Broadway Spring 2024: ‘Patriots’ & All Of Deadline’s Reviews

April on Broadway, to mangle a phrase from a showtune classic, is bustin’ out all over with no fewer than 14 new plays and musicals set to open before the April 25 Tony Award eligibility cutoff date. So crowded are the final weeks of the 2023-24 theater season that three days each will see the openings of two shows, a Broadway rarity.

Deadline will weigh in on the shows. Whether you use this page as a guide or as an invitation to argue, drop by often for the latest on Broadway’s offerings. And there’ll be plenty of offerings indeed — here’s the schedule of April openings: The Outsiders (April 11), Lempicka (April 14), The Wiz (April 17), Suffs (April 18), Stereophonic (April 19), Hell’s Kitchen (April 20), Cabaret (April 21), Patriots (April 22), The Heart of Rock and Roll (April 22), Mary Jane (April 23), Illinoise (April 24), Uncle Vanya (April 24), Mother Play (April 25), The Great Gatsby (April 25).

More from Deadline

Below is a compendium of our reviews. Keep checking back as the list is updated.

Patriots

Will Keen, Michael Stuhlbarg in ‘Patriots’
Will Keen, Michael Stuhlbarg in ‘Patriots’

Opening night: April 22
Venue: Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Director: Rupert Goold
Written By: Peter Morgan
Principal Cast: Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Keen, Luke Thallon, Stella Baker, Ronald Guttman, Alex Hurt
Running time: 2 hr 35 min (including intermission)
Official synopsis: “Set in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union, the new Russia belongs to its oligarchs – and no one is more powerful than billionaire Boris Berezovsky. ‘If the politicians cannot save Russia,’ he insists, ‘then we businessmen must.’ When an eventual successor to President Boris Yeltsin is needed, Berezovsky turns to the little-known deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Putin. But soon Putin’s ruthless rise threatens Berezovsky’s reign, setting off a confrontation with far-reaching consequences between the two powerful, fatally flawed men.”
Deadline’s takeaway: In Patriots, The Crown creator Peter Morgan turns eastward to satisfy his seemingly insatiable curiosity as to the ways of real-world power. Public power, private power, the theories of power and the execution of it – all fascinate Morgan and, when he’s in peak form, he turns that obsession into compelling, can’t-turn-away drama. Patriots, which could very well be viewed as a prequel to Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine, is not peak-form Morgan – it’s drama is too static for that, its history too potted – but give the man credit for drawing back a curtain on a history that could use the sunlight.

Starring a grab-the role-by-the-throat Michael Stuhlbarg as Russian child math-prodigy turned rapacious oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Will Keen as a vampiric Vladimir Putin, Patriots – directed by Rupert Goold, bringing the declamatory and mixed-media style that he used to greater effect in the Rupert Murdoch bio-play Ink – details the rise of Russia’s ’90s-era post-Communist oligarchy, as exemplified by Berezovsky, and how the country’s new capitalists carried their own seeds of self-destruction right from the start.

In Berezovsky’s case, that seed was, not to put too fine a point on it, Putin. The brilliant, greedy Berezovsky, convincing himself that he’s operating on some level for love of country, installs a young, inconsequential and heretofore failed politico from the hinterlands. No one who is anyone knows Vladimir Putin, which Berezovsky sees as all too perfect: Putin, Berezovsky assures the skeptics, will do just as he’s told.

Of course, the ruthless Putin wastes little time proving Berezovsky all too wrong. The new president has ambitions of his own – he, too, fancies himself a patriot – and by play’s end has become an outsized Michael Corleone with more than a little polonium up his sleeve.

As good as Stuhlbarg and Keen are – and they’re very good, as are Luke Thallon as oligarch-turned-Putin puppet Roman Abramovic and Alex Hurt as Berezovsky’s doomed security man – Patriots never fully conveys the emotional vitality or grand drama – in short, the Shakespearean – in the power plays. As history lesson, Patriots is more than worthy. As drama, well, it’s a history lesson.

