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Broadway’s Best Bets for 2012: Musicals

January 2nd, 2012

Ricky Martin, Michael Cerveris & Elena Rogers in "Evita". Photo by Frank Ockenfels.

Need something to look forward to now that there’s nothing left of the holidays but half-used gift cards and five extra pounds? How about a Winter and Spring filled with drama, romance and music? Looking at the current schedule of openings for the rest of the 2012 season, here are five (plus one) Broadway musicals that have me excited to face the new year…

Audra McDonald & Norm Lewis in "Porgy and Bess". Photo by Michael J Lutch.

Porgy and Bess (Jan 12): Perhaps the producers should be thanking Sondheim? The legendary composer’s stern dressing down of the creative team and their statements about reinventing the Gershwin/Heyward classic have made it the most-buzzed about opening of the year. With alterations to the script reportedly less drastic than first rumored, the buzz can now focus on the real reason it’s a must-see: four-time Tony winner Audra McDonald.

Once (March 18) Freshly plucked from a well-reviewed Off-Broadway run, the adaptation of the gorgeous indie film about a Dublin busker and his love for making music and a delicate immigrant woman moves to the big time–hopefully with its small scale charms intact. The Oscar-winning song “Falling Slowly” is still in heavy rotation on my iPod so I can’t wait. (Love  the movie’s music? Try the lovely follow-up album by composers Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, Strict Joy.)

Matthew Broderick & Kelli O'Hara. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Jesus Christ Superstar (March 22)/Evita (April 5): In a pause between Sondheim shows, Sir Lloyd Weber makes a grab for Broadway revival king with the new productions of two of his early smashes–each with a reason to take special note. The Stratford Festival/Des McAnuff Superstar comes boasting rave reviews from La Jolla and Evita returns with a starry cast including Ricky Martin, Michael Cerveris and Argentinean leading lady Elena Rogers. (Don’t know her? Watch her scorching rendition of “Buenos Aires?”)

Newsies (March 29): It’s hard to believe but, this season, Disney is the spunky underdog. The adaptation of the film flop about a turn-of-the-twentieth-century paper boy strike got rave reviews in its Paper Mill Playhouse test production (the creative team insists it was simply to get a script for licensing to schools) and now the little show that could brings its athletic dancing and melodic Alan Menken score to Broadway for a “limited” run. Family friendly and exuberant, the Newsies could be in it for the long haul.

Nice Work If You Can Get It (April 24): The marquee for this old fashioned but “new” musical comedy might need some extra space given all the headlining talent involved. Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara star. The songs are Gershwin standards. The book is by Tony DiPietro, Tony Winner for Memphis. And it is directed and choreographed but Kathleen Marshall, fresh from her work on the smash revival of Anything Goes.

To be continued tomorrow with our picks for plays…


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