Shakespeare’s world-famous tragedy, macbeth, returned to Broadway with British film stars Daniel Craig as Macbeth and Ruth Negga as Lady Macbeth. In this minimalist production directed by Sam Gold, audiences discover the famous story of a Scottish general whose ambition overwhelms him when he receives a prophecy from three witches who predict he will become King of Scotland.
Despite the difficult events of the past two years, it’s wonderful to see so many new Broadway shows, many of which were set to open in 2020, finally grace the New York stage. These productions, with their talented cast, crew and creative teams, have worked diligently to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, mounting new production during a pandemic. The aforementioned ten successful openings this month give hope that this Spring Broadway will continue to demonstrate the theater’s ability to thrive in all eras, finally bringing joy and escapism to enthusiastic audiences.