Cabaret

Eddie Redmayne, ‘Cabaret’
Eddie Redmayne, ‘Cabaret’

Opening night: April 21
Venue: August Wilson Theatre
Director: Rebecca Frecknall
Music: John Kander
Lyrics: Fred Ebb
Book: Joe Masteroff, based on the play by John Van Druten and stories by Christopher Isherwood.
Choreography: Julia Cheng
Principal Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Gayle Rankin, Bebe Neuwirth, Ato Blankson-Wood, Steven Skybell, Henry Gottfried, Natascia Diaz
Running time: 2 hr 45 min (including intermission)
Official synopsis: “Willkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome to the Kit Kat Club. Home to an intimate and electrifying new production of Cabaret. Experience this groundbreaking musical like never before. The denizens of the Kit Kat Club have created a decadent sanctuary inside Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre, where artists and performers, misfits and outsiders rule the night. Step inside their world. This is Berlin. Relax. Loosen up. Be yourself.”
Deadline’s takeaway: From the elaborate (and worth an early arrival) preshow of costumed musicians setting the Weimar mood with klezmer-meets-Brecht/Weill in an August Wilson Theatre reconstructed into a showily decadent in-the-round music hall, Broadway’s latest Cabaret promises an overwhelming theatrical experience. The promise continues at least through the first appearance of Eddie Redmayne’s Emcee, crooked and twisted like some slack-stringed marionette.

Cabaret, of course, is a musical all but created for reinvention. Ever since Bob Fosse lent his magic to the 1972 film adaptation – and Liza Minelli let loose with a career-making vocal performance that tossed the Sally-can’t-sing conceit into the Berlin gutter – revivalists have attempted to inject ever more decadent trappings, ever more harsh realism and darker foreshadowing of the Hitler-around-the-corner plot. When Natasha Richardson presented a Sally with bruised arms and dead-end prospects back in ’98, the anti-Fosse approach seemed perfected, done and dusted.

But Rebecca Frecknall and her creative team (most notably scenic and costume designer Tom Scutt) are nowhere near ready to let sleeping Weimar lie. The production flirts with minimalism at some moments – Gayle Rankin’s Sally Bowles spends most of the show in what appears to be tattered undergarments and a ratty green fur coat – only to dazzle with moments of near surreality (as when Redmayne’s Emcee springs from the floor to sing “Money,” dressed as a nightmarish pierrot with skeleton legs).

For all of Redmayne’s eccentric posturing and Rankin’s Courtney Love kinderwhore onslaughts, its the more muted, naturalistic performances of Bebe Neuwirth and Steven Skybell as the unlikely and unlasting lovers Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz that carry the emotional heft of this Cabaret. (The less said of Ato Blankson-Wood’s energy-sucking Clifford Bradshaw, the better).

None of which is to say that Frecknall’s vision lacks for striking moments and sneaky gut-punches (one of those decadent Kit Kat Boys seems done up to resemble Party Monster Killer Michael Alig). The stagings of the proto-Nazi anthem “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” are suitably chilling, and Redmayne’s frequent costume changes into ever more sinister Bowie-clown garb (transformation complete when the Thin White Duke finally arrives) are among the many intriguing ideas.

Still, the vision never really coalesces in the way that Daniel Fish managed with that spooky, sexy Oklahoma a few years back. The promise of an overwhelming theatrical event just never quite makes good on itself, certainly not with Rankin’s teary, intentionally overwrought delivery of the title song. We get it. Sally isn’t meant to be a big star. I’d still rather hear Liza.

Hell’s Kitchen

Maleah Joi Moon & company of ‘Hell’s Kitchen’
Maleah Joi Moon & company of ‘Hell’s Kitchen’

