- July 2020
Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up or Peter and Wendy is J. M. Barrie's most famous work, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel, respectively. Both versions tell the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous little boy who can fly, and his adventures on the island of Neverland with Wendy Darling and her brothers, the fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, the Indian princess Tiger Lily, and the pirate Captain Hook. The play and novel were inspired by Barrie's friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family. Barrie continued to revise the play for years after its debut; the novel reflects one version of the story.
The play debuted in London on 27 December 1904 with Nina Boucicault, daughter of playwright Dion Boucicault, in the title role. A Broadway production was mounted in 1905 starring Maude Adams. It was later revived with such actresses as Marilyn Miller and Eva Le Gallienne. The play has since seen adaptation as a pantomime, stage musical, a television special, and several films, including a 1924 silent film, a 1953 animated Disney full-length feature, and a 2003 live action production. The play is now rarely performed in its original form on stage in the United Kingdom, whereas pantomime adaptations are frequently staged around Christmas. In the U.S., the original version has also been supplanted in popularity by the 1954 musical version, which became popular on television.
- June 2020
Into the Woods is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. It debuted in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986, and premiered on Broadway in 1987. Bernadette Peters' performance as the Witch and Joanna Gleason's portrayal of the Baker's Wife brought acclaim to the production during its original Broadway run. Into the Woods won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical, in a year dominated by The Phantom of the Opera.
The musical has been produced many times, with a 1988 US national tour, a 1990 West End production, a 1991 television production, a 1997 tenth anniversary concert, a 2002 Broadway revival, a 2010 London revival and in 2012 as part of New York City's outdoor Shakespeare in the Park series. The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them to explore the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from "Little Red Riding Hood", "Jack and the Beanstalk", "Rapunzel", and "Cinderella", as well as several others. The musical is tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, and their interaction with a Witch and her curse on them.
- May 2020
The Government Inspector, also known as The Inspector General, is a satirical play by the Ukrainian-born Russian dramatist and novelist Nikolai Gogol. Originally published in 1836, the play was revised for an 1842 edition. Based upon an anecdote allegedly recounted to Gogol by Pushkin, the play is a comedy of errors, satirizing human greed, stupidity, and the extensive political corruption of Imperial Russia.
According to D. S. Mirsky, the play "is not only supreme in character and dialogue – it is one of the few Russian plays constructed with unerring art from beginning to end. The great originality of its plan consisted in the absence of all love interest and of sympathetic characters. The latter feature was deeply resented by Gogol's enemies, and as a satire the play gained immensely from it. There is not a wrong word or intonation from beginning to end, and the comic tension is of a quality that even Gogol did not always have at his beck and call."
The dream-like scenes of the play, often mirroring each other, whirl in the endless vertigo of self-deception around the main character, Khlestakov, who personifies irresponsibility, light-mindedness, absence of measure. "He is full of meaningless movement and meaningless fermentation incarnate, on a foundation of placidly ambitious inferiority". The publication of the play led to a great outcry in the reactionary press. It took the personal intervention of Tsar Nicholas I to have the play staged, with Mikhail Shchepkin taking the role of the Mayor.
- April–May 2020
Hedda Gabler is a play first published in 1890 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. The play premiered in 1891 in Germany to negative reviews, but has subsequently gained recognition as a classic of realism, nineteenth century theatre, and world drama. A 1902 production was a major sensation on Broadway starring Minnie Maddern Fiske and following its initial limited run was revived with the actress the following year.
The character of Hedda is considered by some critics as one of the great dramatic roles in theatre and some portrayals have been very controversial, especially in the New Zealand play "2B or not 2B" where a male plays Hedda. Depending on the interpretation, Hedda may be portrayed as an idealistic heroine fighting society, a victim of circumstance, a prototypical feminist, or a manipulative villain.
Hedda's married name is Hedda Tesman; Gabler is her maiden name. On the subject of the title, Ibsen wrote: "My intention in giving it this name was to indicate that Hedda as a personality is to be regarded rather as her father's daughter than her husband's wife."
- April 2020
The Book of Mormon is a religious satire musical with book, lyrics, and music by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. Best known for creating the animated comedy South Park, Parker and Stone co-created the music with Lopez, a co-composer/co-lyricist of Avenue Q. The show lampoons organized religion and traditional musical theatre, reflecting the creators' lifelong fascination with Mormonism and musicals.
The Book of Mormon tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naïve and optimistic, the two missionaries try to share the Book of Mormon, one of their scriptures—which only one of them has read—but have trouble connecting with the locals, who are more worried about war, famine, poverty, and AIDS than about religion.
After nearly seven years of development, the show opened on Broadway in March 2011. The Book of Mormon has garnered overwhelmingly positive critical response and numerous theatre awards including nine Tony Awards, one of which was for Best Musical, and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. An original Broadway cast recording was released in May 2011 and became the highest-charting Broadway cast album in over four decades, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard charts.
- January 2020
Brigadoon is a musical with a book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Songs from the musical, such as "Almost Like Being in Love" have become standards. The story involves two American tourists who stumble upon Brigadoon, a mysterious Scottish village that appears for only one day every hundred years. Tommy, one of the tourists, falls in love with Fiona, a young woman from Brigadoon.
