Exactly three years ago, did you know that “Hamilton” (which was about to premiere Off-Broadway) was going to be the next big thing in theater — not to mention a pop culture phenomenon? Two years ago, would you have had the same foresight about “Dear Evan Hansen” (which had just played Washington, D.C.)?
You can never be sure what the next big thing in New York theater will be or where it will come from. That being said, I’m going to give it a shot and predict what the five biggest shows of 2018 will be. Whether it’s a reflection of the shows that are in the pipeline or relatively safe prediction making on my part, they are all either revivals or new shows based upon famous works.
“Carousel,” widely considered the most challenging and emotional musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein (“Oklahoma!,” “The Sound of Music”), will receive its first Broadway revival in more than two decades this spring, with an impressive cast including Joshua Henry (“Hamilton”), Jessie Mueller (“Beautiful”) and opera star Renée Fleming. It will be produced by Scott Rudin (“Hello, Dolly!”), directed by Jack O’Brien (“Hairspray”) and choreographed by Justin Peck (NYC Ballet). Begins previews Feb. 28 at the Imperial Theatre.
2. “My Fair Lady”
As with “Carousel,” “My Fair Lady” is another treasure of golden age musical theater that has not been seen on Broadway for a long time. The revival is being produced by Lincoln Center Theater and directed by Bartlett Sher (the forces behind the lavish revivals of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” and “The King and I”). Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”) and Harry Hadden-Paton (“Downton Abbey”) will play Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins respectively, and will be joined by two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”) and Diana Rigg (“Game of Thrones”). Interestingly, George Bernard Shaw’s comedy “Pygmalion” (the source material for “My Fair Lady”) will play New York at the same time. Begins previews March 15 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.
3. “Angels in America”
The recent London revival of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” (led by Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield) will play a limited run on Broadway. This marks the first Broadway revival of the two-part AIDS-era opus, although it did receive an excellent Off-Broadway staging not too long ago. Both parts of the play (“Millennium Approaches,” “Perestroika”) were broadcast over the summer in movie theaters as part of the National Theatre Live series. Begins previews Feb. 23 at the Neil Simon Theatre.
4. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two”
“Harry Potter” on Broadway — need I say more? You may be surprised to learn that the show is not a musical (but rather a two-part drama) and that it is not an adaptation of any of the books (but rather a new sequel in which Harry Potter is an employee of the Ministry of Magic and a father). It premiered in London and went on to become the most awarded show in the history of the Olivier Awards. To suit the production, the oversized Lyric Theatre has been extensively redesigned. Scoring tickets is already proving difficult. Many people who registered through a Verified Fan System in order to purchase advance tickets in October were shut out due to high demand. Additional tickets will be made available in February. Begins previews March 16 at the Lyric Theatre.
The out-of-town reviews from Denver were mixed, but there is little doubt that Disney’s Broadway version of the animated hit is going to be big — both in popularity and as a production — or that “Let It Go” is going to make one hell of a pumped up act one finale. The St. James Theatre has been physically renovated to accommodate the size of the ice castle and snow creatures. Playing sisters Elsa and Anna are Caissie Levy (“Hair”) and Patti Murin (“Lysistrata Jones”). Begins previews Feb. 22 at the St. James Theatre.