Opening night: April 20
Venue: Shubert Theatre
Director: Michael Greif
Music & Lyrics: Alicia Keys
Book: Kristoffer Diaz
Choreography: Camille A. Brown
Principal Cast: Maleah Joi Moon, Shoshana Bean, Brandon Victor Dixon, Kecia Lewis, Chris Lee
Running time: 2 hr 30 min (including intermission)
Official synopsis: “Ali is a 17-year-old girl full of fire – searching for freedom, passion and her place in the world. How she finds them is a New York City coming-of-age story you’ve never felt before…Rebellious and stifled by an overprotective single mother, Ali is lost until she meets her mentor: a neighbor who opens her heart and mind to the power of the piano.”
Deadline’s takeaway: Being privileged to witness the birth of a star is one of the many pleasures to be had in Hell’s Kitchen, the semi-autobiographical Alicia Keys musical opening on Broadway tonight after a successful Off Broadway run last year. Twenty-one-year old newcomer Maleah Joi Moon, who plays the 17-year-old Ali – the Keys character – seems to have arrived on stage as a fully formed Broadway presence, a marvelous singer, dancer and actress who is sure to leave every New York theatergoer hoping that Hollywood doesn’t swoop in too fast, and that Hell’s Kitchen is just the beginning of a long career in musical theater.

Directed with energy aplenty by Michael Greif, with thrilling choreography by Camille A. Brown, Hell’s Kitchen is set in the changing New York of the early 1990s, when the city’s street life was becoming safer – for some – and Rudy Giuliani could still be hailed – by some – as the man who would give neighborhoods like the one of the title back to their residents.

At least, that’s the hope for parents like Jersey, the protective, still-young single mother of a teenage girl enticed by the vibrant street life of bucket drummers and hip-hop dancers. Ali – who we know will grow up to be the singer-songwriter of such hits as “You Don’t Know My Name,” “Fallin’,” “If I Ain’t Got You,” “No One,” and “Empire State of Mind” – craves a life beyond the safety and boredom of the one-bedroom apartment she shares with her mom.

Boredom, of course, is a relative thing. Manhattan Plaza, the real-life Hell’s Kitchen building in which Ali and Jersey live, offers affordable housing for artists, and is a terrific setting for a musical. In a delightful bit of stagecraft that makes perfect use of Grief’s direction, scenic design (Robert Brill), lighting (Natasha Katz), projections (Peter Nigrini), sound (Gareth Owen) and, not least, Moon’s performance, Hell’s Kitchen introduces us to the world of music surrounding young Ali. As she descends from her upper-floor apartment in an elevator, each level of the building offers up the sounds of its inhabitants, introducing the impressionable teenager to jazz, opera, classical and other genres. By the time she arrives on a street thumping with the beats and movement of hip-hop, she contains musical multitudes.

The plot is simple: Mother and daughter clash over the girl’s infatuation with a young man – man, as opposed to boy, being the operative word for mom – who plays a bucket drum on the street. To Jersey, young Knuck (Chris Lee) is all too reminiscent of Ali’s mostly absent piano-playing father Davis (Brandon Victor Dixon). Jersey knows these sweet, sensitive, artistic types can be heartbreakers.

An oasis amidst the turmoil is Miss Liza Jane (Kecia Lewis), an elderly Black neighbor (hints of Nina Simone and Odetta) who practices piano in the building’s communal studio and teaches the mixed-race Ali about both music and heritage. In one of the musical’s most moving sequences, old images and vintage film clips of the Black musical “patriarchs” and “matriarchs” unspool just behind teacher and student as the lesson takes hold.

While the musical’s second act falters with unnecessary emotional padding and more than a little heart-tugging – the ailing Miss Liza Jane, well, you’ll guess early enough – the cast is so good we’ll overlook anything.

Stereophonic

The cast of ‘Stereophonic’
The cast of ‘Stereophonic’

Opening night: April 19
Venue: Golden Theatre
Director: Daniel Aukin
Written By: David Adjmi
Original Songs: Will Butler
Cast: Will Brill, Andrew R. Butler, Juliana Canfield, Eli Gelb, Tom Pecinka, Sarah Pidgeon, Chris Stack
Running time: 3 hr 5 min (including intermission)
Official synopsis:Stereophonic mines the agony and the ecstasy of creation as it zooms in on a music studio in 1976. Here, an up-and-coming rock band recording a new album finds itself suddenly on the cusp of superstardom. The ensuing pressures could spark their breakup — or their breakthrough. In Stereophonic, Adjmi invites the audience to immerse themselves—with fly-on-the-wall intimacy—in the powder keg process of a band on the brink of blowing up.”
Deadline’s takeaway: Even if you’d never consider spending one of your three genie wishes to travel, invisibly, back in time to witness the legendarily volcanic creation of that most fabled rock masterpiece known as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, you’d do well to check out Stereophonic, a masterpiece in its own smaller way.