The original production opened on Broadway in 1947 and ran for 581 performances. It starred David Brooks, George Keane, and Marion Bell. Brigadoon then received a West End production opening in 1949 that ran for 685 performances, and many revivals followed. A 1954 film version starred Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. A 1966 television version starred Robert Goulet and Peter Falk.
- September 2019
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play by William Shakespeare. It is believed that it was written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. The play, categorized as a Comedy, is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.
- August–September 2019
The Crucible is a 1953 play by the American playwright Arthur Miller. It was initially called "The Chronicles of Sarah Good". It is a dramatization of the Salem witch trials that took place in the Province of Massachusetts Bay during 1692 and 1693. Miller wrote the play as an allegory of McCarthyism, when the U.S. government blacklisted accused communists. Miller himself was questioned by the House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of "contempt of Congress" for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended. It was first performed at the Martin Beck Theater on Broadway on January 22, 1953. Miller felt that this production was too stylized and cold and the reviews for it were largely hostile. Nonetheless, the production won the 1953 "Best Play" Tony Award. A year later a new production succeeded and the play became a classic. It is a central work in the canon of American drama.
- May–June 2019
Mary Poppins is a musical with music and lyrics by the Academy Award-winning Sherman Brothers and a book by Julian Fellowes. The musical is based on the similarly titled series of children's books by P. L. Travers and the 1964 Disney film, and is a fusion of various elements from the two. Some elements from the books that had been omitted from the film were restored, such as the walking statue and the ladders rising to the stars. Others were removed, such as the scene in which Uncle Albert gets caught on the ceiling, laughing.
Produced by Walt Disney Theatrical and directed by Richard Eyre with co-direction from Matthew Bourne who also acted as co-choreographer with Stephen Mear, the original West End production opened in December 2004 and received two Olivier Awards, one for Best Actress in a Musical and the other for Best Theatre Choreography. A Broadway production with a near-identical creative team opened in November 2006, with only minor changes from the West End version. It received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, winning for Best Scenic Design.
- May 2019
The Mousetrap is a murder mystery play by Agatha Christie. The Mousetrap opened in the West End of London in 1952, and has been running continuously since then. It has the longest initial run of any play in history, with its 25,000th performance taking place on 18 November 2012. It is the longest running show of the modern era. The play is also known for its twist ending, which the audience are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre.
- April–May 2019
Chess is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, formerly of ABBA, and with lyrics by Tim Rice. The story involves a romantic triangle between two top chess players, an American and a Russian, in a world chess championship, and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other; all in the context of a Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, during which both countries wanted to win international chess tournaments for propaganda purposes. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the character of the American was loosely based on chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer, while elements of the story may have been inspired by the chess careers of Russian grandmasters Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov.
As had been done with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita, a highly successful concept album of Chess was released in 1984. The first theatrical production of Chess opened in London's West End in 1986 and played for three years. A much-altered U.S. version premièred on Broadway in 1988, but survived only for two months. Chess is frequently revised for new productions, many of which try to merge elements from both the London and Broadway versions; however, no major revival production of the musical has yet been attempted either on West End or Broadway.
- February–March 2019
Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice. The musical started as a rock opera concept recording before its first staging on Broadway in 1971. The musical is based very loosely on the Gospels' accounts of the last week of Jesus' life, beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem and ending with the crucifixion. It highlights political and interpersonal struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus, struggles that are not in the Bible. The resurrection is not included. It therefore largely follows the form of a traditional passion play.
The work's depiction offers a free interpretation of the psychology of Jesus and the other characters. A large part of the plot focuses on the character of Judas, who is depicted as a tragic figure dissatisfied with the direction in which Jesus steers his disciples. Contemporary attitudes and sensibilities as well as slang pervade the lyrics and ironic allusions to modern life are scattered throughout the depiction of political events. Stage and film productions accordingly feature many intentional anachronisms.
- February 2019
Gypsy is a musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and a book by Arthur Laurents. Gypsy is loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the famous striptease artist, and focuses on her mother, Rose, whose name has become synonymous with "the ultimate show business mother." It follows the dreams and efforts of Rose to raise two daughters to perform onstage and casts an affectionate eye on the hardships of show business life. The character of Louise is based on Lee, and the character of June is based on Lee's sister, the actress June Havoc.
The musical contains many songs that became popular standards, including "Everything's Coming up Roses", "Together", "Small World", "Some People", "Let Me Entertain You", "All I Need Is the Girl", and "Rose's Turn". It is frequently considered one of the crowning achievements of the mid-20th century's conventional musical theatre art form, often called the "book musical".
Gypsy has been referred to as the greatest American musical by numerous critics and writers, among them Ben Brantley and Frank Rich. Rich wrote that " Gypsy is nothing if not Broadway's own brassy, unlikely answer to 'King Lear.'" Theater critic Clive Barnes wrote that " 'Gypsy' is one of the best of musicals..." and described the character of Rose as "one of the few truly complex characters in the American musical...."