Broadway babies, we’ve reached that spectacular segment of the theater season in which musicals and plays open in droves and compete for a chance to win a Tony Award — or 11.
There are tigers and murderous barbers and barbecues and corn-centric fables opening on Broadway this year, and those are just the ones that will open early enough to be considered for a 2023 Tony. Later in the year , the music of Britney Spears will have its due and a DeLorean will delight fans of a certain franchise of the 80s.
All this to say that we, the stage enthusiasts, are entitled to several theatrical surprises this year. Here are some of the musicals and plays set to premiere in 2023 that are already thrilling Broadway fans.
Yann Martel’s beloved novel gets the theatrical treatment this spring, and it continues the new Broadway tradition cemented by “Into the Woods” of an animal puppet stealing the show from under its human co-stars. How will Pi’s sea voyage with Richard Parker the Bengal Tiger translate to the stage? If its reviews from London are to be believed, it works effortlessly.
The performances begin: March 9
Official opening: March 30
Who knew? It took seven people to bring Richard Parker’s puppet to life in the West End production, all of whom shared the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor. There are actors crouching under his spine and head who walk for him, another who gives him his voice, and others who control his limbs and tail.
Doc Brown’s DeLorean hits Broadway this summer. A hit in London’s West End, ‘Back to the Future: The Musical’ promises sci-fi spectacle, 80s nostalgia and attempted involuntary incest. The musical retains all of the iconic moments from the original film, from Biff’s bullying to Marty’s “Johnny B. Goode” performance, but spruces them up with long dance sequences and soaring solos.
The performances begin: June 30th
Official opening: August 3
Who knew? The DeLorean seen on stage in the UK production is not a real vehicle – less than 10,000 DeLorean cars were made, so the musical’s team painstakingly recreated one for the production. As for what he’s capable of performing on stage… well, we’ll let the audience discover these delights for themselves.
There is an unofficial rule in musical theater that Andrew Lloyd Webber must always have a show running on Broadway. And when her long-running musical “Phantom of the Opera” wraps up later this year, her new take on Cindy’s tale of rags to royalty will carry the mantle. Webber’s new take on “Cinderella,” with a book by Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman,” “Killing Eve”), portrays our protagonist not as a blameless future princess, but as a grungy, headstrong heroine.
The performances begin: February 17
Official opening: March 23
Who knew? Webber ruffled feathers this summer when he called the London production a “costly mistake” in a letter the West End actors read aloud after their final performance. (Webber chose to forgo an in-person appearance on the show.) His letter earned him boos in absentia, for which he later went on to apologized.
If you can, attend the story of Josh Groban-as-Sweeney Todd. One of the darkest works of the late Stephen Sondheim (and that’s saying something), this revival follows the “Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, his amorous and deranged assistant, a pair of innocent lovers and an evil judge who dominate them all. Expect bloodshed and upset stomachs, especially if you smell one of Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies.
The performances begin: February 26
Official opening: March 26
Who knew? This production features a number of TV stars, including Gaten Matarazzo (the lovable Dustin from ‘Stranger Things’), Annaleigh Ashford (Paula Jones in ‘American Crime Story: Impeachment’) and Jordan Fisher (various Disney series Channel and Netflix Originals), though Ashford outnumbers them all in the Broadway credits.
This new country-tinged musical invites audiences to embrace their inner “Corn Kid.” Yes, the title refers to the process by which corn husks are removed from the cobs, although the show’s vague description promises to provide a “kernel of hope for our divided nation.”
The performances begin: 8 March
Official opening: April 4
Who knew? This show boasts some bonafides from the South. Two Nashville songwriters wrote the music for this twangy production – Brandy Clark, known for writing songs for Sheryl Crow and Reba McEntire, and Shane McAnally, who produced Kacey Musgraves’ debut album.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning “Hamlet” update received unanimous acclaim upon its off-Broadway release. Set in a Southern barbecue, James Ijames’ play retains the basic contours of Shakespeare’s plot – there’s a dead father and a deceitful uncle – but centers a black, queer protagonist instead of a Danish prince .
The performances begin: March 21st
Official opening: April 12
Who knew? When “Fat Ham” begins previews, it will be one of two Pulitzer winners on Broadway (the other is the indomitable hit “Hamilton”). Another Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Between Riverside and Crazy,” is set to end in February, and the musical “A Strange Loop,” which also won a Pulitzer, will end this month.
Jessica Chastain stars in this new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s landmark play about a wife and mother whose delicate existence begins to crack under the weight of societal expectations. Playwright Amy Herzog penned the screenplay which “makes the original’s feminist themes freshly relevant.”
The performances begin: February 13
Official opening: March 9
Who knew? “A Doll’s House” has been staged in New York City at least 13 times before this iteration since the 1890s, according to the Internet Broadway Database. Playwright Lucas Hnath penned a sequel to it in 2017, aptly titled “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” which picks up 15 years after the original.
This Agatha Christie play is finally premiering on Broadway after touring London’s West End for 70 years. Expect plenty of delightful twists, period costumes and settings, and, naturally, sleazy characters with no alibis.
The performances begin: 2023, no date set
Who knew? Since the show is famous for its long run, the British theater where it plays has installed a wooden counter which ticks off a number for each performance. As of November 25, 2022, “The Mousetrap” has been played 28,915 times, making it by far the longest running play in the world.
There are many more plays and musicals coming to Broadway in 2023, although some have yet to set opening dates or theaters. Here are some of the most notable:
- A cover of “Camelot” with Philippa Soo of “Hamilton” is coming to Lincoln Center. Now with an updated book by Aaron Sorkin, this classic musical became synonymous with the Kennedy administration during its original run.
- Jodie Comer comes to Broadway in “Prima Facie,” a one-man show led by a lawyer who loses faith in the justice system.
- Britney Spears is the soundtrack to the musical jukebox “Once Upon a One More Time,” in which classic fairy tale heroines experience a feminist awakening. Spears’ complicated personal life is no conspiracy.
- “Merrily We Roll Along,” a sadly troubled musical by Stephen Sondheim, will move to Broadway after a successful off-Broadway run that kicked off in November. Current stars Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez and Daniel Radcliffe will transfer with the show.
A slew of covers, original musicals, and classic plays rounded out 2022. Here are a few you might have missed that are still on the way:
- The bittersweet comedy “Kimberly Akimbo,” considered one of this year’s Tony favorites for Best Musical, follows a teenage girl with an illness who ages her body several times over normal, but she remains incredibly energetic and optimistic.
- “Some Like It Hot,” a musical version of the classic film, was co-written by comedian Amber Ruffin and features music from “Hairspray” songwriting duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Expect massive dance sequences and larger than life drag characters.
- The ever-bright Audra McDonald directs “Ohio State Murders,” a haunting play by Adrienne Kennedy, who until this production had never seen one of her screenplays produced on Broadway.