The peak theater season is upon us and Broadway is abuzz with new shows. There are two long-running old shows that have threatened to upstage the new ones, by way of high-profile replacement casting. The 2019 Tony Award-winning “Best Musical,” Hadestown (Walter Kerr Theatre, open ended), made headlines when it was announced that the production’s Tony-winning Hermes, André De Shields, would be replaced by Broadway’s Lillias White, a Tony winner in her own right (for The Life). It was hard to imagine a woman stepping into De Shields’s distinctively sensuous shoes, but of course, it takes a legend to replace a legend and White has filled the role admirably, making it entirely her own. Hadestown is well worth a revisit with equally stellar new principals Tom Hewitt and Jewelle Blackman rounding out a tight ensemble led by acclaimed original stars Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney.
Even if you managed to miss that story, there’s no way gay Twitter allowed you to snooze on Jinkx Monsoon as Matron “Mama” Morton in Chicago (Ambassador Theatre, open ended). Of course, the winner of both RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars has already demonstrated on television and in theaters and clubs all around the world that she possesses many of the skills of a Broadway star. Still, skills are one thing; the presence and charisma to commandeer the stage and galvanize a Broadway audience – and to do it from the limited position of a supporting role – is something else entirely.
Jinkx and Lillias both had me believing in the magic of theater all over again. It was just announced Lea Michele has extended her contract in Funny Girl (August Wilson Theatre, through September 3) through the end of summer and the production will then close. I wish they’d keep it open with Jinkx Monsoon replacing Lea Michele as Fanny Brice and Lillias White replacing Tovah Feldshuh as her mother.
Broadway has no shortage of exciting new productions this season, either. On the heels of causing a sensation at the Public Theater Off-Broadway, the hilarious Fat Ham (American Airlines Theatre, through August 6) hits the big time. James Ijames’s 2022 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama centers the story of Hamlet, around Juicy, a queer kid from the South. This play packs all the punch of Shakespeare’s plus a cookout! This is one not to miss.
All anyone liked about Martin Scorsese’s 1975 flop was Liza Minnelli and the Kander and Ebb songs. Well, we get those songs and more, plus a pair of new stars, in Susan Stroman’s debut stage production of New York, New York (St. James Theatre, open ended).
Native American playwright Larissa Fasthorse turns our Thanksgiving tradition – and our attempts to be culturally sensitive about it – upside down in her eagerly awaited satire, The Thanksgiving Play (Second Stage, through June 4). With D’arcy Carden, Katie Finneran, Scott Foley, and Chris Sullivan.
Emmy winner Sean Hayes returns to Broadway in Doug Wright’s Good Night, Oscar (Belasco Theatre, through August 27). The younger generation may not be familiar with the musical and witty work of the late Oscar Levant, but word on the street is this show – and Hayes’ performance – could change that.
And if all those stars on stage feel too remote to you, check out New York’s nightlife of cabaret clubs for performances delivered up close and personal.
- Alan Cumming & Ari Shapiro April 5-15
- Christine Andreas April 18-19
- Candace Bushnell April 25-29
- Rufus Wainwright May 16-20
- Sutton Foster May 23-June 3
- Alysha Umphress Swings Jeff Blumenkrantz Again April 9
- Rachel Bay Jones May 8
- Rizo: Prizmatism May 1-3
- Marti Cummings: Drugs Drag & Divorce May 26
- Kate Baldwin & Aaron Lazar: All For You April 12-14
- Varla Jean Merman with Gerald Goode April 13-14
- Seth Sikes and Nicolas King with Billy Stritch April 21-22
- Charles Busch: My Foolish Heart April 20 & 25
Chelsea Table + Stage
- Marieann Meringolo April 14 & May 12
- The Skivvies April 17
- Ty Stephens April 22
- Broadway Pit Sessions Sundays at 9
The Green Room 42
- Susan Derry April 9
- Reeve Carney April 23
- Nicole Spiezio & Jenny Donheiser May 6
- James Jackson, Jr. & John-Andrew Morrison: 5 Questions with James & JAM April 17 & May 15
- Becca Blackwell May 18
- Danielle Ferland May 20 & May 21
- Lisa Vroman May 27 & May 29
- The Kinsey Sicks April 10
- Cyrille Aimeé April 18-22
- Tony DeSare April 21-23
Last modified: April 15, 2023