- April 2021
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.
- April 2021
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, his assassination and the defeat of the conspirators at the Battle of Philippi. It is one of several plays written by Shakespeare based on true events from Roman history, which also include Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.
Although the title is Julius Caesar, Julius Caesar is not the most visible character in its action; he appears in only three scenes, and is killed at the beginning of the third act. Marcus Brutus speaks more than four times as many lines, and the central psychological drama is his struggle between the conflicting demands of honor, patriotism, and friendship.
- March 2021
West Side Story is an American musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and conception and choreography by Jerome Robbins. It was inspired by William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet.
The story is set in the East 40s and West 50s of the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City in the mid-1950s, an ethnic, blue-collar neighborhood. The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks from Puerto Rico are taunted by the Jets, a Polish-American working-class group. The young protagonist, Tony, one of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Bernstein's score for the musical includes "Something's Coming", "Maria", "America", "Somewhere", "Tonight", "Jet Song", "I Feel Pretty", "A Boy Like That", "One Hand, One Heart", "Gee, Officer Krupke", and "Cool".
- January 2021
Sister Act is a musical written by Cheri Steinkellner and Bill Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and music by Alan Menken. It is based on the hit 1992 film comedy of the same name. The 2009 West End production was produced by Stage Entertainment, Whoopi Goldberg, and Michael Reno for Sis Acts LLC. Goldberg is also a producer of the 2011 Broadway adaptation.
- December 2020
Avenue Q is an American musical in two acts, conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics. The book was written by Jeff Whitty and the show was directed by Jason Moore. Avenue Q is an "autobiographical and biographical" coming-of-age parable, addressing and satirizing the issues and anxieties associated with entering adulthood. Its characters lament that as children, they were assured by their parents, and by children's television programs such as PBS's Sesame Street, that they were "special" and "could do anything"; but as adults, they have discovered to their surprise and dismay that in the real world their options are limited, and they are no more "special" than anyone else. The musical is notable for the use of puppets alongside human actors.
Originally conceived as a television series, the show was developed as a stage production at the 2002 National Music Theatre Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. It opened Off-Broadway in March 2003, co-produced by The New Group and the Vineyard Theatre, and transferred to Broadway in July 2003 where it won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and spawned Las Vegas and West End productions, two national tours, and a variety of international productions.
- July 2020
South Pacific is a musical composed by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan. The work premiered in 1949 on Broadway and was an immediate success, running for 1,925 performances. The story is based on James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific, combining elements of several of the stories in that book. Rodgers and Hammerstein believed that they could write a work based on Michener's stories that would be financially successful and, at the same time, send a strong progressive message on racism.
The plot centers on an American nurse stationed at a U.S. Naval base on a South Pacific island during World War II who falls in love with an expatriate French plantation owner but struggles to accept his mixed-race children. A secondary romance, between a U.S. lieutenant and a young Tonkinese woman, explores his fears of the social consequences should he marry his Asian sweetheart. The issue of racial prejudice is candidly explored throughout the musical, most controversially in the lieutenant's song, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught". Supporting characters, including a comic petty officer and the Tonkinese girl's mother, help to tie the stories together. Due to his lack of knowledge of the military, Hammerstein had difficulty in writing that part of the text; the director of the original production, Logan, assisted him and received credit as co-writer of the book, but Logan always felt that he was underpaid for his contribution.
- 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.
- May 2020
The Duchess of Malfi is a macabre, tragic play written by the English dramatist John Webster in 1612–13. It was first performed privately at the Blackfriars Theatre, then before a more general audience at The Globe, in 1613-14. Published in 1623, the play is loosely based on events that occurred between about 1508 and 1513, recounted in William Painter's The Palace of Pleasure. The Duchess was Giovanna d'Aragona, whose father, Arrigo d'Aragona, Marquis of Gerace, was an illegitimate son of Ferdinand I of Naples. Her husbands were Alfonso Piccolomini, Duke of Amalfi, and Antonio Bologna.
The play begins as a love story, with a Duchess who marries beneath her class, and ends as a nightmarish tragedy as her two brothers exact their revenge, destroying themselves in the process.
Jacobean drama continued the trend of stage violence and horror set by Elizabethan tragedy, under the influence of Seneca, and there is a great deal of all that in the later scenes of the play. The complexity of some of its characters, particularly Bosola and the Duchess, plus Webster's poetic language, ensure the play is often considered among the greatest tragedies of English renaissance drama.
- February 2020
The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. Doctor Faustus was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play.
"No Elizabethan play outside the Shakespeare canon has raised more controversy than Doctor Faustus. There is no agreement concerning the nature of the text and the date of composition... and the centrality of the Faust legend in the history of the Western world precludes any definitive agreement on the interpretation of the play..."
- January 2020
Chicago is a musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the "celebrity criminal."