Playwright David Adjmi has engineered a moment-in-time tale that perfectly captures its era, a near-documentary portrait of all-too-human heroes and the messy personal dynamics that go into creating not just any old art but art that’s meant to last, whatever last means in the world of Top 40 hits and rock & roll relationships. With unerring direction by Daniel Aukin and performed by a miraculous cast that so fully embodies Fleetwoo… I mean, the unnamed band at the heart of Stereophonic, the play is like the answer to a question you never knew you needed answered.

Very obviously based on the 1976 making of Rumours – creators’ claims to the contrary fall in the ‘The Rose wasn’t about Janis Joplin’ pile – Stereophonic mines those mythically troubled recording sessions to examine the fraught creation of art, band dynamics when love comes and goes, the male arrogance that permeated every bit of breathable air in a rock world even when women were the nominal stars, and the great toll that fame, fortune and the unquenchable thirst for ever-more success takes on the suspecting and unsuspecting alike.

Playing out on David Zinn’s knob-perfect, bifurcated recording studio set, with a large, period-accurate recording consul dominating the engineers’ room closest to the audience and the recording booths visible just beyond sound-proof glass (we hear what’s going on when the mics are turned on, whether the band wants us to or not), Stereophonic unspools with a vérité accessibility. The characters, their talents, addictions and relationships are established in swift, observant efficiency. Bass player Reg (Will Brill) and singer-keyboardist Holly (Juliana Canfield) are the British husband and wife, his alcoholism getting the better of both; cocky Peter (Tom Pecinka) and insecure Diana (Sarah Pidgeon) are the American newcomers, lovers for nine years, he boasting a more developed musical talent (and the massive ego to prove it), and she self-critically revealing a nascent genius that foretells fast-rising stardom; and drummer Simon (Chris Stack), British founder of the band who watches proudly and helplessly as his control slips from his grasp under the skyrocketing popularity of the yanks.

If you need a scorecard: Reg Holly Peter Diana Simon = John Christine Lindsey Stevie Mick.

Serving as a sort of greek chorus/audience stand-ins are low-on-the-totem-pole engineers Grover (Eli Gelb) and Charlie (Andrew R. Butler), who survive through their own bluffs, skills and tolerance for inexhaustible abuse. They do what they do very well, and they hold the very large bags of cocaine.

As weeks drag into months (many, many months), the recording of the band’s follow-up to a surprisingly successful first album sees tensions and old resentments slow-boil to lid-blowing proportions. There will be tears, break-ups, reconciliations and more break-ups. Not one person, no matter how newly famous, will emerge unscathed.

Making no small contribution to the power of this play are the few original songs (written by Will Butler, formerly of Arcade Fire) that capture the late-’70s vibe with uncanny accuracy without merely copycatting. A cast album has been announced, and it’s more than deserved. Not only do the actors nail the acting, they make for a very credible hit-making band, playing their own instruments and singing their own songs. By the end, these bruised golden gods remain standing, though barely, and certain that, if nothing else, they have a smashing success on their hands. Everyone behind Stereophonic must know the feeling.

Suffs

Shaina Taube and the cast of 'Suffs'
Shaina Taube in ‘Suffs’

Opening night: April 18, 2024
Venue: The Music Box Theatre
Director: Leigh Silverman
Book, music & lyrics: Shaina Taub
Choreography: Mayte Natalio
Principal cast: Shaina Taub, Nikki M. James, Jenn Colella, Grace McLean, Hannah Cruz, Kim Blanck, Anastacia McCleskey, Ally Bonino, Tsilala Brock, Nadia Dandashi, Emily Skinner
Running time: 2 hr 30 min (including intermission)
Official synopsis: “In the seven years leading up to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, an impassioned group of suffragists — “Suffs” as they called themselves — took to the streets, pioneering protest tactics that transformed the country. They risked their lives as they clashed with the president, the public, and each other. A thrilling story of brilliant, flawed women working against and across generational, racial, and class divides, Suffs boldly explores the victories and failures of a fight for equality that is still far from over.”
Deadline’s takeaway: Suffs is enthralling, a smart, funny and beautifully sung musical that brings its chosen moment in history to life just as surely and confidently as Hamilton did for its. That the Suffs era is female-focused — and so less known, in its details, to the general public than the doings of the Founding Fathers — makes Shaina Taub’s creation all the more potent.

