Broadway and beyond: must-see plays and musicals this season

PARADISE PLACE I caught this production, which premiered at the Berkeley Repertory Theater, when I was in the area in January 2019. The musical, about free-born blacks and newly arrived Irish immigrants coexisting peacefully, for a while , in Five Points, a slum in New York during the Civil War, focuses on a fascinating American history. It seemed Broadway related when I saw it, and the moment will come soon: after another pre-Broadway tour at the James M. Nederlander Theater in Chicago (November 2, December 2 5), “Paradise” will arrive in New York on the spring. Moisés Kaufman directs the show, with a book by Christina Anderson, Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan; music and lyrics by Jason Howland, Nathan Tysen and Masi Asare; and choreography by Bill T. Jones. (Previews start February 22; opens March 20, Barrymore Theater)

PLAZA SUITE Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker star in a cover of the 1968 Neil Simon comedy, which consisted of three one-act pranks about three different couples – all played by the same actors – staying in the same hotel room at different times . It will be the first time the actors have worked together on Broadway since 1996, a year before their wedding. John Benjamin Hickey directs. (Previews start February 25; March 28 – June 12, Hudson Theater)

TAKE ME OUT Richard Greenberg’s 2002 play about a star major league baseball player coming out of the closet, opening up to hostility and prejudice, returns to Broadway in a revival directed by Scott Ellis. The cast includes Jesse Williams, Patrick J. Adams and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. (Premieres start March 9; opens April 4, Hayes Theater)

THE VAGABOND Dion DiMucci, the singer-songwriter (“Runaround Sue”) better known as Dion, is the subject of this new biographical musical about a troubled child from the Bronx who made his way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. (It’s still there too: “Blues With Friends,” with collaborations with Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and others, was released in 2020.) Charles Messina wrote the book, Kenneth Ferrone will direct, and Michael Wartella, who will direct it. While Bratty the Genius provided most of the memorable moments in the musical “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, starring stars like Dion. (March 24 April 24, Paper Mill Playhouse)

HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE The sexual abuse drama of Pulitzer Prize-winning Paula Vogel is finally coming to Broadway, with its original lead performers – Mary-Louise Parker and David Morse. Mark Brokaw (“Heisenberg”), who oversaw the 1997 Off Broadway premiere for the Vineyard Theater, will once again star. Previews begin (March 29; opening April 19, Samuel J. Friedman Theater)

MINUTES Tracy Letts’ play on Greed and Ambition in the World of Small Town Politics premiered before closing last year. Fortunately, we may finally get a chance to understand why some of the Big Cherry City Council minutes are being kept under wraps. Anna D. Shapiro directs the Steppenwolf production, which had its home theater premiere in Chicago in 2017. (Previews start in March; opens April 7, Studio 54)

OUR GIRLS, LIKE PILLARS A mom and daughters are planning a relaxing vacation to hunt, eat well, and avoid cellphones, but will all the friendliness really tie them together? This new play by Kirsten Greenidge (“Milk Like Sugar”) will premiere at the Huntington Theater in Boston, conducted by Kimberly Senior (“Disgraced”). From April 8 to May 8. The Huntington will follow with “Common Ground Revisited” by Greenidge, an adaptation of “Common Ground”, J. Anthony Lukas’ book on desegregation in the Boston school system, which was to be staged. Last year. It was designed by Greenidge and Melia Bensussen, adapted by Greenidge and directed by Bensussen. (May 27-June 26, Huntington Theater Company)

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