- April 2020
The Cherry Orchard is Russian playwright Anton Chekhov's last play. It premiered at the Moscow Art Theatre 17 January 1904 in a production directed by Constantin Stanislavski. Chekhov intended this play as a comedy and it does contain some elements of farce; however, Stanislavski insisted on directing the play as a tragedy. Since this initial production, directors have had to contend with the dual nature of this play.
The play concerns an aristocratic Russian woman and her family as they return to the family's estate just before it is auctioned to pay the mortgage. While presented with options to save the estate, the family essentially does nothing and the play ends with the estate being sold to the son of a former serf, and the family leaving to the sound of the cherry orchard being cut down. The story presents themes of cultural futility — both the futility of the aristocracy to maintain its status and the futility of the bourgeoisie to find meaning in its newfound materialism. In reflecting the socio-economic forces at work in Russia at the turn of the 20th century, including the rise of the middle class after the abolition of serfdom in the mid-19th century and the sinking of the aristocracy, the play reflects forces at work around the globe in that period.
- February 2020
Shrek the Musical is a musical with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. It is based on the 2001 DreamWorks film Shrek and William Steig's 1990 book Shrek!. After a tryout in Seattle, the original Broadway production opened in December 2008, and closed after a run of over 12 months in January 2010. It was followed by a tour of the United States which opened in 2010, and a re-vamped West End production from June 2011. Since its debut, the musical's rights have been available for independent overseas theatres, who have chosen to stage their own versions of the show, starting with the 2010 Israel production.
- February 2020
The Lady of the Camellias is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, first published in 1848, and subsequently adapted for the stage. The Lady of the Camellias premiered at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris, France on February 2, 1852. The play was an instant success, and Giuseppe Verdi immediately set about putting the story to music. His work became the 1853 opera La Traviata, with the female protagonist, Marguerite Gautier, renamed Violetta Valéry.
In the English-speaking world, The Lady of the Camellias became known as Camille and 16 versions have been performed at Broadway theatres alone. The title character is Marguerite Gautier, who is based on Marie Duplessis, the real-life lover of author Dumas, fils.
- January 2020
Fiddler on the Roof is a musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, set in Tsarist Russia in 1905. It is based on Tevye and his Daughters by Sholem Aleichem. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters—each one's choice of husband moves further away from the customs of his faith—and with the edict of the Tsar that evicts the Jews from their village.
The original Broadway production of the show, which opened in 1964, had the first musical theatre run in history to surpass 3,000 performances. Fiddler held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run. It remains Broadway's fifteenth longest-running show in history. The production was extraordinarily profitable and highly acclaimed. It was nominated for ten Tony Awards, winning nine, including Best Musical, score, book, direction and choreography. It spawned four Broadway revivals, a successful 1971 film adaptation, and the show has enjoyed enduring international popularity. It is also a very popular choice for school and community productions.
- December 2019–January 2020
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological pre-Roman Celtic king. It has been widely adapted for the stage and motion pictures, and the role of Lear has been coveted and played by many of the world's most accomplished actors.
The play was written between 1603 and 1606 and later revised. Shakespeare's earlier version, The True Chronicle of the History of the Life and Death of King Lear and His Three Daughters, was published in quarto in 1608. The Tragedy of King Lear, a more theatrical version, was included in the 1623 First Folio. Modern editors usually conflate the two, though some insist that each version has its individual integrity that should be preserved.
After the Restoration, the play was often revised with a happy ending for audiences who disliked its dark and depressing tone, but since the 19th century Shakespeare's original version has been regarded as one of his supreme achievements. The tragedy is particularly noted for its probing observations on the nature of human suffering and kinship. George Bernard Shaw wrote, "No man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear".
- December 2019
The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at St. James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personæ in order to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Contemporary reviews all praised the play's humour, though some were cautious about its explicit lack of social messages, while others foresaw the modern consensus that it was the culmination of Wilde's artistic career so far. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde's most enduringly popular play.
