amBroadway | COVID cancellations persist, Joaquina Kalukango to join ‘Into the Woods’ and more

The cast of Into the Woods on Broadway
The cast of Into the Woods.
Photo credit: Matt Murphy and Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

Cancellations due to COVID still persist

During December 2021, the Omicron variant spread havoc among the theater community, forcing numerous Broadway shows to cancel performances during the industry’s most financially lucrative time of the year. Roughly a year later, some Broadway and Off-Broadway shows are once again finding the need to cancel performances due to positive COVID tests. Most notably, the new Broadway musical “KPOP” had to delay its official opening night by a week to Sunday, Nov. 27. Off-Broadway, Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Plays for the Plague Year” at the Public Theater had to go on hiatus in the middle of previews, and the Transport Group’s revival of Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” was forced to cancel its final performances.

‘Chess’ and ‘Your Own Thing’ to receive one-night concerts

The 1980s cult musical “Chess,” which injects sweeping romance, Cold War politics, and hard rock into a championship chess match, will receive a one-night-only performance on Broadway on Dec. 12 to benefit the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly the Actors’ Fund). The cast will include Darren Criss (“Glee”), Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch”), Ramin Karimloo (“Funny Girl”), and Solea Pfeiffer (“Almost Famous”). In 2003, “Chess” received a one-night benefit performance on Broadway with Josh Groban, Norm Lewis, Sutton Foster, and Raul Esparza.

Coincidentally, the same night, Red Bull Theater, the Off-Broadway company known for its productions of rarely-seen dramas by Shakepeare’s contemporaries, will present a one-night concert production of “Your Own Thing,” a 1968 Off-Broadway rock musical based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” with a cast that includes Santino Fontana (“Tootsie”) and siblings Lilli Cooper and Eddie Cooper.

Jessica Chastain to headline ‘A Doll’s House’

Oscar winner Jessica Chastain, who last appeared on Broadway a decade ago in a revival of “The Heiress,” will headline a new production of Henrik Ibsen’s historic drama “A Doll’s House” this spring on Broadway. It will be directed by Jamie Lloyd (“Betrayal,” “Cyrano”) and use a new translation/version by Amy Herzog. The production was originally slated to begin rehearsals in London in 2020 but was delayed by the pandemic.

Kalukango to play the Witch in ‘Into the Woods’

The acclaimed Broadway revival of “Into the Woods,” which will end its extended limited run on Jan. 8, has witnessed a lot of high-profile replacement casting, including by Cheyenne Jackson, Stephanie J. Block, Sebastian Arcelus, and Denée Benton (who took over as Cinderella this week). Now comes word that Joaquina Kalukango (who recently earned a Tony Award for her breakout performance in the musical “Paradise Square”) will play the Witch beginning Dec. 16. At present, the role of the Witch is being shared by Patina Miller and Montego Glover. Regretfully, Heather Headley, who played the Witch when this production premiered in May at City Center Encores!, has not performed the role on Broadway.