Catch These Broadway Shows Now Before They’re Gone – Twelve Productions are Closing in January
By Meryl Pearlstein
Broadway has come back in a big way, with many openings, some lasting and some with very limited or shortened runs. A new crop of shows is scheduled for March, but, in the meantime, here are the ones that you absolutely shouldn’t miss. They’ll be closing some time in January.
Almost Famous – Did you love Cameron Crowe’s 2000 film about a would-be reporter coming-of-age in the world of rock musicians and rock groupies (here called Band Aids)? The play is pure fun and does a pretty good job of replicating the roles in the movie. It’s a shame that it’s closing – there’s some great talent here, with quite a few of the players making their Broadway debuts. Make yourself look cool (to paraphrase a key line in the play and the movie)and grab tickets while you can. Happily for us, the original Broadway cast recording with music and lyrics by Tom Kitt will be released on March 17. Closing January 8, Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre .
Beetlejuice – Another theatrical adaptation of a beloved film dating from 1988, “Beetlejuice” has been a play with multiple lives, closing during the pandemic and being kicked out of its theatrical home. Then, led by strange teenager Lydia Deetz and demonic Beetlejuice, it rose from the dead, if you will, to a second Broadway theater. Alex Brightman is pretty darn incredible, especially in the opening scene. It’s a shame that he suffered a concussion during the last week of the show’s run and missed numerous performances. There’s still a tiny bit of time to see him in the lead role from Tim Burton’s wonderful movie before the play is lowered into the ground for good. You’ll be dancing to “Day-O” as you leave the theater. Closing January 8, Marquis Theatre.
Into the Woods – Those of us who saw this remarkable show, stripped-down and star-studded, at New York City Center Encores! recognized the power it had. It was no surprise that, with its amazing cast, it moved to Broadway. There, with several cast changes, it ate up the stage with Stephen Sondheim’s fabulous music and lyrics and James Lapine’s mash-up of three Brothers Grimm fairytales,” Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rapunzel” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” If you miss this limited run, and you shouldn’t, you can watch Meryl Streep’s tantalizing turn as the Witch in the 2014 movie. Closing January 8, St. James Theatre.
1776 – A beauty of a musical, first produced in 1969 and revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company in 1997, “1776” received an uneven makeover in 2022, reversing genders and including a multiracial transgender, non-binary, and female cast. The huge Roundabout production, which doesn’t quite fit the stage at the American Airlines Theater, seems shrill and disjointed compared to its predecessors. Nonetheless, if you like American history and enjoy the wonderful tunes of Sherman Edwards, a history-teacher-turned-songwriter, you have just a little time to see “1776.” Frankly, I’d prefer that you listen to the original cast album than the over-the-top renditions in this show. I’m glad I saw this, but some things are better left untouched. In this case, I have to ask, “Why?” Closing January 8, American Airlines Theatre.
A Strange Loop – Pulitzer Prize winner, Michael R. Jackson’s “A Strange Loop” engendered mixed reactions from those who saw it. Some loved it, some hated it. Some were irritated by it. The Tony winner for Best Musical is a story about a wannabe playwright named Usher currently serving as an usher. The play that this young, gay Black man is writing explains the “loop” in the title of the show. It’s about a young, gay Black man who is a theater writer. Bawdy, racy scenes add a strange vibe to what could have been a more provocative tale of personal development. Maybe just get the Broadway cast recording instead. Closing January 15, Lyceum Theatre.
Death of a Salesman – It seems that every few years someone decides to revive Arthur Miller’s American tragedy about the American Dream. This time, the Loman family is African American and the story is one of both equality and opportunity. It’s still a long show, lasting approximately three hours, but it’s one where the time factor is insignificant. I wish this play were staying longer (it’s a limited engagement) – the cast is superb (Wendell Pierce, Sharon D. Clarke, André De Shields) and the play deserves to be seen or re-seen. Closing January 15, Hudson Theatre.
Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man & The Pool – Storyteller Mike Birbiglia came to prominence with his off-Broadway show, “Sleepwalk with Me” in 2008. Since then, he has performed various autobiographical comedies off-Broadway as full performances or as tryouts for a new show, as he did with “The Old Man & The Pool.” If you missed it at the Cherry Lane Theater in 2019, now is a good time to laugh along with Mike as he describes his experiences as a middle-aged man during the final weeks of his Broadway run. Closing January 15, Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center.
The Music Man – Covid-plagued “The Music Man” was a highly anticipated revival of the beloved 1957 show starring Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill. With star power provided by Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, Meredith Wilson’s musical was good, if not amazing. But you still enjoy the songs and the old-time warmth. And who doesn’t love watching Jackman and Foster ham it up in the wonderful “Marian the Librarian” scene. You have one more week to see this pair show off their chemistry and singing and dancing. Closing January 15, Winter Garden Theatre.
Ohio State Murders – You don’t have much time to see Audra McDonald in her tour de force performance as a writer and lecturer coming to terms with the murders of her twin daughters. The play is told as a story by McDonald and also stars Bryce Pinkham as the professor turned mentor, friend and lover. Closing January 15, James Earl Jones Theatre.
Topdog/Underdog – The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, originally performed on Broadway in 2002, has returned for a limited engagement. The story about sibling rivalry and obsession focuses on Lincoln and Booth, two brothers eerily named by their father as a joke about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Closing January 15, Golden Theatre.
The Collaboration – This short-lived Manhattan Theatre Club production depicts the 1984 collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat on a modern art exhibition. Closing January 29, Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
The Piano Lesson – A stunning revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, originally staged in 1990, “The Piano Lesson” is the fourth play in Wilson’s ”The Pittsburgh Cycle.” Playing a pivotal role in the story of family relations, the family-heirloom piano becomes a living memory of times past and present issues. Don’t miss it – with Samuel L. Jackson, Danielle Brooks and John David Washington, this powerful play is one that you will remember for a long time. Closing January 29, Barrymore Theatre.