It’s early yet for baseball season, but fans of America’s great past time can get a little taste of the game on the Broadway stage over at the Circle in the Square Theatre, where the new play Bronx Bombers opens tonight. Written and directed by Eric Simonson, the play focuses on one of the sport’s most famed franchises, the New York Yankees.
Bronx Bombers, which was first seen Off-Broadway at Primary Stages last year, takes audiences on a trip through Yankees history by looking at the team through the eyes of one of its icons, Yogi Berra. Actor Peter Scolari plays Yogi opposite his real-life wife Tracy Shayne as Yogi’s wife Carmen. Christopher Jackson, Keith Nobbs, Bill Dawes, Henry Coffey, Francois Battiste, John Wernke, and C.J. Wilson co-star.
Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, and Derek Jeter are among the New York Yankees legends who are represented onstage in Bronx Bombers as the show examines both the triumphs and the troubles that the team encounters over the years. For fans who can’t wait for baseball season to start, this may be the ideal Broadway show to tide them over until spring training.
Since last appearing on Broadway in the 2006 production of the Richard Greenberg play Three Days of Rain, Bradley Cooper has become a major movie star, gaining notoriety in The Hangover franchise and most recently starring in Oscar bait films Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.
Soon Cooper will come back to Broadway, playing John Merrick in the 1979 drama The Elephant Man, penned by Bernard Pomerance. (The play was most recently revived on Broadway in a 2002 production featuring Billy Crudup.) He will be joined by co-stars Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson.
Bradley Cooper previously starred in The Elephant Man in 2012 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The same director, Scott Ellis, will also helm this Broadway production.
It is customary for the stage production of The Elephant Man to be performed without the aid of prosthetic makeup, instead the production will rely on the actors ability to simulate the characters severe disabilities. This show has Best Play Tony written all over it.
“The Elephant Man” story was inspired by the life of John Merrick, a man that suffered from a type of neurofibromatosis, a deforming nerve tissue disorder that produces skin and bone abnormalities. Much interest in the character has been seen following the David Lynch movie from 1980 that starred Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud and Wendy Hiller in which a Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak.
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe will return to Broadway later this season when the recent West End production of The Cripple of Inishmaan comes to the Cort Theatre on Broadway in April. The production will start previews on April 12 with an expected April 20 opening.
Written by Martin McDonagh (who has been represented on Broadway with plays such as The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Pillowman), The Cripple of Inishmaan has been performed Off-Broadway twice. This will be the play’s first time on Broadway.
Though he continues to be best known for the title role in the Harry Potter movies, Daniel Radcliffe is already a Broadway veteran, having starred in revivals of the drama Equus and the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
New York City is known to have an unusually high concentration of the world’s billionaires, and Broadway mainstay The Lion King can now count itself among them. Over the course of 16 years on Broadway, the Disney juggernaut has brought in over one billion dollars in cumulative gross – a first for any Broadway show.
The Lion King very recently became the fourth longest running show on Broadway, and its popularity has seldom waned during that time. Rarely offering any kind of discount, the musical (based on the Disney animated film) routinely packs the theater and tops the Broadway ticket sales charts.
With stunning direction and design from Julie Taymor, The Lion King was an instant sensation when it opened on Broadway, earning six Tony Awards, including including Best Musical (the other contenders for the Best Musical award that year were Ragtime, Side Show and The Scarlet Pimpernel). The show opened in 1997 at the New Amsterdam Theater and moved to the Minskoff Theatre in 2006, where its still runs to this day with close to 100% of its seats sold every day. Lion King is now Broadway’s fourth longest running show on in history. The show has also enjoyed great success with many touring and sit-down productions all over the world.
It was only recently that the smash hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia! moved into its new home at the Broadhurst Theatre (following a long run at the Winter Garden Theatre), but soon the internationally known musical will take to the high seas on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
Mamma Mia! will make its sea-faring debut on Quantum of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship equipped to carry more than 4,000 passengers. Currently under construction, the ship is expected to begin presenting Mamma Mia! on its stage in November of 2014.
