- October 2019
The Phantom of the Opera is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart with additions from Richard Stilgoe. Lloyd Webber and Stilgoe also wrote the musical's book together. Based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux, its central plot revolves around a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius.
The musical opened in London's West End in 1986, and on Broadway in 1988. It won the 1986 Olivier Award and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical, and Michael Crawford won the Olivier and Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Musical. It is the longest running show in Broadway history by a wide margin, and celebrated its 10,000th Broadway performance on 11 February 2012, the first production ever to do so. It is the second longest-running West End musical, and the third longest-running West End show overall.
With total estimated worldwide gross receipts of over $5.6 billion and total Broadway gross of US $845 million Phantom is the most financially successful entertainment event to date. By 2011 it had been seen by over 130 million people in 145 cities in 27 countries, and continues to play in both London and New York.
- August 2019
King Richard the Second is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in approximately 1595. It is based on the life of King Richard II of England and is the first part of a tetralogy, referred to by some scholars as the Henriad, followed by three plays concerning Richard's successors: Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V. It may not have been written as a stand-alone work.
Although the First Folio edition of Shakespeare's works lists the play as a history play, the earlier Quarto edition of 1597 calls it The tragedie of King Richard the second.
- July 2019
Three Sisters is a play by Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov, perhaps partially inspired by the situation of the three Brontë sisters. It was written in 1900 and first performed in 1901 at the Moscow Art Theatre.
- June 2019
The Glass Menagerie is a four-character memory play by Tennessee Williams. Williams worked on various drafts of the play prior to writing a version of it as a screenplay for MGM, to whom Williams was contracted. Initial ideas stemmed from one of his short stories, and the screenplay originally went under the name of 'The Gentleman Caller'.
The play premiered in Chicago in 1944. It was championed by Chicago critics Ashton Stevens and Claudia Cassidy whose enthusiasm helped build audiences so the producers could move the play to Broadway where it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1945. Laurette Taylor originated the role of the all-too-loving mother, Amanda Wingfield. In the 2004 documentary Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There, Broadway veterans nearly unanimously rank Taylor's performance as the most memorable of their entire lives. The Glass Menagerie was Williams's first successful play; he went on to become one of America's most highly regarded playwrights.
The play was reworked from one of Williams's short stories "Portrait of a Girl in Glass". The story is also written from the point of view of narrator Tom Wingfield, and many of his soliloquies from The Glass Menagerie seem lifted straight from this original. Certain elements have clearly been omitted from the play, including the reasoning for Laura's fascination with Jim's freckles. Generally the story contains the same plot as the play, with certain sections given more emphasis, and character details edited.
- March–April 2019
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.
- March 2019
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is a 2011 rock musical with music and lyrics by U2's Bono and The Edge and a book by Julie Taymor, Glen Berger, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The musical is based on the Spider-Man comics created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, published by Marvel Comics, as well as the 2002 film about the character, and the Greek myth of Arachne. It tells the story of the origin of the character, his romance with Mary Jane and his battles with the evil Green Goblin. The show includes highly technical stunts, such as actors swinging from "webs" and several aerial combat scenes.
In the year before it premiered, the show gained notoriety for its production troubles, related to both the difficulty of its stunts and frequent retooling of the book and score. Both rehearsals and previews went on longer than expected, and several actors were injured during the process. At the first preview performance, these technical challenges caused several lengthy interruptions. Previews were then suspended for a month in mid-2011 to overhaul the show after negative reviews from preview audiences and critics. Director Julie Taymor, whose vision had driven the musical, left the production at that time, and co-director Philip William McKinley was brought in to redirect portions of the show. The show ended up having the longest preview period in history.
- February–March 2019
Godspell is a musical by Stephen Schwartz and a book by John-Michael Tebelak. It opened off Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has played in various touring companies and revivals many times since, including a 2011 revival which played on Broadway from October 13, 2011 to June 24, 2012. Several cast albums have been released over the years and one of its songs, "Day by Day" from the original cast album, reached #13 on the Billboard pop singles chart in the summer of 1972.
The structure of the musical is that of a series of parables, based on the Gospel of Matthew. These are then interspersed with a variety of modern music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns, with the passion of Christ treated briefly near the end of the performance. It started as a college project performed by students at Carnegie Mellon University and moved to La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in Greenwich Village. It was then re-scored for an off-Broadway production which became a long-running success. A junior one-act version with some songs removed has also been made under the title Godspell Junior.
- January 2019
42nd Street is a musical with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin, and music by Harry Warren. The 1980 Broadway production, directed by an ailing Gower Champion and orchestrated by Philip J. Lang, won the Tony Award for Best Musical and became a long-running hit. The show was produced in London in 1984 and its 2001 Broadway revival won the Tony for Best Revival.
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and the subsequent 1933 film adaptation, it focuses on the efforts of famed dictatorial Great White Way director Julian Marsh to mount a successful stage production of a musical extravaganza at the height of the Great Depression.
- October–November 2018
Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and a book by Linda Woolverton, based on the 1991 Disney film of the same name. Seven new songs were written for the stage musical. Beauty ran on Broadway for 5,461 performances between 1994 and 2007, becoming Broadway's eighth longest-running production in history.
The musical has grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide and played in thirteen countries and 115 cities. It has also become a popular choice for high school productions.