Broadway babies, we’ve reached that spectacular segment of the theatrical season in which musicals and plays open in droves and vie for a chance to win a Tony Award – or 11.
There are tigers and murderous barbers and cookouts 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 gets its due and a DeLorean will delight fans of a certain ’80s franchise.
All that to say, we devotees of the stage are in for several theatrical treats this year. Here are a few of the musicals and plays set to premiere in 2023 that already have Broadway fans buzzing.
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 out from under its human co-stars. How will Pi’s sea-set journey with Richard Parker the Bengal tiger translate on stage? If its London reviews are to be believed, it works effortlessly.
Performances begin: March 9
Officially opens: March 30
Who knew? It took seven people to bring the Richard Parker puppet to vivid life in the West End production, all of whom shared the Olivier Award for best actor in a supporting role. There are actors crouched underneath his spine and head who walk for him, another who provides his voice and more who control his limbs and tail.
Doc Brown’s DeLorean is careening onto Broadway this summer. A hit in London’s West End, “Back to the Future: The Musical” promises sci-fi spectacle, ’80s nostalgia and attempted unintentional incest. The musical retains all the signature moments from the original movie, from Biff’s bullying to Marty’s “Johnny B. Goode” performance, but jazzes them up with extended dance sequences and soaring solos.
Performances begin: June 30
Officially opens: August 3
Who knew? The DeLorean seen onstage in the British production isn’t a real vehicle – less than 10,000 DeLorean cars were ever made, so the musical’s crew painstakingly recreated one for the production. As for what it’s capable of onstage… well, we’ll let audiences discover those 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 his long-running musical “Phantom of the Opera” closes later this year, his new spin on Cindy’s rags-to-royalty tale will carry the mantle. Webber’s new version of “Cinderella,” with a book by Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman,” “Killing Eve”), paints our protagonist not as a faultless princess-to-be but as a grungy and headstrong heroine.
Performances begin: February 17
Officially opens: March 23
Who knew? Webber ruffled feathers this summer when he called the London production a “costly mistake” in a letter the West End cast read aloud after their final performance. (Webber opted to forgo an in-person appearance at the show.) His letter earned him boos in absentia, for which he later apologized.
If you can, attend the story of Josh Groban-as-Sweeney Todd. One of the late Stephen Sondheim’s darkest works (and that’s saying something), this revival follows the “Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” his lovesick and deranged assistant, a pair of innocent lovers and an evil judge who lords over them all. Expect spilled blood and turned stomachs, especially if you get a whiff of one of Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies.
Performances begin: February 26
Officially opens: March 26
Who knew? This production stars 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 Channel series and Netflix originals), although Ashford outnumbers them all in Broadway credits.
This new country-tinged musical invites audiences to embrace their inner “Corn Kid.” Yep, the title is a reference to the process by which corn husks are stripped from cobs, though the show’s vague description promises to provide a “kernel of hope for our divided nation.”
Performances begin: March 8
Officially opens: April 4
Who knew? This show boasts some Southern bonafides. Two Nashville songwriters penned the music to 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 earned unanimous acclaim during its off-Broadway run. Set at a Southern cookout, James Ijames’ play maintains the basic contours of Shakespeare’s plot – there’s a dead father and duplicitous uncle – but centers a Black, queer protagonist instead of a Danish prince.
Performances begin: March 21
Officially opens: April 12
Who knew? When “Fat Ham” begins previews, it’ll 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 scheduled to close in February, and the musical “A Strange Loop,” which also won a Pulitzer, will close 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 script that “makes freshly relevant” the feminist themes of the original.
Performances begin: February 13
Officially opens: March 9
Who knew? “A Doll’s House” has been staged in New York at least 13 times prior to this iteration since the 1890s, per the Internet Broadway Database. Playwright Lucas Hnath wrote a sequel to it in 2017, aptly titled “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” that picks up 15 years after the original.
This Agatha Christie play is finally premiering on Broadway after running for a whopping 70 years in London’s West End. Expect plenty of delicious twists, period costumes and sets and, naturally, shady characters without alibis.
Performances begin: 2023, no date set
Who knew? Since the show is famously long-lived, the UK theater where it plays installed a wooden counter that ticks up a digit for every performance. As of November 25, 2022, “The Mousetrap” had been performed 28,915 times, making it far and away the longest-running play in the world.
There are plenty more plays and musicals also coming to Broadway in 2023, although some haven’t secured opening dates or theaters yet. Here are a few of the most notable:
- A revival of “Camelot” starring 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-woman show led by a barrister losing faith in the legal system.
- Britney Spears soundtracks the jukebox musical “Once Upon a One More Time,” in which classic fairy tale heroines experience a feminist awakening. Spears’ complicated personal life is not a plot point.
- “Merrily We Roll Along,” an infamously troubled musical by Stephen Sondheim, will move to Broadway after a successful off-Broadway run that began in November. Current stars Jonathan Groff, Lindsay Mendez and Daniel Radcliffe will transfer with the show.
A bevvy of revivals, original musicals and classic plays closed out 2022. Here are a few you may have missed that are still running:
- The bittersweet comedy “Kimberly Akimbo,” considered a frontrunner for this year’s Tony for best musical, follows a teenager with a condition that ages her body at several times the normal rate, but she remains impossibly peppy and optimistic.
- “Some Like It Hot,” a musical take on the classic film, was co-written by comedian Amber Ruffin and features music by “Hairspray” songwriting duo Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Expect massive dance sequences and larger-than-life drag personas.
- The always luminous Audra McDonald leads “Ohio State Murders,” a haunting play by Adrienne Kennedy, who, until this production, had never seen one of her scripts produced on Broadway.