- October 2019
The Producers is a musical adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks' 1968 film of the same name, with lyrics written by Brooks and music composed by Brooks and arranged by Glen Kelly and Doug Besterman. As in the film, the story concerns two theatrical producers who scheme to get rich by overselling interests in a Broadway flop. The humor of the show draws on ridiculous accents, characters of homosexuals and Nazis, and many show business in-jokes.
After 33 previews, the original Broadway production opened at the St. James Theatre on April 19, 2001, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and ran for 2,502 performances, winning a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards. It spawned a successful London production running for just over two years, US national tours, many productions worldwide and a 2005 film version.
- September 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".
- September 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."
- August 2019
The Merchant of Venice is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Though classified as a comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic scenes, and is best known for Shylock and the famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech. Also notable is Portia's speech about "the quality of mercy".
The title character is the merchant Antonio, not the Jewish moneylender Shylock, who is the play's most prominent and most famous character. This is made explicit by the title page of the first quarto: The most excellent History of the Merchant of Venice. With the extreme cruelty of Shylock the Jew towards the Merchant....
- August 2019
Seussical is a musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty based on the books of Dr. Seuss that debuted on Broadway in 2000. The play's story is a rather complex amalgamation of many of Seuss's most famous books. After a Broadway run, the production spawned two US national tours and a UK tour. It has become a favorite for school, community and regional theatres.
- April–May 2019
Dance of the Vampires is a musical remake of a 1967 Roman Polanski film of the same name. Polanski also directed the original German production of this musical. Music was composed by Jim Steinman and orchestrated by Steve Margoshes, and original German book and lyrics were written by Michael Kunze.
- April 2019
Henry V is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1599. It tells the story of King Henry V of England, focusing on events immediately before and after the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years' War. In the First Quarto text, it was entitled The Cronicle History of Henry the fift, which became The Life of Henry the Fifth in the First Folio text.
The play is the final part of a tetralogy, preceded by Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2. The original audiences would thus have already been familiar with the title character, who was depicted in the Henry IV plays as a wild, undisciplined lad known as "Prince Harry" and by Falstaff as "Hal". In Henry V, the young prince has become a mature man and embarks on a successful conquest of France.
- May 2019
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a long one-act musical comedy conceived by Rebecca Feldman with music and lyrics by William Finn, a book by Rachel Sheinkin and additional material by Jay Reiss. The show centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School. Six quirky adolescents compete in the Bee, run by three equally-quirky grown-ups.
The 2005 Broadway production, directed by James Lapine and produced by David Stone, James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo, Barrington Stage Company and Second Stage Theater, earned good reviews and box-office success and was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two, including Best Book. The show has spawned various other productions in the U.S., including a national tour with performances in Canada, and Australian productions.
An unusual aspect of the show is that four real audience members are invited on stage to compete in the spelling bee alongside the six young characters. During the 2005 Tony Awards, former Presidential candidate Al Sharpton competed. Another amusing aspect of the show is that the official pronouncer, usually an improv comedian, provides ridiculous usage-in-a-sentence examples when asked to use words in a sentence. For instance, for the word "palaestra," he says, "Euripides said, 'What happens at the palaestra stays at the palaestra.'" At some shows, adult-only audiences are invited for "Parent-Teacher Conferences," also known as "adult night at the Bee." These performances are peppered with sexual references and profanity inspired by R-rated ad-libs made during rehearsals.
- February 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.
- February 2019
Mame is a musical with the book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Originally titled My Best Girl, it is based on the 1955 novel Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis and a 1956 Broadway play, by Lawrence and Lee, that starred Rosalind Russell. Set in New York and spanning the Great Depression and World War II, it focuses on eccentric bohemian, Mame Dennis, whose famous motto is "Life is a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death." Her fabulous life with her wealthy friends is interrupted when the young son of her late brother arrives to live with her. They cope with the Depression in a series of adventures.
In 1958, a film titled Auntie Mame, based on the play, was released by Warner Brothers once again starring Rosalind Russell in the title role. Russell was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for her portrayal.
The musical opened on Broadway in 1966, starring Angela Lansbury and Beatrice Arthur. The production became a hit and spawned a 1974 film with Lucille Ball in the title role and Arthur reprising her supporting role, as well as a London production, a Broadway revival, and a 40th anniversary revival at the Kennedy Center in 2006.
- October–November 2018
The Misanthrope, or the Cantankerous Lover is a 17th-century comedy of manners in verse written by Molière. It was first performed on 4 June 1666 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris by the King's Players.
The play satirizes the hypocrisies of French aristocratic society, but it also engages a more serious tone when pointing out the flaws which all humans possess. The play differs from other farces at the time by employing dynamic characters like Alceste and Célimène as opposed to the traditionally flat characters used by most satirists to criticize problems in society. It also differs from most of Molière's other works by focusing more on character development and nuances than on plot progression. The play, though not a commercial success in its time, survives as Molière's best known work today.
Because both Tartuffe and Dom Juan, two of Molière's previous plays, had already been banned by the French government, Molière may have subdued his actual ideas to make his play more socially acceptable. As a result, there is much uncertainty about whether the main character Alceste is supposed to be perceived as a hero for his strong standards of honesty or whether he is supposed to be perceived as a fool for having such idealistic and unrealistic views about society. Molière has received much criticism for The Misanthrope. The French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, claimed that it was Molière's best work but hated the fact that Alceste was depicted as a fool on stage. He believed that the audience should be supporting Alceste and his views about society rather than disregarding his idealistic notions and belittling him as a character.