- June 2021
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play by William Shakespeare. It is believed that it was written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and Hippolyta. These include the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors, who are controlled and manipulated by the fairies who inhabit the forest in which most of the play is set. The play, categorized as a Comedy, is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.
- March 2021
The King and I is a musical, the fifth by the team of composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, which derives from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. The musical's plot relates the experiences of Anna, a British schoolteacher hired as part of the King's drive to modernize his country. The relationship between the King and Anna is marked by conflict through much of the piece, as well as by a love that neither can admit. The musical premiered on March 29, 1951, at Broadway's St. James Theatre. It ran nearly three years, then the fourth longest-running Broadway musical in history, and has had many tours and revivals.
In 1950, theatrical attorney Fanny Holtzmann was looking for a part for her client, veteran leading lady Gertrude Lawrence. Holtzmann realized that Landon's book would be an ideal vehicle and contacted Rodgers and Hammerstein, who were initially reluctant but agreed to write the musical. The pair initially sought Rex Harrison to play the supporting part of the King, a role that he had played in the 1946 movie made from Landon's book, but he was unavailable. They settled on actor and television director Yul Brynner.
- February 2021
Mary Poppins is a musical with music and lyrics by the Academy Award-winning Sherman Brothers and a book by Julian Fellowes. The musical is based on the similarly titled series of children's books by P. L. Travers and the 1964 Disney film, and is a fusion of various elements from the two. Some elements from the books that had been omitted from the film were restored, such as the walking statue and the ladders rising to the stars. Others were removed, such as the scene in which Uncle Albert gets caught on the ceiling, laughing.
Produced by Walt Disney Theatrical and directed by Richard Eyre with co-direction from Matthew Bourne who also acted as co-choreographer with Stephen Mear, the original West End production opened in December 2004 and received two Olivier Awards, one for Best Actress in a Musical and the other for Best Theatre Choreography. A Broadway production with a near-identical creative team opened in November 2006, with only minor changes from the West End version. It received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, winning for Best Scenic Design.
- August 2020
Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1592. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified as such. Occasionally, however, as in the quarto edition, it is termed a tragedy. Richard III concludes Shakespeare's first tetralogy.
It is the second longest play in the canon after Hamlet, and is the longest of the First Folio, whose version of Hamlet is shorter than its Quarto counterpart. The play is rarely performed unabridged; often, certain peripheral characters are removed entirely. In such instances extra lines are often invented or added from elsewhere in the sequence to establish the nature of characters' relationships. A further reason for abridgment is that Shakespeare assumed that his audiences would be familiar with the Henry VI plays, and frequently made indirect references to events in them, such as Richard's murder of Henry VI or the defeat of Henry's queen Margaret.
- 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
Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.
The musical was first seen in a limited three-week workshop production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. This same off-Broadway theatre was also the musical's initial home following its official January 25, 1996 opening. The show's creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere. The show won a Pulitzer Prize, and the production was a hit. The musical moved to Broadway's larger Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996.
On Broadway, Rent gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical among other awards. The Broadway production closed on September 7, 2008 after a 12-year run of 5,123 performances, the ninth longest-running Broadway show at the time. The production grossed over $280 million.
The success of the show led to several national tours and numerous foreign productions. In 2005 it was adapted into a motion picture that features most of the original cast members.
- April 2020
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.
- 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
Notre-Dame de Paris is a sung-through French-Canadian musical which debuted on 16 September 1998 in Paris. It is based upon the novel Notre-Dame de Paris by the French novelist Victor Hugo. The music was composed by Riccardo Cocciante and the lyrics are by Luc Plamondon.
Since its debut, it has been played in Canada, France, Belgium, Russia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Japan, China, South Korea, Haiti and Taiwan. A shorter version in English was performed in 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada and a full-length London production, also in English, ran for seventeen months. Popular songs from the show, such as Belle and Le temps des cathédrales have also been translated into Belarusian, Catalan, Czech, German, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Dutch and English.
Notre-Dame de Paris, according to the Guinness Book of Records, had the most successful first year of any musical ever. The score has been recorded at least seven times to date: the original French concept album, which featured Israeli singer Achinoam Nini as Esmeralda was followed by a live, complete recording of the original Paris cast. A complete recording of the score in Italian was made, along with a single disc of highlights in Spanish from the Barcelona production. The original London cast album featured several of the original Paris stars, but only preserved a fraction of the score in English. The orchestral group I Fiamminghi recorded a CD of melodies from the score. A complete set of instrumental backing tracks has also been released.
- August 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.
- May 2019
Bye Bye Birdie is a stage musical with a book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse.
Originally titled Let's Go Steady, the satire on American society is set in 1958. The story was inspired by the phenomenon of popular singer Elvis Presley and his draft notice into the Army in 1957. The rock star character's name, "Conrad Birdie," is word play on the name of Conway Twitty. Twitty is best remembered today for his long career as a country music star, but in the late 1950s, he was one of Presley's rock 'n' roll rivals.
The original Broadway production was a Tony Award-winning success. It spawned a London production and several major revivals, a sequel, a 1963 film and a 1995 television production. The show also became a popular choice for high school and college productions.
- August 2018
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.
- July 2018
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.
- 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....
- October 2017
Elisabeth is a Viennese, German-language musical commissioned by the Vereinigte Bühnen Wien, with book/lyrics by Michael Kunze and music by Sylvester Levay. It portrays the life and death of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I. It has been translated into seven languages and seen by over ten million spectators worldwide, making it the most successful German-language musical of all time.