The original Broadway production opened in 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre and ran for 936 performances until 1977. Bob Fosse also choreographed the original production, and his style is strongly identified with the show. Following a West End debut in 1979 which ran for 600 performances, Chicago was revived on Broadway in 1996, and a year later in the West End.
The Broadway revival holds the record for the longest-running musical revival and the longest-running American musical in Broadway history, and is the third longest-running show in Broadway history having played more than 6,700 performances. The West End revival ran for nearly 15 years, becoming the longest-running American musical in West End history, and it has enjoyed several tours and international productions. The Academy Award-winning 2002 film version of the musical was directed by Rob Marshall and starred Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, and Queen Latifah.
- January 2020
Camelot is a musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. It is based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T. H. White tetralogy novel The Once and Future King.
The original 1960 production, directed by Moss Hart and orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett and Philip J. Lang, ran on Broadway for 873 performances, winning four Tony Awards and spawning several revivals, foreign productions and a 1967 film version. The original cast album was America's top-selling LP for 60 weeks. The musical has become associated with the Kennedy Administration, which is sometimes referred to as the Camelot era, stressing its glamorous, media culture image.
- November 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.
- October 2019
Damn Yankees is a musical comedy with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop and music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League Baseball. The musical is based on Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.
Damn Yankees ran for 1,019 performances in its original 1955 Broadway production. Adler and Ross's success with The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees seemed to point to a bright future for them, but Ross suddenly died of chronic bronchiectasis, at the age of twenty-nine, a few months after Damn Yankees opened.
- October 2019
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The play was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Sicilian revolt to Cleopatra's suicide during the Final War of the Roman Republic. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony's fellow triumviri and the future first emperor of Rome. The tragedy is a Roman play characterised by swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations and in registers, alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria and the more pragmatic, austere Rome.
Many consider the role of Cleopatra in this play one of the most complex female roles in Shakespeare's work. She is frequently vain and histrionic, provoking an audience almost to scorn; at the same time, Shakespeare's efforts invest both her and Antony with tragic grandeur. These contradictory features have led to famously divided critical responses.
- June 2018
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....
- June 2018
Spring Awakening is a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. It is based on the controversial German play Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind which was banned in Germany for some time due to its frank portrayal of abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide. Set in late-19th century Germany, the musical tells the story of teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality. In the musical, alternative rock is employed as part of the folk-infused rock score.
Following its conception in the late 1990s and various workshops, concerts, rewrites and its Off-Broadway debut, the original Broadway production of Spring Awakening opened at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on December 10, 2006. Its cast included Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele and John Gallagher, Jr. whilst its creative team embodied director Michael Mayer and choreographer Bill T. Jones. The original Broadway production won 8 Tony Awards, including Tonys for Best Musical, Direction, Book, Score and Featured Actor. The production also garnered 4 Drama Desk Awards whilst its original cast album received a Grammy Award.
The success of the Broadway production has spawned several other productions worldwide, including various US productions, a short West End production that won 4 Laurence Olivier Awards including Best Musical, and a series of international productions.
- April 2018
Uncle Vanya is a play by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. It was first published in 1897 and received its Moscow première in 1899 in a production by the Moscow Art Theatre, under the direction of Konstantin Stanislavski.
The play portrays the visit of an elderly Professor and his glamorous, much younger second wife, Yeléna, to the rural estate that supports their urban lifestyle. Two friends, Vanya, brother of the Professor's late first wife, who has long managed the estate, and Astrov, the local Doctor, both fall under Yelena's spell, while bemoaning the ennui of their provincial existence. Sonya, the Professor's daughter by his first wife, who has worked with Vanya to keep the estate going, meanwhile suffers from the awareness of her own lack of beauty and from her unrequited feelings for Dr. Astrov. Matters are brought to a crisis when the Professor announces his intention to sell the estate, Vanya and Sonya's home and raison d'être, with a view to investing the proceeds to achieve a higher income for himself and his wife.
- November 2017
Follies is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman. The story concerns a reunion in a crumbling Broadway theatre, scheduled for demolition, of the past performers of the "Weismann's Follies," a musical revue, that played in that theatre between the World Wars. It focuses on two couples, Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Benjamin and Phyllis Rogers Stone, who are attending the reunion. Sally and Phyllis were showgirls in the Follies. Both couples are deeply unhappy with their marriages. Buddy, a traveling salesman, is having an affair with a girl on the road; Sally is still as much in love with Ben as she was years ago; and Ben is so self-absorbed that Phyllis feels emotionally abandoned. Several of the former showgirls perform their old numbers, sometimes accompanied by the ghosts of their former selves.
The Broadway production opened on April 4, 1971, directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett, and with choreography by Bennett. The musical was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won seven. The original production, which ultimately lost its entire investment, ran for 522 performances. The piece has enjoyed a number of major revivals, and several of its songs have become standards, including "Broadway Baby", "I'm Still Here", "Too Many Mornings", "Could I Leave You?", and "Losing My Mind".
- June–July 2017
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.