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Broadway’s Best Bets 2012: Plays

January 3rd, 2012

James Corden in the British production of "One Man, Two Guvnors". Photo by Johan Persson.

Feeling like you need a little carrot on a stick to lure you through the cold months ahead? How about a slate of plays featuring big names and big laughs? Though a few of my most anticipated entries like Peter and the Starcatcher and Clybourne Park don’t have official dates yet and are therefore not on my chart, here are five (plus one) Broadway openings that should keep you warm inside (check out our picks for the season’s musicals here)…

Cynthia Nixon. Image via Boneau/Bryan-Brown.

Wit (January 26): The always-fascinating Cynthia Nixon follows her Sex and the City castmate Kim Cattrall onto the boards but with no bubbly romance in sight. Here she takes on the role of a cancer stricken literature professor in the Pulitzer Prize winning drama that has seen acclaimed runs Off-Broadway in 1997 and an Emmy-winning television film starring Emma Thompson in 2001. I was dubious about what could be added in a Broadway run after the wonderful prior incarnations but Nixon makes it a must-see.

Death of a Salesman (March 15): Speaking of the film of Wit, it’s director Mike Nichols (too many amazing credits to list) returns to the Great White Way with a new production of Arthur Miller’s classic. Like King Lear or Hamlet, Willy Loman is a mountain each great actor wants to climb in their life; Oscar-winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman picks up the traveling case and carry it on the long road home this time. Rising star and soon-to-be moviedom’s next Spiderman Andrew Garfield adds further curiosity factor as son Biff.

Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (April 1) Capitalizing on election fever, a revival of Gore Vidal’s tale of presidential campaign intrigue comes to Broadway. Another production ran in 2000, so you might question the need for a return to the polls so soon for a play not written by Shakespeare–but get a load of the cast. I’ll just step out of the way and let the names drop: James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette (fresh from his Tony win for How to Succeed…), Michael McKean, Eric McCormack, Jefferson Mays (my MVP from Blood and Gifts) and the former Ms. Rudolph Giuliani, Donna Hanover.

End of the Rainbow (April 2): Why? Because it’s Judy. If you have to ask “Judy who?” than I’m not sure why you’re even reading this blog. Tracie Bennett travels across the pond with her acclaimed performance as Ms. Garland during her dark final days. Expect lots of singing (it could almost be in the musical category), boozing and heart-tugging as friends of Dorothy pay their respects. If you’re on the fence, watch the promotional trailer from the London production and decide if you too think it’s “Ah-may-zing”.

One Man, Two Guvnors (April 18) Don’t Dress for Dinner (April 26): Look out, I’m about to make one of my terrifying blanket statements. There is nothing as exhilarating as a well-performed farce; I love a good weepie drama but the second act of Noises Off is about as perfect a thing as exists on this earth. So, thankfully, we get a double chance at classic comedic mayhem this season. First up, the London smash about one man with…um…two guvnors (ie. bosses) makes its long anticipated transfer. Then, close on its tripping heals is a sequel to the recent hit revival of Boeing Boeing. I know, a theater sequel? But the Chicago production (also directed by John Tillinger) was very well reviewed so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

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