The successful opening night marked the climax of Wilde's career but also heralded his downfall. The Marquess of Queensberry, father of Lord Alfred Douglas, an intimate friend of Wilde, planned to present Wilde a bouquet of rotten vegetables and disrupt the show. Wilde was tipped off and Queensberry was refused admission. Soon afterwards, however, their feud came to a climax in court, where Wilde's homosexual double life was revealed to the Victorian public and he was eventually sentenced to imprisonment. Wilde's notoriety caused the play, despite its success, to be closed after just 86 performances. After his release, he published the play from exile in Paris, but he wrote no further comic or dramatic work.
- November 2019
Coriolanus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1605 and 1608. The play is based on the life of the legendary Roman leader Caius Marcius Coriolanus.
- May–June 2019
Measure for Measure is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604. It was classified as comedy, but its mood defies those expectations. As a result and for a variety of reasons, some critics have labelled it as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. Originally published in the First Folio of 1623, the play's first recorded performance was in 1604. The play deals with the issues of mercy, justice, and truth and their relationship to pride and humility: "Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall".
- February 2019
All My Sons is a 1947 play by Arthur Miller. The play was twice adapted for film; in 1948, and again in 1987.
The play opened on Broadway at the Coronet Theatre in New York City on January 29, 1947, closed on November 8, 1947 and ran for 328 performances. It was directed by Elia Kazan and won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, beating Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. It starred Ed Begley, Beth Miller, Arthur Kennedy, and Karl Malden and won both the Tony Award for Best Author and the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play.
- February 2019
Legally Blonde is a musical with music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach. The story is based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. She discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in a murder trial.
Legally Blonde premiered in pre-Broadway tryouts in San Francisco, California. In April 2007 the show moved to Broadway, opening to mostly positive reviews and grossed more than $1,000,000 a week on several occasions. Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed. The original cast included Laura Bell Bundy as Elle Woods, Christian Borle as Emmett Forrest and Richard H. Blake as Warner. It received seven Tony nominations and ten Drama Desk nominations but failed to win any. The West End production opened in January 2010 at the Savoy Theatre. The West End production was nominated for five Laurence Olivier Awards and won three, including the Best New Musical award.
The musical was recorded in September 2007 and aired on MTV in October 2007. Following this, a reality TV program was aired showing the audition process for the next person to play Elle Woods on Broadway. The winner was Bailey Hanks, who played the role from July 23, 2008 until the production closed on October 19, 2008.
- January 2019
Wicked is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. It is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a parallel novel of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum's classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz; its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy's arrival in Oz from Kansas and includes several references to the 1939 film and Baum's novel. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba and Glinda, who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard's corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba's public fall from grace.
Produced by Universal Pictures in coalition with Marc Platt and David Stone, the Joe Mantello–directed and Wayne Cilento–choreographed original production of Wicked premiered on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003, after completing pre-Broadway SHN tryouts at San Francisco's Curran Theatre in May 2003. Its original stars included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard. The original Broadway production won three Tony Awards and six Drama Desk Awards whilst its cast album received a Grammy Award. It has since celebrated its ninth anniversary on October 30, 2012, and played for 3,886 performances, making Wicked the 12th longest-running Broadway show in history.
- January 2019
Jersey Boys is a jukebox musical with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe, and book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice. It is presented in a documentary-style format that dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock 'n roll group The Four Seasons. The musical is structured as four "seasons", each narrated by a different member of the band who gives his own perspective on its history and music. Songs include "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Sherry", "December 1963", "My Eyes Adored You", "Stay", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", "Working My Way Back to You" and "Rag Doll", among others. The title refers to the fact that the members of The Four Seasons are from New Jersey.
The musical opened on Broadway in 2005 and has since had a North American National Tour and productions in London's West End, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne and other Australian cities, Singapore and elsewhere. Jersey Boys won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and the 2009 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical.
- January 2019
Annie Get Your Gun is a musical with lyrics and music written by Irving Berlin and a book by Dorothy Fields and her brother Herbert Fields. The story is a fictionalized version of the life of Annie Oakley, a sharpshooter who starred in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and her romance with sharpshooter Frank Butler.
The 1946 Broadway production was a hit, and the musical had long runs in both New York and London, spawning revivals, a 1950 film version and television versions. Songs that became hits include "There's No Business Like Show Business", "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly", "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun", "They Say It's Wonderful", and "Anything You Can Do."