- September 2020
Peer Gynt is a five-act play in verse by the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, loosely based on the fairy tale Per Gynt. Written in the Dano-Norwegian language, it is the most widely performed Norwegian play. According to Klaus Van Den Berg, the "cinematic script blends poetry with social satire and realistic scenes with surreal ones". Peer Gynt has also been described as the story of a life based on procrastination and avoidance. A first edition of 1,250 copies was published on 14 November 1867 in Copenhagen. Although the first edition swiftly sold out, a re-print of 2,000 copies, which followed after only 14 days, didn't sell out until seven years later.
While Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson admired the play's "satire in Norwegian egotism, narrowness, and self-sufficiency" and described it as "magnificent", Hans Christian Andersen, Georg Brandes and Clemens Petersen all joined a widespread hostility. Enraged by Petersen's criticisms in particular, Ibsen defended his work by arguing that it "is poetry; and if it isn't, it will become such. The conception of poetry in our country, in Norway, shall shape itself according to this book." Despite this defense of his poetic achievement in Peer Gynt, the play was his last to employ verse; from The League of Youth onwards, Ibsen was to write drama only in prose.
- April 2020
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a musical by Frank Loesser and book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, based on Shepherd Mead's 1952 book of the same name. The story concerns young, ambitious J. Pierrepont Finch who, with the help of the book How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, rises from window washer to chairman of the board of the World Wide Wicket Company.
The musical, starring Robert Morse & Rudy Vallee, opened at the 46th Street Theatre on Broadway in October 1961, running for 1,417 performances. The show won seven Tony Awards, the New York Drama Critics Circle award, and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 1967, a film based on the musical was released by United Artists, with many of the original cast recreating their roles. A 1995 revival was mounted at the same theatre as the original production ran for 548 performances and starred Matthew Broderick and Megan Mullally. A 50th anniversary Broadway revival directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford and starring Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette opened on March 27, 2011, at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre and ran for 473 performances.
- April 2020
Mamma Mia! is a stage musical written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA, composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. The title of the musical is taken from the group's 1975 chart-topper "Mamma Mia". Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, who composed the original music for ABBA, were involved in the development of the show from the beginning. Anni-Frid Lyngstad has been involved financially in the production and she has also been present at many of the premieres around the world.
The musical includes such hits as "Super Trouper", "Lay All Your Love on Me", "Dancing Queen", "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Take a Chance on Me", "Thank You for the Music", "Money, Money, Money", "The Winner Takes It All", "Voulez Vous" and "SOS". Over 42 million people have seen the show, which has grossed $2 billion dollars worldwide since its 1999 debut. A film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Stellan Skarsgård and Julie Walters was released in July 2008.
- February 2020
Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. Although there was a real Cyrano de Bergerac, the play is a fictionalization of his life that follows the broad outlines of it.
The entire play is written in verse, in rhyming couplets of 12 syllables per line, very close to the Alexandrine format, but the verses sometimes lack a caesura. It is also meticulously researched, down to the names of the members of the Académie française and the dames précieuses glimpsed before the performance in the first scene.
The play has been translated and performed many times, and is responsible for introducing the word "panache" into the English language. Cyrano is in fact famed for his panache, and the play ends with him saying "My panache." just before his death. The two most famous English translations are those by Brian Hooker and Anthony Burgess.
- January–February 2020
The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is a musical with music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and book by William F. Brown. It is a retelling of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the context of African-American culture. It opened on October 21, 1974 at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to the Majestic Theatre with a new cast on January 5, 1975.
The 1975 Broadway production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical was an early example of Broadway's mainstream acceptance of works with an all-black cast. The musical has had revivals in New York, London, San Diego and the Netherlands, and a limited-run revival was presented by Encores! at New York City Center in June 2009. A film adaptation was released in 1978.
- November 2019
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.
- November 2019
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.
- May–June 2019
A Raisin in the Sun is a play by Lorraine Hansberry that debuted on Broadway in 1959. The title comes from the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes. The story is based upon a black family's experiences in the Washington Park Subdivision of Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood.
- March–April 2019
A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1947 play written by American playwright Tennessee Williams for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948. The play opened on Broadway on December 3, 1947, and closed on December 17, 1949, in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The Broadway production was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter, and Karl Malden. The London production opened in 1949 with Bonar Colleano, Vivien Leigh, and Renee Asherson and was directed by Laurence Olivier.