Broadway babies, we’ve reached that spectacular segment of the theater season where musicals and plays open en masse and vie for a chance to win a Tony Award, or 11.
Tigers and Killer Barbers, Kitchen to Cook and corn-centric fables are opening on Broadway this year, and those are just the ones opening early enough to be considered for a 2023 Tony. Later the year, Britney Spears’ music hits its due and a DeLorean will delight fans of a certain ’80s franchise.
All this to say, stage devotees are in for several theatrical delights this year. Here are some of the musicals and plays opening in 2023 that already have Broadway fans excited.
Known IP, new medium
Yann Martel’s beloved novel gets the theatrical treatment this spring and continues the new Broadway tradition cemented by “Into the Woods” of an animal puppet who steals the show beneath his fellow human leads. How will Pi’s journey to the sea with Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger, translate to the stage? If its London reviews are to be believed, it works effortlessly.
The performances begin: March 9
It officially opens: March 30
Who knew? It took seven people to bring Richard Parker’s puppet to life in the West End production, all of whom shared the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor. There are actors crouching under his spine and head that walk for him, another that provides his voice and more that control his limbs and tail.
‘Back to the Future: The Musical’
Doc Brown’s DeLorean hits Broadway this summer. A hit in London’s West End, “Back to the Future: The Musical” promises sci-fi spectacle, 80s nostalgia and unintentional incest. The musical retains all the signature moments of the original film, from Biff’s stalking to Marty’s “Johnny B. Goode” performance, but livens them up with extended dance sequences and towering solos.
The performances begin: June 30
Who knew? The DeLorean seen on stage in the British production is not a real vehicle: fewer than 10,000 DeLorean cars were ever made, so the musical team painstakingly recreated one for the production. As for what he’s capable of on stage…well, we’ll let the audience discover those delights for themselves.
daring new musicals and revivals‘Bad Cinderella’
There is an unofficial rule in musical theater that Andrew Lloyd Webber must always have a show on Broadway. And when her long-running musical “Phantom of the Opera” closes at the end of the year, her new spin on the rags-to-riches tale of Cindy’s royalty will carry the mantle. Webber’s new version of “Cinderella,” with a book by Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman,” “Killing Eve”), paints our heroine not as a flawless princess but as a thick, headstrong heroine.
The performances begin: February 17
It officially opens: March 23
Who knew? Webber was baffled this summer when he called the London production a “costly mistake” in a letter read aloud by the West End cast after its final performance. (Webber chose to forgo an in-person appearance on the show.) His letter earned him boos in absentia, for which he later apologized.
If you can, attend the Josh Groban-as-Sweeney Todd tale. 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 that dominates them all. Expect blood spilled and stomachs turned, especially if you smell one of Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies.
The performances begin: February 26
It officially opens: March 26
Who knew? This production stars several 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 original from Netflix), although Ashford surpasses them all in Broadway credits.
This new country-tinged musical invites audiences to embrace their inner “Corn Kid.” Yes, the title is a reference to the process by which corn husks are removed from the cob, though the show’s vague description promises to provide a “kernel of hope for our divided nation.”
The performances begin: March 8
It officially opens: April 4
Who knew? This show has some southern bonafides. Two Nashville songwriters wrote the music for this edgy production: Brandy Clark, known for writing songs for Sheryl Crow and Reba McEntire, and Shane McAnally, who produced Kacey Musgraves’ debut album.
Plays with pedigree‘fatty ham’
This Pulitzer Prize-winning “Hamlet” update won unanimous acclaim during its off-Broadway run. Set in a Southern kitchen, James Ijames’ play maintains the basic contours of Shakespeare’s plot: there’s a dead father and a duplicitous uncle, but it centers on a black, queer protagonist instead of a Danish prince.
The performances begin: March 21
It officially opens: April 12
Who knew? When “Fat Ham” begins previews, it will be one of two Pulitzer winners on Broadway (the other being the runaway hit “Hamilton”). Another Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Between Riverside and Crazy,” is slated 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 historical play about a wife and mother whose delicate existence begins to crumble under the weight of society’s expectations. Playwright Amy Herzog wrote the script that “makes the original’s feminist themes newly relevant.”
The performances begin: February 13
It officially opens: March 9
Who knew? “A Doll’s House” has been performed in New York at least 13 times before this iteration since the 1890s, according to the Internet Broadway Database. Playwright Lucas Hnath wrote a sequel in 2017, aptly titled “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” which picks up 15 years after the original.
This play by Agatha Christie is finally opening on Broadway after 70 years of running in London’s West End. Expect plenty of delicious twists, period costumes and sets, and naturally shady characters with no alibi.
The performances begin: 2023, no fixed date
Who knew? Because the show has a long run, the UK theater where he performs installed a wooden counter that marks a digit for each performance. As of November 25, 2022, “The Mousetrap” had been performed 28,915 times, making it by far the longest-running play in the world.
A few more Broadway debuts in 2023
There are also many more plays and musicals coming to Broadway in 2023, although some have not yet secured opening dates or theaters. Here are some of the highlights:
A revival of “Camelot” starring “Hamilton’s” Philippa Soo 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 directed by a lawyer who loses faith in the legal system.
Britney Spears scores the soundtrack to 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,” Stephen Sondheim’s infamously troubled musical, is moving 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.
prayfully open wondersA slew of revivals, original musicals, and classic plays closed in 2022. Here are some you may have missed that are still running:
The bittersweet comedy “Kimberly Akimbo,” considered this year’s Tony favorite for best musical, follows a teenager with a condition that ages her body at several times the normal rate, but remains impossible and optimistic.
“Some Like It Hot,” a musical version of 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 characters.
The ever-luminous Audra McDonald directs “Ohio State Murders,” a haunting play by Adrienne Kennedy, who, until this production, had never seen any of her scripts produced on Broadway.