Mamma Mia! is not the first Broadway musical to be produced on a Royal Caribbean ship. Hairspray, Saturday Night Fever, and Chicago have all previously played on the cruise line’s ships, providing passengers with Broadway-style entertainment on the open seas.
Now is the annual culling of the Broadway herd, when a number of struggling shows inevitably close following the Christmas and New Year’s holiday spike. Spider-man ended its run yesterday, and today four more shows are playing their final performances and then closing their doors.
The Broadway revival of Annie enjoyed success after opening last season, but sales have gradually dwindled, making it no longer profitable to keep the show running. The charming new musical First Date (featuring Zachary Levi from TV’s Chuck) was one of the first Broadway shows to open this season, but it wasn’t able to hold on any longer with lackluster ticket sales.
The other two shows closing today, the Harold Pinter drama Betrayal (starring Daniel Craig) and Billy Crystal’s one-man play 700 Sundays, both did spectacularly well but are closing because they were only ever scheduled to play limited engagements.
Laura Osnes, who originated the role of Cinderella on Broadway in the current production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, will be passing her glass slippers along to another young woman next month, when pop singer/songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen takes on the iconic role.
Jepsen became an instant success when her song “Call Me Maybe” became a massive hit, and now the music sensation is making her Broadway debut. She will begin a 12-week run in the musical starting February 4. Actress Fran Drescher will also be making her first bow in Cinderella that day, in the role of Cinderella’s stepmother.
Cinderella, which has lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and music by Richard Rodgers, is playing at the Broadway Theatre. The show’s tuneful score features such songs as “In My Own Little Corner” and “Ten Minutes Ago”.
Billy Crystal’s return production of 700 Sundays, which is playing for a limited time at the Imperial Theatre through January 5, has proved to be a major Broadway hit this season. But if you haven’t been able to score tickets to Crystal’s one-man show, you will be able to see it on HBO next year. On January 3 and 4, 700 Sundays will be taped to broadcast in 2014 on the premium cable network.
“Billy Crystal has been a beloved member of the HBO family for more than three decades,” stated president of HBO Programming, Michael Lombardo. “It’s thrilling to us that he decided to let us film this legendary theatrical event.”
700 Sundays, which originally played on Broadway several years ago (and won a 2005 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event), is Billy Crystal’s dramatic memoir in which he talks about growing up in New York City and in particular the cherished Sundays that he spent with his dad.
Stage and television performer Bebe Neuwirth (TV’s Cheers and Frasier) earned a Tony Award for her turn as Velma Kelly in the long-running Broadway revival of the musical Chicago back in 1997. Years later, she returned to the production to play the show’s other main role, Roxie Hart. And now Bebe Neuwirth will be graduating to a third role, that of the matron Mama Morton, when she comes back to Chicago again for a limited engagement early next year.
“Simply put, Bebe Neuwirth is Chicago,” stated producer Barry Weissler. “This January she’s back again, now as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton, making her the first leading lady in Broadway history to play all three principal roles.”
Bebe Neuwirth is scheduled to be in the show from January 14 to March 9, 2014. Chicago plays on Broadway at the Ambassador Theatre, located at 219 West 49th Street.
The week of Christmas is always unusually busy on Broadway, but performance schedules often change during this time, so it is important to keep this in mind if you or your family plans to catch a Broadway show during the holidays.
December 24, Christmas Eve Day, which is a Tuesday this year, will see very little activity on Broadway. Most plays and musicals are canceling performances on that day. The only exceptions are Betrayal, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Lion King, Newsies, and Spider-man all have 2pm matinees on the 24th. Macbeth will have a 7pm performance that night.
On Christmas Day, December 25, roughly half the shows on Broadway will have evening performances, but several will be canceling their normal evening shows. Even though it’s a Wednesday, when matinees are usually plentiful, no Broadway shows have matinees scheduled for Christmas Day.
To make up for performances canceled right over the Christmas holiday, many shows will be adding a matinee on Thursday, December 26 and a handful of other shows will add a Friday matinee.
To see the complete Christmas holiday schedule, click here.