Theatre

Out With the New, In With the Old?

Yes, the time has come. The Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch will close in September. While the show did not flop by any means (it holds the record for the longest-running musical at the Belasco!) it is still a loss of a great story finally being told in the mainstream. Hopefully, the tour they have announced will be as successful as its Broadway counterpart. Thank you, Hedwig, for showing this Wicked Little Town something beautiful and new.

More casting was announced for the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, which will start previews in November and open in December. This is one of Broadway’s most beloved classics, and Bartlett Sher will do great things with it, I’m sure. The cast is shaping up quite nicely, some of my favorite choices being Alexandra Silber as Tzietel and Adam Kantor as Motel. Oh, did I mention that the incredible force that is Danny Burstein will be playing Tevye? The Lord is protecting and defending us, that’s for sure. A blessing on our head indeed.

Rehearsals have started for the Broadway revival of Spring Awakening, less than 10 years since the original production. It is very interesting to see how much of their rehearsal process they have documented on social media. I love seeing how Michael Arden has shaped the piece to be completely unique to the actors involved in the show. Gee, Interlochen sure churns out some talented kiddos.

Rehearsals have also begun for the revival (but first Broadway production) of Dames at Sea, which initially starred a young Bernadette Peters. Now, we have a cast that includes Mara Davi, John Bolton, and Lesli Margherita. The advertising for the show is a little misleading (it looks like a large-scale sailor show in the vein of Anything Goes or South Pacific, which it is most definitely not), but I believe that is a purposeful choice on behalf of the marketing team and I hope it works in their favor.

The Color Purple, which debuted in 2005, will also be revived this year. Recently, a video was released of Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo singing the title song. “Chills” is a word that describes it nicely. She Loves Me is gearing up for their nearing return, Falsettos will make a triumphant statement in a new age, and The Wiz is not only going to be Live!, it’s going to be Broadway (albeit, next season.)

So why does any of this matter? How do these all connect? Why did I stay up so late watching Sunday in the Park with George for the second time this week?

Well, Broadway is changing. The American Musical Theatre as we know it is changing. Hedwig would never have had a successful run on Broadway when it first opened. It took some serious star power to make it happen, and some Tony Awards made it nice and shiny. Fiddler will no doubt be a reinvigorated production, much like Sher’s South Pacific and The King and I. Spring Awakening and Color Purple will be revived in less than 10 years since their debut, which isn’t a first, but is certainly not the norm. Luckily, they both have name recognition, and the ASL twist on Spring Awakening is impactful. The Wiz has television. She Loves Me has its own fair amount of stars.

So where does that leave Falsettos and Dames at Sea? How will they hold their own against these revivals? They are both great pieces in their own right (give me a William Finn musical any day), but they hardly have the brand recognition of the others. Falsettos does have a few shiny Tony Awards. That’s a big deal to some people, right? I sure hope so.

What will this season mean for the future of revivals? Will we see a revival of, I don’t know, Seussical? The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeShrek?! Gee, I hope not (Shrek, that is.)

I’m afraid this opened more questions than it answered for me. I hope each of these wonderful productions finds their audience and succeeds, but I can’t help myself from worrying.

Note to self: Stop caring so much. Art and success are subjective.

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