The urgency comes through in every aspect of this thrilling production, from the extraordinary performances to an exquisite set design that places the Suffs of 1913-1920 squarely within a Washington D.C. of stately marble and paneled wood, right where they belong.

Taub, the composer and performer best known to New York theatergoers through her inspired work for Shakespeare in the Park in recent years, here takes a big step in scope and ambition, and handily pulls it off. She’s populated Suffs with some dozen or so women who, in one way or another, took part in the fight for suffrage, sometimes agreeing with one another, just as often not, but always coming together when history demands.

Taub, director Leigh Silverman and a pitch-perfect cast bring the era to vivid life by alternately focusing on historical sweep and the personal dramas of the (very real) characters. The Suffs plead their case more than once to no less a personage, however craven, than President Woodrow Wilson (Grace McLean, in a terrifically funny performance). But the real drama — and no small bit of the humor (Suffs is anything but stuffy) — comes from the clashing personalities of the women who share a goal, if, as it so often seems, little else.

Taub plays Alice Paul, the young firebrand who, along with her devoted friend Lucy Burns (Ally Bonino), are determined to bring change to the Suffrage Movement, long (too long) under the cautious domination of the older Susan B. Anthony-era organizers as personified by the dismissive Carrie Chapman Catt (Jenn Colella). Carrie can’t let go of a more polite way of achieving change: the lobbying and kowtowing that for decades has gained little but promises.

Alice and her compatriots aren’t nearly so patient. They want marches, and demonstrations and, in the end, even hunger strikes, tactics that appall the establishment Suffs. But one of the most rewarding aspects of Taub’s vision for Suffs is in the suggestion of how the newcomers and their elders inspire and influence one another is significant ways. We see this in the bond, however tested, between Alice and Carrie, and in a similarly positioned friendship between the crusading Black journalist Ida B. Wells (Nikki M. James) and her older friend Mary Church Terrell (Anastacia McCleskey). James’ performance of the righteous “Wait My Turn” is a musical highlight.

Taub’s music (along with Mayte Natalio’s choreography) is an appealing meld of Americana, showtune, and hints of vaudeville and the Blues, all blending into one of the most incisive and pleasing new scores since Kimberly Akimbo. Suffs, though set (mostly) in the distant past, has much to say about the ongoing struggle for equal rights (Hillary Rodham Clinton and Malala Yousafzai are among the producers). History, and Broadway for that matter, deserve no less.

The Wiz

‘The Wiz’
‘The Wiz’

Opening night: April 17, 2024
Venue: Marquis Theatre
Director: Schele Williams
Book: William F. Brown
Music & lyrics: Charlie Smalls
Additional material: Amber Ruffin
Choreography: JaQuel Knight
Principal cast: Nichelle Lewis, Wayne Brady, Deborah Cox, Melody A. Betts, Kyle Ramar Freeman, Phillip Johnson Richardson and Avery Wilson.
Running time: 2 hr 30 min (including intermission)
Official synopsis: “Based on L. Frank Baum’s children’s book, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, The Wiz takes one of the world’s most enduring (and enduringly white) American fantasies, and transforms it into an all-Black musical extravaganza for the ages.”
Deadline’s takeaway: So much has happened in the land of Oz since The Wiz first eased on down the road to Broadway back in 1975, and the most of that so much was Wicked. Raising the bar on all things Baum, Wicked not only added new storylines, approaches and no small amount of stagecraft dazzle to the universe of witches, wizards and an intruder or four that even a teaser trailer for the upcoming film adaptation can rouse fan excitement to dizzying levels.

The once groundbreaking Wiz, in other words, is gonna have a tough yellow brick road to hoe to keep up, and the new Broadway revival, opening tonight at the Marquis, only occasionally meets the challenge. A good cast, though apparently encouraged to over-sing at the drop of a house, works hard to make up for the production’s shortcuts – painted flats are overused, special effects are few, far between and not particularly special, and director Schele Williams breezes past (or completely ignores) some of the well-worn story’s most anticipated beats.

