News Column

Spotlights Are Shifting to Musicals

December 1, 2013


Bring on the musicals!

After a rather quiet fall for song-and-dance shows, Broadway will explode in the new year with a group of high-profile productions based on mega-movies.

Here's what's coming in, in the order of their openings:

* "The Bridges of Madison County" - The tale of a brief, idyllic affair between a Midwestern woman and a visiting photographer has a formidable past: The 1992 novel was one of the biggest bestsellers of the 20th century, while the 1995 film, with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, was a huge hit.

Kelli O'Hara ("South Pacific") and Steven Pasquale ("Reasons to Be Pretty"), who played wife and husband in last season's off- Broadway musical "Far From Heaven," will co-star.

The songs are by Jason Robert Brown ("Parade"), and the book is by Marsha Norman (" 'night, Mother").

* "Rocky" - The show, which comes to Broadway after debuting last year in Hamburg, Germany, is based on the Oscar-winning 1976 film about a pug boxer from Philadelphia who gets a chance to fight for the heavyweight championship.

Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the film as well as starring in it, is credited as co-author of the book with Thomas Meehan ("Annie," "The Producers"). The songs are by the veteran team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens ("Ragtime"). Rocky will be played by Andy Karl ("The Mystery of Edwin Drood").

* "Aladdin" - The fifth animated film of the so-called Disney Renaissance to be adapted for Broadway, the show will have the songs from the 1992 movie by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, along with Menken-Ashman numbers that were written for the film but didn't make the final cut.

The musical has a new book, by Chad Beguelin, that aims to give it the quality of a Bob Hope-Bing Crosby "Road" movie, which is said to have been the original intention for the film. The title role will be played by Adam Jacobs ("The Lion King").

* "Bullets Over Broadway" - The 1994 film actually wasn't huge at the box office, but few Woody Allen movies are. It was popular, though. In the stage adaptation, written by Allen, Zach Braff ("Scrubs") portrays the 1920s playwright who's persuaded to cast a mobster's untalented girlfriend in his new production. The show's score will consist of existing songs of the era.

There will also be a couple of new musicals in the 2013-14 season's second half that are not inspired by Hollywood.

"Beautiful" is a bio-musical about the singer-songwriter Carole King, featuring her songs, of course. She'll be played by the singer- actress Jesse Mueller ("Edwin Drood").

Idina Menzel ("Rent," "Wicked") is starring in "If/Then," about a woman approaching 40 who returns to New York to make a fresh start. The book and songs are by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt ("Next to Normal").

Among the revivals will be new productions of two very familiar musicals, "Cabaret" and "Les Miserables."

The big news about "Cabaret" is that the part of Sally Bowles will be played by the film star Michelle Williams, in her Broadway debut. Alan Cumming, who memorably portrayed the Master of Ceremonies in the 1998 revival, will be back in that role.

The "Les Miz" revival is a re-imagined version of the long- running original production, with new staging and scenic design.

Finally, Neil Patrick Harris -- who was a replacement for Cumming in the last revival of "Cabaret" - will star in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," a revival of the 1998 off-Broadway musical about a transgender East German singer who fronts a rock band.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

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