- February 2020
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.
- October 2019
Kiss Me, Kate is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The story involves the production of a musical version of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and the conflict on and off-stage between Fred Graham, the show's director, producer, and star, and his leading lady, his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi. A secondary romance concerns Lois Lane, the actress playing Bianca, and her gambler boyfriend, Bill, who runs afoul with some gangsters. The original production starred Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk and Harold Lang and won the Tony-Award.
Kiss Me, Kate was Porter's response to Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and other integrated musicals; it was the first show he wrote in which the music and lyrics were firmly connected to the script, and it proved to be his biggest hit and the only one of his shows to run for more than 1,000 performances on Broadway. In 1949, it won the first Tony Award presented for Best Musical.
- July 2019
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is a 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning play in two parts by American playwright Tony Kushner. The two parts of the play are separately presentable and entitled Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, respectively. The play has been made into both a television miniseries and an opera by Peter Eötvös.
- July 2019
Aida is a musical with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang, and produced by Walt Disney Theatrical.
Aida premiered on Broadway on March 23, 2000, running for 1,852 performances until September 5, 2004. The musical also ran from 2002–2003 and from 2006-2007 during two US national tours, and also ran in international productions which performed in 20 different countries, and is still performed in international productions, regional theatres, colleges and high schools.
Aida was nominated for five Tony Awards and won four in 2000, including Best Musical Score and Best Performance by a Leading Actress. Aida was also named by Time Magazine in 2000 as one of the top ten theatre productions of the year. The First National tour was nominated for nine National Broadway Theatre awards and won five awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
The Aida Cast recording won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. A song from Aida, "Written in the Stars" reached No.2 in the Billboard US adult contemporary music charts, and No.1 in the Canadian contemporary charts.
- March 2019
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers.
Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1567. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both but, to expand the plot, developed supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris. Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597. This text was of poor quality, and later editions corrected it, bringing it more in line with Shakespeare's original.
Shakespeare's use of his poetic dramatic structure, especially effects such as switching between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, his expansion of minor characters, and his use of sub-plots to embellish the story, has been praised as an early sign of his dramatic skill. The play ascribes different poetic forms to different characters, sometimes changing the form as the character develops. Romeo, for example, grows more adept at the sonnet over the course of the play.
- March 2019
Guys and Dolls is a musical with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. It is based on "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" and "Blood Pressure" – two short stories by Damon Runyon, – and also borrows characters and plot elements from other Runyon stories – most notably "Pick the Winner".
The premiere on Broadway was in 1950. It ran for 1200 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical has had several Broadway and London revivals, as well as a 1955 film adaptation starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.
Guys and Dolls was selected as the winner of the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. However, because of writer Abe Burrows' troubles with the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Trustees of Columbia University vetoed the selection, and no Pulitzer for Drama was awarded that year.
- December 2018
Anything Goes is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. The original book was a collaborative effort by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, heavily revised by the team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. The musical introduced such songs as "Anything Goes", "You're the Top", and "I Get a Kick Out of You."
Since its 1934 debut at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway, the musical has been revived several times in the United States and Britain and has been filmed twice. The musical has long been a popular choice for school and community productions.
- December 2018
Show Boat is a 1927 musical in two acts, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Based on Edna Ferber's bestselling novel of the same name, the musical follows the lives of the performers, stagehands, and dock workers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River show boat, over forty years, from 1887 to 1927. Its themes include racial prejudice and tragic, enduring love. The musical contributed such classic songs as "Ol' Man River", "Make Believe", and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man".
The arrival of Show Boat on Broadway was a watershed moment in the history of American musicals. Compared to the trivial and unrealistic operettas, light musical comedies, and "Follies"-type musical revues that defined Broadway in the 1890s and early 20th century, Show Boat "was a radical departure in musical storytelling, marrying spectacle with seriousness". According to The Complete Book of Light Opera:
"Here we come to a completely new genre – the musical play as distinguished from musical comedy. Now... the play was the thing, and everything else was subservient to that play. Now... came complete integration of song, humor and production numbers into a single and inextricable artistic entity."