The tornado, for example, barely registers, signified mostly by a swirling chorus of dancers in bland gray, while the Wicked Witch’s castle is rendered as a pseudo-Hadestown boiler room bathed in red light. Budgetary constraints might play a part in some of the disappointments, but surely the Wicked Witch’s liquidation could have been accomplished with something more impressive than a standard hydraulic lift, and why there’s no one to greet Dorothy back in Kansas is anyone’s guess.

The production is not without its charms, though. A relatively brief moment in the musical spotlight by Wayne Brady, as The Wiz, has enough charm (and dance moves) to fuel a cyclone, and JaQuel Knight’s choreography rises way beyond itself in full-ensemble numbers like the Act II opener “The Emerald City.” Other highlights: Melody A. Betts, as Eviline, blowing the roof off the Marquis with “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News,” and a funny Allyson Kaye Daniel as Dorothy’s good witch greeter. Best of all, the score, however overstuffed, still shines with at least two evergreens: “Ease on Down the Road” and “Home.” Some spells don’t break.

Lempicka

Eden Espinosa in ‘Lempicka’
Eden Espinosa in ‘Lempicka’

Opening night: April 14, 2024
Venue: Longacre Theatre
Director: Rachel Chavkin
Book and music: Carson Kreitzer (book, lyrics, and original concept), Matt Gould (book and music)
Choreography: Raja Feather Kelly
Cast: Eden Espinosa, Amber Iman, Andrew Samonsky, George Abud, Natalie Joy Johnson, Zoe Glick, Nathaniel Stampley, Beth Leavel.
Running time: 2 hr 30 min (including intermission)
Official synopsis: “Spanning decades of political and personal turmoil and told through a thrilling, pop-infused score, Lempicka boldly explores the contradictions of a world in crisis, a woman ahead of her era, and an artist whose time has finally come.”
Deadline’s takeaway: For a musical devoted to trumpeting the new and daring, Lempicka can feel decidedly backward-looking. That’s not a bad thing when those glance-backs include vivid flashes of Art Deco elegance, invigorating ’90s dance pop, big time Evita belting and a dash or two of One Night in Bangkok‘s jaunty decadence.

A pop bio-musical written by Carson Kreitzer and Matt Gould about the groundbreaking Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka, Lempicka follows the artist through such 20th Century milestones as the Russian Revolution, two World Wars, the tragic slide of Jazz Age Paree to Nazi-occupied Paris, and, for a few brief moments, a lonely 1970s Los Angeles.

Actually, the musical doesn’t so much follow the artist as latches on for a ride that’s both thrilling and tiring. Directed by the ever-inventive Rachel Chavkin, with a powerhouse Eden Espinosa (Wicked) in the title role, Lempicka offers up a tempting mix of retro-futurism and just plain retro, with choreography (by Raja Feather Kelly), scenic design (Riccardo Hernández) and costumes (Paloma Young) that work hard to convey the Zelig-like scope of the artist’s life. That means we see, along with some sumptuous Deco-heavy visuals, lots of energetic dancing that frequently cribs from the most arresting of “Vogue”-era Madonna (fair is fair: Blond Ambition was a Lempicka painting come to life). At its worst, though, the dancing leads the musical through some very cartoony presentations of Soviet Realism and Left Bank bohemianism.

Though the musical’s book and lyrics remain doggedly by-the-numbers, Chavkin’s direction (and a good cast that includes Andrew Samonsky, Amber Iman, George Abud, Beth Leavel and Natalie Joy Johnson) keeps Lempicka barreling through the last century’s wartime horrors, peacetime optimism and an art that grew from both.

The Outsiders

Jason Schmidt, Brody Grant, 'The Outsiders'
(L-R) Jason Schmidt and Brody Grant in ‘The Outsiders’

Opening night: April 11, 2024
Venue: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Director: Danya Taymor
Book: Adam Rapp, Justin Levine
Music and lyrics: Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay & Zach Chance) and Justin Levine
Choreography: Rick Kuperman & Jeff Kuperman
Cast: Brody Grant, Sky Lakota-Lynch, Joshua Boone, Brent Comer, Jason Schmidt, Emma Pittman, Daryl Tofa, Kevin William Paul and Dan Berry, with Jordan Chin, Milena J. Comeau, Barton Cowperthwaite, Tilly Evans-Krueger, Henry Julián Gendron, RJ Higton, Wonza Johnson, Sean Harrison Jones, Maggie Kuntz, Renni Anthony Magee, SarahGrace Mariani, Melody Rose, Josh Strobl, Victor Carrillo Tracey, Trevor Wayne.
Running time: 2 hr 30 min (including intermission)
Official synopsis: In Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1967, Ponyboy Curtis, his best friend Johnny Cade and their Greaser family of “outsiders” battle with their affluent rivals, the Socs. This thrilling new Broadway musical navigates the complexities of self-discovery as the Greasers dream about who they want to become in a world that may never accept them. With a dynamic original score, The Outsiders is a story of friendship, family, belonging… and the realization that there is still “lots of good in the world.”
Deadline’s takeaway: A fine and catchy score that references pop, early rock & roll, country and showtune balladeering is performed by a terrific young cast in Broadway’s The Outsiders, opening in a heartfelt production at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre.

If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, you know the story. The musical’s book by Adam Rapp with Justin Levine stays close to its origins for better and worse, and the songs by the excellent folk and Americana duo Jamestown Revival, along with Levine, go a long way to fill in plot details and character histories.

Still, even with clever direction by Danya Taymor, The Outsiders never quite outgrows its Young Adult literary origins. Based on the groundbreaking S.E. Hinton novel and Francis Ford Coppola’s film adaptation, The Outsiders often comes across as a precocious teen all dressed up for a night on the New York town — clearly money has been spent on a spare, efficient set, with lots of stacked tires and planks of wood, designed by AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian, enhanced by Hana S. Kim’s cool projections (in one case, literally — images of Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke are, if nothing else, an easy time-placer). The full talents of the designers and special effects masters come together in a terrific barn fire scene, and Brian MacDevitt’s lighting design and Cody Spencer’s sound meld well with with the choreography, especially during a crowd-pleasing slo-mo, freeze-frame, strobe-lit rumble between the vengeance-seeking cliques.

While all the production’s elements seem to be in place — the cast, even when its acting chops falter, is, musically, a full-throated and easy-to-like ensemble — The Outsiders often feels like a musical that wants to hang with the grown-ups while unable to leave behind its adolescent earnestness and self-involvement. A more thoughtfully adult production might invent some credible consequences for a negligent, deadly arson, a fatal stabbing and a train derailment, all of which are presented, true to S.E. Hinton, as temporary glitches in the self-actualization of a 14-year-old boy.

The Who’s Tommy

Ali Louis Bourzgui in Chicago production of 'The Who's Tommy'
Ali Louis Bourzgui in ‘The Who’s Tommy’

Opening night: March 28, 2024
Venue: Nederlander Theatre
Director: Des McAnuff
Book: Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff
Music and lyrics: Pete Townshend
Choreography: Lorin Latarro
Cast: Ali Louis Bourzgui, Alison Luff, Adam Jacobs, John Ambrosino, Bobby Conte, Christina Sajous, with Haley Gustafson, Jeremiah Alsop, Ronnie S. Bowman Jr., Mike Cannon, Tyler James Eisenreich, Sheldon Henry, Afra Hines, Aliah James, David Paul Kidder, Tassy Kirbas, Lily Kren, Quinten Kusheba, Reese Levine, Brett Michael Lockley, Nathan Lucrezio, Alexandra Matteo, Mark Mitrano, Reagan Pender, Cecilia Ann Popp, Daniel Quadrino, Olive Ross-Kline, Jenna Nicole Schoen, Dee Tomasetta, and Andrew Tufano.
Running time: 2 hr 10 min (including intermission)
Deadline’s takeaway: The Who’s Tommy is a nonstop surge of electrified energy, a darting pinball of a production that syncs visual panache with 55-year-old songs that sound as vital today as they must have at Woodstock. To read full review, click on show title above.

Water for Elephants

‘Water for Elephants’
‘Water for Elephants’

Opening night: March 21, 2024
Venue: Imperial Theatre
Director: Jessica Stone
Book: Rick Elice, based on the novel by Sara Gruen
Music and lyrics: Pigpen Theatre Company
Cast: Grant Gustin, Isabelle McCalla, Gregg Edelman, Paul Alexander Nolan, Stan Brown, Joe De Paul, Sara Gettelfinger and Wade McCollum, with Brandon Block, Antoine Boissereau, Rachael Boyd, Paul Castree, Ken Wulf Clark, Taylor Colleton, Gabriel Olivera de Paula Costa, Isabella Luisa Diaz, Samantha Gershman, Keaton Hentoff-Killian, Nicolas Jelmoni, Caroline Kane, Harley Ross Beckwith McLeish, Michael Mendez, Samuel Renaud, Marissa Rosen, Alexandra Gaelle Royer, Asa Somers, Charles South, Sean Stack, Matthew Varvar and Michelle West
Running time: 2 hr 40 min (including intermission)
Deadline’s takeaway: Water for Elephants is a pleasant, visually beguiling show with a cast led by The Flash‘s Grant Gustin in a sweet-voiced Broadway debut that puts some charm into a thin book by Rick Elice that probably veered too close to the novel for its own good. To read full review, click on show title above.

An Enemy of the People

Michael Imperioli in ‘An Enemy of the People’
Michael Imperioli in ‘An Enemy of the People’

Opening night: March 18, 2024
Venue: Circle in the Square
Written by: Henrik Ibsen, In A New Version By Amy Herzog
Directed by: Sam Gold
Cast: Jeremy Strong, Michael Imperioli, Victoria Pedretti, Katie Broad, Bill Buell, Caleb Eberhardt, Matthew August Jeffers, David Patrick Kelly, David Mattar Merten, Max Roll, Thomas Jay Ryan, Alan Trong
Running time: 2 hrs (including one pause)
Deadline’s takeaway: Watching Jeremy Strong (Succession) and Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) go head to head for two hours is a treat, as if the stars of your favorite HBO dramas had crossed over some crazy timeline to show each other what for. To read full review, click on show title above.

The Notebook

Joy Woods, Ryan Vasquez, 'The Notebook,' Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Joy Woods and Ryan Vasquez in ‘The Notebook’

Opening night: March 14, 2024
Venue: Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
Directors: Michael Greif and Schele Williams
Book: Bekah Brunstetter
Music and lyrics: Ingrid Michaelson
Cast: Jordan Tyson, Joy Woods, Maryann Plunkett, John Cardoza, Ryan Vasquez, Dorian Harewood, with Andréa Burns, Yassmin Alers, Alex Benoit, Chase Del Rey, Hillary Fisher, Jerome Harmann-Hardeman, Dorcas Leung, Happy McPartlin, Juliette Ojeda, Kim Onah, Carson Stewart, Charles E. Wallace, Charlie Webb
Running time: 2 hr 10 min (including intermission)
Deadline’s takeaway: Based on Nicholas Sparks’ 1996 bestseller about a young — then older, then much older — couple who survives a lifetime of tribulations (until they don’t), The Notebook is the theatrical equivalent of Muzak, comforting in its unapologetically manipulative way and unabashed in its disregard for anything approaching the grit of the real world. To read full review, click on show title above.

Doubt

Liev Schreiber and Zoe Kazan in ‘Doubt’
Liev Schreiber and Zoe Kazan in ‘Doubt’

Opening night: March 7, 2024
Venue: Todd Haimes Theatre
Written by: John Patrick Shanley
Directed by: Scott Ellis
Cast: Amy Ryan, Liev Schreiber, Zoe Kazan, Quincy Tyler Bernstine
Running time: 90 min (no intermission)
Deadline’s takeaway: That the play holds up as well as it does since its 2004 premiere — and it really does — is due in large part to a top-tier cast that the Roundabout Theater Company has assembled, an ensemble that keeps us guessing from beginning to end. To read full review, click on show title above.

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